Questioning your coping mechanisms

3 Jan

One of Those Days

Image by rosefirerising via Flickr

Some days are great and others… not so great… yesterday was one of the latter!

Unfortunately a family row commenced at home yesterday (something I wont go into on the blog) however I do believe that as a result of this, a series of high-profile challenging behaviour was demonstrated by my little man. In all honesty, the behaviour was off the scale and I really did struggle to maintain sanity!

I do understand that arguments should not break out in front of children, especially those on the autism spectrum, already easily tipped into an overly anxious state of being, but I’m human and there are times certain situations commence, especially when you find half the arguments are caused by something or another your child on the spectrum may have done or said, worse the person who is arguing with you just can’t leave it a lone, refusing to stop!

I thought it would properly be a good idea to take the children to my mothers, we could see my mum and chill for a bit! Little man could spend some time playing the PS3 with my sister’s boyfriend and all should convert to something far merrier! My plan was going ever so well, though as the evening approached, little man began getting worse and worse… before I knew it, he was throwing a load of nasty swear words at me, why proceeding to kick, punch and lastly spit at me.

God I felt like running away and staying away! When your child has a tendency to throw a load of offensive nasties in your face, you tend to get used to it (in a wrong kind of way) though sometimes such obscenities hurt a thousand times more than any violence… and this time his awful name calling was becoming much to hard to bare. Little man finished his almighty meltdown with a hard punch in my arm and a thump in his sisters back, all while his little brother of two sat screaming! It was at this moment I actually thought… Maybe it would be better if his not here any more, maybe he should live some place else!

I felt such a mix of overbearing emotions as I tortured myself over the thought that had entered my head! I felt assumed and heartbroken how I could even think such a thing! Yet.. at that time as he stood showing no remorse for his actions and I watched how he continued to lash out at his sister, I know I couldn’t help it, I just couldn’t! Every time I stood trying so hard to reason with him, he’ll just laugh and swear! I seriously felt complete despair, lost on where we go from here! I just felt like going to bed forever!

Day’s like this, I wonder what happened to my Little red-haired boy? Though he was always noticeably different, he would sit watching his favourite Thomas video or sit happily playing (even if it was mainly alone… he seemed happy, that’s what counted)! Not anymore! I just see an angry child, who gets anxious, depressed, violent, and often acts in quite an evil and scary manner!

As my Little man grows into someone who actually doesn’t resemble that of a little man at all, I fear for him, I fear for us as a family! At 11 he is reaching the stages of puberty and with it I notice so much more anger, the ability to care less about the people who get hurt in the cross fire. I therefore question my ability to control such behaviour, longing for an answer! As the little man grows bigger, stronger and sadly more violent, I worry he will hurt himself, me or his siblings! Though there is one thing that I fear that little bit more…. Asking for help!

9 Responses to “Questioning your coping mechanisms”

  1. clairelouise82 January 4, 2012 at 7:09 pm #

    Thank you so much to all that took the time to comment! I cannot thank you all enough and your kind honest words have given me lots to think about. Thanks Claire Louise.xx

  2. Gavin Bollard January 4, 2012 at 5:29 am #

    Hi Claire,

    I’m sorry that you had such a tough day. You do sound like you need a little time-out with your daughter. I wonder if he could go to respite care for a few hours?

    Possibly one of the reasons that you’re afraid to seek help is that everyone else around you seems to have “perfect kids” and no problems. This simply isn’t true. There are lots of people in the same boat as you. It’s just that many parents won’t be honest and admit that they struggle.

    I think that you’re very brave to acknowledge that you need some help and it makes you a very good mother.

    Your home situation sounds difficult and it’s obvious that little man’s behaviour needs to change.

    It’s not ok that he hits you or shouts at you. It’s not ok that he does this to his sister either. If you allow this to continue, you’ll probably hear from your daughter in years to come; saying “why did you let him do this to me”.

    It has to stop – and it has to stop now, before he gets much older and stronger.

    There’s also the problem that he’ll soon be going places by himself and if he attacks someone, he could end up on the wrong side of the law or if he attacks a much bigger opponent, he could be badly hurt. You’re seeking intervention for his sake as much as your own.

    What to do?

    Here’s some suggestions;

    – See a psychologist to find out the best way for him to let those negative feelings out.

    – See a counsellor, for yourself and for little man, to help him to understand how these things hurt you and to help you to feel better (because it must be taking a toll on you).

    – See a child-friendly expert on discipline. I’m not sure who this would be but the police may be able to find someone who can help.

    – Consider exposing him to discipline-based activities, such as scouting. They can be a lot of fun and offer a lot of freedom while still teaching kids to be responsible and caring. Note: Not all scout groups are equal. Find one that cares for your son and his issues.

    – Tighten discipline at home (by this, I mean rules and consequences, not punishments).

    I’m really not sure how you do this without a man around (hope you won’t take offence at that). I say man because of sheer strength and perhaps a bit of “father figure” leadership. A strong female offsider could probably do just as well. It’s just that as his mother, you’re there to provide love. It’s hard to provide both love and discipline at the same time which is why multi-parent scenarios are often easier.

    The problem is … how do you pay for all of this? There must be some sort of social service you can call on – and if all else fails, maybe register for super-nanny?

    One thing is for sure. You can’t do nothing. The problem will worsen if left unchecked.

    Best of luck, My thoughts are with you.

  3. Keith Dunnett January 3, 2012 at 4:19 pm #


    Don’t be scared of seeking help, including when it raises the possibility that Little Man may at some time need a level of care that cannot be provided to him at home, a level of educational support that cannot be provided to him in a mainstream school, or a level of psychiatric and/or psychotherapeutic support that doesn’t make itself an appointment.

    I will not bore you with my history from age 11 to 14, but let me not waste words: the greatest act of love my parents showed for me, after three years of a similar situation, was to accept that I needed a level of care they could not provide.

    That doesn’t mean they gave up; they worked ceaselessly with mental health teams, my myriad schools, the LEA, social services and anyone else who would listen. At 14, after a near miss with a knife and a child protection conference, I was accommodated by the local authority. It took them a year and three placements to conclude that I had needs that could not be met by any residential provision at their disposal, CAMHS (or whatever it was then called) didn’t find it hard to agree that I had needs that could not be met within the borough, and the LEA found themselves forced to admit they weren’t meeting my needs either.

    The result was that (without even a diagnosis), those three agencies came together to fund a four year placement at a residential therapeutic community, This helped because they threw enough resources at it and because everybody was routinely talking to everybody else. As you’ll know, getting this to happen between parents/carers, teachers and medical professionals in the wider world feels like trying to make water flow uphill.

    I fear you might be surprised, perhaps even offended, that I take you seriously about this. Most mothers would be, I think, and having allowed yourself to voice the thought that “maybe he should live someplace else”, I don’t expect it to be very long before the way you feel towards it as a mother comes back to “over my dead body”.

    So, let me be clear: what I’m responding to is your concern about asking for help, not the fear that “maybe he should live someplace else”. My advice is go ask for that help ASAP, even as you fear the day might come he needs help that can’t be provided at home. Rest assured that none of the agencies you approach will favour swooping in and “taking him away”.

    By seeking help when needed, you are not setting off some cataclysmic chain of events that sets in motion a process of Little Man leaving home unless a variety of outside agencies concur with you in seeing the need. You are, however, putting yourself into a situation where his needs start to be documented in context of home and social life as well as of school. That does not mean that they will immediately be met, but they will be documented, and if his needs should ever spill over to a point where your fears start to be realised, help might be available in a more timely fashion. If you start seeking it while he’s eleven, you might actually get some help by the time he’s fourteen or fifteen when there’s an appreciable risk that it could be needed.

    Whether or not this will ever apply to Little Man is not for me, from the end of my Internet connection, to say, but I want to conclude by reiterating that there is no shame in finding that one is not an expert at everything (for all that parents are expected to be). You’d have no hesitation in seeking urgent medical intervention if your child had acute appendicitis, for instance, you’d have no hesitation in seeking long-term professional support and intervention from suitably trained third parties if he were blind or deaf. Therefore, if your child has a pervasive developmental disorder with acute episodes of challenging and/or violent behaviour… why should you fear seeking help?

  4. Special Needs Mum January 3, 2012 at 1:13 pm #

    Sorry to read about your troubles, Claire. My AS boys are 14 & 12 and when they’re deep in puberty you’re never sure what is AS behaviour and what is just being a grumpy teen. Which makes for a grumpy Mum, under pressure and about to blow.
    Then you feel like the worst parent and that you should have more patience etc. Have a large glass of wine, it usually helps. Sending best New Year wishes!

  5. Austin January 3, 2012 at 1:02 pm #

    Firstly, you’ve come through it and are able to look back over the event which is good. Secondly…..big hug…..few people understand just what that feelling is like to have someone so dear you say things and act in that way.

    Thirdly……to what happened……well… did bloody marvellous!! You recognised what was happening and did the things you knew should help so your coping strategy was good and 9 times out of 10 this will work….you saw the situation could develop and acted on it :o) Where it didn’t work this time is I’m afraid just one of those things Autism springs on us. All your actions helped him when he was doing them but the seed had been planted and rather than these things clearing his head it just hid the issue for a while as it brewed somewhere deep inside. Often when a certain critical stage of anxiety is reached then it has to be released. Most of us blow our tops when things happen but for many on the spectrum the reaction can be delayed and not presented until later. It would seem that was the case here…..the atmosphere upset him but rather than move on from it inside he let it brew inside until much later on. Physical activity can sometimes help in such situations as it can ‘burn’ the rage off but still it can happen that at a later point they will show that behaviour. As an example one young lady I worked with who was well known for destroying things once had her bath run 5 mins late! The staff in question expected bad things to happen so every ‘distractor’ was used after her bath to keep her happy… worked…..smiling person…….noooooo…….9 hours later in the dead of night she destroyed her room! So don’t be hard on yourself with this as you did what you could but this was a situation where no matter his behaviour was going to show. What you could maybe do is look at how the situation is coped with when he does reach that point. Is there a quiet,blank area he can be left in/led to so he can timeout and shout to himself etc that you know is safe. Some stress relief items can be a great help for rage to be worked out on. Sometimes when the steam builds up too much it can’t be released easily and needs a bang!

    Well done for being a great mum!

  6. Nicole Clark Sterley January 3, 2012 at 12:57 pm #

    OMW – I feel for you! We are still going through the assessment process, but it would seem (at this stage at least) that my son (aged 8) is not that bad in the great scheme of things. We have our meltdowns – most days – but they are manageable and we are all trying hard (him too) to keep them under control. Puberty does worry me as anger does seem to be one of our issues, but guess we will have to deal with that when we get to it.

    I wish you all the best and please do ask for help if/when you need it – some things are mean’t to be shared and not handled all on your own.

    If this helps… my mother in law told me this when I found out I was pregnant with twins – ‘God doesn’t give you anything you can’t handle’. I have found this very inspiring at times! :¬)

  7. Kate Cunningham January 3, 2012 at 12:48 pm #

    I’m sorry you had such an awful day. Please don’t feel bad about asking for help. Help with an SEN child should be an entitlement not something you have to beg for. I don’t suppose the situation would have been helped by the fact that it was the holidays and he was out of his routine etc. No answers to give just a big cyber hug x take care


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