Saturday, August 19, 2017

When Mom Perpetuates A Negative Cycle - Living With FASD

Joseph and I can quickly get into a negative cycle. Children with FASD want to be loved, they crave their parents love and affection. Sadly, because of the damage done to their brain, they perceive the world differently which results in frustration for them and their parents.

Yesterday was a hard day at our house. I don't know exactly why. It may have been because it was Friday and the children didn't feel motivated to work, maybe it was the weather or maybe we were all bitten by the grumpy bug. Whatever it was, no one was feeling especially loving and kind.

Joseph has been having a difficult time keeping at his school work. I originally planned for the children to do their work in their bedrooms but everyone wants to work at the kitchen table. This is fine, except for the children who are easily distracted by what goes on around them. I tried having Joseph do his work at his desk in his bedroom but his "out of mom's sight, means I can do what I want," style of thinking takes over and very little work gets done. This means I am constantly reminding him to keep at his work, which frustrates us both.

Since Kiana's Lyme diagnosis, she and Joseph have been pretty much on the same level socially, emotionally and behaviorally so Joseph has come to view her as a peer versus and older sister as he did two or three years ago. As a result, they are both doing the same level of work and he keeps an eye on how fast she is getting through her books. Rather than work faster to keep up, he melts down and refuses to co operate.

These are just a few of the things that were making me feel a tad bit frustrated with Joseph. I knew better and as his mom, I shouldn't have reacted but I did. He sensed my frustration and tried to be extra loving and helpful. This resulted in disaster since thinking for himself taxes his brain. He tried to take care of Lia by helping her or telling me when he thought she was misbehaving. Of course whatever he was supposed to be doing wasn't getting done because he was using his brain power to "take care of Lia."

If I dropped something, he was scrambling or falling off his chair in his haste to pick up the object for me. Which was thoughtful but if my pen is right by my chair I can pick it up in less time than it takes for him to get off his chair, make several attempts at picking it up, climb back on his chair and find his spot in his workbook again. I smile back my frustration and we go on.

He kept popping up with wild idea's of things he could build - "Dad could buy me an engine and I could...." Or, "I can get all the rocks out of the yard when you mow and put them in my play area. I could use them to build a rock wall so Kobi couldn't knock it over..." 

He was extra exuberant about everything. When I told him to put the coffee cups away, he bounced up and cheerily whacked them together, breaking one. "Ooops, guess that is one less cup!" He announced cheerily while I gave a deep sigh. I knew he was trying really hard to be happy because he sensed I was frustrated with him.

He offered to do things for me, which was fine except that he failed to complete what he was told to do. He corrected everyone and everything until his siblings lost any semblance of patience with him and sadly, I wasn't far behind.

If I praised him or gave him a smile, he tried to be super helpful and things deteriorated even further.

I knew what was wrong, I knew I needed to get myself back on track before he could function again but due to various things, I was having a very hard time doing that. So we stumbled and bumbled our way through the day. I gave him a good night kiss and sent him off to bed vowing that today would be better. 

As I type this, he just finished his chocolate breakfast cereal and offered me the "chocolate milk" that was left in the bottom of his bowl. "You may have this for breakfast mom!" I sensed he was still trying extra hard to be kind so that means I need to fill his love tank and get him settled emotionally or this day will be no better than yesterday.

I think the reason this behavior gets under my skin so badly is because I know that I am the one to blame. If I can be kind, loving and gracious despite Joseph's challenging behavior, we seldom get into this cycle of him trying extra hard to please me and as a result, making things even worse while I get more irritated as the day goes on.

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