Monday, 26 April 2021

Moving forward!!!!!

So it's been a while... a long while but I have delayed posting on here because quite frankly I just didn't want to jinx the direction of our journey at this point but also because I felt like and still feel like I am going to wake up tomorrow and everything is going to be some kind of dream, someones idea of a sick joke, but no matter how many times I pinch myself we are still here at this good  better place headed in the right direction so today I decided to lay words to paper and update everyone on what has been going on these past few months.

First off if anyone has read my blog and knows anything about our journey, you will know that it has been as long as it has been painful, filled with so much hurt, disappointment and trauma and yet through it all we hung on to hope, hope that one day we would find the answer and our missing piece, something that would make everything fall into place and just make sense.

You see Loghan has been diagnosed with many things over the years: ASD, ADHD, OCD, Anxiety and ODD which was the most recent, but through it all I have always felt that there was something not quite right and although psychology is filled with diagnostic testing and criteria that one must meet for a diagnosis mistakes can still be made and/or things can be missed even by even the most brilliant doctors.

Just to make things clear I am incredibly grateful for each and every professional; doctor, psychologist, psychiatrist, counselor etc that has helped us along our journey even if it was for but a brief period of time, each and every one has given us more insight, another piece of the missing part we have been searching for. We still attend sessions at Red Cross and we have the most amazing psychologist there, a gentleman who has listened and been willing to search and try everything he possibly can but as I said even the best professionals cannot always see the full picture especially when you have a child or person who chooses to be selective about what they share or are willing to speak about.

In our search for help we have gone done many roads and tried everything we possibly could no matter how new or unconventional, you name it and we have tried it or at the very least researched into it and looked at the option, now my ex and I are vastly different in so many ways but this year a suggestion was made by my ex to try to go in a different direction and approach to try once again to find that missing piece, and when I say that I could not be happier that we took the leap and did this it would be an understatement.

2 months back Loghan started attending appointments at another center, this help wasn't sought as a replacement for the care that we receive at Red Cross but rather to supplement support and to get a different point of view if there was any to be had and in case you haven't guessed it by now we did and we have and I just cannot believe that it took so long to get to this point.

So what does Loghan have or not have?

Well he is for sure an Aspie or on the Autism Spectrum but that was something I knew in my heart even before we received the original diagnosis from Red Cross but secondly he doesn't have ODD which is something I suspected to be true but we now know for sure, he didn't meet the full criteria even the doctors admitted as much and his reasoning behind his behaviors just didnt match up or makes sense with an ODD diagnosis.

Aside from what we suspected or already knew  we have a new diagnosis that brings in the OCD, ADHD and anxiety; what we have is a diagnosis of PDA and that my friends is something magical because once we read the information surrounding PDA we were floored to say the least! 

At last we found that missing piece or at least one of them, a diagnosis that fit our child and his symptoms or traits to the T, something that proved that he was not just a naughty brat who did not want to listen just because, a diagnosis that proved he has an anxiety driven need for control (commonly found in ASD children particularly those who have experienced trauma) that is both very real and cannot be helped or at least he cannot help it, all the trauma as well as how certain people have reacted to him and treated him over the years combined with the way that he has dealt with that trauma I promise you it is so incredibly easy to judge a child or persons behavior when you don't know the full story or don't bother to find out if I wrote book I am sure people would find it difficult to believe, when I say our life has been a literal shit show circus and that our entire family has been told we have PTSD from having to deal with it all I am not exaggerating! 

So for a tad bit of insight...

What is PDA?

It is not just demand avoidance!!  All human beings avoid some things and this is typical.  The demand avoidance is understood in the following ways:

  • Anxiety driven need to be in control and avoid demands and expectations; own and others
  • Avoidance of anxiety about conforming to social demands
  • Escalating amount of resistance
  • Different to typical ASD avoidance (which is asocial; walking away/withdrawing).  Socially manipulative strategies can be used
  • Explosive strategies have been likened to panic
  • Need to consider in terms of what is developmentally appropriate
  • Extreme outbursts in 60% of cases
  • Lose temper and recover quickly
  • Driven to follow an impulse, ambiguity and need to be in control

There are a number of additional defining clinical features:

Appearing sociable but with difficulties recognised by parents

  • Can appear to be people orientated – this is due to a vigilance rather than a social need
  • Can use social niceties
  • Good eye contact and use of gestures and body language
  • Charming
  • Know what strategies work with who
  • Social approaches lack depth; confusion about level of response required – over power, oversensitive, over reactive
  • Gravitate towards adults
  • Uses adult scripts with peers
  • Over-familiar with adults
  • Uninhibited; lack of pride and shame
  • Difficulties accepting obligation/responsibility
  • Shock and confuse their peers by their behaviours which are often not developmentally or socially appropriate behaviours

Excessive mood swings, often switching suddenly

  • Empathy on an intellectual level not a feeling level
  • Can recognise but not share emotion/modify behaviour
  • Ambiguity in mood – ‘Jekyll and Hyde’
  • Low self-esteem and perfectionism result in the mood swings, which becomes a vicious circle because of how they feel after engaging in some of the more extreme behaviours

Comfortable (sometimes to an extreme extent) in role playing and pretending

  • 1/3 confuse reality with pretence; not just mimicking
  • Try to direct other person in joint play activities
  • Benefit from use of puppets; an indirect approach to interacting and communicating with others and plays to the person’s strength in this area

Language delay, seemingly as a result of passivity

  • More fluent eye contact and conversational timing than typical ASD
  • Less difficulties with pragmatics (non-verbal aspects)
  • Still literal and unusual content due to mimicry
  • Difficulties with processing receptive language (what is said to them)
  • Fluency strengths masks the difficulties that the person may have in understanding what is said to them

Obsessive behaviour

  • Demand avoidance is obsessive
  • Can be related to people in a variety of ways:
    • Blame
    • Victimise
    • Harassment
The psychologist that he is seeing at the center has also made headway in getting Loghan to fully open up about his feelings and past trauma which has heavily impacted his anxiety and approach to people in general, she has also arranged for him to attend sessions that will help with his trauma and education thereof that will help him in social situations and finally they are helping us as parents approach him and his behavior in a completely different way which is allowing us to make much further progress than we ever have.

We have been incredibly blessed with the most amazing support system, friends who have opened their hearts and their doors who have encouraged and supported us every step of the way especially when we have had a number of people over the years (not many but enough to cause significant backtracking and trauma for our entire family) who have closed their doors and said that Loghan wasn't worth the effort or was just a bad child, a child with ODD and a future psychopath!!!!! To those people I say look at your own doorstep and your own issues because holy moly did it take me a long time to get to the point of understanding how people can project their own issues onto you because they are blind to their own faults, it took me a long time to actually not just hear but take in and understand what professionals were saying when they said that we have done everything we can, that we are actually not shit parents which is how I felt despite knowing on a logical level that were and have been doing everything that we can every step of the way I would still feel and question every choice and every step instead of saying you know what that person was wrong or I shouldn't have just stepped aside and accepted what another person said or just walked away instead of standing up for myself, my child and my family.

We are making headway with the education department as well but that is an update for another day, for now I am just happy to report that we are moving forward, my middle son will be starting therapy soon as well and I have been back in therapy myself for a little over a year now, small steps and major changes so far and ahead.

Wednesday, 30 December 2020

2020....

I am absolutely one hundred percent certain that if you asked anyone this time last year what they envisioned for the year ahead, experiencing a pandemic would not have made the cut for anyone's list, I entered 2020 with  quiet optimism, mentally emotionally an physically I felt that I was in a good space or headed towards the best space that I had been in for a while after what had been a hellish year for our family in 2019, I thought in all my na├»ve and newly found optimism that 2020 was going to be a good year and yet here we are headed towards the end of what has been one hell of year for everyone and I cannot speak for everyone but my personal mental health, emotional and physical well being, its not in a good space right now, the anxiety above everything has become incredibly overwhelming amongst other things.

I can still remember sitting on my bed as the president announced that we were headed into lockdown, shrugging inwardly and thinking bleh how long could this actually last, I mean looking at it from my perspective having experienced swine flu and at the time that being seen as such a terrible thing(which it was), many people died and yet we didn't shut down, ] I didn't see it reaching even the lockdown point that it did and as we headed into stage 5 of the lockdown in a way I was thinking that being more of an introvert when it comes to the outside world it would be a welcome break, I didn't expect it to be as hard as it was for all of us.... and it was.

Looking back on the year...

My husband and I fell into a steady routine- wake up, make breakfast, start school work, stop for lunch, resume school work, start supper, go to bed, toss and turn, wake up and start all over.... every single day. As time went on the meltdowns started and escalated, emotions ran higher and being locked in doors not even being able to take a walk down to the park started to weigh quite heavily on my heart, my eldest sons behavior in particular started to escalate and the relationship between him and my husband completely broke own which put an enormous mount of strain on our relationship to the point where I honestly believed that we were headed into divorce, we had no access to therapy and being locked in doors all day with no where to break away this is something that I know so many families experienced during this time.

The day the president announced the extension I had an emotional breakdown,  depression set in and hit hard and for the first time my husband was experiencing a depressive state as well, as selfish as it sounds, two people in a depressive state is a recipe for disaster, a person in a depressive state is not a good partner as much as you want to be, I know from experience; I am used to being the one who relies on my partner to pull me out of this state, I am not a very emotional or touchy feely partner I am sure some people would call me cold and I often find that I lack a sense of patience or emotional feeling when it comes to my partner, not intentional by any means, I attribute it a lot to past relationship experiences and the way I was brought up so unfortunately unless you are one of my children I can often tend to come off as uncaring- as a Sagittarian travel is one of the things that they make mention of in every zodiac write up, what I have found however is that is isn't about travel for me, its about movement and freedom without restriction and I was honestly feeling like a trapped animal in a cage, it wasn't pretty, my insomnia kicked into high gear, I gained weight which set off my disordered eating and body image issues again which further aggravated our relationship issues and the kids were really struggling with the lack of social interaction, my older kids did not see their father for months which affected them a lot, even my youngest who isn't or wasn't a social child at all was struggling terribly as a whole our household started to resemble a bit of a shit show circus to be blunt and I think we were all at breaking point.

When  I was able to return to work and it lead to a role reversal within our home- from the age of 19 I had a child and a family, I was used to running the majority of  household on my own and making all of the decisions that pertained to schooling, child care etc, now my hubby was at home full time and had to take over that role while I was at work and while he had to work from home, this came with its own struggles, being ocd control is a big thing for me as is routine and structure and now it was all up to my hubby who was still struggling so much and he had to deal with my own pile of crap as well, to his credit he has done an amazing job, his cooking has always surpassed mine by  landslide and the kids managed to pass out their year- all 3 of them with a house that is still standing, I cannot explain how it feels to go from having to thing all day every day to coming home sitting down and supper landing on my lap and relinquishing that control in some aspects had led to me taking control in other areas that I would normally have taken a backseat in, it has lead to a lot of changes, I started seeing a psychologist again, we tackled the visitation schedule with my kids and so many other things.

In July I contracted covid myself and after 16 days I returned to work, my hubby started going back to work twice a week as well and the kids headed back to school twice a week as well, making changes to my sons visitation schedule meant that we were able to work on our relationship and home, I broke my ankle at one point as well but it seemed like we were headed towards the end of this nightmare, no one I knew had contracted covid and passed - until someone in our office did, an amazing man who loved to play golf and had a wonderful smile and sense of humor, healthy and lively the one moment and on a ventilator and gone the next, we attended his funeral via zoom and it was just the most surreal and heartbreaking experience, another loved one experienced an almost fatal health issue after her husband had to undergo an emergency bypass, what was more scary was the thought of anyone developing a health issue that would lead to a hospital stay as everyone I knew that went into hospital came out with covid, my dad works for a local hospital and every week I would listen to him talk bout how few cases they had if any and then it started to turn, they lost one then 2 then several and more including nursing staff and it has all become so real, we have gone from knowing someone who knows someone who had covid to knowing at least several people who have it, have had it and have possible even died from it, as someone in our ladies group said today, no one takes it seriously until it hits close to home or hits home, until you have lost someone or someone you love has lost someone.

Having said all of the above all I can say is that if you are experiencing any form of depression or a drop in your mental health, reach out and get help, you re not alone, if you are feeling sad, anxious or scared, you are definitely not alone, we can and will get through this we just need to hold on to each other, hold on to your loved ones and stay safe, this will end and we will come out the other side, there are those who have lost their jobs, their homes, their loved ones, to those whose mental health has been affected which I think is pretty much everyone; I see you, I see you all and my thoughts and love go out to each and every one of you as we head into the new year my wish for you all is that you remain safe and that you get to spend this time with those you love, if you cannot for any reason be with your friends and loved ones due to covid just knw that this will end and you will spend time with them again. May 2021 be the year where we all come out stronger.