Saturday, June 22, 2013

Caricature Marty

Mysterious Creatures...the movie

Mysterious Creatures…a must see movie for all of us parents dealing with a high functioning child on the Autism/Aspergers spectrum. It especially touches on the unique conflicts a parent faces having a more aggressive child with Autism. Not all Aspies are easy going or mild mannered, just like not all NT (NeuroTypical) people are easy going or laid back. The problem with aggressive Aspies is that they, unlike NT, may not have the same restraint or self control. In this movie, a thirty something woman with Asperger and OCD terrorizes her parents so much that in order to cope with the pain and guilt of having an out-of-control adult child, they plan to commit suicide. This Aspie is verbally abusive to her poor father, manipulative with her enabling mother, physically and verbally aggressive to strangers. Her psychiatrists mismanaged her treatment leaving her parent’s with little options to help their daughter. The couple decides to “off themselves” as a way to escape; the father succeeds, the mother survives to live a life filled with sadness, guilt, and regret. Obviously, this movie is sad, but in a way I can sympathize with the anguish this couple felt, having little or no resources to help their child: a child that is determined to enforce the rules of her own world as if everyone on earth should follow them.

As I am watching the movie, my little Aspie wakes up from a full night’s rest, yet he is in the same crappy mood that he was in when he went to bed. Last night he had a tantrum because his dad wouldn’t tell him where he got the phrase, “Ain’t nobody got time for that.” He ran around screaming, “Where did you get those words from!” And when we finally answered him, he remained upset. I guess he didn’t approve of “those words” in his world, or perhaps our cheerfulness in saying them offended him. Whatever the case, this boy’s OCD behaviors have become more intense and more stressful for us. Marty’s preoccupation with ‘getting words right’ is draining, so many questions, so much frustration if he just doesn’t get it. And, he wants to know what everything is. He was yelling and screaming this morning because he asked for donuts and refused to eat what was prepared for him until he knew what it was. “What is that called?  I know I don’t like that, ugh!” Then he storms around the room growling. To stifle the meltdown last night, we sedate Marty with melatonin, bathe him; 15 minutes later he is sleeping. Thank you Jesus!

I pray that Marty doesn’t grow up to be like the adult child in “Mysterious Creatures” and I hope that his “early intervention” pays off. I hate that this couple was consumed by their lack of knowledge and inability to cope with the stress of raising a special needs child. Clearly, they lacked social support and expert advice. In my opinion, their child probably had a touch of Bipolar to go along with her Asperger diagnosis…unfortunately, her spastic raging behaviors reminded me of my little guy, but unlike her parents…I know about the resources, and I am fortunate to have a support system and neighbors that care about my little boy. I am active in my kids’ school. This speaks volumes to teachers and administrative staff. They genuinely appreciate the parents that volunteer and are proactive in their child’s education. With a special needs child on an IEP, it pays to be nice to the teachers. They return the favor, trust me.
I can’t help but to feel sad for the couple in the movie, and a little angry that the father seemly died in vein. I am dedicating this blog entry to his memory in hopes that parents of children with Autism, a disability, or a special need learn to seek help when they are mentally, emotionally, and physically drained. I chose to work in the behavioral health field because of my desires to help people deal with the challenges of life. I hate to think of more parents doing what the couple did in Mysterious Creatures. I know it is very hard, sometimes unbearable, to raise a child with special needs but YOU are not ALONE! Help is only a click, a phone call, or an email away!