Category Archives: Bully

Self Advocacy, Autism, and School

I picked up my kids early on Friday so they could see the child psychologist. It was my daughter’s first official visit, her initial evaluation yielded ADHD but the rest of it is stuff she herself wants to work on, and it looks to be trauma related at first glance. She has bad dreams, wants to be kinder, and needs help figuring out when to draw the line with her friends and siblings-she knows she can be a bit of an instigator if not a bully.

But when it was Oldest Son’s turn it got real. He told us about school that day, how when he got to his classroom he had to wait for the teacher to get there and so he picked up a book to read at his desk.

He reads incessantly, you know. It’s a coping thing, he distracts himself with it and it’s the most benign behaviour issue he has ever had- well, except for when Middle Kid pulled him out of the way of a moving car when Oldest was reading while walking through a parking lot and starting wandering off track. But he can’t hear you when he is reading. The teacher hates it. He yells Oldest’s name over and over to get his attention and on the fourth or so attempt Oldest Son might hear.

The special ed teacher has been sending me emails this year. Telling me things like my son is a black and white thinker, my son argues, my son lacks social skills.

Yes, I always reply. Yes, he is autistic. Then I go into solutions. These are all in his IEP, anyway, but the entire special ed team has turned over since last year and I feel like the new team might not understand Oldest in particular and autism in general.

I have asked them to tap him on the shoulder instead of yelling at him. Oldest is embarrassed by the yelling, he is already different and his differences are starting to bother him. He even shushed me for speaking Persian in a parking lot the other day. So I started singing in Turkish. I am not good at being shushed anymore. I digress. I was going to talk to the teacher about all this at conferences, later this week.

So back to the reading. Oldest is reading, teacher comes in and yells his name and Oldest does not hear. So the teacher goes up to him and asks for the book and Oldest hands it over. Teacher then chucks the book across the room. This is not a school book. This is my son’s personal book from home. His own property.

My son is telling this story and he is sobbing. He already has a cold and it is Friday and he has been maintaining all week in this neurotypical world and I am immensely proud of him and sorry that I rushed him into the car earlier when he was trying to tell me something, probably this. I am not good at talking outside in 10 below, to be fair. But he has been trying to advocate for himself and has been accused of arguing, he has been trying to tell me what happened, and I have rushed him and told him “later”, and here he is in the psychologist office telling his story in a very linear manner, very straightforward, while sobbing. Good for him.

He will know I listened next Tuesday, when he walks into his new classroom with his new teacher.

So this was Friday, though, and I can’t do anything with administration after school on Friday. But I can go get his book back for him. I dropped the boys off at home as Oldest Son did not want to go back in the class and I took the Youngest with me to get the book. We knew it was thrown under a chair and that was all we knew about how to find it. Youngest was confident she could.

Guess who was there?

It was his teacher. I told him Oldest forgot his book, which was now on his desk and I saw his wiggle chair and asked if it helped and he said yes but that the books were a problem. I said “Really, he uses them to self regulate.” and tried to back out of there. But my daughter, my fearless bossy curious daughter went up to him and said “Oldest said you threw a book.” and teacher said “He wouldn’t stop reading!” and turns to me and says “All the other kids were sitting ready to learn…” and I stopped listening and protectively guided my daughter out of the room and told him to have a good weekend.

Because there is no other autistic kid in the classroom.

All the other kids. All the other kids are not working with IEPs and living with electrical storms in their brains and trying to navigate life without social cues. I knew right then that my son wasn’t going to ever be understood or empathized with in that classroom. All the other kids, indeed, are not like my son.

Look, I know the book throwing is reason enough. I am an abuse survivor and so is Oldest. I know that was assault by proxy, violence on a belonging implies violence on the owner. I know. But I wasn’t ready to condemn a person based on temper, because I have one of my own. I can throw shit and get away with it, maybe. But this is a professional who works with children. He can’t be a beast about anything. I shouldn’t be excusing people, it’s a bad habit, but I am sure I am far from the only victim who does this habitually.

So I didn’t sleep well on Friday. I talked to a few moms, we agreed, as does the psychologist, that a classroom change is best. Despite the disruption and stress it causes my son at least he won’t feel unsafe, singled out, or like his teacher hates him. I can’t imagine a new place is more stressful than those feelings.

I was ready to go in there and get pissed off in a couple of languages, I had a lot of scenarios running through my head and none of them made me look anywhere close to sane. But it didn’t turn out that way. I put on a suit and threw the IEP copy from my filing cabinet into a soft sided briefcase. I got the director to meet with me nearly immediately and I wasn’t forceful or alarming. I managed to be pleasant, a useful survival skill. She called in the special ed director after ten minutes, and a half hour later we were decided and I only had to say “violence” one time.

I just know I am grateful for having a room full of women who could see how the IEP was not being followed and agree that we could do better and a change was in order.
I was planning for a fight and I got consensus.

I hear horror stories all the time from other parents of autistic kids. I can’t tell Oldest until the last day of the week that he is changing classrooms. I hope he knows he did this for himself, that his voice was heard. I wish it were different but he will have to be making choices to protect himself over and over from those who lack empathy. Funny how neurotypicals claim it’s the autistics who haven’t got any.

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Middle Son

My middle child has probably had the most visibly rough time of it. He became his father’s favorite when he showed a willingness to engage in violence, a learned behaviour that it took four years for him to unlearn.

He has a touch of agoraphobia. He does not like to be out of the house more than two hours.

He has so much anxiety that he is always correcting everyone, arguing about the right way to say or do or even be this or that. He probably exhausts himself with it. I tell him every day to leave it alone but he has yet to learn how.

He is very discerning, he figured out the guy behind us is on drugs without hearing a word about it from me.

He is addicted to his Xbox, and cried today because his friend was not home and could not come over to play it with him.

He can’t eat dairy because it makes him angry. I keep him on medicine so that he doesn’t hurt other people with his initial angry impulses. It works well, but I have to constantly battle the insurance companies to get his prescription filled.

He would walk around sucking on lemons and eating raw onion when he was a baby. Not unusual in his father’s culture, but he gets a huge kick out of hearing about it now.

Today he began to throw a fit at the zoo (we had been there a long time) and he stopped himself. I think he has done this once before. I didn’t have to do much to calm him, I just reminded him that kids throwing fits get grounded and gave him a hug.

But sometimes when I remember that he collects glass sculptures, at eight years old, I feel a wonderment.

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The Remembering

The seasonal changes make you remember.

My son has been jumpy and irritable for a few weeks. Last week it was the anniversary of one of the worst beatings I had. Not because I broke a bone or required hospitalization, it was an unremarkable beating, as all mine were, in severity. It was a bad beating because I was stretched out fully over a bed trying to tuck sheets into corners when he started on me, right on my spine- a repetitive thing that left me feeling as I were hit by a truck for quite some time. It was the only beating I screamed through.

It was about five days before I could walk comfortably. I prefer to be kicked or hit on fleshy parts (luckily I was pretty overweight after having the babies and stayed that way all during breastfeeding). There are good reasons to be fat or to cut off all your hair when you are in an abusive relationship.

I don’t exactly remember after which beating it happened, my son’s rejection, but I think it was that one, because of the noise. Normally their father just got in a blow or two and walked off. This was an intentional and prolonged effort, and any kid awake could hear it. After my son tried to disassociate from me. He knew I could not keep him safe, after witnessing my inability to protect myself and seeing his father ridicule my pain. He refused my help putting him to bed, and he turned away from me when I offered to hug him. It really hurt. He did that for a day, tried to keep himself safe from his father by rejecting me. I knew what he was doing, but watching it was different from reading about it. It hurt so much I knew I had to leave. I didn’t want them to go through such psychological gymnastics in their toddlerhood. Just because he had stayed off of them for a few months did not mean he would never hit them again. They would never feel safe if they kept seeing him hurt me.

A week later he went insane and spent the night accusing me of having sexual relations with his own family members. Ridiculous stuff, things that could not possibly have happened. He was confused on timelines and could not remember when or where and he made up stories to fit his confusion and accused me of doing things I could not have done even were I so inclined.

This is what a decade of absolute loyalty and obedience will get you.

I spent the entire night patiently correcting him and reminding him that at that time this and that was happening and therefore he was mistaken and etc. By morning my temper was short, my children were up, and I had far more to do and could not spend any more time coddling his crazy. I told him in a loud voice that he ought to check with his family and leave me alone about it, because he was very wrong. In some other words, I am sure. Polite enough, but firm. He did not like firm women.

He got in one blow, on my back as I walked away, where I still had bruising. While I was holding the baby. He looked at the patio door- all glass to the outside walkway where anyone passing could see in, and he stopped.

What kind of coward beats a fat, quiet, breastfeeding woman on the back?

His mother saw the whole thing. She decided it was my fault- because I spoke to him above a whisper. This is a woman who watched me stand up for her every time her son abused her and yet walked away each time he took after me. I don’t understand her at all. I consistently pulled him off of her, even knowing he could turn on me. Shouldn’t she have returned the favor?

There was a lot more drama that day, and despite my efforts to avoid anything further I sustained some injuries later, nothing too serious.

We left in a police car, actually two.

Today my son turns to me as we walk into the school for a function and starts telling me about the police car he rode in five years ago, when he was three. He doesn’t remember being scared any longer, which was how he felt when he got out of the car and was reunited with me at the time. He remembers the hard plastic seats. He said they were comfortable. He obviously doesn’t quite remember accurately.

But he remembers, with no prompting from me whatsoever. Five years to the day.

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A Few Days Later…

Our neighbors have forgiven us. We stayed inside since that night and we stayed out of sight so we could give our neighbor a break and some time to heal.

It was a good choice.

Her mother sat her down today and explained to her how little boys are and what her own brother did to her growing up and she came over and told me I should let the kids out to play.

I am so relieved. I can afford to move, but I can’t afford higher rent.

More importantly, I can’t afford the guilt I would feel if this girl was traumatized.

 

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My Life Does Not Seem Real

My Oldest Son has had three tests now. The 1 hour EEG showed abnormalities. The MRI was normal. I don’t have the results of the 24 hour EEG. I hate waiting for the doctor to meet with me. Why can’t people just type stuff up and shoot off an email?

The Baby has become unpleasant. She is five and somehow her cute strong will has become her rude abusive personality in recent months. We are working on it.

My Middle Child last week was playing with two kids when one pushed him to the ground and he lashed out with a foot and kicked the other (a girl) in the face from defensive posture. He kicked a girl who suffered from a concussion most of last year. He is under instruction not to hit anyone, and not to ever mess with her head because of the risk of injury! He and another witness say he was kicked before he did that, and the victim and another witness say he was not. The girl he kicked immediately gave him a hard kick in the balls. She is a teenager, he has just started second grade, so it was a decent kick that covered the entire area, not a little toddler kick like his sister has. He iced himself up and was okay after a while. Either way, he was forbidden to play with either child and he was grounded from his favorite things. So instead of playing with this girl he helped his friend play with her yesterday by filling up a water gun for him, as a sort of refill assistant. I saw him coming out of the house with the full gun but he seemed to be staying out of the fun as he was instructed, so I thought nothing of it.

Until the girl came running up drenched in water and told me it was toilet water. Some had gotten in her mouth and she had swallowed it. I told her I couldn’t imagine he would do that, he had to be lying and she was reassured. I got him home and he explained to me that he put some toilet water in the gun and I marched him back over and made him confess. The victim wants nothing to do with our family anymore. She asked me to keep my kids away from her and specifically my Middle Child- she never wants to see his face again.

I lost a babysitter, a friend of ours who went everywhere with us for two years, from the zoo to the pumpkin farm to wildlife rescue trips. She spent hours puking after the incident and worse, she feels victimized by my son. He punched her once in the spring, kicked her last week, and this. He is a lot better than he used to be, but none of this acceptable. He has been complaining about her for months, he says she targets him and pushes him down, kicks him, won’t let him play when all the kids are playing together. It bewildered me, I had seen none of it. I thought it was his skewed perception, his PTSD. I have tried to get him to talk to her about it, he would not. I have seen her be aggressive but not like what he describes.

So I don’t know if this is revenge or thoughtlessness. He seemed to think it would be funny. He did not seem to understand how offensive it was until he saw how angry I was. He has restrictions lasting a very long time, and we are respecting her wishes. Today is the next day, and we did not play outside. We did not park in our parking lot, we walked in from the street from the side so we would not have to cross her front door.

I don’t know what to do. I have to keep a seven year old away from his next door neighbor, when both are outside all the time normally. This is my hyper kid, who needs to run and be active all day. I can’t even trust him with a water gun. I have to cook and I have to clean and I can’t just let him play anymore but for a half hour an evening. I don’t know what to do. I liked it here, but I don’t want to distress this girl any longer. She is the victim, and I can’t keep her safe from my kid even when I am present. I think I have to move somewhere else. I cannot think of any other right thing to do.

My life has become a nightmare again. I am right back where I was a few years ago, when my kid was a danger to other people. I have to treat him like that and hope he can rise above it. It’s a horrible catch 22. I have to treat a kid like he is dangerous and then hope he doesn’t see himself as dangerous so that he can learn normal behaviour instead of living up to expectations of being dangerous.

I can’t stop crying. The only saving grace was that I had cleaned the toilet before we came outside. It’s a serious miracle that there was a bit of cleaner in the water instead of what it could have been. Still crying, though. Since yesterday.

 

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Aggressive Autistics

¨There are medicines available for aggressive autistics,¨ the child psychologist says to me. ¨my favorite is Abilify. I will write that down for you, right here..¨

I don´t want my son to be that kind of autistic. I want him to be like me instead.

I never had a problem with his diagnosis before. But I don´t know if I can do this. I already have a son like this-minus the autism. Two is too much for me.

I don´t want it to be like this.

 

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The Bad List

When the children and I first escaped, my father would watch the boys for me while my stepmother and I went to thrift stores to try to find winter coats or car seats or shoes for the children.

Each time I rejoined my boys they were not happy and neither was my father. I think I left them three times and then never again, after I watched my father slap my four year old on the head for touching a television remote that looked just like his own. I specifically asked my father not to hit my son after that. So he would grab him by the arm instead (I remember that from being a kid, and it hurt) and so we cut back on visits for a while.

Things are a little better since then. But maybe not.

My kids are bored and frustrated at my father´s house. Nothing there is interactive. There are no games to play, no one is allowed to watch a screen, and no one is allowed to be inside – because nothing inside is for touching. These are ADHD kids, they need to be involved in something or they are all over the place.

This last visit they got in trouble for pretty much everything they did outside. No peeling bark (of course I agree with that one), no moving rocks, no tearing down stumps, no looking for bugs under things, no picking flowers or leaves, etc. The only thing they were left with was sticks. Picking up sticks or breaking sticks. If my father had had those rules when I was a kid on that property I would have died. My brother and I tore up plants and broke rocks into shards and hacked down whatever we could. We made pets out of root clumps and found bugs and animals and chased them down.

My autistic son is not too good at following directions. If you let it get to you then you would just be perpetually angry at him. He cannot help it. He is a people pleaser, so if he is not doing what you tell him to do then most likely he has forgotten it or he has fixated on doing that thing and is unable to process redirection. He also cannot understand two-part directions, which really hinders him in the big world.

Anyway, a few years ago, about the time I quit visiting for a bit, my father and his wife drove over an hour to come and see me. Me, without the children present. They did this so they could tell me that I had to ¨do something¨ about my sons, who were obviously out of control. Well, they still sometimes are. They said they would never have a normal life if they don´t learn this or that. Mostly about impulse control and obedience.

I knew I had to ¨do something¨ already, and I had known it since they learned to walk. I couldn´t do much about it until we were free. They were my kids and I was already working with what was the beginning of my medical team when they had this talk with me.

Less than a year later my oldest was diagnosed with autism and his brother with PTSD and ADHD. Both were also diagnosed with ODD but I never bothered to tell my father that, because sometimes it is just a comorbid dx, a default before the real diagnosis comes in. When I told my father my son was autistic he refused to believe it. He insisted my son was normal and every kid must be autistic. I asked him then why he had made a special trip to tell me the year before that my sons needed help. He had no answer to that.

So he still does not get it.

We go up to his house for my birthday lunch and just before the meal begins he announces that my son is on his ¨bad list¨ for ripping apart a stump and not stopping when being told to. This is something my father has praised my sons for doing on previous occasions, he has had them destroy stumps for him because the ones that are falling apart are such a pain to get out of the ground. I am positive my son does not know which stumps he can do this to and which he cannot. Hell, I don´t know either. A stump is a stump, to me.

I told my father that he has to tell my son something more than once and he shot me a disgusted look. I had the strongest urge to spell out the word ¨autistic¨ to him, but I did not. I was just thinking ¨You and everybody else.¨ Life sucks often enough when you are autistic. The least his family could do would be to be patient and to attempt to teach rather than condemn him. Why is it easier for people to believe that children are naughty than it is to believe that their brain might work differently? Why is it easier to believe that a child would fish for anger rather than love and approval?

I was always on his bad list, too. My son has great company.

 

 

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Abuse and Unhealthy Relationships

Yesterday when I picked up my daughter from daycare the preschool teacher pulled me aside. She wanted to tell me what had happened that day.

My daughter was coloring with her friend. She wanted to stop and go do something else. It was free time, where the children can choose from different stations and play with the available toys. Her friend went over to the trash can and held her half of their best friend´s necklace over it, the one she kept when she gave the other half to my daughter last fall.

She dangled the string and said ¨If you stop coloring I will throw this away…¨ While smiling.

The teachers didn´t understand what was going on. They asked the girl if she was going to throw her necklace away, if it were broken? and my daughter chimed in and explained it to them. I am glad she speaks up.

There is just no getting away from it. I see abuse everywhere, in everything. My daughter has just turned five and already she is involved in unhealthy patterns. She has had a propensity to be involved in cliques at her daycare and though it was super cute when she was two- it doesn´t look that way anymore.

Chances are pretty good that she engages in this sort of blackmail, too. She tries it with me, a few times a year. Such as the ¨If you don´t give me candy for breakfast, I will scream and scream!¨ whispered in my ear last fall.

I keep trying to teach them.

 

 

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How To Take A Beating While Pregnant- Trigger Warning

So, you are expecting! It is happy news, but you are not sure how to protect the baby inside you from it´s father. You might have even Googled this, but not much out there is helpful.

I have some experience, and thought it would only be practical to share it with you.

Of course the best thing to do is escape. The baby should not be born in an abusive environment, nor should your body be submitted to stress and abuse while you are pregnant. Because the baby can feel it, and can be born traumatized. Signs of trauma in newborn babies can be what looks like colic, separation anxiety, and waking screaming in the night.

Escape is not always possible, though, so here are some tips:

Cut your hair completely off before another assault occurs. He cannot pick you up and throw you by your hair if you have not got enough to hold onto.

Hide behind another adult. If you are lucky, your mother-in-law will care enough to shield your unborn baby from it´s father. I didn´t have one like that, so I hope you do.

Get into a corner. Put your back to the corner and sit on the floor. Pull your knees up as comfortably as you can to protect your abdomen. When he kicks your legs,  you will get spiderveins due to the increased bloodflow of pregnancy, but this will not hurt the baby. Try to protect your sides as best you can, and make sure that furniture near you is bolted into the wall so it cannot be turned over onto you.

Try to avoid being struck in the back of the head, the abdomen, and the kidneys. I know-you only have two hands, so take care of the abdomen first. This is why you are in the corner, so the back of you is inaccessible.

Try to keep your heart rate steady. I know it is difficult to do during panicky moments like this, but the baby is stressed when you are stressed. The quickest way to drop your heart rate is to take a short breath through your nose, hold it for a count of four, then exhale all your air and hold on empty for another count of four. Repeat.

If you sustain visible injuries from your beating and you are in the United States, check your state laws on assault and see if the charges are greater for beating a pregnant woman. In some states you could find yourself free and clear if he is prosecuted and sent to jail. If this is not his first offense then you are probably in luck. Get to an emergency room, if possible.

If your injuries are not visible then use your own judgement on whether to press charges or seek medical care.

And lastly, if he is beating you because you are trying to save money for things for the baby, just give it to him. The baby needs you and it´s own good health more than diapers. Diapers can be made from t-shirts, there are tutorials on YouTube and it does work.

Trauma in pregnancy changes the brain of the unborn baby. Children of trauma are often hyper, distracted, oppositional, easily frustrated, have trouble sleeping, and generally have a rough time functioning like other children. If there is any chance that you can leave, do it for the children if you won´t do it for yourself. Once you leave, go no contact with the abuser. 1-800-799-7233 | 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) The Domestic Violence Hotline has more information and can help you form an escape plan.

 

Click to Chat With an Online Representative

 

 

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What Regression Has Cost Us

My oldest son has forgotten how to take a bath. He does not turn off the water and the tub overflows every time he takes a bath now. I can no longer put him in the tub and then remain in earshot.  I have to turn off the water or go in and instruct him to do so. He had learned how to wash himself from start to finish just this year and I was working on teaching him proper drying and lotion. Now we have to start from earlier in the process and keep trying.

He has forgotten how to brush his teeth, he has been chewing on the brush and then swallowing the paste as if it were food. I floss his teeth and brush them for him again, especially now that he is complaining that his gums itch. Luckily I do not see any signs of gingivitis- I hope I can keep it that way.

On the bus last week his seatmate (yes, I did request he have assigned single seating on the bus- but the principal never sent a letter to the bus company to that effect) did not want to play a game my son had made up regarding Garfield and Odie and my son was very insistent. So the boy slapped my son, who then pummeled him into tears.

My son of course neglected to mention any of this to me, so the principal called. I have cut him off of his lifeline, the computer, for a number of days. I have also explained to my child that he may not use ¨self defense¨. I have been trying to teach him, for a year, to walk away or be quiet when someone states they are not interested or looks upset. He cannot recognize people, he cannot read faces, and I am at a loss on how to help him implement this most important skill.  He lacks the theory of mind required to understand that not everyone thinks Garfield is the coolest cat around. Of course I called the bus company, again.

I am beyond afraid that he will grow up to be a tall autistic man who insists on someone interacting with him in the way he expects them to. Mistaking someone for a dear friend and then pushing them to share a joke or a coffee or whatever. He would be jailed for that. He would terrify people.

If he keeps forgetting how to care for himself I had better set up a trust for him. If I had money to put in it I would be quicker to do so, but if he is going to need care all his life I had better plan for his needs as best I can. Regression is a contrary brat and I hate it. A few months ago none of this was an issue.

I don´t understand how his drawings of Garfield improve while his self care deteriorates.

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