Monday, March 3, 2008

Good Night Gorilla

Last night, I read the rooster and Peaches a sweet little book before bed called Goodnight Gorilla. Really, there isn't much reading to it, since it's a book of very few words. The pictures tell the real story.

Since things were going well with them both on my lap happily turning pages, and since I'd been reading up about all the cognitive and inferential difficulties the rooster might have with his still murky issues, I decided to let the language arts teacher in me out of her cave and I doled out lots of reading comprehension questions to the preschool set. And you know what? They nailed them. Peaches got the points you might expect for a gal not yet two, and the rooster interpreted characters' feelings based on facial expression, made predictions, answered "why" questions, the whole nine yards. Last night, when we read together, we were in "It'll be okay land." It feels like it might as well have been a thousand years and a million miles ago now.

Tonight, no bedtime story from this mama, who lost her mind before we even finished the 35 minute commute, who, by the time her little tantrum throwing darling finished spitting in her face, was screaming profanity like a very, very, very bad mother - the kind who is IN Hansel and Gretel, not the kind who does the readaloud in the arm chair with milk and cookies.

How bad was today? Suffice it to say I just spent the last hour on Amazon loading my cart with books that are NOT fairy tales -- every title related to the spectrum that I could get my newly IEPed hands on. And the ones that seemed to focus on behavior? I considered next day Fed Ex for those.

I have to admit something that scares me as I read blogs about other kids on the spectrum: the absence of the anger, aggression, violence, dislikability that I see, but haven't described until now, in the rooster. I am left to wonder/ponder, does the rooster have a mental illness, something darker and more devastating than being on the spectrum? Or do I simply lack the strength, patience, and understanding of any good blogger, let alone any good mother? If I were half of who I want to be, I'd be able to manage his outbursts, protect Peaches from them, ease the pain I know they must cause him too, understand them, reduce them, keep them to myself. But I can barely endure them. Sometimes I rage too. And then after I feel the guilt. It's so ugly, this process, this side of me and us. I can get very dark here, very doomed, very The Lorax. This is all scary stuff to admit, and I'm dreading the comments I'll get, but I've got some kind of drive to tell this story right now, and I almost can't seem to stop even if I want to.

So badly had I wanted to blog about the triumph of last night's "reading" before the waves crashed upon it and washed it out to sea. Instead the context I have to offer is a contrast, a riches to rags failure. I let my husband tuck in the rooster tonight without so much as a kiss from me, and now that he's in bed I'm kicking myself, but yet I'm not about to risk waking him up and letting him take that job off my hands.

Here is to better nights. Here's hoping for more stories with happy endings. Here's hoping I can keep myself out of the oven. Good night, Gorilla.


Anonymous said...

Hugs for such a rough night.

Has the Rooster been evaluated by an Occupational Therapist for Sensory Processing Disorder? If not, perhaps consider it, via a Private OT, vs the School, as OT for SPD works wonders for some kids. I credit OT for a lot of the changes I have seen in my daughter. She went through an aggressive phase last summer (summer was its peak - it had been going on for about year) - lots of hitting and kicking - those were most definitely some of my darkest times. No one likes to be hit and kicked. I did not always handle it the way I wished I would have. Even now she'll do it once in awhile and in general it has a lot to do with self-regulation. For her.

Many hugs. I am positive you are not alone in this particular battle.

Anonymous said...

I have to reach out to you on this one. I guess you can equate my blog now and most of what I write about to the "after" -- all during our "before" I didn't even know about blogging. My son was already 5 and had been in therapy for close to three years when I found this medium, this support, this sense of community. But when he was 2 or 3, even 4?

We had some particularly ugly episodes. Tantrums that defied logic and ended with things and people broken on the floor. There was a point when I was sure he could never attend school. He hit other kids, teachers, anyone nearby--spit, kicked, threw things, lashed out in the kind of anger and frustration that left me paralyzed and cowering in a corner.

I think you'll find you are NOT alone in this. And whether people are blogging about it or not, many are living it or have lived through it. One thing that helped me keep my cool (oh, I did and said some ugly things) was to remember that the behavior was simply communication. Like goodfountain says in her comment, I credit OT for much of the change.

You can email me anytime if you want to chat more (kms1362 at gmail dot com). It wasn't so long ago that I've forgotten how dark our early days were.

Niksmom said...

Oh, no G, you are most definitely NOT alone in this! I am guessing many of us don't write much about *those* moments b/c we all assume that we go through some variation of the same theme. But, perhaps we do need to share more of these moments w/each other so we can find new coping mechanisms?

I know that sensory-oriented OT has made a **world** of difference for Nik. He would get so frustrated that his behaviors would range from either extreme tantrums (so hard that he would hurt himself w/all the thrashing--b/c he didn't walk until August 06) or biting his hands and throwing toys. As he was able to integrate better and tolerate more sensory input, his attention and self-calming mechanisms became better. He still has days and moments but they are much better now...for the most part.

I think it's also a very fine line to balance upon...the sharing of the dark, awful moments vs. the need/desire to respect our children's privacy, too. I think you will find much is alluded to in many posts but not necessarily spelled out for that reason. (I hope that made sense? I'm running back and forth btwn Nik and computer this morning and losing thoughts in transit!)

The wonderful night before with the bedtime stories? It's real. So is the kind of goes like that sometimes. I think that is why I do try to write more about the "ups" b/c they give me something to hold onto in the bad times.

Have you read Ellen Notbohm's books? ( I found them really useful as good starting points.

Also, you've mentioned that Rooster has had some overlapping medical issues (but I don't think I've seen mention of what they are or have been). The reason I mention it is b/c lots of kids who have spent significant amounts of time either hospitalized or undergoing significant medical interventions seem to have greater sensory processing difficulties. I know this is the case for Nik (first 209 days of life in the NICU w/multiple surgeries and subsequent hospitalizations each year).

Keep writing, keep asking, keep reading and reaching will find you are not alone. I promise!

Christine said...

I think I understand Oliver better now than I did at the very beginning. We still have terrible moments (had one today as a matter of fact) but I feel like I can better support him through it and so I don't feel devastated in quite the same way. You'll get there. And so will Rooster. In fact, It may not seem like it but you are already on your way!

Jordan said...

As the amazing mothers who have already commented have said, this is not only a "Rooster" issue. Coming from the therapist perspective, I've seen a lot of anger, frutration, sadness, confusion - the biting, kicking, screaming.

I would agree that a sensory processing disorder eval would be a good place to start, and an experienced SLP should be able to look at what he is communicating with his behaviors and how to (quickly!!) give him some alternate ways to express himself. If you do not have a specialist like that at your disposal immediately, feel free to email me at and I'll see if I can give you some help until you do.

You are so strong to write about the reality of this situation - I think you will find a whole lot of support out here.

Joeymom said...

Having just come off a tantrum day (someone else at school got sent to the principal's office, that that always sets Joey off), I assure you- you are not alone. Joey is generally a happy, sweet little guy, but many of the kids I see at school and therapy are not. They are frustrated, angry, constantly caught in sensory overload kids. But even Joey has his days. Toss things on the floor. Toss himself into furniture. Repeat unpleasant phrases. Says things that he knows are annoying. Melts down. (My 3-year-old has these days, too, and he's not autistic- but not as many or dramatically as Joey). Sensory OT is definitely a must to look into if he doesn't have it. Also, Joey's episodes often are connected with his difficulty in communication. Today, he was acting out to tell us he was upset about what happened at school. He may even be sick, or had a bad day himself into the bargain. He can't just tell us- he does the best he can.


WE'll get through the downs with the ups.

Sustenance Scout said...

G, many, many hugs and prayers from Denver! I was so relieved to see such detailed comments from moms who are or have lived through this; all I can say is I lose it, too, way too often, and finally got some help this past year. I know counseling for yourself is the last thing you want to add to your to-do list; please just know that many, many people care. K.

Jen P said...

OT is a miracle. I didn't even know what it was for until I had him evaluated. I was pretty ASD-clueless in the beginning. There was still aggression even after the OT, but I think his OT was what led to a misdiagnosis at first because he had come so far with the OT alone.

BTW, we love that book. The Kiddos fave part is the blackout with just the wife's eyes. We "read" that page over and over and over again.