Yesterday I saw the psychiatrist nurse with one of the boys. I told her about my oldest son’s reaction to Tenex/Guanficine, which is a horribly overwhelming increase in his anxiety, regression on rigidity and transitions, and a much lower tolerance threshold. I gave it my best shot, six weeks, and I don’t like it. There were some benefits, more communication, more identification of feelings and assertiveness, but that slipped into bullying, as I had mentioned before. Not quite the result I would want.
She wanted a low SSRI instead. I said no. She wanted a very small dose of tried and true hypertension meds, the kind that I take. That was no problem. I have to pick them up tomorrow morning. I am weaning him off of the other medication. I don’t like SSRIs. I will try everything else first.
Today I saw the child psychologist. All the children went, because apparently children do not need daycare on Good Friday, as all good people take the day off. Or something. Daycare was closed, I mean to say. I prefer to get paid, so I worked and had a sitter and then hauled all the children to the psychology appointments.
The child psychologist said to me: ¨I don’t know if anyone has told you lately, but you are a really great mother. Look at them, right now, compared to how they were two years ago.¨ She was right. The baby was off by herself, arranging plastic food on plastic plates. The boys were huddled together over my phone, analyzing some monster foe in the game they were playing. No fighting. No outbursts, no hitting, no clinging to mommy. Their progress is truly miraculous. But I cannot take all the credit. There is:
One consistent family who interacts positively with them
One fantastically calming occupational therapist
One intuitive child psychologist
One experienced child psychiatric nurse
One super educated skills therapist
One really canny pediatrician
One cheerful nurse of said pediatrician
An army of young women at the daycare(low turnover), who love them.
The internet. I have done so much research on my kids and their issues online it is nearly obsession. I mean it is an obsession.
Soon we will be out for three years. Three years of recovery. A long time.
My son told me about a nightmare he had, I recounted it for the psychologist, she took a few notes and asked me on a notepad if my son had been sexually abused. It turns out that a common nightmare for abused children has them being eaten while their caregiver is looking for the monster somewhere else, unaware it is consuming their child. For as long as I can remember, his nightmares have been about teeth. Things with teeth, things biting him. This is the first time he told me about being eaten.
Today, on the advice of the psychiatric nurse I crafted a long letter to the healthcare plan ombudsman, requesting an appeal to the decision to deny my son his necessary medication that costs so much and makes education possible for him. I have been paying out of pocket. It took me an hour, I would say. Thirty minutes later the pharmacy called me and told me they finally had a response from the insurance in clear English, that the coverage would begin in four months. Only four more months out of pocket on these meds and then never again. The letter never left my bag. It was telepathy!
My living room is fantastic. I have a battered but clean couch, two bean bag chairs, a fabric tunnel with reinforced steel ribs, a Wii, a computer, fidget toys, Legos, and a lot of books. The children are either there, or outside on their bikes. I remember when we were in the shelter and there was nothing. Nothing for them to do. We had nothing at all for weeks, when the police took me back to get whatever I could fit into a rental car. I had to tell them long, super long, stories about how superheroes chose peace over violence and friendship over enmity to keep them entertained. Now they are never bored. Behind the living room, on a wall of the kitchen, is our art area. I have everything in there that they ever said they wanted for art.
I used to put tshirt diapers on my daughter. Not to be thrifty. Because there was no alternative. Our lives are so much better since leaving, in every way.
Here is my advice to anyone experiencing domestic strife:
If you have domestic abuse in your house, separate, move, divorce, or leave with the kids. Don’t expose your children to it. My sons might never recover from it. PTSD is usually a lifelong illness, it changes the brain and the brain’s chemistry and is hard to recondition. Children are, obviously, more vulnerable to such ailments than a functioning adult with a set identity would be. Think of your life in third person- what would you advise a friend to do, in your shoes?
If your child is autistic or quirky:
Don’t force them. Be supportive. Coach them, rather than correct them. Guide, rather than discipline. They cannot help it. Give them the tools they need to be in an environment that does not overwhelm them, or they will not be capable of learning anything. Dampen the sound, the lights, and get rid of the clutter. Learn what causes overstimulation, and control it. Learn about SPD. Schedule everything very tightly and consistently. If anyone is critical of your child’s differences, shut them out. Focus on the needs of your child.
I had six appointments this week and two sports sessions. Eight commitments. Totally worth it.
The baby is coughing a little when she should be sleeping. I have to go.