Monday, February 2, Groundhog Day, was a snow day for all school children in the Chicagoland area. The storm dumped more snow on the area than was originally forecast...a lot more snow. When it finally stopped after about 36 hours, there was over 19 inches of snow. This turned out to be the 5th largest snow storm in our history.
For most children and their parents, it turned out to be a fun day of sledding, ice skating and snowman building, but for my family it turned out to be the biggest nightmare. You see, my adopted, beautiful, funny, creative son has severe behavior disorder. Were you to meet him, you would be very surprised to know this. He appears calm, polite and articulate...until something sets him off and he embarks on a rage which turns into a rampage. That only happens in our house these days. It used to happen at school, at the grocery store, at restaurants and at home. At age 14, yeah, this kid is 14 years old and has been doing this for 12 years, he is able to control himself, but about every 6 months, he seems to need to "go nuts" and our house and measly possessions suffer the consequences.
It's all about the prefrontal cortex, the very front of the brain responsible for impulse control, amongst many other functions. My son was born to a 15 year old girl who hid her pregnancy from her parents until days before he was born. She received no prenatal care and even worse, she was pumping cortisol, a stress hormone, into his tiny body in utero for 9 months. The effect on the baby is even worse than if she was doing drugs. As a result, he has had very poor impulse control his entire life and he has anxiety disorder as well as sensory integration disorder.
Here's what happened. Like many teenage boys, all he wants to do is play these horrendously realistic video games where he is able to inflict injury, maim and kill and in some games, torture characters before killing them. I had no idea that this was the case when I bought him Call of Duty and Assassin's Creed which are rated M for mature. You have to be 17 to purchase it or get an adult to purchase it for you. I had bought him an XBox 360 which he has wanted for at least 7 years; apparently ALL his friends have them. The reason I agreed to this was to keep him off my computers which he kept infecting with malware with all his Minecraft downloads. I naively thought he would play Minecraft on the XBox. Silly me. All he does is play these horrible shooter video games with his friends.
On Monday, he agreed to shovel our walkway and sidewalk for $10. This is a kid who spends money the second he has it. Saving is just not in his vocabulary. He'll tell me he is going to save up for a big ticket item and I'm sure he has every intention of doing so. But then he'll earn some money and he'll blow it on whatever takes his fancy at that moment in time. He wanted yet another horrible video game, Prototype 2. His exact words were "search it up and let me know if I can have it." It was such a reasonable response by him. I did just that and discovered it was yet another M rated game and I decided he had enough of these games, already. He's been so much better at accepting a "no" from me these days. In the past, telling him "no" would have resulted in a destructive rampage. I didn't think it would elicit the response it did. It caught me completely off guard.
He went absolutely berserk and when all the destruction was over, we no longer had a working TV, the printer was smashed and dismantled, there was a new hole in the wall where he slammed the door so hard that the doorknob went through the drywall, he smashed his cell phone and the clothes hamper was crushed.
It was like slow motion when he picked up a stool and hurled it at the TV...the thing he loves more than life, itself. It happened so slowly and yet so quickly that I was powerless to intervene and stop it. Shaking, I left the house to dig out my car and to get away from the pandemonium that was going on in my house. I was able to get out of my parking spot more easily than I anticipated with little shoveling. I drove it around the block, parked on a main street, got out of the car and started crying.
This episode left my husband and me absolutely shattered this entire week. It scared the hell out of me...he's a big kid now...it depressed me because I thought we were past this and it pisses me off because we decided not to replace the TV any time soon. But, most of all, I am so goddamned tired of dealing with this. So stressful. So soul destroying. Erosion. A prison sentence for something I didn't do. Our once beautiful house is such a mess that I am embarrassed to invite anyone over. This is how we live.
But, most distressing of all, will this kid EVER be able to leave our house and care for himself? I guess only time will tell.
And please don't tell me to get help for him. We have been doing that since he was 2 years old. I've tried everything; 15 different meds that didn't help, talk therapy, vision therapy, chiropractic, yoga, sports, AVE device, cranial sacral therapy, massage, Wilbarger Brushing technique and on and on. Going from one "expert to another." In the box, out of the box, around the box. He won't talk about his feelings and I can't make him.
If you made it to the end of this post, thanks for reading. Please do not leave any nasty or useless comments because YOU think YOU know how to help this kid. Your empathy would be enough!
Do you have a child with an invisible disability? I would love to hear your stories and comments.
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