Excruciating Ride, Part 2

Continued from Excruciating Ride

Photo Credit: Benjamin Wong

I often search Flickr for just the right photo, but I don’t always find what I want. In this case, the picture is worth about a million words.  

The roller coaster we’re riding with our son right now isn’t any fun.

As I walked into the hall, my son whipped the pencil away from his chest.

“What are you doing?” Reaching for the pencil, I leaned over to see whether he’d progressed through his school work. I used the pencil to point, summoning as much nonchalance as I could.

“You need to fill in these blanks in pencil, please.” I handed the pencil back, adding, “Pencils are for paper; pencils are not for poking people.”

He nodded and took it.

After he finished his school work, I gave him a journal assignment. He wrote about suicide by a pencil stab.

An hour later, he growled in frustration when I wouldn’t believe an obvious lie. He left the house and headed down the driveway. The timing worked well, because we needed to head to an appointment, so I pretended to think he was going to get in the car.

Unlocking the vehicle, I called, “Hey, thanks for getting out of the house so quickly so we can be on time! Do you want me to meet you at the end of the driveway?”

He froze, then turned slowly and shuffled back to the car, muttering, “wearing the wrong shoes, anyway.”

His sister gave him a sharp look. “Were you trying to run away?”

“Yeah, but I need my other shoes.”

She shook her head. “Running away is stupid. What are you going to eat?”

In a cool, flat tone that gave me chills, he said, “Dead squirrels, probably.”

By late August, I was spending an average of seven hours per day closely monitoring our son. Completing tasks became almost impossible; he didn’t want to move, so he began a sabotage campaign. When we put the house on the market, we asked the kids to try to keep things neat for the showings. He thought buyers would refuse to purchase the house if he worked against us. He trashed his room, wrote on the walls in permanent marker, decimated a large planter…every time he wasn’t by my side, I looked for the next bit of destruction.

He did the opposite of whatever we asked and began doing things he’d never done in the past, like climbing out of his window to leave the house. Hubby and I did our best, but…have you ever tried to keep an 11 year-old in sight at all times? It’s even harder than it sounds.

Cameras and a newly-installed alarm system helped, but we still couldn’t supervise 100% of his day. Showers became especially problematic, because he’s really too old for one of us to stand there. He plugged the drain with toys and toilet paper, defecated in the tub and filled the curtain with water, letting it go when it became too heavy (all over the bathroom floor).

Because he is diagnosed as “on the edge” of the Autism spectrum, the in-home counselor suggested we apply for ABA therapy for help with behavior modification. Good ABA therapists have successfully helped non-verbal, low-functioning children learn to communicate and to perform self-care tasks. If his apparent inability to follow directions stemmed from the autism, the therapists would be able to help. And maybe, once he had a habit of doing the right things, he would feel better about himself.

While I sat outside with the supervisor, outlining the challenges of the last several months, another staff member sat with our son to evaluate him. I explained to the supervisor that he’s great one-on-one with an adult, so I expected the other therapist to find nothing. Sure enough, when she joined us, I saw The Look.

The Look, n., facial expression indicating the parent must be out of her mind, as this child is brimming with intelligence and compliance. 

Thankful for backup from the in-home counselor, the supervisor and I explained there is more to this kid than becomes obvious in one meeting. We were approved for services, but staffing shortages meant ABA wouldn’t start for several weeks.

A week later, the threats of suicide came almost daily, sometimes several times a day. His moods swung between anger and depression. I couldn’t leave him alone with his sister for even a minute because he started lashing out at her.

ABA wasn’t going to be enough.

We began looking for residential treatment, this time for a program that lasted more than a few days.








About Casey

Adoption = my life. I'm determined to give my kids the chance they deserve. Adoption isn't always easy. I promise, you're not alone in this. Join me at - we're in this together.

Posted on December 6, 2017, in Adoption, autism, mental health, Mental illness, parenting, Suicide and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. Good !|Cool! I love your this bolg.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m on the edge of my seat reading this. It’s like you are writing our story over the past year. Oh goodness. I am sorry.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I read every single word there and all I could think of is sending big hugs to you. I cannot imagine the pain you and your kid are going through. That photo is really a powerful visual for the predicament you are facing. I’m hoping there’s a silver lining in the next few posts you have. X.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Honestly, at the moment the silver lining is hard to find, but your comment about the picture jiggled a memory for me (that oddly didn’t happen when I grabbed the picture). I think it’s a coaster at Disney world; the first summer we had the kids, my sister in law was moving cross country and wanted to have a family vacation to remember. We had to get special permission to take them since they were still foster, and taking them out of state was generally a no, but social services agreed. We rode that coaster; being Disney, I knew we weren’t going to die, but suspending belief about reality on a roller coaster makes everything more fun. Seeing that end-of-track was pretty terrifying for a second, and (I won’t spoil it in case someone reading will be riding for the first time) the way of not-dying was actually surprising; I didn’t see it coming. There’s a point where you really can’t see anything but the broken tracks ahead and my brain couldn’t see how we’d be saved (although logically, I knew there would be a way out). I trusted the designer of the track to have an escape plan, especially since other people got off the train as we loaded… sounds like a great analogy for life, actually. Thanks for that!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Have tears in my eyes! I am so hoping that you were able to find the right help for him! Sending more (((HUGS))) your way, I want to hug his sister as well. I am sure this is all hard on her as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, she’s definitely having a difficult time. She blames herself because she often retaliated or made him angry on purpose to get him back for something he’d done previously. We talked about it yesterday. I understand her thought process (being a big sister myself) so I think that helped her, knowing she’s not alone. I’m not sure she fully agrees with me that she’s not responsible but we talked a lot about personal responsibility and the mindset she used to have. It seemed to help. Hugs are always welcome!


  5. My heart goes out to you I know what you’re going through although not as far as the suicide threats. My son has hardly been to school all year the assistance we have got keeps rattling on about money which is very frustrating. But like yours he keeps destroying things, he doesn’t look after himself in so many ways.
    Don’t even ask about getting him diagnosed with anything, they more or less point blank refuse to do it and if a referral goes it gets lost in maze of red tape. Some days it just hard to know how to handle it.
    Big hugs to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sorry you’re having such a difficult time both with his behavior and with the system. We are slowly learning that he WANTS boundaries (or so it seems) but being “on” 100% of the time and keeping those boundaries in place is exhausting, especially since he keeps pushing to see whether we will cave. Prayers and big hugs right back!


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