Monday, November 9, 2009

Where, O Where Have I Been?

I am wondering myself where I have been. I have not been blogging, although I started on a series of poems. I have been caught up in a tumult, but has it really been enough to keep me from writing for so long?

There's been an escalation to the difficulty that my third grader has in school. This is the Peanut, my son who has Asperger's Syndrome. It seems that the year began a bit bumpy, though I wasn't getting much feedback in the beginning. There was a new TSS ("wraparound") whose schedule availability didn't meet the Peanut's needs, which was for help in the afternoons. Then there was a different, new TSS, whose schedule was better, but Peanut was still struggling to get through his assignments for various reasons: the writing content is more challenging than last year and he has become very particular about his penmanship; the room is noisy and distracting; there was a period of a couple of weeks when I think we all had bad colds and he was just too sleepy. That's about where I left off.

We were excited and happy to find, when the 2nd TSS staff of the year wasn't working out, the fabulous "Mr. Mike" of last year, whose loss was a source of grief to my little guy, was coming back for the afternoons. Then we were all - myself, the teachers and administrators and the behavioral specialist - concerned when things didn't get much better, then continued to get worse.

In the second half of October, I was called at work at least 4 different days to come pick up the child from school because there was just no helping him to regroup. In addition, he has been out of school for 5 days (again, just since October 15). We went to the Developmental Pediatrics specialist at the Children's Hospital and tried increasing his very low dose of ADHD meds, thinking it was probably about time to do so. Peanut became more anxious and showed OCD symptoms. We lowered the dose again. He missed three days of school. I took him to the pediatrician and had bloodwork done, to rule out possible causes of the fatigue, like anemia or mono (he was a champ for the blood draw & and I took him to Friendly's for a milkshake). That same afternoon, I took him to a psychiatrist at the human services agency which provides the wraparound services, as there had been a cancellation allowing us to get in quickly.

I sent Peanut back to school one day last week, only to have to pick him up early again as he was in a complete meltdown. When I arrived at school, he was lying under a chair in the principal's office and growling at her when she tried to talk to him. Every time, it is so clear that he himself is suffering, that he does not want to find it so difficult to cope, that he is even afraid of himself.

This summary doesn't touch on the panic I was beginning to feel. Possible clinical depression in my child? School just says "come and get him" without having a single referral or suggestion - it was the behavioral specialist who went to her supervisor and got some leads for me. At the same time, I suddenly had the clarity of hindsight, that in his interactions with his brother, Peanut has been getting increasingly sensitive and angry. And in the summer, he was so sad at the end of his week at camp, and when Mr. Mike took a different assignment away from him. I should have known sooner. That crippling thought that moms use to punish ourselves.

But there's no time for that. Tomorrow, again at the suggestion of the BSE, I am taking my almost-9-year-old son for an assessment, that will get him into a partial hospitalization program at a psychiatric facility. The key things we are watching are his anxiety levels and possible depression. It is painful to see in him the manifestation of something very like depression: it is something I have had for most of my life, so I recognize that sense of helplessness and hopelessness, the lack of energy to cope with the smallest setbacks, like stubbing his toe. Then again, he seems to be himself at his weekly drum lesson, so I make certain we don't miss it, as Peanut needs every positive experience possible right now.

There will be school work to catch up on, but we can't worry about anything until we can get him to be himself again. Over this past weekend, he was so upset, so resistant to calming down that I seriously contemplated taking him to an ER. It is fortunate that his dad was able to help him. I took the older brother out for a much needed break - he, too, is showing the strain of his brother's tantrums - and one-on-one time with his mom. The evening was much better.

Not writing has been the result of riding out this storm, also not being certain I have any right to publicize my child's problems. But, I always think to myself, there must be other parents out there who are seeing something they have never seen and for which they have no idea what to do. If we can share it, won't that help others?

Instead of blogging, I have had a steady report going out via email to concerned family and friends. I've asked everyone I know who has any kind of experience with the issues for their suggestions. Fortunately, I work for a human services agency so I have some good resources. I've advised school of doctor's appointments and doctors' offices of what's going on at school, and advised work of the time I need to take off. I am grateful for the days my sister has been able to spend with the Peanut, plus spending a little time with Bunny, the older child, who feels cheated of the time and attention that his brother is getting, for what appears to be mere bad behavior.

Okay, I guess I know where I have been, even if it has been a blur. In the midst of all of this, I am working with my exhusband to keep him informed and to share the need for child care while still being vigilant over the new boundaries in our relationship. I am too tired to think; somehow I am still getting enough work done at the office to keep my job. I am not sure how, but I am doing it.

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