Friday, February 19, 2010

From the Wolf Den: He Spins Me Right Round, Baby...

It's challenging to parent a child with social and/or emotional disabilities. Anyone who has struggled to teach, discipline, or simply live with a child who doesn't understand the boundaries of basic human nature knows this already, but as that child grows up into a teenager, those challenges become more difficult and complex.

Normal 13-18 year-old behavior, coupled with co-occurring issues centering around things teenagers focus upon; boundaries, physical changes, social cues, and the like make Wolf's world, and thus ours a very unsettled place indeed. A week without any major incidents involving our son and his peers does not necessarily mean a good weekend ahead. A solid family therapy session on Wednesdays with a glimmer of understanding and empathy does not necessarily lead to follow-through on his part.

The past two weeks have been full of wild upswings and low blows. A visit from a State of Alaska social worker (as part of her annual in-person visit to all Alaska kids at CHYC) gave our victimstance teenager a perfect platform to list all the things wrong with the school, staff, and his peers. Fortunately SW had been given a heads up to this thinking error and hopefully took this information with the appropriate grain of salt. At the time Wolf had been in a fairly good place in terms of both his behavior and motivation at school and in therapy. The three of us had engaged in a productive dialogue and during a Care Plan Review the former Director from Wolf's old unit had mentioned the possibility of his return should things become more positive.

We were all feeling pretty positive, including Wolf, who stated his intentions to complete his workbook and therapy sessions and social skills groups, and promised to work hard to get back to the old unit.


I could tell even before Wolf got on the phone last night that something was amiss. The staff person did not engage in any pre-visit chit chat (I know everyone there well enough by now that we are on a first name basis with many employees); when Wolf got on the phone his voice held the telltale gloom and doom.

My heart doesn't sink anymore, really, when I hear the Voice of Glum. I just complete an inward sigh and begin my processing with a child who is looking for symphathy and gets angry when I don't provide it. Upon recommendation of Therapist B., Yukon and I will merely validate and offer a pathway of processing of an incident to encourage Wolf to use us as a source instead of a rescue operation. Not so easy for any of us because our son conveniently leaves out crucial elements of almost every story, especially the parts where he has, (cough) erred.

What happened? No, start over; I do not want to hear how so-and-so dissed you, or told on you, etc. etc. etc. Now, what happened, and don't leave out a morsel of information.

What could you have done differently? No, stop right there. "I don't know" is not an acceptable answer. Tell me a specific thing you could have done differently. Let's start way back with when you walked out of the classroom...or dining room....or your room.....etc. etc. etc.

The worst response I get is "I wasn't thinking". Ah, the old "I'll blame it on my brain" excuse. Of all statements from the boy, this one is most aggravating. Well, perhaps "I forget" is not far behind.

Some days I feel like a record player spinning and spinning and spinning the same song. Somebody better come along and bump into me so that needle jumps out of its worn-out groove...

1 comment:

Natalie said...

How about a hug? Sounds like you need one.