Saturday, May 20, 2017

My Mother's Day

Well, it was a memorable one. It began at 6:45am when my My Firefighter called down the hallway to my bedroom and woke me up. He was going on duty and dropping off his dog (I dog-sit when he's on duty) and when he let his dog into my backyard, he saw Sissy in her polka-dot bathrobe trying to hide behind a tree in the backyard. She was barefoot and it was a cold, windy morning.

Of course, she wouldn't obey and get in the house, but he knows the drill and got her inside and had her empty her pockets. She had the instructions and some hardware from the latest alarms I just bought that will help me track her throughout the house when she sneaks around at night. She'd ripped the instructions to pieces and was going to throw them and the other hardware away in the outside trash bin.

Then, she refused to cooperate with anything for entire day. We didn't make it to church, of course, but I did try and get on with a nice Mother's Day for the sake of the other girls who really wanted the day to be special to me, so I went ahead and baked homemade blueberry muffins.

We tried walking the dogs, but Sissy wouldn't cooperate and the stress and tension freaked Cara out and she wouldn't budge and kept sitting and not budging or straining against the leash no matter what I did.

So, we tried going out. On the way, we saw a junk pile (it's the yearly trash pickup of whatever people put out on the curb) with a beautiful clean baby bassinet on it and stopped to pick it up for Jie Jie's baby doll. It had all the pieces, too, but when we got home, one piece was missing. Sissy had disposed of it along the way. She wouldn't tell us if she threw it out the window or dropped it somewhere along the way, but she was happy to cause us distress since we couldn't put the hood on the bassinet.

This added more stress to everything and it was time to walk the dogs again. Needless to say, Sissy wouldn't cooperate so My Firefighter had to come over and "encourage" her move. She stood by our mailbox outside (because I wouldn't let her stay alone inside the house) while we walked back and forth so we could take care of the dogs but keep an eye on her.

If all this wasn't bad enough, she stood outside for 5 hours, meandering in a small circle, picking her skin or ripping her fingernails off, for all the neighbors to see. She refused to eat (a common tactic of hers) and refused to come in, so at 9pm I had My Firefighter come back over and "encourage" her to come in and get ready for bed. Once in her room, she raged and kicked the doors and walls so he went in and made her understand that she'd better stop and get in bed.

To make matters worse, a few days later I found out that she's been leaving a window unlocked at the opposite end of our house from our bedrooms so she can sneak in and raid the kitchen or any other room, usually my office, and take, eat, destroy, whatever she wants, during the night when she sneaks out her bedroom window. It really freaks me out that she deliberately does this despite how many times I've explained how dangerous it is. It's one of the reasons I got dogs (not they turned out to alert me in any way)- I just feel so vulnerable in this huge glass house with so many entry points and a naughty adult child who leaves us open to anyone being able to come in at any time.

The trigger was that I "talked about her." Yep, I did, to the psychologist who came over twice from the school district to evaluate her, only we were both very careful to be as respectful as possible of her feelings and we didn't single her out but included all family members equally to try and keep attention off of her specifically. I have made it clear to her that I will talk about her and that it's going to be that way for her entire life since she can't manage her own affairs and that it's to help her have as much independence as possible and that she can participate and listen to everything, but she can't understand what we say, no matter how we say it, or she just plain doesn't believe what we say, if she can understand it, so it's upsetting to her no matter what. The psychologist observed me teaching all the girls their homeschool lessons on one day and the next time he came, the girls and I were playing games. The "mistake" he made on the second day was to ask the girls what their hopes and dreams are and Sissy can't understand that. She doesn't have any hopes and dreams other than to say she wished she didn't have a special need. She's having an IEP done and will go into an Adult Transitional Program in the fall since she's technically done with her senior year of high school in another month. Of course, she doesn't want to go, but only because she can't imagine what it is and she's scared. She just doesn't get it that she's an adult now and has to move on to adult things and can't sit around coloring and playing Uno for the rest of her life when she's got the ability to do so much more.

There is no winning with Sissy. That's was Oppositional Defiance Disorder is. No matter what I do, it's never good enough or right or what she wants. Even if I do exactly what she says, she'll then turn around and say she didn't say that.

Needless to say, we are all looking forward to having her in the ATP this fall so we can have peace and harmony in our home, at least for a few hours each day.

As the psychologist pointed out, the older she gets, the more the gap widens between where she is and where her same age peers are. He expects her to make some kind of progress, at the very least, have the ATP reinforce what I teach her and what I do with her here at home. I'm curious to see if he's right or if it's like everything else that's been tried and she just can't do it. Or, she'll perform well in the program and it won't translate to improvement at home. She truly doesn't perceive any problem. She says she isn't going to stop stealing because "she didn't decide that" even though she says she knows it's wrong to steal. When a person can't empathize and doesn't have a conscience, there's nothing to appeal to in them to help them stop hurting others. It's very scary.


Anonymous said...

Hi Kim,
I'm a long time reader and this is my first comment. I just wanted to say that you're doing an amazing job with your children. I can't imagine how hard and stressful it is to parent Sissy, but you always seem to remind calm and do the very best you can. Hopefully having Sissy out of the house for a few hours in the fall will bring everyone some peace. Sissy may even come to enjoy it. Wishing you all the best!

Anonymous said...

First, K! Happy Mother's Day. After reading the post I understand that it wasn't nearly as peaceful as you'd hoped, but know this, you are a wonderful mother.

I really commend you for your patience and resiliency with Sissy. I'm exhausted just reading about her antics. She really doesn't understand what a wonderful family she was adopted into.

I hope that her adult transition program gives you and your other girls the respite you all desperately need.

Annie said...

It sounds like you and Sissy could benefit from time apart. There are amazing group homes. They would be equipped to handle Sissys problems, give her some independence, and give her life skills. It would also remove some stress from you. You are not a failure or abandoning her by sending her to a group home.

Lynnea Hameloth said...

Hugs to you dear friend! <3

Anonymous said...

You are gaining so much experience with your children - with a lot of courage from you! Can you explain the differences between conduct disorder and autism? Sometimes Sissy's issues seem so similar to my daughter's who is on the spectrum. I'm wondering how the two diagnoses differ as well as are similar? Thanks for any insights you have.

K said...

Simplified, Conduct Disorder is the next worse step of Oppositional Defiance Disorder. Both of these are behavioral disorders and can many different causes. Autism is a developmental disorder.

Conduct Disorder is when being defiant and refusing to cooperate crosses the line to bad conduct - lying, stealing, bullying, destroying property, putting oneself and/or other in danger, etc...

One can be defiant and refuse to obey and cooperate, such as to get in or out of the car or eat or not eat their meal. But when the one refusing to eat the meal then throws the plate or food, then it's Conduct Disorder, especially if they throw the plate at another person.

Autism covers a huge range of behaviors that can include Conduct Disorder. The reasons for the conduct disorder can also vary. Does the autistic person lack the ability to empathize? Are they frustrated and can't express it in an acceptable way?