Today was promotion Sunday, an annual event through our homeschool group. It is usually a big deal with all the kids going up to receive their promotion certificates, and graduates of both the eighth grade and high school. I don't have any pictures; we barely managed to get there. Today was one of THOSE days. Those who have kids with autism will understand. We just keep on, keeping on, trying not lose ourselves.
My son is twelve, going on sixteen, he thinks. He has a real problem with being told what to do.
every interaction between us seems to go like this:
Me: polite request
me: again,with the polite request
Him: "logical" reason why he should not comply
me: a bit more forceful request
Him: complaints about how I think he is stupid/difficult/it's not his fault, it's mine
me: [frustration ensues...either walk away and take a deep breath or yell]
Him: [depending upon what I do] yells at me, how I am such an idiot and I don't get it..
me: come back,and try again, cajole/plead/explain why he would do whatever it is I wanted him to do in the first place
Him: [grudging compliance]
Part of the problem is that he and my youngest are absolutely oil and water these days. JBean, my youngest, is usually a very happy little girl. Unfortunately, this extends to her high-pitched voice, often singing, or talking, incessantly. It makes my JBear, my son, crazy. He starts lashing out, and getting on edge, and will say mean things to her about can't she just shut up, and her voice is driving him crazy...hurtful things. She doesn't know how to fight back verbally (nor should she learn...he is out of line) so she does one of two things. She will either hit him, or yell at him. Neither of these things are particularly useful in dealing with him, and often make things worse. Where am I, you ask? Probably the bathroom, or taking the dog out, or loading the dishwasher....I cannot be in their face 100% of the time. They have to learn not to aggravate one another. Of course, when there are problems, I am always right there. Often the damage is done.
My son has no remorse. I realize this is part of his autism, no matter how high-functioning it may be. The lack of mirror neurons that allow empathy are definitely a hindrance for him. As a teenager, his cerebral cortex is not quite connected to his brain. He is in fight or flight, all the time...he sees the entire world as against him. He is rarely sorry, and doesn't think he ever does anything wrong. He does not admit mistakes and generally has a self-absorbed entitlement attitude. I did not raise him this way, and am still trying to fix it. Often, I feel like I am banging my head against a wall. I know he is trying...but he just has such a long way to go. I feel like I am not helping him much. I seem to be the problem, as far as he is concerned. He is oblivious to his role in the whole mess.
Today, while I was trying to finish in the kitchen, he was having a hard time with his sister. Everyone ended up yelling at everyone else, and I had had enough. JNerd tries to out yell them, and it doesn't work. I told them all I was not going to live like this anymore; I have had it. We weren't going today, not with the way they were acting. So I decided to take a drive for a bit, to cool down. After about ten minutes, I came back, a bit calmer. Apparently, all hell had broken loose while I was gone. My son had tried to goad my husband into a physical altercation. He hit my husband, as hard as he could. Apparently, it was side-stepped, and I was able to defuse the situation. We ended up going to the ceremony, and everyone was on their best behavior.
When we returned home, I tried talking to my son, and he was not receptive at that point. He hates to be called out on his behavior, and will deflect as much as he can. I stayed calm for the most part, and finally was able to get through to him, for now. Eventually, my son did admit he was wrong, but it was several hours later.
Remember, on top of this, I also deal with a younger one who was diagnosed with autism, as well. She has her own issues, usually pertaining to transitions, change, rigidity, anxiety and MamaMustBeThereAtAllTimes. The worse he gets, the more she clings to me. The more unrest in our home the more she clings to me. She tries so hard, but she has a hard time coping at times. That means relying upon me, more often than not.
I am DRAINED. Exhausted, and really questioning every decision for my children I have made thus far. I am hoping tomorrow will bring more clarity. So tonight, I sleep. And pray and hope that I figure out what I am doing wrong. Autism is hard. Teen boy is hard. Putting the two together: feels insurmountable. My migraines have gotten more frequent and worse. I don't sleep well. I am, so far, staving off the depression that threatens to crush me. (I eat well and exercise, both help) But so help me, if I survive his growth into manhood, I hope it is with my soul intact.