I've been giving little tidbits on fb about the events of this past week, and my friends have been awesome. But, it is time I tell the whole story.
For those of you that don't know, Red has Asperger's syndrome. The last few years have been quite the battle dealing with his many behavioral issues, and the carry-on baggage that comes with aspie: ADHD, sensory processing disorder, oppositional defiance disorder, and borderline obsessive tendencies. And puberty. Good Lord above, please let us not forget puberty. It is the gasoline that turned our small bonfire into a raging inferno.
The first time we considered that Red might be autistic, he was only 10 months old. He had already been exhibiting some attributes that I had never before seen in babies. Granted, Red was my first child. But my older sister had four children, and I had been around (and even lived with them) when her kids were tiny. Red was just different. His pediatrician told me to be extra patient, and be on the watch for anything truly disruptive. And that's what I did for several years.
While Red was a bit more high-maintenance than his little sister, we didn't have any major issues with him until first grade. School became such a challenge for him. And sadly, his school wasn't much help. No matter what I tried to do to help, they were unsupportive and resistant. Additionally, he was getting bullied, and there just seemed to be no end to the madness. After a very long and hurtful year, we decided to homeschool - something I thought I would NEVER do. Things calmed down after that, and even though Red was still a handful, life continued somewhat smoothly until he was about 11.
The pre-teen years hit Red hard, and suddenly, my fun and curious little boy became obstinate and moody. All. The. Time. It was exhausting. It caused problems with his baby sister and brother. It was horrible. And he became fearful and paranoid. If I tried to hug him, he'd scootch away. If he was disobeying, and I needed to grab his arm to get his attention, he would scream as if I'd burned him. When I asked his pediatrician about it, he said it was nothing serious, just be patient. So, we carried on, but things only got worse. He began cursing at us, screaming at us, shoving his younger siblings. He would lie about everything! Not just denying his disobedience like all kids, but lying about things that have no bearing or meaning at all, like what was said on a tv commercial. We started to look for a therapist that we could work with, but we just weren't fast enough. Suddenly, he became very violent. If he had done something mildly disobedient - like, not taking out the trash when I asked - and I were to question him, he would start lashing out. We had to start restraining him to keep him from injuring us or himself. And by restraining, I don't mean we locked him in a cage, don't get weird on me. I mean, we would forcibly bear hug him until he calmed down. If you ask him now what we were doing back then, he's said that we were hurting him, strangling him, trying to kill him. He has no understanding of how violent he was.
Things were spiraling out of control. When Red was 11, we got into an argument about him not completing some homework assignments. He ran out the front door of our apartment and started running to my dad's, who lived just down the hall. I ran after him and grabbed his arm. He swung around, and punched me square in the mouth. He got away, ran to my dad's. When I got there, he was screaming incoherently. When I tried to tell him to calm down, he pulled a butcher knife out of the block and told me he was going to stab me to death, and then kill himself. I couldn't take any more. We called the authorities and had him taken to a hospital where they would hopefully help him. Unfortunately, that isn't what happened. They released him the next day with no plan, no suggestions, nothing.
I sought help for Red on our own, and found a psychiatrist. After a very long session, she diagnosed him with all of the conditions I listed earlier. I felt relieved having something concrete. I know a lot of people think we shouldn't label kids, but for me, that label meant getting him the right help he needed. Unfortunately, that was a dead-end, as well. The psychiatrist wanted us to start working with one of her therapists to figure out exactly where Red stood. But, our health insurance didn't cover her therapists, and she refused to work with anyone that our insurance would cover. The last few years have been very much like this: we think we find something, but we can't utilize that service because of whatever reason. Door after door after door has been slammed in our faces. It has been frustrating and heart-breaking, and has ticked us off.
Since the knife incident, we've had a few more bouts of violence, each one getting worse than the last. While there have been tons of times where Red has shoved by me or struck out at me, in the past few years, there have been six incidents in which he's gotten downright violent and caused damage. And, I will be honest, I haven't reacted well to many of them. In the heat of the moment, I've hit back, I've yelled, I've lost my temper. Generally speaking, our family is in crisis, and we have needed help. But, again, doors have been slammed.
Ok, this story has already gotten pretty long. Now that I've gotten the background laid out, I will get more into the present time next post. In the meantime, I appreciate all the support we've received over Facebook. We are incredibly blessed to have the friends and support we do.