Desperate Housewife

Something is happening with Jack. I’m not sure what it is, but it’s not good. It has all the signs of a downward death spiral, which is something we’ve faced several times before. Despite therapy, school, his sensory diet, and many a problem-solving session with teachers, doctors, and therapists, Jack is coming off the rails. We are always combatting problem behaviors of one variety or another. But at this moment in time, all the most difficult behaviors have crashed over our family like a tidal wave and it feels like we are swimming desperately through the debris and chaos of a storm surge.

You’ve already heard about the poop. That’s still happening, although thankfully not every single day. We have occasional moments of success. My son has become a tornado of destruction. We have resorted to putting our house on lockdown–practically every door has a locking knob to keep one boy from shredding the contents of each room. It’s only a band-aid sort of solution, however. It keeps him from making messes, but it doesn’t fix the behavior from happening as soon as the door opens for one reason or another. It’s also problematic as we have other little children who would like access to these closed off rooms of the house. You really can’t blame them for wanting to occasionally enter their own bedroom, say, or possibly the playroom. The irony is thick: we have a locked up playroom because we do not wish to allow one seven-year-old to dump every single toy from the shelves onto the floor, into the bathtub, or off of the deck and into the frozen backyard. Our imperfect system of locked doors helps to a degree, but it simply results in keeping the tornado in the main living areas of the house. Still shredded and destroyed, now it’s the first thing people see when they enter our house.

We are at a loss as to how to proceed. It’s hard to brainstorm solutions when one is holding one’s fingers in the leaking dam of household destruction and behavioral outbursts. I have a feeling our next step will involve a visit to the behavioral health clinic at the university to chat with the child psychiatrist. I’m grateful such a place exists, but I really really hate that place. The doctors are nice and sympathetic to our concerns, but Jack’s complex mental deficiencies befuddle even their expertise. Pretty much every visit to said clinic, to date, has involved the doctor recommending that we procure more help at home. They listen to my tales of poop, destruction, and meltdowns with horror and compassion before recommending that we get extra sets of hands to help us more.

I don’t like hearing this. First, don’t they realize that a smart girl like me has already thought long and hard about such an obvious answer? Of course I could use more help! And second, I find it maddening that the help I already have from teachers, sitters, and therapists (which is considerable!) is still not enough. I’m envious when I see a mom with a bunch of kids going to the pool together, or the mall, the movies, or the grocery store. “She doesn’t even require an assistant!” I marvel silently.

I’m hopeful that our next visit will be helpful, and not simply in the vein of suggesting that I hire yet more support staff. I’m eager to get the gears of our collective creative thinking turning. And I’m prayerful that I can find a way to meet Jack’s needs, as well as those of the rest of the family. Because call it what you want–a tornado, a tsunami, a dam break, or a death spiral, it’s pretty much a state of emergency.

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