A lot of times, when out in public with my son, we get stares and comments. Most of them are things like "I would have never gotten away with that when I was a kid" or "My parents would have beat me if I talked like that to them". The last comment is the one that bugs me the most, mainly because I'm sure their parent's never would have actually "beat" them, more like they would've gotten a spanking or two, but not truly "beat". However, the thing that I think irritates me the most is the fact that it's true. When I was a teenager even, and had the "I hate everyone and everything" attitude, I would have never, ever, ever told my mom out loud "I hate you". Never. I may have thought it, but never would have said it. Unfortunately, that is something I hear frequently in this house. No surprise really. He's been yelling it at me since he was 5. And, it's not just the "I hate you"'s that drive me banana's, it the out right disrespect that he shows to me and his father. He has a teenager's attitude in a 9 year old body. He talks back, will (it looks like anyway) deliberately disobey us, and worse of all, when he gets in trouble, he will yell, scream, and slam doors. For those without children on the Spectrum or with ODD, this may appall you, but I guarantee, many out there with Spectrum kids or ODD kids will tell you, this is normal place. And, for an outsider, it may look like we have an out of control child, but here's the thing, it's not him. It's not something he can control. And, honestly, he's not deliberately disobeying, it's probably more of the fact that what we said can not be processed correctly in order for him to receive the message and stop the behavior or attitude or do the things we have asked him to do. Think of it like this, consider our brains to be computers. Now, most computers process information quickly and efficiently. You give the computer a command and it does it instantly. An Autistic child or person, their brains are also computers, but when their modems were "hooked" up, the wires were crossed. So, they process information slowly, and not all commands reach the hard drive. You have to actually learn to parent a child on the Spectrum, especially if that child has ODD. Yes, your read that right, you have to learn to parent. And it can't be taught out of a book, trust me, I've tried. A few years back we started a therapy called PCIT or Parent-Child Interactive Therapy. PCIT taught us how to talk to him in order to build up his self esteem instead of tearing it down. I will tell you, this therapy helped us tremendously. However, at it's core, PCIT is for younger children (2-6 yrs old), and therefore, it's not translating very well into pre-teen adolescences.
For me, the worst time of day with Bryce is mornings. It's bad mainly because he does not want to go to school and his meds have not kicked in. Yes, I medicate him. No, I do not suggest that all parents do, but it is a decision every parent has to make for their own child. I admit, I fought medication hard at the beginning of our journey. In fact, the first therapist we went to made my worse fear come true... Which, at the time, was that she would spend 5 minutes with him then immediately jump to "you have to medicate". While it wasn't 5 minutes, it pretty much worked out just like that. She took my 5 year old child, sat him in a room for 2 1/2 hours, asking really stupid questions (like, what's another name for "Mom") and then counting him off for answering a really reasonable, and literal way (he told her another name for "mom" is "Regan". That's right, that's my name, it's another name for me. She was looking for "mommy" or "mother") then had the audacity to tell us that he was not Autistic and all that was wrong with him was ADHD because he wouldn't sit still for TWO AND A HALF HOURS while she "tested him" for ASD, and that we just needed to "medicate" him into submission. First, I don't know any 5 year old child that will sit still for 2 1/2 hours, let alone a kid with ADHD. I never argued the fact that he didn't have ADHD, just that, how can you tell when you try to make a 5 year old sit still for TWO AND A HALF HOURS. Second, one of the telling signs of an Autistic is that they answer and take things very literal. And, that's exactly what he did. He took her questions literally, and answered them. Third, she never did any tests that are considered, in the world of psychology, "Autism" tests. She just did the IQ test, and that was it. While there's no real definitive test for Autism, there are some tests that can judge if it may be a possibility, and she never did a single one of those. She billed our insurance for them, but never performed them. I know this because, when we took him for a second opinion, the new therapist tried to get approval for them, but couldn't because it showed they had already been administered, yet the records we got from her showed she never did (and we promptly turned her in for fraud). In the end, his school administered the tests, and it did show he was on the spectrum, and every single therapist we have taken him to since this particular doctor has also said he is on the spectrum. Moral of that story, always check out who the doctor is and their reputation before you actually go. But, anyway, I got off topic. Yes, Bryce is medicated. We realized fairly early on that we would have to. I liken him to one of those bouncy balls. You know, the ones that if you bounce them in a place that has no walls or grass, but has a way for them to bounce constantly forever.... That is Bryce before his medication takes effect. He literally bounces from room to room and sometimes, even off of the walls. Poor child was also blessed with his mother's coordination, as in we have zero. So, yeah, mornings are rough around here. Add to the bouncing ball, a smart mouth, and an attitude that could make even Ghandi nuts, and you have what it's like in my house in the mornings. This morning was particularly rough. One thing I have not mentioned here yet is that I also have some medical issues. I have gout, which is basically where my body does not filter out uric acid in my blood stream, therefore causes inflammation in my joints. I also have Fibromyalgia, which is basically like someone ran over me with a Mack Truck. AND, I also have a bad back. Spinal Stenosis (narrowing of the spinal cord), bulging disks (4 of them, yay...), and Degenerative Disk Disease. So, yeah, it's kind of like I'm a 38 year old stuck in a 90 year old's body. So, some mornings are harder then others. We just had a massive temperature shift. It was 90 degrees Sunday, and yesterday was 58. Back to 90's this weekend. So, I'm in a Fibro and Gout flare. So, I'm not sleeping and in tons of pain, in other words. So, I'm kind of miserable, and Bryce starts to tease his brother, which of course then makes Dylan whine and cry, which is kind of like nails on a chalkboard. Bryce thinks everything is a race. He wants to be the first one dressed, the first one done with breakfast, the first one to brush his teeth, and so on. He does this at school as well. He wants to be the first one done with tests and papers, which is one reason his grades have plummeted this year (for the other reason, see A Public Letter to Oklahoma Department of Education). So, he's running around (literally) singing "I beat the slow eater!", while trying to brush his teeth, and I'm saying over and over and over "Get at the sink!" because he can't stand still for the 2 minutes it takes for his toothbrush to play Party In The USA and brush his teeth, therefore getting toothpaste EVERYWHERE, not to mention, how well are those teeth being brushed if he's in the middle of singing while brushing? I'm trying hard not to loose it, cause trust me, in the mornings, that is extremely hard. Meanwhile, I can hear Dylan crying, because that's Dylan's thing... to cry and whine, and all I can think is... I NEED a vacation.