5 months ago Eli was diagnosed by his psychologist as PDD-NOS. It’s a disorder that falls on the autism spectrum. He doesn’t truly have autism but does have some characteristics of children with autism.
He has sensory processing disorder. This means his central nervous system doesn’t react to outside influences the way that most people’s systems are able to react.
He has a lack of emotion and a lack of connection. Not all the time. But, when he does it hurts. It’s hard to watch. It’s hard to be around. It’s hard to endure.
We had a family meeting tonight to discuss the life of our dog Sage. Sage is 7 years old and is suffering from arthritis and possible hip dysplasia. She has difficulty standing up from laying down. She spends most of her day sleeping on the floor in the master bathroom upstairs. She doesn’t want to be bothered and it is quite obvious that she is often in pain. It has become painfully clear to us that it is time to put her to sleep, to give her peace away from the pain. We are planning to wait a week to give the boys a chance to play with her this weekend and prepare to tell her goodbye. This event is made harder because we are unable to replace her due to a severe lack of funds. Needless to say, our entire family is upset about letting go of this special member of our family.
The reactions from the boys were so polar opposite. Keegan cried and hugged her and said that he’d miss her. Eli played with his Legos, laughed a little and said that he wished that he could die so that he could stay with her.
I know in my heart that he doesn’t mean that. It doesn’t make it any easier to hear.
Unfortunately, this family meeting took place shortly before shower and bedtime tonight.
Eli, I’m certain, mulled over the certain death of the dog he’s had since he was born. His behavior escalated from bad to worse. He cried because he was made to take a shower and get ready for bed instead of being allowed to play Wii. He kicked and hit my honey because she was trying to get him to brush his teeth. He laid naked under his bed crying because he was angry that he wouldn’t get a story read and didn’t want to take the time to get dressed after his shower. He told my honey that he wished he could attack her with a knife. He told me his brain was superior to mine (that, I’m certain, is true but it hurts hearing your 6YO say it). He said sorry because he knows that’s what we do. He was not apologetic. He did not understand what was wrong that he needed to apologize for.
I don’t know how to fix this.
I know the majority of this outburst had to be related to our family conversation and that he simply wasn’t able to voice that. I know some of this outburst was because he was tired from being outside for much of the day.
I don’t know how to make him understand that this is not ok.
I don’t know how to teach him compassion.
He knows love. He shows love. He wants hugs and kisses. He misses people he loves when he can’t see them on a regular basis.
How do I get him to understand that his words hurt. That his words will drive people away from him. That his more severe words could drive family away from him.
More heartbreaking is watching how upset Keegan gets when Eli is like this. He doesn’t want us to argue. He doesn’t like the things that are said. He worried about his brother getting itchy tonight because he crawled under the bed naked and didn’t get his lotion on after his shower. He cries because Eli is crying. Eli is oblivious to this empathy and simply gets upset because his brother is being “nosey.”
Tonight after the boys were asleep my honey and I shared a cry. It was a rough day overall, so I know that added to the tears. But we are so drained from hearing how horrible we are because my honey has to work overtime on the weekends and how we don’t love him enough to get him a new dog and how we never do anything fun together and how we have stupid rules and how we are idiots and how he hates being in this family.
I see the lack of emotion in his words and I know that he truly does not mean what he says. He is upset and the words simply flow. He gets reaction from them – it’s hard not to react. His words stir our emotions no matter his intention.
We will work with him to get him through this week. To find the emotions that I know he has and bring them to the surface so that he can say goodbye in a meaningful way. To help him verbalize his feelings in productive and positive ways.
Sticks and stones may break my bones but words? Words will cut right through me.