Category Archives: Trauma

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.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under ADHD, ASD, Asperger's, Autism, Bully, Bullying, Child Abuse, Child Psychology, Domestic Abuse, Domestic Violence, IEP, PTSD, SIngle Parenting, Trauma, Uncategorized

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.

7 Comments

Filed under Bully, Bullying, Child Abuse, Child Psychology, Domestic Abuse, Domestic Violence, Medication, ODD, PTSD, SIngle Parenting, Trauma, Uncategorized

The Atheist’s Picnic

One or another of my kids comes home every month talking about hell. Their friends or classmates patiently explain to them that I am going to be going to hell, and that they will, too, if they don’t get it together and believe in x, y, z.

I tried to explain to my kids that this doesn’t work, that you cannot force belief. I asked them to imagine I was full of magic beans instead of blood and bones and etc. The older children got it but the baby couldn’t figure it out. Already the concept of hell is too familiar to her. She can believe that but not magic.

I asked her if it was fair to be in control of a person, their food, their destiny, their every material comfort, and to send them to some horrible place? Like would it be okay if I sent her to her room and told her she could only eat bread? She burst out crying. I have to undo this when she is older. Right now she can’t fathom how ridiculous it is to punish a person for a belief.

Belief is involuntary. Changeable, but involuntary.

I sat the older kids down and explained to them the origins and evolution of the concept of hell in Abrahamic traditions, how it was a valley outside of Jerusalem and etc. Gehennem to Jahannam. I left out the human sacrifice bits, not sure how sound those reports are, anyway. I did impress the smell and the sight of trash burning 24/7 on them, and they understood.

Next week in the city is the Monthly Atheist Picnic, with a playground and etc. I am going to take them just so I can point to the crowd and explain that none of these people believe mommy is going to hell. I hope it comforts them a bit.

I don’t care in what religion they end up, so long as the faith they choose is respectful and empathetic to others, and not just their own.

7 Comments

Filed under Child Abuse, Child Psychology, Trauma, Uncategorized

Birth Control Pills

I have cysts. I have them in the usual place, the ovaries, and also I get them on my skin, where the skin is thin. Behind the ear, in front of the ear, armpits, etc. It’s more annoying than painful. Pain is something I tolerate decently, but if I can avoid the cysts I would rather.

When I was with my abuser I could not get medical care. I was covered for pregnancies only. After the pregnancies they would give me low estrogen pills which I suppose worked well enough. They gave me these because I was breastfeeding and those were supposed to be tolerated well by the baby and not interfere with breastfeeding. So I was effectively pregnant in some form or another for about five years.

I never lost pregnancy weight. I had my pregnancies pretty close together. Two of my kids are a grade apart and the baby has one grade between her and the next oldest. I got pregnant, had the baby, breastfed, got pregnant before weaning and repeat. So I was never suspicious of birth control pills playing any part in my weight gain. I couldn’t get out to exercise often. I was allowed some walks but not too many and not too far.

I was always starving. Normal for breastfeeding and malnutrition.

When we escaped I let the birth control lapse but I was still breastfeeding the baby. I fed her for about nine more months after we left and then it got too hard with working to keep it up. She was twenty months, anyway. The boys got two years and some. I felt bad but my circumstances were so different. She did not fuss much.

As soon as we escaped the weight started falling off. I was able to get outside, I was not so hungry, and I attributed all of that to our changed life.

When we were relocated by the District Attorney I kept losing weight in our new place. I lost a lot of weight, I was nearly my early twenties weight when I was able to focus on my own medical care. I got the children looked after first, and with eight appointments a week and a new job I just put myself last. Who wouldn’t? So when I went in to finally see an OB/Gyn I did mention the cysts and she put me back on birth control. She put me on them all the time. No weeks off. No periods. Yay! Ummmm, no. But I didn’t figure that out til later.

This is so boring, really, but it’s context. So after about three months I started gaining weight again. I was starving, all the time. I was stressed out, tired, short tempered. At this point I was about a year and a half free. We figured it was my PTSD. Sometimes it hits you after a delay, sometimes dissociation keeps you from remembering. Sometimes you are in survival mode and only get around to feeling your feelings after you hit real safety.

I went with it. I started on beta blockers to help me slow down and stop overreacting. That took care of half the issue and then quitting coffee helped me enough to feel nearly normal. Not so irritable and crazy.

Last holiday season my son got the flu and I couldn’t leave the house to get the birth control pills. There was a holiday, they were closed, I had to wait a week. You are supposed to wait a week if you miss a few days. That was the best week of my last few years.

The pain stopped. The intense hunger turned off like magic. I was no longer a slave to the stove. My caloric intake was reduced by a thousand per day. I was logging, and it was ONE THOUSAND less calories a day. No more obsessive cravings. And I was so chill. Kids got into a fight? Pull them apart and send them to different rooms, have a chat. No problem. Not my usual MO. I usually have a bit of yelling first. I didn’t know what it was from, it didn’t register until I started back on the pills and my pain and irritability started up again.

I threw them out. Okay so I have them in a bag in my car to go to the medicine recycling box at the local Sheriff’s. You know what I mean.

I live like a nun. I don’t need these pills for the usual reasons. I got some cysts. I can take it. I lost four pounds. I stopped being afraid of being found. It doesn’t seem possible now, for some reason. I started talking in therapy. I don’t do so much of a standup routine in there anymore, now I tell my therapist what happened. I got my knee fixed, my cabinets rearranged, my room tidied up, my closet sorted. Shit I put off for months is getting done. I am blogging more. I am feeling more. I am having symptoms of dissociation. Not sure if I like the last one, but it feels more real than not caring. I sleep a lot less. I wake before the alarm, and sometimes I have to take melatonin to fall asleep.

This is all from birth control. I wish I had figured it out years ago.

2 Comments

Filed under Asperger's, Domestic Abuse, Domestic Violence, Medication, PTSD, SIngle Parenting, Trauma, Uncategorized

Five Years Out- What I Learned This Year

We have been free for five years. The criminal order of protection expires in six years. We are down to two appointments per week from eight. I don’t have to log violent incidents because they are so few and far between. Here is what I have learned lately:

If you have a violent or hyper child, try cutting out dairy. Every bit of dairy, even butter, even buttermilk pancakes. Taking away dairy works like an antipsychotic, I am telling you true.

Your birth control pills or your estrogen can be making you sick. The side effects I am free from now that I have gotten off of The Pill are:
Stomach pain
Extreme persistent hunger
Eyes too dry to use contacts in
Cracking skin
Agoraphobic tendencies
Weight gain
Exhaustion
Sudden flares of temper
Irritability

I never suspected my Pill was hampering my recovery. Hard to control your PTSD when you are tired and irritable! Why was I on the Pill, when I live like a nun? For cysts. I get cysts inside and out and I would rather have them than the stomach pain I ended up with. Cyst pain is easier to deal with than that.

My Oldest Son did not experience his yearly regression. Possible reasons for the relief: 1)his obsessive and pervasive tendency to check out of reality and into books as a coping method
2)his anti-anxiety medication

He did NOT, however, ever gain back some of the skills he lost last year when he regressed. He is currently showing signs of stress- chewing his shirts, so I am still holding my breath a bit. But school is over in a week. I think this is going to be a regression free year.

It’s okay to be lazy. Sometimes you can’t go go go.

Thanks to the Sheriff, the DA, the DV Liaison, the Medical Team, and the friend who let us move into her basement almost five years ago. You made all things possible.

1 Comment

Filed under ADHD, ASD, Asperger's, Autism, Child Abuse, Child Psychology, Domestic Abuse, Domestic Violence, Medication, PTSD, SIngle Parenting, Trauma, Uncategorized

But It’s Not A Real Gun

My son had five minutes left to play outside last night and he chose to spend it with a SuperSoaker. He came bursting out of the house and opened fire on his friends. I walked out towards the common area of the complex and noticed a police car parked in the lot.

I told my son to go put the gun down in the house or put it at his feet and I would retrieve it.
He wanted to know why and I told him because the police were on the property and he is never to have a gun of any kind in front of the police. Not even a stick he is aiming.

He argued with me.

But I can’t compromise on this. He has to develop a habit of taking the safest road and also show respect for the badge. This is a line he cannot afford to think of crossing.

This gun is bright orange, and he argues quite rightly that the police can tell it is fake. It helps that it is oversized. But color is not an indicator any longer.

Have you seen firearms wrapped in cartoon or brightly colored duct tape? I have. That is a clever and scary adaptation. I got the pics in my Facebook feed years ago and I was so shaken that I refused to share them with non-LE. Not the sort of thing you want to blow up into a trend.

The burden is always on the officer to discern threat, yes, but we have a responsibility to appear non-threatening, too. Why they don’t teach these things in school I will never understand.

Leave a comment

Filed under ADHD, Domestic Violence, SIngle Parenting, Trauma, Uncategorized

Helping Teela Hart’s Survivors

I know people have wondered about it: the way that one of my dearest friends passed out of this world in silence almost a year ago now – without a word from me about it on my blog. I have gnawed a hole in one cheek over her death and the subsequent silence that has […]

via Teela Hart’s Survivors. — Americana Injustica

Leave a comment

Filed under Child Abuse, Child Psychology, Domestic Abuse, Domestic Violence, PTSD, Trauma, Uncategorized