Figuring out what I wanna be when I grow up.
Oop..I AM grown up...

Friday, March 4, 2011

There Is No Progress Without Pain


The behavioural therapist came on Wednesday.  I found her online a few weeks ago.  She works with Autistic kids, and she's even LOCAL, so I was very excited.  What spurred me on to calling her was another of many rock-bottom days in which I scream too much, the kids fight too much with everyone, and I get smacked around and verbally a just-turned-seven year old, or a just-turned-four year old. 

Jack is a very sweet boy--underneath all the frustration and angst.  Lately though he'd been worse than ever:  worse tantrums, more hitting, more spitting out venemous, hate filled epithets and exclamations.  When he's at school, he's very well behaved, and very agreeable.  At home he balks at everything we ask him to do just about.  I wonder how many other moms (parents) of kids on the spectrum are trapped in their homes because they gave up a long time ago having that battle just to be able to go to the store to get some milk, or to go outside for a walk.  I wonder if these moms then became apathetic to the judgemental world around them, sheltered their child and isolated themselves, and then found so much comfort in their own insular way of life that they in turn felt anxiety whenever they needed to leave their own protective walls?   But I'm getting off topic...kinda...

So, Belinda (* name has been changed) finally arrived tonight.  And not a moment too soon.  I had a horrendous morning getting the kids ready for school:  son driving daughter crazy, daugther being filled with rage..daughter refusing to brush teeth..big fight ensues...I got clubbed on the wrist with the TV remote...4 year old sister kicked 7 year old brother in the head...etc, etc.  Then, when I finally snapped and started crying, Jack laughed.  And then I said terrible things.  Action--reaction. 


Anyhoo, she had a lot of great insight and advice.  For instance, she said that when Jack's at school, he understands that his teachers are in control.  However, when he's at home, he thinks he's in control.  So, he tries to order us around to control the environment completely, and calls us names, etc.  As well, he has turned his sister into his "toy," because he loves her reaction to his pestering. 

One of our biggest problems is that when he comes home for lunch, he does NOT want to go back to school, and we have a monstrous fight about it every time.  Belinda suggested that what happens here is that he calls us a bunch of names, and there's really no consequence, because off he goes to school afterward-- uncontested.  So, she's all in favour of the good old "time out," which we do, but not as regularly as we should, since I wondered if they even worked for a kid like Jack anyway.  She said that if he acts up too much at lunch time we have to give him a time out.  If he keeps acting out, we keep giving him time outs until he calms down--even if he's late for school.  He will NOT like being late for school, because it will be a huge upset to his routine (having to go in the front door by the office and all), so he'll quickly get the message. 

The best part was when Jack was mildly flipping out on The Man because his Dad wouldn't immediately drop everything to come type in a search word on youtube for him.  Belinda stepped in and BEHAVIOURIZED HIM.  She used the firm voice and then gave him a command.  Jack, surprised and mildly stunned, just looked at her with wide eyes and did what she bade him to do.  That was WICKED. 

Belinda also told us that Ella has learned a lot of behaviours from Jack (gee, imagine that), and instead of having a MONSTROUS FIGHT with her to get her to brush her teeth, we could set up a 'reward chart' for her, and if she gets, say, five stickers for being good in a row, she gets a fun reward like "baking with mom" or something.  See?  Sounds like a silly, obvious thing, but it was like a little lightbulb lit up over my head. 

So, tonight we got to practice already (gee, imagine that), and Jack had to have what felt like one, big, endless TIME OUT.  It was just like on "Super Nanny," where the poor, bags-under-the-eyes parent has to keep dragging the kid back to the TIME OUT spot, and the kid is screaming and crying, and protesting, and trying to knock things over, and flipping out, and biting, and hitting, and name calling, and then eventually he calmed down and when he was done, he came and sat on my lap and put his little arm over my shoulders. 

I'm tired.  We have had many days of battling, and harsh words, and being at odds with each other.  I have ended many days in despair, envisioning a whole life ahead of me with nothing but strife and sadness.  Nobody likes "time outs."  Nobody likes seeing their kids in emotional agony.  No child wants to feel like this.  I'm sure of it. 

When I came into the kitchen to eat my dinner, Jack started singing a little song.  "Do you know that song, Mom?"  he asked.  I told him no, I'd never heard it, and asked where he'd learned it.  He said that he'd learned it in Music Class that day.  Then he remembered he had a copy of it in his school bag.  "I'll go get it!" he said. 

"Here Mom, here's my new song," Jack said.

"Okay," I said, and then I started reading it.  And then I crumpled, and couldn't read any further.  I just couldn't stop crying.

Jack asked; "are ya crying about my song?

"Yes," I told him.

 "Mom," he said, "it's OKAY."  Then he thought for a moment. 

"Does it make you sad?"  he asked?

"No," I said.  "It's a nice song.  It's a very nice song."

Think On These Things

When you open up your eyes,
and take in the world around you,
is it good or bad in ev'rything you see?

We can fill our minds with light.

We can turn away from darkness,
and think about the wonder of these things.

Like love for each other, my sister, my brother.

On mercy, on peace and unity.
More joy and less sorrow, bright hope for tomorrow.

On goodness, on truth and purity.
Think on these things.

There is beauty in this life.

There is charity and honour.
And we don't even have to look that far.
It's in the faithfulness of friends,
or the kindness of a stranger.
All these seeds are planted in our hearts.


Like love for each other, my sister, my brother.
On mercy, on peace and unity.
More joy and less sorrow, bright hope for tomorrow.
On goodness, on truth and purity
Think on these things.

La la la la la.
La la la la la la la la la.
Think on these things.



  1. wow, that song has great lyrics for kids who struggle with choosing to be happy or kind or see the beauty in life. and maybe good for parents too.
    how cool that you got a behavior therapist to your house! you guys are going to be the crazy super nanny family, but in a few weeks, after consistency and firmness, you're going to all be smiling & playing in the yard. (that's how it always happens on the show, isn't it?)
    hang in there, you can be that strong mom who's in charge of the house with happy, baking children & less screaming and crying.

  2. Hi Karen. Sherilin told me about your site. I have an aspie girl, and although very different, it is good to know others and read about others! I am sure you'll have some great success with the therapist.

  3. show 'em who's boss karen! since jack likes routine and consistancy, he will start to know what to expect when he acts up, that might be a relief to a kid who needs to know what will happen consistant and do not crack,even if you must stand in the kitchen and swear under your breath as you down some wine!we will pray for your family. oh yeah,that song might be a hymn, it seems really familiar.

  4. Karen I am so glad the therapist is working to help you. What she said can help me with my son, who even though he is not autistic, he has picked up some bad habits. I hope you have a good weekend, hang in there and remember it is harder to be a good mom than a bad mom because we have to say NO a lot.

  5. Good for you Karen. I know you've been struggling. Now is the perfect time to regain that power. xoxox

  6. I'm so happy you got a behaviour therapist to your home Karen. I hope it helps.
    I have a friend back home with 3 kids. Ages 11,9,2. The nine year old has an extremely rare case i think only 600exist that they no of in the US and Canada. When he was conceived the tip of his chromosone broke there isnt a name for it really. Anyways he cannot talk or communicate. He can walk and feed himself but not potty trained. Anyways he is very destructive and feels no pain. He has smashed everything in their home. He flooded the house you name it. She cant have anything nice like the xmas tree has to be fenced off. The school teaches him to sign but she has no energy to do it at home. He just runs around like a lunatic breaking things. They have to lock him in his room so he cant get out in the night plus he has no street sense like cars so there deck has to be secured. Anyways her life is basically hell and she has been searching for help or answers it is such a strange case.
    I thought this might make you feel better...knowing there are parents out there with tough battles. Oh she had her baby a surprise at 40! She was not a happy camper about that one!

  7. Crazy Supernanny family is right, sherilin! Love the bit about us all playing together in the yard after all is said and done, har har.

    Yeah, the song had good lyrics, and kinda worked the same way a knife to the heart works on a guilty jerk.

  8. Why thank you, Creatingme. It's nice of you to stop by. It's always nice to find people in the SAME BOAT, so to speak, but that doesn't just apply to the sprectrum, but to anyone who is a sympathetic/empathetic ear.
    How old is your daughter, by the way?

  9. It could well be a hymn Paula. Jack's music teacher is the cousin of your friend Janelle's. Anyhoo, good observations on Jack's improvement thanks to a more rigid routine at home. I know it's been lacking, and a lot of that is due to my own laziness :)

  10. Thanks Alaina! It's cool that you got something out of as well. I mean, Jack has the typical kid issues, except his are probably TIMES TEN, but just the same, a lot of them aren't unfamiliar problems.

  11. thanks Nerdo. I will regain the power....after I fork out MUCHOS DINEROS.

  12. oh wait...I'm supposed to not focus on the $$ aspect of it, right?

  13. Pam, that's an interesting, but heartbreaking story. I know that things could be a lot worse, that's for sure! I only went to a few Autistic kids' parents support meetings, because usually the kids were way more severe than Jack, and it was difficult to relate to them on many levels. I remember one Mom whose son NEVER EVER RELAXED AND SAT DOWN. He was hyper go, go, go all the time. She had to turn her basement into a play/climbing/jungle gym area just for him to try to burn off some of his monstrous energy. She looked TIRED.

  14. Karen, You need to be QUEEN of your house.

    Spectrum or not, kids nature is to take control,and then in turn they feel insecure because there is no boundaries.

    The fighting between the kids, you are going to have to find ways to separate them in play and whatever and KEEP on TOP of IT.

    You are gonna have to have a NO FIGHTING bottom line.

    I am not preaching at you but, I have 4 kids who like each other and hang out with each other and miss each other.

    That did not happen by mistake.

    A PAIN in my ass for sure, my life was not my own. VEry few moments spent doing my thing until after bedtime.

    but you will reap what you sow and you will gain your control back and respect from your kids.

    BUT I can honestly say it has paid off.

    wanna know my motivation?

    I had a sister who hated my guts as much as I hated her guts.

    My sister hated the ground I walked on and wanted NOTHING TO DO WITH ME my whole growing up. I can count 2 nice things she did for me.

    when I was in grade 2 she let me sit in a chair with her.
    In grade 12 she lent me her key to get in side the house when I was locked out.

    the rest was hell and we have no relationship whatsoever.

    we fought like cats and dogs daily.

    I never never wanted my kids to have that, and trust me they would have, and hubby and I had to work at it.

    I always told them they had to get along because one day we parents would not be here and the only family they are going to have is each other, so they better make it count.

    they heard that weekly.
    they were not aloud to sass one another, lip each other off, no name calling, no tongues sticking out, no pinching, no hitting , slapping , kicking...if they had a problem with the other child they were to come to me and not take matters into their own hands.

    when they were miserable with each other they each had an area of the house to play and the other was not to enter it for a period of time.

    we also had to get creative with our time outs.

    so at home if they were especially notty they had to have their noses on the wall, or face the corner for a few minutes.

    in the van when they were doing the stupid " she looked at me "

    the offender had to raise their hands to the ceiling for a couple of minutes....we must have been a sight to drive past at times because all four kids wouldhave both arms stretched to the roof.

    no talking or the minutes increased.....
    they were always always, made to aplogise with a nice heart.

    we stressed the good heart bad heart attitudes....and what was inside the heart that made them react....frustration, anger, boredom, control...we tried to give the kids a vocabulary.

    we parents have to be on our ball...and it is horribly horribly difficult at the time...but I just want to encourage you that you can do it.

    the more you do the more life will settle down after the kids realized who is in charge and you will notice life won't be so hectic, so overwhelming, and so miserable.

    just so you know I had kayti who from the ages of 12-16 was a child who I wanted to toss of her ass and never see again...she was soooooooooooo lippy, with attitude, that I have no time for...she got her whole room taken away except for her blankets and mattress, until duh, the lightbulb moment kicked in and she was like crap my parents mean business, and she witnessed my belly crying ...screaming "just tell her she won!!!!!" "just tell her she won" she was 16 and had to witness her mom fall apart because of HER lippy attitude.

    ALL THAT HARD WORK Paid off and she is the JOY OF MY LIFE... I LOVE SPENDING time with her...

    YOu can do it Karen, you can do it.

    you can raise kids that will respect you with words and deed...I know you can!!!!

    dicipline them with their currency...if jack likes to draw then take away some drawing time...if he likes lego, then take that away...speak his currency.

  15. Karen I wrote as much as I already wrote and had to get rid of it..because it was so much...I could give you more ideas and more tips...I was not a perfect parent and care to not remember the bad moments...but I do and my kids don't!

    when you are wrong then you apologise, but, don't let them make you feel like a shitty all the tantrums and hissy fits because yo are disipining them... they will get over is just an act to get what they want..

    anyhow I don't feel like writing what i said twice..just hang in there, don't drop the ball, nip things in the are so lucky to have someone step in and give you encouragement and ideas!

    you can do it I know you can!

  16. oh , Kayti hated being sent to her room, she is so social!

    if she was really bad the door got shut, and that made her crazy mad, if she had a hissy fit the time increased..finally she realized she was not going to win, and she gave in and calmed down.

    she was surely 4-16 years old, and that was her currency...she hated not knowing what was going on in the house, hated not seeing or hearing...

  17. I always talk about her because she was the worst kid...Elizabeth was bad too, but not in the same way. and the boys just watched and took notes, i swear, because for some reason they were not bad at all.

  18. Hmm...Melissa, that is some excellent advice. I think I am on top of all these things, but I know there are moments when I'm so burnt out and sick of them, that I don't leap into every situation, and you're right--you DO have to be on top of EVERYTHING if you want to succeed, because it's CONSISTENCY, CONSISTENCY, CONSISTENCY.

    Glad things worked out with your daughter. Has your stress decreased lately?

  19. Yeah, I do try to nip many things in the bud, and I'm not afraid to apologise to my kids when I've been a jerk. I have been moving them to different rooms a lot lately, and though it's only been a few days, it helps. Hmm...let me scroll on down to see what else you had to say....

    Ha..that's interesting about your kids! There is that whole NATURE/NURTURE thing though too, because my sister has two girls that were just born calmer and less stubborn. Jack was angry from the moment he popped out (or frustrated maybe I should say), and Ella was LOUD and hot headed. The fighting between my nieces is NOTHING like the fighting between my kids, but then Jack is a PEST GENIUS. Even as I realised how annoying he is, I realise on a small level how freaking creative he is with the ways he comes up with pestering his sister. Not that I'd ever tell HIM that.

  20. Loved this - I got weepy eyed at the end. I think you aren't afraid to talk about what the rest of us are. Being frustrated, not having perfect kids and saying bad words. Been there :-)
    I used the "naughty chair" from Nanny 911 with Sarah - worked 2 times fine, 3rd time I had to put her back in it over and over again. 30 minutes later.....she was naked, jumping the couch and laughing/screaming down the hall to get out of the chair. Dave took over and she sat no problem. It was like breaking her spirit - like a horse. UGH - I cried. Positive parenting, re-inforcements, rules and consistency works best for Sarah. Every kid is different - Matthew would stand in his door and wait for his time out to be done.
    Keep us updated - love reading about your kids.
    You are a great, normal mom who loves her family :-)

  21. thanks Michelle. As for your daughter--you said exactly what I felt "when we broke the spirit" of the kid, THEN they calmed down. And I think I compared it to a horse as well at some point. sad, but necessary I guess.

  22. You are courageous. Not just for shelling out the $, as you say, but for the humble heart it takes just to say, 'A little help, please.' to the outside world.

    And yes, I agree a parent's worst enemy is our own inconsistency.

    I can smell peace and contentment. It's a little like your favourite garden flowers. :)

  23. Well thanks Matt, what a nice thing to say. It's making me all choked up, but this is partly due to the melancholy feel of Sunday, pondering why some kids are more accepting of their peers than other kids, and that heartbreaking Holocaust program I was just watching.


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