Well I am so glad I got my blog page (pretty much) set up this week, because I certainly have something to blog about today. As you may or may not know, my middle daughter, M, 5 years old, has been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. She has always been different and as she grew from toddler to preschooler it became apparent that something was amiss and she needed some help. So, we have been through occupational therapy, counseling, and lots and lots of testing. At the end of the spring she really seemed to be improving. To the point where I was comfortable holding off on any further occupational therapy until school started and thought maybe she would end up not even needing an IEP. I was even beginning to question whether she really needed to continue couseling at this point. Then…
Right before her last counseling appointment, M mentioned that she wished she were not alive, and she wanted her life to end. This was the second time she had said something like this, the first had been a couple of months before and her counselor was not concerned. This time also, we were advised that there was no way M could really understand what she was saying and that she was just expressing her frustration and discomfort in a world she did not understand or fit into. At this point further counseling would have been a good idea but we had lost our medical insurance and would not have coverage again for a few months.
M continued to have worse meltdowns than before and frequently exclaim in frustration her wish to not be alive, and that someone or something would “make her killed”. She started running away, to the point where we had to child safety lock the car doors and electrical tape childproof handles to the door knobs inside the house to at least slow her progress so we could catch her before she got away or got hurt. She would suddenly panic and try to blot into traffic. This has all been very trying, and I have been counting down the days until August 1st, when we will have insurance and can get her in to see a psychiatrist. (They do have financial assistance, but I thought, why use it when it will only be a short time until we have insurance, and leave the assistance for people who REALLY need it).
So it can’t get much worse, right?
THEN, M started to become aggressive. One day I had to hold her in her car seat so we could get home safely and ended up with bruises on my arms. I didn’t think this would be a pattern but she became more and more aggressive at home, mostly with me and one of our cats who wouldn’t hurt a flea. (Oddly enough-or maybe not-she left alone the new cat that is scared and will scratch or bite when feeling threatened) She also started talking about wanting other people to die- mainly her father and me. And I thought “thank God we can take her to the Dr. soon, this is getting out of hand and I don’t know how to help her”.
And then it got worse, again…
I was talking to my mom on the phone last night on my way home from work and told her about M’s worsening behavior. Maybe I jinxed myself. I said “At least she hasn’t hurt any other kids, or her sisters yet”. Litereally less than 5 minutes later I walked in the door and heard my youngest crying. I asked what was wrong and found out that M punched her in the back because she was in her way. WHAT. DO. I. DO. NOW?
One week. One week until I can call and make an appointment with a psychiatrist. I hate the thought of medicating my children as much as most parents, but I really think there is not another option. We have tried diet changes, supplements, and behavioral interventions. She is not aggressive in daycare, only at home. (Which is relatively common, because they feel more safe at home and also because the stress of holding it all together while they are in public is so much that once they get home they just explode). She has also had to deal with a lot of changes lately, especially for a child on the spectrum. Since she just turned 5 she changed classrooms at daycare and at Sunday school. I changed jobs and she is in a new environment several days per week. It is summer so big sister is home every day. I think it will take a number of factors and we will be scheduling appointments with her pediatrician and counselor, also. But I also believe it is time to take drastic steps toward helping her overcome her anxiety and aggression that are so much a part of Autsim for many children, and for us that means medication. I know it won’t be an instant, quick, magical fix and that it will take a lot of observation, appointments and adjustments. But when your child wants to hurt themself and others, you will do anything, ANYTHING to help them.
Please pray for wisdom and guidance for us and the doctors, and for relief for M and our family. For any who know her, she is just such a sweet, loveable girl. She is smart and funny and loves her family and friends more than anything. We want to help her take away some of that anxiety and panic and overstimulation so she can feel safe in this world and be able to be herself, the sweet little girl who is excited to start school this fall. Isn’t that really what all parents want for their children? It’s just that most are able to take it for granted, because most of the time their children DO feel safe and able to express themselved appropriately. Most of the time I do not see Autism as a bad thing, just a different way of thinking. But today I hate Autism, because it has stolen that from my daughter. It has attacked her and left her feeling afraid and helpless. And I will do anything I can to protect her from that.