J-man is now seven years old and is in second grade. He is a very tall and stocky boy. He's full of energy, laughter, love, and aggression. Yes, aggression. Most people don't believe that this sweet boy can turn into a violent child. The aggression is taken out on mom and dad mainly, with some of it directed at his siblings. We have been taking Joseph to various doctors for the past three and a half years. He has been diagnosed with multiple mental disorders. Everything from ADHD (Yes, he definitely has that!!), to Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD), Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD), Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED), Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), anxiety, and the most recent...high functioning autism. Out of all of these diagnoses, there are only two that involves multiple people compiling data to support the diagnosis-ADHD and ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder).
The road to get J-man to his most recent diagnosis has been rough. Sadly, it took having him admitted to an in-patient facility for 9 days, and being a part of day treatment for the past five weeks. We are driving an hour each way (with good traffic) in order to get him the help that he needs. I would love to say that we are seeing major improvements, but we're not. We are still having "rages" where he will come charging at us in order to hit, pinch, shove, scratch, kick, bite, and punch us. You might be thinking "why can't you just move out of his path?". Well, there is no successful way to avoid this. Once he becomes enraged, he will do everything that he can in order to cause us pain. We have even tried to lock ourselves into the bathroom, in which he then shattered a pumpkin pie in a glass pie plate.
Again, J-man is a very sweet and loving boy, and it breaks my heart to see him become so aggressive. I worry about his future. I worry about our future. This journey has been a lonely one. Michael and I have become very good at pasting a smile on our face and pretending that all is well, when in reality our stomach is in knots as we're worrying when the next eruption will happen. While J-man was admitted into the Neuropsychiatric Institute, we were worried about him and tried to not get too used to the idea of being "safe" in our own home. Church was very difficult to attend. We chose to not go the first Sunday, and I had a responsibility the next Sunday, so we went. It was the same week that the children sang Christmas songs. I think I cried during the whole program. It was a mixed blessing that I only had a couple of people ask about Joseph/us (there were only a few people that we had told about our situation). I was an emotional wreck. I cried during most of the lesson that I taught. I was hurting. My baby boy was in a psychiatric hospital. I needed to know that everything was going to be ok, that it's not our fault, that we're doing the best that we can, and that we have a support system. That is definitely something that I've learned over the past few years...we can not do this on our own.
We still have many curves on the road ahead of us. We are hoping that with this newest diagnosis, we will truly be able to make some progress. The ultimate goal is for all of us to feel safe and loved.