Saturday, December 6, 2014

Yelling at the Pieces

This week I was given a compliment from a fellow parent, he said that he admired my patience with my boys. I should have said, “thank you” but instead I think I mumbled something about my patience being long fought and hard won. This is true. In the past fellow parents have not been as kind as I was dealing with tantrums and rages and just trying to get though the moment. It has taken me YEARS to have the level of patience I do now but, in no way, shape or form do I have an extended patience level. In all of thirteen years I have amassed a level which can last just 45-60 minutes, max. So yes, that compliment was very nice and has made me feel very good this week. I am just thankful that my younger son's appointment was only 50 minutes long while I waited in the lobby with my older son. That I did not reach my breaking point thus forcing this fellow parent to retract his praise and consider me to be the lunatic that I am the majority of the time.

Fast-forward to today and I am at odds with my own frustration and anger and I want to YELL at the thing that has brought me to this point. I cannot. They say that Autism is like a puzzle and “we'll keep trying until the pieces fit!” but there are other pieces at play in this puzzle that make up the small bodies in front of me. One of our biggest obstacles this year is helping my 10 year old traverse life with his puzzle pieces of Autism, severe ADHD and Anxiety Disorder. Its a balancing act of figuring out which puzzle piece is being played at that moment, taking into consideration the needs of that piece all the while trying to balance out the other pieces at the same time.

I am frustrated with Adam because we attended a Lego event at a busy store. Unbeknownst to me he brought along a small Lego creation of his own along with two transformers all shoved into his pockets. As we were checking out sofas after the event, he started pulling out these small toys with many pieces and parts. With the new lego creation from the event, he now had 4 things in all AND a pair of noise canceling headphones. As soon as I noticed the toys coming out of the pockets I gathered everyone and we headed out of the door, I wasn't very kind about it. My frustration was evident.

Bringing things along is not new and its not uncommon for kids with Anxiety. They need something familiar, something comforting. My own anxiety of leaving things behind and having my son freak out over a lost toy does not play well with Adam's packrat anxiety reduction technique. Once everyone was back in the car we headed out to lunch, my son was happy with his new Lego creation and my frustration level went back to a manageable level until...

We arrive home and I'm unloading the car, its raining and I want to make sure 2 Lego creations and 2 transformers are stuffed back into pockets as well as the library book my oldest brought along with him, my handbag and cell phone and...”where are your headphones?” The last time I noticed them, they were sitting on a table in the furniture section of the department store while I was shoving toys back into the pocket of my youngest's cargo pants. My frustration level went right back to where it was before and then climbed a few levels beyond that. I'm saying things like, “WHY did you bring those toys...” and “YOU KNOW you aren't supposed to...” and “I'M SO FRUSTRATED with you...” And my son got upset, actually both of my sons got upset. My youngest because I was frustrated with him and my oldest because he didn't understand why I was upset and he was afraid he did something wrong.

And I got mad at myself because I wanted to yell so freaking bad!!!! I wanted to get mad and try and get him to understand everything he did wrong and to learn this lesson so that **I** wouldn't get frustrated again. Ummmm... see that there? I, Myself, I, I, I... Wow. Yeah, that was realization #1.

Realization #2 came a few minutes later after I had shut my mouth. Getting angry at a piece of the puzzle is not new to me. I have plenty of “I hate Autism” days, I let myself have that anger and then remember that no matter what I am feeling, the boys difficulties far far outweigh my own. Today was the first time I really really needed to be angry at ADHD, the piece that was forgetful, the piece that left behind the headphones, the piece that can't think beyond the moment and see how much they will be needed 15 minutes, 30 minutes or even a day from now. So I thought, yes, lets be angry at ADHD! So I started in with the “You know...” and “I'm so frustrated...” but I forgot about the anxiety piece.

He got mad, he got sad, he got frustrated as all these pieces took center stage in defense of his choices. As I watched this unfold I realized that I cannot ever get mad at just one piece. They aren't removable or interchangeable, they are always present and together they make up a really awesome (sometimes frustrating)10 year old. I love that whole little person, every piece and part, with my whole heart. Its unrealistic to think that I won't ever get mad or frustrated again but I will now and forever remember that getting mad at just the ADHD makes about as much sense as being mad at the headphones that were left behind.

We all hit the reset button now. The Hubs went back out in the cold rain for the headphones, we all had some quiet time and peace is once again reigning in the household. Lets hope it remains for the rest of the day, the likelihood of which is about as much as the headphones walking home on their own.


  1. Please contact me. Fellow FCPS ASD parent who is about to challenge the system.