Family at breaking point.

Oliver is 6. He was diagnosed with autism 4 years ago. I struggled at first to accept it- how and why did it happen again, but that couldn’t last because he needed me ready to help him and fight for him and just love him. And I do. Max was diagnosed 20 years ago so maybe it helped that I knew what I was doing this time around. My family is now in the verge of breaking up because after four years, Oliver’s dad will not accept the autism or change his approach.

He’s not a bad man. Olly was his first child and he had such expectations that he thinks now will not come to pass. He doesn’t understand how Oliver sees the world, how he learns, when he’s just being a swine, the difference between meltdown and tantrum etc. Things I’ve had to learn so that I can help him achieve everything he wants to. I’ve modelled the discipline model, I’ve shown the speech therapy techniques, I’ve shown him how to play with children, I’ve talked to him, I’ve offered him counselling and helpline numbers and I don’t know what else I can do. Treating him like his sister will not make him like his sister, but he doesn’t get this.

The last couple of months have been so bad, I feel like I’m alone raising this family. If something happens it’s me having to referee and sort out the fall out. There’s constant arguments with him saying “I’m entitled to be angry” and me saying “you have to see through his eyes. Anger is no good anymore, it’s driving us all away”. Shouting at kids doesn’t work in this house. Loud, sudden noises make a situation escalate so fast. I’ve been saying the same things for 4 years and he’s just not listening.

Oliver shut down last week. I’d never seen it and I do not want to see it again. The playmobil pool was filled with water and Olly went to tip it. Olly and water is always a risky combination. Dad shouted “No” so Olly went to do it again. “I Said NO!” And then the pool got tipped. “NO MEANS NO!” So Olly ran into the living room and I followed as if he gets told off he will throw something or tip something. He was shaking. I tried to talk to him but he lay on the sofa covered his ears and closed his eyes. He shut out everything. I stroked his back and murmured to him. He lay there for a good while and I just let him calm himself until he was ready to let me in. Eventually he sat up and dad came in to see him but he just clung to me. And that was the point I told him to get help or go.

It may seem harsh but it’s been four years. He’s missing out on important things while being angry. I understand the frustration of dealing with our boys at times, the behaviour and lack of sleep is not a good combination. I understand any kid winding up their parents at times, hell, no one is perfect. I’m nowhere near perfect but I try every day to do the best I can, to learn, adapt, make learning fun, picking which battles are worth the fight. He refuses to adapt. I asked him if he thinks acceptance means giving up and he said yes. I disagreed. I think acceptance means you can open up to more ideas, different worlds, different rules. We aren’t like other families so why should we try to fit in with their “normal”? Why can’t we make our own normal? Why can’t we embrace our differences? We can think outside the box of norms to make life fun. If we keep trying to force our kids into a blue print they can’t fit what kind of parent does that make us?

If anyone has any constructive ideas on how he can move on it would be helpful. Coming from me the words are falling on deaf ears. We can’t carry on living in this angry fug. It’s not good for anyone especially the kids. If you do care to leave a comment please know that bashing him won’t help the situation. I can’t help him. He just throws that I’ve had 20 years to deal with this and he’s only had four. When max was diagnosed I was a single parent with no family back up so I didn’t have the luxury of wallowing. The boys don’t need fixing, they’re not broken. I don’t know how to change this mindset. We have to get through Christmas and then I suppose we will sort out the future. Over the last four years we’ve had the chats, discussions and arguments but nothing really changes. I’ve asked him how I can help, what he needs, how I can make it better, tried to support and be understanding but with no movement I can’t continue to do this. I’m not helping at all and I’m so tired of going over and over the same ground. I’m done. 😞

Xx

2 Comments

  1. Oh my goodness.

    I am so sorry.

    I am so sorry this is happening.

    Having to live, breathe and fight every single day is so hard. It can be such a lonely place, especially when people on the outside just don’t understand. Or are prepared to at least try to understand.

    So I can’t begin to imagine how lonely it must be, feeling like you’re having to do this, all alone, due to the lack of understanding.

    Little research has been done on autism diagnosis and the impact this has on fathers. One study was done in 2017, which he might find interesting to read.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5357286/#CR48

    I know you have said that counselling is hard to get where you live and that you may have to wait a while, but I am wondering if that’s what Oliver’s father needs to deal with some of these feelings. If he is quick to anger, he could maybe benefit from anger management classes?
    Many people who are on the autistic spectrum (including Husband) don’t deal with being shouted at very well as they need longer to process instructions anyway. Shouting doesn’t mean they will understand what you are trying to explain any quicker. In addition, many are hypersensitive to sound, and can find loud noises unbearable.

    To know this and yet continue to shout is not kind, or helpful.

    Can Oliver’s father access any support services for parents of special needs children in your local area?

    Lastly, I was searching and this letter sent to a column sounded quite similar…
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/on-parenting/my-husband-yells-at-our-autistic-daughter-and-me-how-can-i-deal-with-this/2018/10/23/a4488fca-d0c6-11e8-8c22-fa2ef74bd6d6_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.699c0e0ec762

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for taking the time to reply.
      We have a family point locally where they do workshops and meetings with other parents but he hasn’t wanted to go. I think he thinks if he accepts it then he’s giving up but he needs to see that isn’t the case.
      If there had been some movement I don’t think it would be this bad but as there has been none in four years I’ve lost hope there’ll be any.
      We had another chat last night and I tried once again to explain that the boys struggle every day to make sense of a world they don’t understand and they need our help in finding where they fit, not where society says they should fit. I’ll send him the links you’ve suggested and see what happens.
      Thank you x

      Like

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