Reply To: Mom on the verge…I'm not alone, right?

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I’m in tears reading this, it’s so near to our story that if we change a couple details I could’ve been the narrator!
No, soul-sister πŸ’• you’re definitely not alone. I have 3 sons with my husband- one slightly different detail- our oldest (13 yikes) and youngest (7) are on the autism spectrum, and were the amazingly easy babies and toddlers. Our middle son (11), has ADHD- and is as opposite of our other two as night and day. This isn’t a good nor a bad thing, mind you, just… Different…

I knew as little about autism as a first time mom possibly could, except for a non-verbal young man that my mom would provide respite care for (when his mom needed to do mom things like grocery shop or get her oil changed) and (I’m risking sounding like the annoying ignorant village idiot by admitting this but we’re here to tell the truth, right?) Leonardo DiCaprio’s character Arnie from “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” *cringing at my younger self* Yet I was 7 when my brother was born and 14 when my sister was born, so I was familiar with the typical milestones and picked up on my oldest son’s delayed speech. Once he was assessed through the school district, and then diagnosed by his Pediatrician, things flowed relatively smoothly. The IEP has proven invaluable, and he has worked tirelessly to get where he’s at today. But this is not an autism forum. This is about my 11yo son, who I feel has slipped through the cracks and has been failed by a school system, a clueless set of parents, and a society that is ready to label him as a problem because of his deficits in understanding socially acceptable behavior. He has the easiest time *making* a friend but kids are generally jerks (mine included at times πŸ’•) and turn on him for one reason or another. One time it was because they were all joking as a group on recess and my son joined in (not knowing what’s OK to joke about and what’s NOT OK to say at school) and the kid took him seriously- so the next thing I know, he’s on an in*school*suspension for a day and he had NO CLUE WHY what he said was inappropriate πŸ’” when that’s what the whole group was doing… (it’s a longish story but the kid’s MOM was the ACTUAL VICE PRINCIPAL ugh)… The week before last, he (oh my dear sweet lord I can’t believe I’m saying this on a public forumπŸ’”) took TWO realistic-looking-except-an-orange-tip plastic pellet guns to school in his backpack. I AM BEYOND GRATEFUL FOR HIS TEACHER AND PRINCIPAL who know of his desperate need to make a friend- because he did NOT have law enforcement called in him nor was he expelled *still having a really hard time talking about it even though I’m not SPEAKING the words out loud*
Both of his previous schools would’ve crucified him πŸ’”πŸ’”πŸ’” but this teacher he has is an absolute ANGEL… But he had no idea of the magnitude of his terrible impulse, even after I explained that real CHILDREN HAVE BEEN BRINGING REAL GUNS TO THEIR REAL SCHOOLS AND REALLY—– 😒😒😒😒😒😒

He feels like he’s been over-punished because #1″They weren’t real guns and he didn’t even take them out of his backpack— he only showed ONE FRIEND and THAT kid told someone else who told someone else who told on him….. ” and the other reason WE’RE OVERREACTING was #2″They didn’t even have any pellets in them and he didn’t even bring the pellets to school….. ”

Side note- since Tamir Rice was killed by police because he was playing with a toy gun in a parkπŸ’”, I have not allowed my children to play with ANY TOY GUNS anywhere except in my back yard at HOME and even then the toys are either NERF or water guns LOUDLY FLUORESCENT OBVIOUS TOYS. They cannot have them in my car, take them anywhere, show friends or anything. That tragic story scarred me and I refuse to give ANYONE a reason to imagine that my boys MIGHT be armed……. My roommate had them in her room, in a drawer- they’re $6 flea market toys that her sons play with when they are here on the weekends. He went into her room (no boundaries) to get a Capri sun (which he didn’t ask for, but she’d given him one the day before so he took that as an open invitation to help himself) from her closet and passed by the dresser they were kept in…. He smuggles food, he pressed his brother’s buttons and eggs them onto a near meltdown if he’s bored, I have dubbed him Officer Sammy because he’s got a report for EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE EXCEPT himself of course…

But I can deal with allllllllll of that. It’s absolutely driving me to a mental breakdown – don’t get me wrong — but the most soul shattering part for me is that he gets SO ANGRY with himself. πŸ’”πŸ’”πŸ’” For not being able to resist an enticing impulse on the fly… For not being able to keep a real friend. For not being able to focus in class. His self loathing is BREAKING MY WHOLE ENTIRE HEART. We’ve tried adderall (sp?) which was phenomenal in helping him in class, but he would come home from school and close himself in his room alone and sob silently, which was SOOOOO UNLIKE HIM… He started to cry in the mornings when it was time to take it, and all but begged me to STOP taking it πŸ’” But I talked him into giving it another week so he could get used to it… Maybe if he gained a bit of confidence and his body adjusted to the waves of emotions he’d do OK… But with my husband against medications from the gate and with my little boy pleading for me to just give him a chance to “be good by himself without medicine just for one day” I gave in… That was 3 years ago. The school refused to give him an IEP because he tested right on the border so they wanted me to adjust a few things like bedtime and medication before they “put him in special ed” πŸ’” and I had no clue I had a right to appeal that decision (it was so smooth for my oldest son, and I LOVED his team of specialists teachers and his case worker was so amazing that I’d been blindsided by the refusal for Sammy)… Now there’s non-stimulant medications to help with focus and cognitive behavioral therapy and other options to try— but I will admit that these last 3 years have drained me of….. Well, EVERYTHING. Not just with my children and schools but personal crap, family illness*es*, my own health and emotional weight……. I’m having the HARDEST time picking up and trying again… Ugh I’m acutely aware that I am FAILING MY CHILD with every passing day that I’m NOT making his appointments or getting referrals or doing SOMETHING to HELP him in ANY WAY… But I’m still stuck on *hopeless* if that makes ANY SENSE whatsoever…

You’re not alone, mama. I’m drowning in California πŸ’”πŸ’•