How Can I Manage My Feelings About My Child with Autism

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BTDT
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How Can I Manage My Feelings About My Child with Autism

Postby BTDT » Fri Jun 09, 2006 11:01 am

http://autism.about.com/od/familyissues ... /anger.htm

Q. How Can I Manage My Feelings About My Child with Autism?

My husband and I feel like the world's worst parents. Our nine year old autistic son pushes us to the breaking point daily. We try to manage his behaviors appropriately but often end up yelling or hitting. We know his behaviors are not his fault. But in the heat of the moment our best intentions are overwhelmed by nine years of frustration. We have talked to a psychologist for family counseling, but just got a lot of sympathy. We love our son and want to do a better job. Any suggestions?

From Dr. Bob Naseef:
Your yelling and hitting are the result of your frustrations with a situation that just isn’t fair. Human hardship is not distributed equally, as Rabbi Harold Kushner wrote in When Bad Things Happen to Good People. Rabbi Kushner himself lost a child to a rare disease and knows all too well the struggles of parents. I remember myself how angry I was when my son was seven years old. I had a hard time accepting his autism and that he would need special services for the rest of his life. I walked around with a chip on my shoulder-- ready to rage and ready to cry—the tears were never far.

I appreciate your courage in leveling with how you feel. Anger, one of the most intense and least understood human emotions, is probably the scariest and most socially unacceptable feeling to own up to.
It often arises with the thought, "Why me? Why did this have to happen to me?" Losing something precious—the child you dreamed of--hurts and seems unfair. It is natural for parents to get frustrated and direct it at themselves, each other, the doctor, mercury, the local school district-- or your child who is hard to live with. Many people in your situation also feel guilty as you mention that your son’s behaviors are not his fault
It may help you to think about what other feelings you may have besides the frustration and the anger. Is there fear? Sorrow? Worry? What would be there if the anger vanished? Parents like you are trying to make sense out of what has happened - "If we are decent people, how could this happen to us?" I believe that parents need to allow themselves to experience anger, to cry, and to scream. It is all part of the grief. Indeed autism can be terrible, and it makes no sense. Trying to deny or minimize how hard it is to have a child with autism only prolongs the suffering you are describing.

Anger is a reflection of the hurt. Gaining perspective, along with time and compassion, can help to heal the heartbreak. It is probably worth another try to connect with a mental health professional who can guide you through this. If nothing else, our special children teach us patience with what we cannot change -- about them, with ourselves, and with the world around us

From Dr. Cindy Ariel:
The first thing you have to realize is that you are not the world’s worst parents. Your seeking of help and even writing to ask this question gives evidence of the facts you wrote: that you love your son and want to do a better job. Over time relationships develop patterns and sometimes these can be self defeating as in the relationship pattern that you are describing between you and your husband and your son.

In terms of behavior, yours and your son’s, you and your husband can learn some straight forward behavioral techniques that will help you. It sounds to me like you could use some strategic guidance and not just sympathy. This can be gained through some good self help books on the subject or by trying once again to reach out to a mental health professional who is willing to both guide and support you through this difficult time and experience.

As with most negative patterns of behavior, it is likely that you promise yourself on a daily basis that this time you will not yell or scream or hit but at this point your relationship with your son ends up in the same place because none of you can figure a way out of the trap. That is where a third party can help you to see the options in your responses and actions toward your son. Things may need to be set up differently in your home to help you to optimize your relationship with your little guy. Your son may be reacting to things that many of us would not realize or understand. He himself may not understand or be able to let you know what it is.

You are not in this situation because you are bad parents or lack the skill in raising a child. You may lack some of the skill necessary for raising a child with autism and that is not surprising given the level of complications that children with autism may bring. Some of the habits and behaviors of children with autism could push any one of us to our breaking point. It is important to remember, as you stated yourself, that your son is not purposely pushing you to your breaking point, just as you are not purposely ‘breaking.’ What needs to be broken is this self defeating cycle and a new one set up that is positive and has all of your family members feeling positively about themselves and each other. You are on track for this sort of change.

Robert Naseef, Ph.D., and Cindy Ariel, Ph.D., are the co-editors of "Voices from the Spectrum: Parents, Grandparents, Siblings, People with Autism, and Professionals Share Their Wisdom" (2006). On the web at www.alternativechoices.com

Mary
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Postby Mary » Fri Jun 09, 2006 11:38 am

GREAT POST.

Before anyone starts picking apart what these psychologists wrote, I will say that I am not interpreting the statement that parents are directing their anger at school districts or mercury or other parents (we've seen a lot of that here on this board, right?) as meaning that you should not work for better school services or remove mercury if that is a problem for your child. I interpret his comments to mean the ANGER itself is not good.

It's hard though, isn't it? As a friend of mine said, "it's easy to say you accept autism, but when your son is beating you up for the second time that day, it's hard to feel so calm."

LittleManzParents
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Postby LittleManzParents » Fri Jun 09, 2006 4:48 pm

Ooooo! Lot's of good resources right here in my neck of the woods! Thanks, R2D2. :wink:

LittleManzParents
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Postby LittleManzParents » Fri Jun 09, 2006 4:59 pm

p.s. Are you in this general area?

livsparents
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Postby livsparents » Fri Jun 09, 2006 5:03 pm

ANYone think those NANNIES from TV would run screaming from our houses if they tried to help us? :wink:

dgdavis64
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Postby dgdavis64 » Fri Jun 09, 2006 5:12 pm

livsparents wrote:ANYone think those NANNIES from TV would run screaming from our houses if they tried to help us? :wink:


Looking for a bottle of Xanex or maybe Jack Daniels if they couldn't locate a wig picker's office.

You've been SO NAUGHTY!


Just want to add that it's a good article but I was kind of disappointed at the end, being "on the right track" really didn't seem like much help to me.

Beware of the pharma trollbot shills posting from anonymous proxy servers

LittleManzParents
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Postby LittleManzParents » Fri Jun 09, 2006 5:27 pm

dgdavis64 wrote:
livsparents wrote:ANYone think those NANNIES from TV would run screaming from our houses if they tried to help us? :wink:


Looking for a bottle of Xanex or maybe Jack Daniels if they couldn't locate a wig picker's office.

You've been SO [b]NAUGHTY![/b]


Just want to add that it's a good article but I was kind of disappointed at the end, being "on the right track" really didn't seem like much help to me.


Diane, I'm beginning to think Turbo Jam is getting to you! :wink:

Did you take a look at the website?

livsparents
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Postby livsparents » Fri Jun 09, 2006 6:07 pm

Seriously though, I really have two modes with my kids:

Absolute patience with my two babies (Liv 3 with ASD; Grace 2 with speech delay).

Exxtreme short temper with the other 3 (Aly 11, Dillan 8, Jason 6)

We feel horrible that this is the case, it is just so difficult. Our way of dealing with it is we divide and conquer. One of gets a 'break' and takes one or two for some fun stuff. The other gets to stay home and mind the store. I get to talk to Linda maybe 5-15 minutes a day (that is if we don't collapse first). She said today that the reason we get miserable is that we use our time off to try and alleviate the guilt we feel for ignoring the other three.

We're lucky we have a strong relationship because this is testing it to the absolute limit. It is no wonder there is an 80% divorce rate. It ain't her fault or mine but it's just so easy to take it out on each other.

A doctor can look through his glasses on the end of his nose and write all he wants in his little book, if you had any issues in your marriage before autism, you are almost certainly doomed. No amount of well meaning advice is going to help...

Sorry, this schtuff is getting to me, we need a break. Luckily we (I) have a week off the end of the month where we can catch our breath and hopefully recover for the next round...summertime with all the kids around! :shock:

Bill

dgdavis64
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Postby dgdavis64 » Fri Jun 09, 2006 6:13 pm

LittleManzParents wrote:
dgdavis64 wrote:
livsparents wrote:ANYone think those NANNIES from TV would run screaming from our houses if they tried to help us? :wink:


Looking for a bottle of Xanex or maybe Jack Daniels if they couldn't locate a wig picker's office.

You've been SO [b]NAUGHTY![/b]


Just want to add that it's a good article but I was kind of disappointed at the end, being "on the right track" really didn't seem like much help to me.


Diane, I'm beginning to think Turbo Jam is getting to you! :wink:

Did you take a look at the website?



Which one? This one:http://www.alternativechoices.com/

For anyone who doesn't know, the term "wig picker" is how some refer to psychiatrists or shrinks but an even more accurate term is drug pusher since they just write prescriptions all day long.

Beware of the pharma trollbot shills posting from anonymous proxy servers

dgdavis64
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Joined: Sun Mar 20, 2005 11:51 pm

Postby dgdavis64 » Fri Jun 09, 2006 6:32 pm

LMP,

Oh, I see the link for the other website at the top of the article. Yeah, I'll

have check it out.

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LittleManzParents
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Postby LittleManzParents » Fri Jun 09, 2006 6:43 pm

No, no, I was referring to the one within the article. Within that link there are several other links to various resources and other essays, etc.

Grandma C
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Postby Grandma C » Mon Jun 12, 2006 1:28 pm

Dear Diane - You know I am not trying to pick a real disagreement and start trouble :) . I do, however, feel you should not put down people who have sought the help of medications to help them through this. I do not personally go to (as you referred to them...a wig picker) but I think there is nothing wrong with people who do go. It can be a very good thing! My family doctor (forever!) has prescribed me medication and it has helped me survive my depression and worry over Evan. I feel no shame in taking this OR admitting that I do. I should point out that this is not the whole of my life.... Evan is also the joy of my life!!!!! In addition to the worry, he brings me so much happiness...I cannot imagine my life without him & I LOVE HIM SO VERY MUCH :lol: !!!!

Love,

Grandma C


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