Monday, January 30, 2012

Turning Two and an Ultimatum

Nobody ever wants to admit that there might be something less-than-normal going on with their child. No one. Sometimes it's undeniable, other times it's more comforting to listen to those voices who poo-poo the concerns spoken in quiet voices of frustration. G's quirks and struggles became a major source of tension between my husband and I, causing a rift and marital struggles only he and I truly know. Suffice it to say that when I can attest to the statistics of couples with special needs kids having a higher rate of divorce because of the stress. I can totally see how that's true. My teacher mind was always screaming at me over G's lack of verbal communication, his fits, his inability to eat or even chew most foods, his night terrors, his self-injurious behaviors, his anxiety, night terrors, and inability to even make eye contact with a stranger. My husband was working overnights so he worked all night and slept all day, leaving me essentially a single mom of a preschooler, an intensely high-needs toddler, and a newborn. He had voices around him telling him G was just a boy, just needed some discipline, would just grow out of it, etc, and his own head refusing to admit that his son, his only son, his name-sake, his pride and joy could be anything other than 100% "normal." Any time I broached the subject he immediately grew defensive and angry, claiming I wanted something to be wrong with my child. His words were obviously false and very hurtful, but I couldn't let it go. I finally got him to agree that if he wasn't speaking by the time he turned two we would call Early Intervention to have him evaluated for his speech delay.
The day came that G turned two-years-old and we didn't call. As was the usual, we'd set an ultimatum and he'd juuuuuuuuuuuuuuust squeak close to the bar we'd set so we'd hold off. In this instance, he expanded his vocabulary from "Ma" and "Da" to include "Ch-" for 'cheese,' "Beh-" for 'bread,' "Psssss" for 'please,' and a weird "-nk" clicking sound in the back of his throat for 'thanks.' So October passed and so did November. Between our little one born in September and G I got little sleep at night, no naps during the day, and when December rolled around I was empty. I had nothing left to give. I fell into a very dark, depressed state. I felt horrible. I thought I was an awful mother, a terrible wife, and a miserable person altogether. One night was particularly terrible for G's night terrors, the baby was breastfeeding almost non-stop because of her 12-week growth-spurt, and my husband was, of course, at work. As G was screaming for the third hour I was in tears and hysterical. I grabbed his little shoulders and screamed in his face, "WHAT DO I DO? I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO! I CAN'T DO THIS ANYMORE! DO YOU HEAR ME? WAKE UP! I CAN'T DO IT ANYMORE!" He was, of course, sound asleep despite his night terror and seemed unphased by my outburst, but I collapsed beside his bed sobbing in horror at what I'd just done.
When we all got up for the day that morning, I immediately called my friend Danielle. She was my one local friend, and she just happened to have two kids with SPD, one of which was also autistic. I had met her two years prior on an international cloth diapering forum online and we had often discussed the similarities between her sensory/autistic kid/s and my son. When my husband just happened to get a job offer across the state and we moved twenty minutes from her house, we quickly formed a close friendship and started having our very own "sensory playdates" where our kids who might be looked down on for their behavior elsewhere were free to play together in their own way with understanding parents and siblings. She was put in my life for a reason and by a Higher Power. Truly, she's been my sanity more than once.
So back to that phone call. She said in her usual upbeat voice, "Hi! How are you?" I melted into tears, described my night and told her I couldn't do it anymore. I asked her about Early Intervention in our county and how I could reach them. She answered every question I had, gave me so much comfort and advice. When my husband came home from work I simply told him I needed him to watch the kids before he went to bed because I was calling EI right that moment and needed quiet. He just nodded okay. I think that was a turning point in our lives.

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