You know…I just don’t know what I’m doing wrong.
Yesterday the school called. Colt was out on recess and he got into a spat with a kid; he ended up kicking him and throwing stones at him….I just let out a huge sigh when I heard and didn’t even know what to say to Colt. I mean, I understand his stress is huge and that he’s struggling not only cognitively but (even more so) socially. I know it’s all very tedious and often stressful for him and I know he has almost no impulse control. Mixed with his father’s quick temper it’s a bit of a nightmare for him, I know, I know, I know. But. What do I do when nothing seems to stop him? We have taken everything away from him, toys, electronic stuff he loves to lose himself in, extra time at bedtime. We’ve made him do laundry, weed the garden and clean the floors….I’ve made him do lines, write letters and he’s been grounded and punished, yelled at, reasoned with, begged to comply….he just won’t concede. He’s stubborn as a mule (that would be a quality of mine that I’m regretting passing down) and, at the end of the day, he just doesn’t care. That, right there, is the biggest issue of all.
Most people who are autistic have trouble feeling empathy for others, or cannot seem to envision themselves in someone else’s shoes. Colt is very much affected by this and although he does display certain elements of empathy (cries when I cry, gets overwhelmed when someone gets really upset) he doesn’t really have that moral guide we mostly carry with us. He can hit someone and not even realize that he might hurt them or, that if he does hurt them he doesn’t realize the consequences. If it is HIM who gets hurt it’s a whole different story so we try, hard, to align that feeling inside him with the way other people feel when he hurts them. Tough thing to teach someone, let me tell you.
Last night we sat down as a family and talked about what was going on. Colt sat there, blinking with exaggerated patience while Dayne talked in circles. It was annoyance that read on his face, not fear or worry … he made it clear that he was tolerating the lecture but wasn’t really feeling it. That freaking terrifies me. Right now, he’s a ten year old boy who is trying to grow up and we’re trying to help him do it well, but I see a dim future ahead if we can’t get him to stop shoving kids around.
The issue, I think, is social. Kids don’t want to play with him anymore. He’s unpredictable, he’s swearing, he hits and freaks out when things don’t go his way (is that it or is he just frustrated??? It’s so horribly frustrating not to know and for him not to be able to tell us). Anyway, I think they’re telling him to go away now which, understandably, would hurt his feelings.
….I’m remembering back to the late summer when he curled up beside me on the couch and told me that some people don’t like him at school and that’s why he was swearing so much last year. Is it that he CAN communicate it but doesn’t want to? Why in the world would he not trust me? Does it embarrass him? He doesn’t seem embarrassed or hurt, he doesn’t cry about it, he’s not angry or upset…. God. When he was tiny and all he could do was scream all the time, I though that things would be so much easier when he could communicate his needs/wants/hurts to us. I was so wrong. This is way, way harder.
So the school needs a way to punish him since their usual methods are no longer working. I won’t tell them that our methods aren’t working either but they’re kind of not. We can threaten to sell his ipad and he takes us seriously, but the second we don’t do it the whole thing becomes meaningless. Can I really take away his one break time thing that helps him calm? Can I take away the only thing he engages in for his own pleasure? The kid has so little….
I’ve tried guilt (“you’re breaking my heart with this behaviour Colt – you’re such a nice guy…why are you treating people so badly?”). It doesn’t stick. We’ve tried anger, but it just gives Colt a new and improved model for being a dick to his peers and teachers. We tried threatening the worst punishment ever and the fucking school called the CAS on us because he was hysterical about getting in trouble one day.
So. Every day he wakes up and says he hates school. Every day (ish, now) I get a call from a teacher, principal or support worker who tells me that Colt isn’t doing his work, following rules, hell…they can’t even get him to apologize anymore. Every afternoon I pick up a sullen kid who lies, flat out, about his behaviour that day and doesn’t even care if I call him out on it.
“Love, why did you hit that kid?” I’ll ask gently.
“I dunno” is the usual answer.
“Is he making you angry?”
“Yes, he’s a big bully and he bullies me all the time!” he supplies.
“Colt, honey, is that the truth or a lie?”
“It’s the truth!”
“Honest? Remember the last time you said that someone was bullying you and it was really a lie? Mom felt stupid telling everyone he was picking on you when it was just a story.” I try.
“Okay mom. It was a lie. He’s not bullying me.”
Is THAT a lie? Is he telling the truth? I don’t know anymore. Sometimes he’ll say something is his fault that is not, in any way, his fault. Sometimes he tells me that people hit him at school and it’s bullshit.
I feel sick. Back to payroll, I guess. Keep my brain going until I can sleep again. I feel like such a rotten mother. I know I had a terrible example but for the amount of love and effort I kind of expected a bit more payoff.
*tears at work. Not good*.
About GrainneMy name is Grainne. This blog has been with me for years now and has served as a journal, a confessional, an outlet and a place for me to create and express my love of life. Thank you for stopping by and for becoming a part of this life long journey of mine. I appreciate every single one of you who takes the time to do so. :)
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