This weekend was one of those weekends where I saw Michael’s capabilities and limitations as well as my own. It was a weekend I was glad we were both starting to recognize our said strengths and weaknesses, even if there was still pain to be suffered in between. Michael did relatively well during the day on Saturday and Sunday, but come bedtime we are up against that old fear demon, ANXIETY and it is stronger than ever. The letting go, staying alone, and I think having the time to think is what is challenging for Michael. The other challenge of late for him is in hearing the word No, or do it this way. He will go out of his way to defy Dad and I only to lose even the positive things he would have gained. For example, for his bedtime routine he normally would get story, massage and me lying down with him for ten minutes. He goes out of his way to drag out the process, mock, stall, swear, and then wonders when it is late and I tell him he needs to go to bed. It breaks my heart to see lately this same routine happening again and again.
Another trigger that his anxiety is fueled by- homework. Even though he does not get a lot he fights and stalls and hits the table and makes life hard for both of us cursing everyone in his path to do the homework. When he finally does it though, he does it well, everyone is happy and things are fine. My heart breaks for him and I want to help, but I find lately that the more I give him chances, the more advantage of me or Dad that he takes. He will not use the stress management strategies he has, but tells me, “when I get better ones I will use those, OR “when I am 21 I will use those.” It is both comical and frustrating to watch him struggle and struggle alongside him. I love him and love the good moments I have with Michael. Yesterday we spent the entire day together. He was EXTREMELY sensory due to the warmer weather, and has tooth pain with more baby teeth about to fall out. Still, he did great at mass, extremely well at skating with me skating alone by himself, and in the park. Coming back home to homework proved difficult and challenging. I fear a lot of the stress of the day with being told to listen, stay quiet, not stim loudly in public, came out at the end of the day with aggressive hitting, swearing and insulting Dad and I. He finally calmed down, admitted his fault, and we were able to move forward.
Bedtime though the same pattern repeated. At the end of a very long day, I simply told Michael, he needed to sort himself out now. He could not hit, disrespect, yell and stall and expect Dad and I to indulge him every step of the way. This was not fair. He looked at me with tears in his eyes and told me he was sorry and he needed help to control his temper, anger and anxiety. I reminded him that that was what his school psychologist was helping him and us with, and that it would get better. But until then, he could not take advantage of us and abuse us because help was coming later. It tore at my heart to hear him struggling, but I knew I had to have him reap the consequences of not listening, and let him see that he did have some control to move forward. He was testing us so it was important we stay firm. We are learning how to live with one another, Michael with his tween hormones along with anxiety and autism, (and possibly ADHD), and us with laying the law down with Michael regardless, yet sympathetically. I take courage that he is recognizing his weaknesses, as am I, and that together with the help of “Team Michael” we will help him move forward.
Exceptional Parents, how do you get through testing behaviors and rough times in your Exceptional Family? How do you walk the fine line of loving support and firm discipline? It is not easy. Though as a family we are finding it with Michael, there are some days we are more successful than others. We do our best, learn from our mistakes, and move forward. Each day is a chance to start again. Until next time.