Monday, December 21, 2009

We meet Officer LaFrench and Child Welfare Services

It was a Monday holiday for something or other, so Calliope was home with Cooper and Clio and me. She was doing her usual grumbling about everything being all wrong when Cooper got in her way. She picked him up by his wrists and threw him down on the tile floor.

I screamed at her that she cannot hurt the little ones and told her to go to her room. She was going there anyway, so she kept on to her room. I held Cooper and checked on him, cuddled with him, then called the County Mental Health Crisis number recommended by the Dr. we see every Friday. We were told that if Calliope was hurting herself or others or threatening to do harm, they could come in to take Calliope to their facility for evaluation. I explained what went on and got lip from the guy on the phone. She's 11-you're bigger-just handle it.

As is her norm, she kept opening the door, shouting things at us, coming down the hall to yell at us, and I went down the hall to yell at her. Yes, my intention was to yell. She had just done something that could have really hurt one of my babies, and I was mad.

So, I yelled and told her she cannot hurt the babies. She is not allowed to come out of her room again. I was aggressive with her for sure, and, in better circumstances, I wouldn't have been. It wasn't right. But after calling everyone that is supposed to help and getting nothing, I had to handle it the best way I could.

Calling the police and mental health people and getting passed off and told by each to call the other, I was frustrated and had no one to help me. The police finally came out, and the idiot officer didn't even look at Cooper, just went down the hall to talk with Calliope. She told her story (yes, it's all stories with her), and did her manipulation, and the officer left.

Shortly, we got a call from the Child Welfare Services, and we had a visit with them, too. They seemed to listen to me about my daughter's disability and illness, and were amazed that I'd called everyone everywhere and gotten nothing to help her. At least some understanding and sympathy was coming from these people, even if they had no help to offer. But they saw that the officer's recommendation to take all three kids out of the home and jail me as a child abuser was way off base, ridiculous really. In any other house, Calliope might not have even survived to age 11.

So, it's all the same, only I've had to waste time on Services Affirming Family Empowerment (SAFE) meetings about our family. Every month, for at least an hour, I have to make arrangements for babysitting for the little ones and sit in a meeting about how fucked up my kid is. There are no services, no affirmation, no family, no empowerment; it is not helpful. It does get expensive because one of Calliope's Dr.s goes, too. But, she keeps the school from lying and running me around which is their norm.

This week is another SAFE meeting, and I'm going to ask what the point is. Because I really don't see that it's helping at all.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Lowering Expectations

I'm still sorting out what our reality is, but I am trying to make peace with what it is not. We aren't a whole and functioning family. There's Calliope over here, and we can't disturb her or make demands on her time or ask her to participate in the family without a high risk of her yelling/screaming/tantruming. Over here we have the little kids; Cooper is very physical and takes lots of supervision, Clio is a new walker and wants to love everyone. I would love to bring them all together to do family stuff, but, if it works, it's only for a short moment.

The last outing for the whole family I remember was just to a hardware store and lunch after, and the nasty words coming from Calliope just bring me down, wear me out, drain my energy and emotion. Of course there were moments where the kids were all doing their thing and being fine, just moments. But it isn't anything like what I expect from MY kids.

Mothers are promised that if we bring up our children with love, patience, and kind words, they will grow into loving, patient, and kind people. That is what Calliope should have grown into. I did the work, and I've been denied my reward. Where is my loving child?

So, I'm lowering expectations. Instead of love and hugs and kisses, and girl time, I'll take no hitting, no name calling, no screaming, and no property damage.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Grandparents in Town

For typical families, grandparents in town would be great news, great fun, and a relief for parents. For us, it's added work, added stress. My parents, especially my mom, are in the 'you just need to' school of thought. We just need to do this, do that, stop doing this other thing, whatever! So, they don't understand, and they don't want to be around our family. They think we are bad parents.

They stopped in on the first afternoon in town, stayed less than an hour, but it was a nice visit. It was a good opportunity to see the damage Calliope has done to the house, and the lists on the wall relating to desired behaviors and personal hygiene that we pay for. Yes, we pay Calliope to shower and not hit people; I don't like it either. Cooper got to show off his room and his costume. Clio showed off her walking skills and general cuteness. It was a few days before we heard from them again.

For the week and a half they were here, we had two dinners out, one dinner at our home, one hour at the park with the little ones while Calliope and I were at a Dr. appointment, one late morning/lunch, and they did accept Calliope's request to have a sleepover at the campground with the grandparents. She was not invited; she had to ask. It could be that my parents just want the vacation here, not a visit, and that is why they made little effort to spend time with us; I did the great majority of calling, inviting, planning. Maybe it's really uncomfortable for them to see the decline in Calliope's attitude, outlook, behavior, while she is in this young woman's body. I know it's hard for me to see.

Whatever the reason, my mom has made it clear that she won't babysit, and that I need to do everything differently, do it her way. But, they left today, and they are traveling again. So, there will be one less set of judgmental people looking at us.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

How we became all Cs and an Aspie

I'm Christa and was single with my first baby, named Calliope, later met and married Chris, had a Cooper, then a Clio.

Over the years, I've always had concerns and struggled with Calliope's behaviors. I felt I was a good parent, even had strangers stop me on the street and in stores to compliment me, and I just kept doing what the books, magazines, and other parents suggested and expected things to get better.

After being dismissed by teachers, doctors, counselors, a principal, a school psychologist, other mothers, and relatives, I still knew something wasn't right and kept looking for help. They all made excuses for her; she's so young still, she has a single parent, she just moved, she misses you when you're at work, she's competing for your attention now that you're dating, she has a step dad to adjust to, she has a new baby brother, her hormones are starting early, and on and on with excuses for her behavior. I was aggressively denied membership to a special needs support group I sought help from. I requested from the school over and over, finally IN WRITING that my daughter's needs be assessed and was ignored. There was no one left to call, no one left to talk to, no one left to seek help from.

The counselor my husband and I were seeing to help us with the issues of raising this blended family with a high needs child didn't think it was anything like ODD or ASD. But, after he met with her twice, he reconsidered. He suggested a psychologist that specializes in autism, and we made our fist call to Julie Daggett.

After testing, Calliope was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. That diagnosis on top of major depression and gifted intelligence diagnosed earlier. So, we had a name for our problem, and it felt awful. I knew that with a real diagnosis the school couldn't ignore us anymore. I thought that with a real diagnosis the places that couldn't help before would have things to offer. So far, the first year of middle school is a mixed bag, and the community support is zero.

I feel as if I've been shouting from the rooftops for two years now, "I'm doing all I can do and need HELP!" No one can hear me.

My main goal is and was respite care, just to get a break and have fun alone, with hubby, or with just the little kids, but there is no way to get that break.

Unannounced Visit

We were having a slow morning; missed Cooper's speech class, put bath mats in the washer, ate oatmeal and watched Curious George. Yesterday, we ran out of milk, and I couldn't summon the energy to shop after bedtime, so we were going to the store today.

Because he wakes up soaking wet, Adam got dressed before breakfast. Cooper wears a shirt and underwear to bed and to breakfast. After breakfast, I got Clio dressed. Then the doorbell rang. It was the Child Welfare Services woman, Alicia, that we had met before, and we invited her in.

She let me know that Calliope's autism specialist psychologist had concerns about Calliope's emotional needs not being met at home. I don't even know what those needs are, so, yeah, I'm probably not meeting them. She said that before visiting me, she had visited with Calliope at school and got the same nasty treatment that she gives us at home. So, at least it isn't just us. Too bad, but still nice that she hates everyone, not just her family. Alicia is wonderfully understanding and says she sees no problems with me and the younger kids, but we are both worried about my pregnancy with all the stress I'm not coping with. She did explain the three options for moving forward with Calliope.

We can keep doing what we've been doing; dealing the best we can with her behaviors and including her (when she's being safe) with family times. I can ask CWS to handle her because I can't meet her needs and her behaviors are a danger to the rest of the family, then she'd go to a foster home until that family realizes they can't handle her, then to another place. The last one is where the CWS come in to take Calliope from us if there is abuse. Since there isn't a place for kids like Calliope, where she can learn how to be Aspie and manage her behaviors, we're going to keep managing at home.

Alicia says I'm great with the little kids, and that is a relief, but I can't help but worry. Officer Idiot started this whole thing because she wanted me charged and all the kids taken away. It is on my mind everyday. She's working to destroy my family, my life, and I can only wait.

We said our good byes, see ya laters, and everyone waved as Alicia left. Then we cleaned up the toys dumped out during her visit, put pants and shoes on Cooper, and I packed the kids up to go grocery shopping.