Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Dear Noah.....making a new connection....



Where do I begin. For awhile now you have started to have some issues at home. Nothing major and many just typical growing up behavioral changes and testings of the water.

But the issues with the cat started about November and have been ongoing. I know you love Opie...and he loves you. I know you want to keep him in our home and you love to play with him....but.....you do not always seem to understand that some of the things you do around him or to him are totally inappropriate and sometimes can be perceived beyond just odd or quirky.....but mean.

I have to say those things sort of alarm me and scare me. We hear so many horror stories of some really sick people in the world who started out doing mean things to animals.

BUT....what is DIFFERENT in this case are the reasons for doing it. They did it because they found enjoyment from it. You do it because you usually like something else the activity you are doing causes.

For example.....you like to stick your finger into Opie's ears sometimes.......NOT to hurt him.....but instead because you like how he shakes his head and ears afterwards. YOU LIKE that action from him......think it is funny.......so you do not see any harm in sticking your finger into his ear.

OR stepping on his tail a tiny bit......or pulling on his tail.......not because you want to see him squirm or cry out in discomfort.....but instead because you are wanting to keep him right there with you and not have him run off.

You do not realize that holding him down too tightly only wants to make him get away from you. You do not realize that poking him with a stick is not a good thing to do.

Last night I heard you in the bathroom. You had the door shut but I could tell by all the giggling you were doing much more than having a bowel movement. I KNEW Opie was in there with you. I did not hear him clamoring to get out of the bathroom......so knew you two were playing......but....WHAT exactly did that play involve?

I yelled down the hall to let Opie OUT of the bathroom to which you responded okay. I walked in and asked you what you were doing. You proceeded to tell me that while going to the restroom you got off the toilet and down on your hands and knees to Opie's level and pried open his mouth and kept trying to SPIT in it!! WHEN I asked you WHY......(why topics you still do not grasp)......you could not really explain it other than this. You said you liked the way it sounded when he was trying to cough up a hair ball....and you figured if you spit in his mouth it would make him cough or have to cough because of choking and you thought that would be better than actually choking him.

HOW is one to react to that?

I stood there I think in shock to hear the details of it all and at the same time realized you had no clue about anything you just did! Opie was fine......and still wanted to stay in the bathroom so it could not be entirely bad.....but still.

MANY times I have wondered about bringing Opie home. I wondered if you were ready for a pet.....and I think a pet can be a great learning experience for you......a way to teach you many positive things. BUT I also do not want to do it at the expense of the cat himself.

When I say perhaps we need to find a new home for Opie you go into near hysteria.....and cry and beg me to keep him. I say we can keep him...but we have to work on these issues and you have to stop doing these strange things and try a little harder. You say okay.......and within minutes of playing with him again.......the process starts all over and what we just talked about is flying out in the atmosphere somewhere else but has not been retained in your brain.

I am fully aware that you learn differently. Your brain processes learning differently than most around you. I understand that I will have to repeat what you SHOULD do with the cat and around the cat over and over and over, hundreds of times every day.....before we can create a new connection....a new synapse .....a database within your brain that will one day automatically load the correct response to particular situations with Opie into your mind so when you play with him and are starting to get too rough you will one day be able to recall "OH wait.......I am supposed to do this.....or not do that." It will never come instinctively and natural.....but YOU CAN LEARN the correct response and behavior through repetition of the correct responses and behaviors.

This is extremely time consuming however...and very exhausting. We will also have to actually ACT out the correct responses over and over and over......and the consequences of incorrect choices you make.

I cried last night. This is something I have not had to deal with you since we left Colorado. You have made such tremendous progress. You accused me of being a CRABBY or MEAN mom. You blurted out you wanted to go live with your dad because he was NICER than I was....even though I told you he would be telling you the same thing I was regarding the cat and listening to me. ANYone ANYwhere would be telling you the same things and trying to teach you the same things.

This made my mind spiral down with "what if" thoughts which I try to avoid like the plague because they do nothing but conjure up fear. Fear leads to stagnation and will draw upon itself all you are fearing. I do not want that for you or me. I do not dwell on such things for long.....but instead start canceling them out in my mind and replacing them with positives....

BUT the thoughts were there for awhile last night and they made me cry. The very real possibilities that as you get older and bigger and stronger, if you did not learn to do better in these types of situations....you could end up getting into some serious trouble one day. The what ifs began. What if you had to go to Juvenile Detention? How would you survive? You would surely starve because you are very picky about your food. You would surely get taken advantage of because you are extremely naive. WHAT if you had to be taken away from me and put into an institution of some sort because one day you are too big for me to handle if you explode and become physical about it? Could someone force that on us? WHAT IF I cannot control you one day or you have not yet learned to control yourself well all the time?

While I was crying you came out and saw me and asked why I was crying. I explained to you that I was not being a mean mommy but only trying to TEACH you something. ANYone would be doing the same. I explained how it made me frustrated at times and that I only wanted what was best for you and success for you....but that you would have to work WITH me and we would have to pray to GOD for help on this as we could work together to fix all these things that are slightly broken but can be repaired. Without scaring you I explained some of my fears....and I told you ......you did not really yet realize how serious some of these issues are now......or could be one day if we did not change them and get then under control.

WHEN you saw me crying and I explained to you how much I loved you and only was trying to teach you something new....I explained if I could NOT teach you......then one day maybe someone else would have to and that thought scared me. I did not want to ever lose you.

You started to cry. You said you would try harder......you would be good. I KNOW YOU ARE trying and doing the best you can .........but......I also know you can do better once you learn this.

SO I had you write down the things you have been doing wrong with Opie. We talked about each one.......went over how it would make you feel if someone did those things to you. You said this all made you sad because you realized you should never have done these things to begin with.

Last night you went to bed crying. I never want you to go to bed crying so I was wiping your tears and assuring you EVERYTHING would be alright...that we WOULD work through this learning process for this situation just like you have had to learn others. WE WOULD do it.

You cried and said "please don't get rid of Opie while I am at school." A new fear I have created in you. I told you I would never do that....and I would not.

Before bedtime while out on the sofa you grabbed a windup Christmas ornament that had not yet been put away. You started to wind it up and said........"if Opie has to go somewhere else to live for awhile I will play this ever day until he comes back," so sadly and sweetly...and you were crying.

I broke down in tears again.

YOU ARE FILLED with so much incredible love to give. I KNOW you are good and do not mean to do anything wrong. You yourself do not even understand the WHYS of all you do or don't do. Spanking you or correction of that type does not work with you. It only teaches you when you get upset to hit. AND there are times you LIKE responses that might scare most other children. SO spanking is not really a threat to you.

Today I am trying to just make it through the day. The stress level has been escalated for so long now and we will have our work cut out for us. The sleepovers this weekend have been canceled. With you having issues with LISTENING right now and everything else....it is just too much and I don't want to reward you for bad behavior.

These are things I would pretty much tell to no one. WHY? Because I don't want them to think badly of you....or think you are some sick, mean boy when you are not. I don't want to scare people away from you or us. I am almost ashamed to admit that but it is the truth. So I keep it in......sharing it with only a select couple. The stress inside can be consuming if I allow it. SO I have learned to deal with it.....in my own ways.

These are the types of things that occasionally still happen that really single you out from the mix. These things are things no one including yourself can easily understand. FEW except other mommies or daddies of autistic children can ever understand and sometimes we do not even understand ourselves......our rationale behind the ways we "correct" you instead of the "traditional ways." I do not even try to explain why I don't spank you for inappropriate behavior to anyone anymore. Of course I would not be spanking you even if you were what we would label "normal" for lack of a better descriptive phase. Because to me you ARE normal. You just process things a little differently than most and you have to learn differently. We all have weird things we do.....we are all as normal for us as we should be.

Yesterday you did NOT stay in the green zone. I knew it would be a semi-rough day for you since we had CAT issues in the morning and in defense the cat bit and clawed you on the face under your eye and nose. I guess you apparently told the parapro you even tried to bite the cat back for biting you but you could not catch him. Yes......you firmly believe and react in an EYE FOR AN EYE mode. I told you after it happened you deserved it and why. I don't think you understood though.

So my little man.......saddle up......because we are in for the long haul on this one.

My promise to you though.....is I will never leave you to do things like this alone. I will always do whatever I can to make these things easier for you. Yes.....you are stuck with me.

Here's to making new synapses in your brain......

I will love you forever...

Mommy
XOXOXOX

6 comments:

kristi said...

Sometimes I "go there" in my mind too but I try not to. Hang in there, hopefully things will get better soon!

Melissa said...

Hang in there Melinda. You have more patience than I've ever seen anyone have with a child. You do a wonderful job as a Mom. We love you! :)

Melinda said...

thanks .......I am hanging!

KC's Blog said...

Gosh Melinda you are such an amazing Mama. You always do right by Noah, he's an awesome fella!

It reminds me of when I got Big Brother a cat a couple of years ago. He pulled the cats tail, scared the cat so it would hiss at him, the cat scratched Big Brother so much in self defense he finally stopped after the cat scratched him on the ear. (big scratch) I asked him why he did those things and he said "because it's so funny."

In the end we didn't get to keep the cat because of K.C.'s allergies. He itched his eyes to bits.

Hang in there, you are doing an awesome job with Noah :)

oldmanlincoln said...

You do have a lot of patience.

Patty said...

Sweetie, I hope all is going a little better for you today. I'm sorry you are having to go through this alone. You do have the patience of Job. It has to be very trying and tiring. Hopefully he will get it and understand what it is you are trying to make him understand. You are a wonderful and special Mom, so hang in there.
Love you both very much.