Have we been going about this all wrong?!?!

The “A” word is something we deal with a lot in our house.  How it manifests itself.  How we react to it.  How we handle it.  How we combat it.  How we stifle it. Due to our last therapy session and some information revealed to me by my son; I think we are fighting the wrong “A” word.  I think we are going about this whole mess the wrong way.
Look at this sweet, curious and proud face.  How does a creature that is so sweet and loving become so aggressive and angry.  How do we go from empathetic and cuddly to angry and aggressive in 5 seconds flat.  People who do not spend any amount of time with him take one look and think I’m nuts! There’s no way that he acts like that.  People who have been there to witness it stare in disbelief and fear for the complete 180 he turns.  He truly can be Jekyll and Hyde.

In the classroom, it has manifested itself as throwing objects to include books and desks, destroying property like his pencil box and dry erase board, hurting himself or others, hiding under his desk and head banging and threats against himself and others to outlandish to even repeat. 

At home, it manifests in screaming and yelling, throwing things, hitting, hiding, running, kicking in our bedroom door, and saying things like “No one even loves me”, “Everybody hates me”, “I hate my life”, “I am stupid” etc.

Anger flows out of him like a volcanoe erupting.  Its is heart breaking and scary.  When he gets like this I can barely contain him, and he’s 8 and weighs 60lbs.  What will 16 be like? Or, 10?  12? 40?

We started in home behavioral therapy and monthly counselor visits.  And while we have seen some improvement, its not really enough to write home about.  It seems like the episodes are getting worse instead of better.  The harder we try the worse it gets. 

The monthly visits up until yesterday were mostly about collecting background information and the whys.  Why do I think he needs to be there?  Why does the school think he needs to be there?  Why does Roo think he needs to be there? etc.  Two weeks ago she talked to Roo a little bit about different feelings,  showed him some emotion charts etc.  After that she decided he needed to be seen more often. We now go bi-weekly. 

That brings us to yesterday!  On the way to our appointment, Roo was restless and fidgety in the back seat.  He didn’t utter two words to me the whole trip.  I tried to ask him about his day. No response.  I left him be.  When we pulled up to his appointment, he refused to get out of the car. He didn’t want to go!  “I hate doctors!” “I am not going!” I said fine stay in the car and roast I am going in.  He got up and came in with me.  We checked in and went straight back, I love that we never have to wait more than 5 minutes for his therapist.  She asked him about his week and then wanted to do an exercise with him that quite frankly seemed a little hokey to me. I actually thought, “this is what I’m paying for?”  But atlas it was one of the most eye opening experiences I have had in regards to Roo in a long time.

The exercise:
She had him name the four food groups and then he had to name a small and big item in each group.  i.e., grape and watermelon, peanut and steak, wheat and bread, shredded cheese and milk (These are what he picked)

Seemed silly, right?  She then explained that a grape and a watermelon were both fruits but one was big and one was little.  Duh?  I honestly at this point was less than
impressed.
She then took out a white board and wrote MAD SAD GLAD SCARED across the top.  Explaining that like the four food groups there were four emotional groups and asked him to pick some words that fit each category.  So he picked

MAD
SAD
GLAD 
SCARED
Jealous
Bored
Delighted 
terrified
Furious
Upset
Happy
cornered
Frustrated
Lonely
Playful
frightened
Angry
confused
Silly
Panicked
She then had him pick two different colored markers.  To my amazement he picked black and YELLOW, not RED. (That is a whole new blog post, for now Insert crazy white girl dance here)  He decided that black would be for feelings he felt little and yellow for feelings he felt big.  Went off in his own space with the board and started marking away.  When he turned the board around to face us, I could tell by her face that it wasn’t what she expected and after looking it over it wasn’t what I had expected either.

MAD
SAD
GLAD 
SCARED
Jealous
Bored
Delighted 
terrified
Furious
Upset
Happy
cornered
Frustrated
Lonely
Playful
frightened
Angry
confused
Silly
Panicked
Really kid?!?!?  You feel mad and sad feeling on the little scale?!?!?  Are you there when you go into full meltdown mode?!?!?!  I can assure you that I don’t feel them little?!?!?  Don’t worry I didn’t say any of that.  We both thought he had misunderstood the assignment, But he said he did what she asked him to do.  She thought because he was happy at the moment that he was feeling that big and the other feelings little so that was why he marked the board that way.  She moved on to the next thing but I couldn’t help but try to process it.  If she was correct then was he also feeling panicked and cornered right then at that moment. 
Can I ask him questions?  I mean I know its her turn to talk but I need to know.  She lets me and I ask him and he says no.  Hmm…we started home I continued to mull all this over in my head, what’s it mean?  I started asking him questions. 
REVELATION:
All this time when he’s getting in trouble for acting angry, and he’s screaming “I’m not angry!”  He really is not angry!  When he’s in full meltdown mode he’s not angry!  He’s scared! 
Our drive home revealed to me, through our discussion, that he’s afraid of not keeping friends, of being rejected, of being wrong, of failing, of not making people happy, of not making me and daddy happy.  And when he gets scared he starts to panic and then he looses it.  And then when WE (the teacher, the principal, the camp counselor, his parents), when we try to correct these behaviours he feels cornered because he’s not angry and he’s trying to tells us but he can’t and then he starts panicking again because maybe he’s wrong.  Maybe he’s not scared maybe he is angry and he’s screwed it up again!!!
How did I not come to this realization sooner? He had always said I’m his safe place.  Why does he need a safe place?  You only need to have a safe place when your not safe, when you are scared.  How in all the helicoptering and meltdowns did I not know my own boy enough to know he was AFRAID!!!!  How did I miss this?  While I am processing all of this I feel something I have not felt in a long time. HOPE!!!  If we start addressing his fear. We can help him to feel more secure then maybe just maybe we can help him get a handle on his reactions to the fear.  for this first time in a long long time I feel HOPE!!!  And Hope my friends is a wonderful thing!
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3 thoughts on “Have we been going about this all wrong?!?!

  1. Pingback: All the others. | survivingroo

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