Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Joe

Oh my heart and my soul are weary. Revive me, O Lord, I pray. 

I've said for awhile that I felt we were missing something with Joe. We know about the drug exposure, the neglect, the abuse, the trauma from 10 homes before he came to us, etc. But I felt like there was more, that we were missing an important piece of who he is. And *we* were the ones missing it, for sure. We'd known he's had a diagnosis of PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified) but we didn't know what it meant. I just thought it meant he was cognitively delayed.

Well, yes, but more than that, it means he's on the Autistic Spectrum, and maybe more than just the lower end of the spectrum that PDD-NOS is. His counselor tells me every week things she sees that tells her Joey is "on the Spectrum".

I saw it tonight. He was thrown because we had a coworker of Tim's over for dinner. He was antsy all during dinner and then he was distraught because he couldn't do his math. Then he couldn't focus on his science because he was 'stuck' on how he needed to do his math. Then when I got too frustrated (upset, overwhelmed, sad) that he couldn't focus on his science and wouldn't accept help, I told him to get ready for bed. The next thing I knew, he'd wadded up his math homework and was throwing it away.



It was perfectly reasonable to him that he should thrown it away since he didn't do it, even though he knows he does left over work during work completion time at school.

Some of the things we see are:
1. Joe's emotions go from happy/bouncy to angry in a split second.
2. He gets stuck on a thought and cannot let it go.
3. He doesn't understand facial expressions or emotions, or times.
4. He doesn't understand the difference between fantasy and reality.

All the ASD stuff is in addition to his very low cognitive level, his ADHD, and the drug exposure, the suicide attempt and continued ideations, etc.

At this point in my life, I can't just say, well, Joey's a child first. I *know* he is, but I can't operate that way. I have to prepare him for life. My goals for him have to change. I would love it if he could go to college/marry/etc., but those can't be my goals, even though he may accomplish them.

I want him to be happy.
I want him to serve the Lord.
I want him to understand who the Lord is. (This one is hard because his mind doesn't learn something and then hold onto it.)
I want him to have a useful life.

Those are my goals and they are, I guess, the most important goals anyone could have for their child. But they just aren't normal goals, and that hurts me.

Soon I need to have a conversation with Joey and explain to him that he is on the spectrum. It's not something we will hide from him because it's not a shameful thing and it's not a dirty word. He needs to understand everything about himself so that he can be equipped to manage his needs someday, as best he can. I do not want him to grow up and be ill prepared. I am terrified that will happen to him- that I'll mess up and not prepare him for life like I should/could have.

So, be gentle to my boy, please. He comes off as pretty weird. (That's one of the things I had to check on one of the neuropsychologist forms: "Does strange things.") I struggle to be gentle with him, because I see him unable to do something and I despair. But I have to keep moving forward and help him to do that too.

The counselor said it is common with kids on the spectrum to be very depressed. And you all know that Joe is. His middle two names are Anxiety and Depression. It's a daily battle to keep his emotions level enough to where he is not in a closet trying to kill himself. If he has an evening like he did tonight, we keep very close tabs on him.

So pray for us, for endurance and compassion and strength to fill our hearts and minds.

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