Tag Archives: Behavior

Roller Coaster Ride

what a ride!

That’s roughly what the last few months have looked like.

I logged in to write about it yesterday (as I have a few times before) and once again ran out of time.  However, I noticed something.  Even though I haven’t posted in entirely too long, people are still visiting this blog.  People are still entering searches that lead them here.  Therefore, I should keep writing.  It’s why I started this blog in the first place.  Once upon a time, I was searching for answers and I stumbled upon someone else’s blog.  She was a single mom with an autistic child. And unlike some of the other blogs I’d read, she sounded like me.  But her blog was long since given up.  I wished she’d kept it up – if she had, her son would have been roughly the same age as Colin.  What are they up to now? What have they tried? What worked? What didn’t?  I’ll never know.

(Even as I try to write this, I’ve been interrupted twice already!)

Here’s what I wrote on 12/21, but never finished the entry to post:

This past Wed (12/19), Colin went back to see Dr. L (psychiatrist).  We did something we should have done before, but never had – we took notes almost daily for the 2.5 weeks Colin spent on the new medication schedule.  Mrs. E (special ed teacher) also emailed us a few times, letting us know what she’d observed at school.
The first week, Colin was doing well in the AM, but not so much in the afternoon.  Rick was giving him his afternoon dose of Clonidine at home because we had not gotten the form filled out and faxed to the school yet (this is sometimes a challenge with our doc’s office).  By the second week, he seemed to have issues all day long – the meds were not affecting him nearly as much and he was back to distractions and hyperactivity.
Dr. L has upped his Adderall XR to 20mg/day and upped his dose of Clonidine in the AM to .1mg (he was taking .05mg before).
Yesterday was the first day on the new dosages.  He was downright zombie-like within 20 minutes!  After breakfast, he plopped down on the couch and buried himself in pillows.  When I told him to go get dressed for school, he told me he couldn’t get up.
Yikes!!
I asked him to try and he realized he was fine and able to go about his business, just a little slower than usual.
I got a phone call at lunch from Mrs. E – she wanted to discuss the new medications.  She told me he seemed very disoriented first thing in the morning.  I told her that concerned me, too.
THEN she told me that they’ve been working on double-digit addition for a while now and Colin has not managed to do a single problem on his own yet – he asks her for every step on every single problem, unable to recall what he needed to do each time.  Yesterday?  He sat down and did TWELVE problems without ANY help.
And then he wrote a full-page for an assignment he was given.
I almost fell out of my chair.  I had tears in my eyes, that’s for sure!
Things were good for a bit.  Then the anger started to amp up again.  At our psych visit in January, we expressed concern over the anger and Dr. L had us add 25mg of Seroquel in the AM (he takes 50mg at night).  We hoped that would help.  We also got the form signed and turned in so that he could take his afternoon dose of Clonidine at school instead of after he got home.  I thought maybe – just maybe – we were getting there this time.  Just a tweak here or there!  We’ll be fine!
And then over the last few weeks, school days have taken a turn for the worst.  Episodes of cursing, spitting, hitting, kicking, throwing his shoes, refusing to work, etc.  Yesterday was the worst.
I got a call from Mrs. E (sp ed teacher) yesterday afternoon – she was very concerned.  He’d acted out in the AM a bit, then was throwing food at lunch.  After lunch, they sent him to Mrs. E where he refused to work, kicked his chair, threw his shoes, started kicking the wall, cursed at his teachers and spit.  They took him to an empty classroom that’s sometimes used to let kids decompress.  No stimuli in there – empty room, blank walls.  They hoped it would help him calm down.
Instead, he amped up.  He started running circles and doing cartwheels and literally bouncing off the walls.  He never slowed down, just kept getting worse. After a while, they realized that wasn’t working and brought him back to Mrs. E’s room.  There, he continued to act out and then started hitting and kicking his teachers.  He had to be restrained by one of them until he could calm down.  He’s never gotten that bad at school before.
Once he was calm, he apologized to them.  He said he was sorry for hitting and spitting and saying bad words.  Then he sat down and took his spelling test and made 100.
They thought he might have calmed down enough to go back to the gen ed class room for the rest of the day, but when they went into the hallway, he started spinning and they knew he had to stay in the sp ed room.
Mrs. E knew Colin was listed as a “walker” and said she was going to walk home with him because she was really worried about his behavior today and didn’t think he should be walking home.  I explained that they only go across the cross walk and then Rick meets them and either walks home with them or they ride in the car.  She said, “Okay, I’ll keep an eye on him until he gets to Rick, then.”
I love Mrs. E. I don’t know how she does all that she does every day for Colin (as well as the other kids in her care).
We put a call into Dr. L to see what he thinks about everything – haven’t heard back yet.  I just don’t know what to think. It’s almost as if the extra Seroquel has made him worse instead of better.  Seems to go that way with any sort of mood stabilizing drug we’ve tried.  In the beginning, it seems like a miracle drug… then suddenly he takes a crazy left turn and we wind up worse than we were before.
In better news, we’ve been fighting with the school to get Colin a psych eval through the school system and they have FINALLY AGREED!  The testing will be sometime in the next 60 days.  Long story short, they did not like the testing that we had done 2 years ago and refused to accept his autism diagnosis.  They say they think it could be FAS or something else masking as autism.  I told them I don’t care WHAT it is, we just need answers so we can help him!
As I wasn’t sure whether or not we’d win this battle, I had also been looking for an independent evaluation again.  This time, touching on points that the school said they wanted to see, etc.  Our play therapist the kids see recommended a colleague of hers.  However, she’s out of network and it would have been very cost prohibitive.  That doctor, however, is a professor at TWU as well and she offered another option.  She has 2 grad students that need to complete a psych evaluation for their coursework and said that if we let them perform the evaluation, she will monitor the entire process and it would be free of charge.  We went ahead and jumped at the chance.  We’re meeting with them today for the evaluation.  I was tempted to let Rick take Colin and I’d stay home with the other two, but the more I thought about it… the more I really would like to stay, especially if they’ll let us observe the evaluation.  I’m interested to see if there are any changes in his answers from two years ago… also want to see what exactly they ask him.
Up again, down again… I know this is so hard on Colin, just as it is on us.  I don’t know how to help him, but we’re trying our best.

A complete 180

I know I haven’t been around much – I’ve had plenty to say but just haven’t found the time to put it all out there. 

Today, I’m frustrated.  Really, I’ve been frustrated for a couple of weeks now.  Colin’s been out of control and I just don’t know what to do – again.

We haven’t changed meds, we haven’t changed routine.  Everything is pretty much the same at the Crazy Antelope House.  Only Colin’s suddenly acting out at every. single. opportunity.

The moment an adult back is turned, he’s up to no good. In the last two weeks he has:

  • bitten Rodeo on the penis
  • spit on his brothers’ food
  • stolen Halloween candy from the kitchen
  • stuck a pair of tweezers in an outlet and blown a fuse (thank god nothing worse happened)
  • stolen a STEAK KNIFE from the kitchen and hid it under his nightstand (which we had turned around to face the wall because he kept hiding things in the drawer)
  • stolen a handful of straight pins from my sewing table and placed them in random places around his room
  • ran AWAY from Rick as he was picking them up from school (he was chasing a friend)

And the latest… today he ran away from school. (more on that in a minute)

We’ve gotten to the point where he has to be in our line of sight during every waking moment.  He’s not allowed to play in his brothers’ room at all and now he’s not even allowed to go to his room, either, unless its bedtime.  So now, it’s almost as if he’s sitting in wait… all I have to do is turn around to pack up leftovers and he’s biting the dog or messing with his brothers, pocketing something that isn’t his, etc.  It’s exhausting.

Today, about 20 minutes before school let out, I got a call.  Colin had run from the school.  I found out later that he was in his special ed class and just out of control.  The Special Ed teacher called the school counselor and asked her to come help.  Shortly after, Colin was spinning and dancing and refused to settle down…then bolted out the door.

He ran out of the school, across the basketball court…and into the woods behind the school.  He refused to come out.  Five different staff members tried to reason with him, but he wouldn’t give in.  Finally, they agreed to let Rick come get him if he’d just come back to the school.

(Rick’s phone went to voicemail so they called me next.  Rick and I then proceeded to try to call each other at the same time!)

Colin’s been suspended for a day.  Rick tried to reason with the staff members, explaining that keeping him home is just reinforcing the bad behavior.  Oh!  If I act like THIS then I get what I want – which is staying home!

Last week, he spent a good 2-3 days pretending he was sick and had lost his voice because he wanted to stay home.  I left work early on Monday to get him and take him to the doctor only to find there was absolutely nothing wrong.  No redness, no drainage, no fever, no strep.  Thursday he went to the nurse again and they called me. I told her if he wasn’t sick (he wasn’t) then he needed to go back to class.

He went back to the classroom and told his teacher that the nurse had told him to get his backpack and walk home – that I’d said it was okay!  Thankfully everyone at the school knows Colin well enough to double-check a story like that.

I don’t know what’s going on.  He does NOT want to be at school, which is obvious.  I don’t know if he’s starting to realize he’s different or what.  That seems to be the case at home – his brothers are definitely noticing more and more.  They have friends; Colin doesn’t really have friends. They’re allowed to go to play at someone’s house for an afternoon; Colin doesn’t get invited. 

I don’t know what else it could be.  Aside from the craziness at school today, he’s been fairly calm when making these horrible choices.  Rick noticed that today – he isn’t manic and impulsive like he used to be during the worst offenses.  In fact, he’s pretty dang calm.

Just this morning, we started having him meet with the play therapist (Dr. H) Robbie & Ryan were going to.  Our plan was to let Colin go every 3rd time, then every other time… slowly phasing R&R out of the therapy sessions.  We explained to them that they are doing great and we are SO incredibly proud of them.  They understand that Colin needs more help.  We also told them the door is open for them to go see Dr. H if they ever feel the need.

Today was his first day of therapy.  I wish he could go back sooner without upsetting the other two, but I don’t see how.

The school also seems to FINALLY be willing to do a psych eval and possibly accept the ASD diagnosis that we’ve had for 2 years now.

I sense some bumpy patches ahead.

Operation Unplugged

A few days ago, we set up a new reward system that involved the boys earning TV/Wii time rather than having full access and losing it when they misbehaved. Basically, a full day of good behavior earns one hour of time the following day. Semi-good day = 30 minutes. Bad day? No TV/Wii the next day.

This means our TV is only on when the kids are awake for a max 3 hours/day now. Compared to the almost non-stop television/game playing we’d gotten into the habit of enjoying over the summer, this is a very drastic change. I was a little worried this would be more stressful for us than it would be for the boys!

This is only our third day, and you know what I’ve discovered?

Our boys are calmer. The stress level is MUCH lower in our house right now. They’ve been (*shock!*) using their imaginations more. They’re reading and playing with puzzles more. They’re enjoying those precious television moments more, rather than mindlessly sitting in the room with the TV going.

Today, we went to a local fair that featured various restaurants. The drive down was over 45 minutes. Usually, we’d flick on the DVD player in the van to keep the peace. I pointed out that was TV time and they’d used up most of their earned time already, so we left it off. You know what happened? They looked out the windows and asked questions about what we were driving past. Rick and I were still able to talk because the kids were calmer.

As I type this, all three just sat down together to put together a new puzzle I bought for them. (Colin could put the older ones together in under five minutes! This one’s a bit more challenging.) They’re begging me to let them play the new “popcorn game” they saw in the bag with the puzzle – I picked up both items from a local teacher supply store. The “popcorn game” is a word game – you pick a piece out of the box and it has an ending sound typed on it (ex: -ound, -ord, etc.). You then have to think up words that end with that sound.

Yes, I’m trying to trick them into learning!

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Oh my word! They're working together!

Robbie just made me pinky-swear that I’d show them the popcorn game when they finished with the puzzle.

We’ve been listening to a lot more music. I have a little speaker that hooks up to my ipod, but we keep that in the car, so Rick pulled out his old iPhone and we’ve been using that to keep us entertained when the TV is off.

Things were so nice and calm today, I even let the boys help me make dinner. Homemade pizza. I make pizza every couple of weeks. Usually, I just give the boys cheese pizza. It’s easy and that’s usually what they want anyhow.

Today, I offered options and let them top their pizzas. Colin just added some cubed turkey…which he attempted to pick off later anyhow. But Robbie and Ryan surprised me. They chose spinach, tomatoes and turkey. They even wanted some of my feta! Who ARE these boys?? They were so excited for the pizzas to come out of the oven and they ate every bite.

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Nom nom nom

All in all, I’m really enjoying this. I love the star system – giving them a warning before removing a star really helps them become more aware, I think. So far, Robbie and Ryan have kept their stars. Colin had one bad day and two ok days – lost one or two stars.

I really hope this holds up when Kay is here tomorrow. I told her about the plan and she is on board, so…fingers crossed!