Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Living the Dream - Memorial Day Weekend

The school year is drawing to a close and I've been trying to ramp up my visits to my sister's house. On Saturday, I brought my eldest son out for an overnight visit. It was my sister's birthday and I lured him out for a birthday dinner with my sister and her family.

Our strategy was to spend time at the house and not seek Colin out. My oldest son is 17 and the most detached of anyone to Colin's situation.

We arrived late afternoon, as Eldest had to work a life-guarding shift at the Y.

When we pulled up, my nephew was outside with his pellet gun, hunting rabbits. (didn't catch any). The critters have been plaguing my brother-in-law's garden. While we do not own guns at our house, the rule at this home is that you eat what you kill. The house is situated on 3 acres and while we are not gun owners or hunters, I do not take issue with this. I was concerned that Colin not be allowed to shoot and my nephew assured me that this would not happen. He even demonstrated how difficult it would be for Colin to physically cock the gun.

We went inside the house and visited. Dinner was at 8:00 p.m. and as we sat down to eat, Colin was nowhere to be found. I had assumed he was hiding in his room. It turned out that he was most-likely outdoors. Colin had been helping his cousin look for rabbits.

My nephew realized that Colin was wearing jeans and a sweatshirt which signaled the possibility he was planning to stay outdoors. My eldest said that we should just let him stay outside and not to bother looking for him. I had asked my sister to keep her van unlocked so he had a safe place to go.

My nephew had a friend at the house for a sleep-over and as the evening wore on with no sign of Colin, the two boys offered to look for him. Against my eldest's advice, I took them up on their offer.
It was now just past 10:00 p.m., and I went along with the boys who were armed with flashlights.

We found our runaway, curled up and hidden in the van, with only a denim-covered leg and a boot showing. After a brief struggle, my nephew led Colin up to his room and we all went to bed. The alarm was set so we would hear if any doors to the outside were opened.

Eldest and I left the next morning and went out to breakfast before heading home. Despite the circumstances, it was nice to have some rare quality time with my 17 year old.

"Living the Dream"

That night we had a dinner-dance fundraiser for my son's high school Jazz Band. Eldest plays trumpet and we go every year to support him and the band. I spent the night at home and went back to my sister's house Monday afternoon to hang out and to attend a Memorial Day cookout with her friends and neighbors.

Colin stayed in his room (mostly bathroom) and the only attempt I made at contact was to knock on his door to announce my departure. I wanted him to know that he would be free to move about the house without the threat of running into me.

I allowed my self to relax and and enjoy my time with my sister's friends. Pictures were posted on FaceBook. Only our family and a few of our friends know about the past year's struggles. I appeared carefree in the poolside photos. One of my friends commented on a picture, "Living the dream."
Little did she know it has been more like a "nightmare".

We are a work-in-progress!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


I chatted with my sister yesterday (Monday morning) to see how Colin recovered from my visit. He went back to his normal behavior of watching t.v. in the lower level. He seemed to have a healthy appetite that night. Colin was supposed to take a shower and he told his aunt he did. The dry towels in his bathroom told a different story. Instead he decided to give the dog a bath.

I'm not sure if the dog was cleaned due to his messy romp outside and this was my son's attempt to make amends with his aunt. Or perhaps Colin wanted to wash any trace of my DNA off of the pet as I had spent some time walking and playing with my canine nephew before I left.

Either way my sister is weary of the battle to reunite her nephew back with his family and managing a hard-to-reach child that is not her own. Colin's recent risky behavior of running out of the house to avoid us has been making his aunt nervous. She is afraid that if Colin comes to any harm, she would be held responsible due to the guardianship.

I asked her if she would like to go down to the courthouse and file the resignation this morning (yesterday morning) so that Colin is no longer her legal liability. She responded that she just needed to take a quick shower and would be ready to go. We decided to go for it.

Colin is now legally ours again and we can check this off our 2-week to-do list.


Monday Evening Therapy

My husband came out for week 2 of being included in Monday night therapy.  Last week, Colin took off when he saw his dad coming down the driveway. This week, dad parked at the end of the long drive and walked down to minimize the advance notice.

When it was my husband's turn to enter the room, he was able to get within inches of our son to say "Hello."... "I'm here for my visit." before Colin took off for the great outdoors. Just like last week, the landscape team was out at the house. Unfortunately due to the nature of their business, there is no set time to expect them.

 The lawn crew that was hard at work was not a match for my husband and did not serve as a deterrent. The last few times the crew has been out, Colin seems to have been able to successfully face down one of his biggest triggers. It is hard to tell what effect the exposure has had and how our son is able to cope with a sound that had produced some of his worst rages at our house.

On the other hand, with his Aunt's reaction to his bad behavior still fresh in his mind, Colin made sure to call out, "I'm down here!", when she went out on the back deck to look for him when his dad was on his way back to his car and homeward bound.

Making Room

My husband has been hard at work on the basement "quiet room" for our son. The drywall team is scheduled to start work in two days. We are on a tight schedule and hope to be ready for our son's homecoming. We are now down to a matter of days.......

We are a work-in-progress!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Weekend Retreat

The deadline to bring Colin home will be here soon and we have not made much progress. We need to try to expose Colin as much as possible to his brothers, his father and myself in hopes he will adapt to being under the same roof. My other boys keep pretty busy and it is a challenge to find a good time to bring them out. Friday night, I was able to bring my middle-son out for dinner and a short visit.

We stopped and picked up take-out from a nearby Italian restaurant to share with my sister and her family.

The Blue Streak

We entered the house and deposited dinner on the kitchen counter. As we were getting set up for our meal, I happened to look out the back window and saw a boy in a blue t-shirt run out the back gate toward the wood pile.

We have a runner!

After a few minutes, my sister went outside and discovered that Colin was hiding in the van again. I went out, opened the door to say hello and my son escaped out the other side of the vehicle. I went back inside to have my meal while Colin ran and hid.

A little later, we discovered Colin was back in the van and I sent my middle-son out to say hello. Once again, Colin took off running. We suspected that he would not get far as he did not have shoes on; only socks. My sister, however, was worried as it was in the 40's and starting to rain. She went to look for her nephew while I visited with my brother-in-law.

My sister was frantic, despite our assurances that Colin would be back as soon as we were gone. She was worried that as Colin's guardian,she would be held responsible. My middle-child and I decided to leave. Sure enough, soon afterwards Colin came back inside.

Saturday Afternoon - Sunday Morning

Late Saturday morning, Aunt "P" informed her nephew that his mother would be back and would be staying overnight. Not much was said but a short while later, Colin was dressed in blue jeans instead of his usual cargo shorts. His aunt asked why he was wearing jeans to which he replied that he was cold.

My sister, was a bit suspicious and found my son shortly afterwards, wearing his shoes, a coat, and attempting to leave the house carrying a rain slicker, flashlight and bag of food. He clearly was prepared to camp out. This was not o.k. and could be dangerous. In addition to the colder than usual weather (40's at night), there are packs of coyote that have been know to wander the woods. The threat of exposure ... or worse, threw Aunt "P" into a panic.

She took away the survival kit, coat and shoes and sent my son to his room.


Ready to Call in the Troops

I was on my way out to the house when I received a panicked call from my sister. Colin was not in his room and no where to be found. She was ready to call in a search party. I suggested she turn on her perimeter alarm system so that she would be alerted when doors were opened and to wait until I got there to do anything.

After turning on the system, Aunt "P" resumed her search of the house. Eventually she found my son in her son's closet. She yanked him out and told him to go to his room. Colin was defiant and his aunt spanked him. The heavy pants insulated his bottom and the only pain inflicted was on my sister's palms.

Colin tried to pull away to escape and my sister had reached her limit. She put the force of her anger into a slap across my son's face. She was horrified to see the red marks that her rage had left. Colin immediately went to his room and my sister followed. She was crying as she apologized. My son tried to pretend that it was nothing but there were tears running down his face.

The rest of the weekend he stayed in his room until I left. He went for close to 24 hours without eating and slept for the first time in his bathroom. He opened the drawers so that the door could not be opened without his permission. His aunt was allowed in to check on him. The dog also came in to give a lick "hello".

The only contact I made was to yell through the bedroom door before I left. I wanted my son to know I would be gone shortly and that he could safely leave his room to eat and move about the house without seeing me.

Only two more weeks.......

We are a work-in-progess!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Mothers' Day 2014

As the time gets closer to bringing Colin home, we are stepping up our visits. This past weekend the plan was for me to spend the night at my sister's house. I was to try to see Colin three times. Once in the evening, the second time to call him for breakfast and the third was to say goodbye before leaving. Even the best laid plans can go astray and unfortunately we were not able to follow the plan.

Saturday, Colin had an 8th Grade Band Trip to Cedar Point Amusement Park which is a three hour or so bus ride from his school. My sister had to have him at the school by 6:00 a.m. This was an all day affair and the kids would not be back until around midnight. While this was not an ideal night to stay over, we are running out of time. I was determined to give it a try.

My sister and I had a nice girls' night with one of her friends. The friend surprised us with these cute kitchen towels for Mother's Day. Mine is the one pictured on the left, Family Drama. The same can be said for Misophonia, "The gift that keeps on giving." Too bad there are no returns.

After our friend left, my sister and I then watched a movie (Blue Jasmine) which was not a very cheerful film. Soon after, it was time for Colin to be picked up. In order to keep the peace and avoid drama at such a late hour, I went to my guest room and settled in for the night. As luck would have it, Colin did not seem to notice my car upon his return home.

Thankfully we had a peaceful night.

 Lazy Sunday Morning

I decided to let Colin sleep late as he had a pretty full Saturday. My brother-in-law had to go to work and my nephew likes to sleep late on the weekends. My sister and I bonded over coffee and Sunday Morning news. As we approached the noon hour, I noticed my son wearing a blanket creeping along the upstairs hall peering down into the family room through the railing. We made eye contact and he took off.

I decided to spend the rest of my visit catching up on some reading I brought along. I positioned myself in the living room so that I could see if my son decided to make a run for it. After a bit, my sister went upstairs to see where Colin went to and found him hiding behind a chair in the master bedroom. She scolded him and then left.

I continued to read for a bit until I was ready to go back home. I looked around for Colin but could not find him. My sister reluctantly went back to her room to look for him. She is tired of playing hide-and-seek.  I followed behind and kept a safe distance as Aunt "P" went into her walk-in-closet to look.

Out of the Closet

My sister came back out and silently pointed to the area where my son was hiding. I stood in the doorway and said, " Colin, I've been in the house since last night and I'm not here to chase you. I just wanted to say hello and to let you know I'll be leaving soon."

Colin stormed out of the closet and with both hands shoved me out of his way. My sister saw this and grabbed his arm causing my son to stumble to the floor. She scolded him for being disrespectful to his mother and I motioned for her to let him go. Colin took off down the hall, ducked into his room and slammed the door shut.

I decided it was time for me to go.

I announced my departure through the his door and left for home.

Happy Mother's Day to me!

I called my sister later in the day to see how Colin reacted once I was gone. She said he seemed fine and he was in the game room watching t.v. She was angry and avoided her nephew for the rest of the day. This whole process is exhausting and my sister is understandably upset the way Colin has been behaving toward me. I've learned to expect it and have managed to not take any of this personally.

I am concerned that we have a matter of weeks until it is time for Colin to return.

Manic Monday

I made sure to set realistic expectations for my husband for his visit the next day to be involved in this Monday's therapy session. This would be the first time he would see our son in six months. No real surprises to report and no noticeable progress. There was an escape attempt and Colin was dragged back into the house by his aunt so that he could spend his required time ignoring his therapist as usual.
At least my husband stuck to the script of announcing his presence, his departure and that he would be back in a week.

I'll be back for another overnight visit this weekend. I'll work on my strategy in a few days with our psychologist.

We are a work-in-progress!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Element of Surprise

This past week, the plan was to take things up a notch. Colin is starting to fall into a predictable pattern when it comes to my visits and to therapy. There are only weeks left until his time to come home and we need to make more progress. When I came out on Sunday, I was intentionally unexpected.

When I got to the house, my sister told me Colin was up in his room. I quietly went upstairs and cautiously entered his bedroom. I could see that he was in his bathroom washing up. I maintained my distance standing in the center of the room. Colin was dressed in a short-sleeve polo, shorts and socks. We exchanged glances as I said "Hello, Colin" and he gave me a surprised, deer-in-the-headlights look before he took off like a "bat-out-of-hell".

Colin ran down the hall, down the front stairs and out the back door of his uncle's study, leaving the door wide open. The dog followed him outside. I knew that a shoeless boy was not going very far so I settled in for a visit. I hung out while my sister "Skyped" with her son who is studying abroad and I "visited" for a few minutes with my nephew.

After the Skype session was over, I suggested that we take the dog for a walk. We suspected my son was in the conversion van that was parked in the driveway. I asked my sister to tell Colin that I was not going to chase him and hoped he would go back into the house while we were gone.



Aunt "P" opened the back door to the van and peeled back a blanket. There was Colin, hiding and clutching a hammer. She snatched the hammer away, told him that he "scared the shit" out of her and reprimanded him. We then left for a walk around the neighborhood.

Upon our return, we went back into the house and I poured myself a soda. I had my sister check to see if Colin was still in the van. He had moved to the middle of the van, with his blanket that he wore like a "cloak of invisibility". His aunt told him he was being ridiculous and left. I sat on the stoop that was around 20 feet away, soaking in the sun and sipping my drink. Aunt "P" and I had a conversation about world affairs while she seeded some bare spots on her lawn.While I had not exactly met my goal of being in the same room as my son for at least 5 minutes, this was as good as it gets. I maintained a general proximity for around 30 minutes. When my sister and I discuss politics, we are not exactly quiet so I am pretty sure my son could hear my voice.

Go Time

Right before I was ready to leave, I opened the front door of the vehicle and announced to my son that I would be leaving soon. I told him I was not going to chase him and that he should go back into the house. Colin got up, screamed at me to go away and took off toward the back of the house.

I went around the front to get to the other side of the home to say goodbye to my brother-in-law who was working in his garden. As I approached, I saw my son sneaking around, apparently in an attempt to go in the front door of the study, as the back door had been locked. He saw me and tore back down the side.

After a brief chat with my brother-in-law, I popped in the house to say goodbye to my sister. She told me that Colin was hiding in the game room. I replied that I was done and did not need to see him before I left.

My work was done.

About Last Night

My sister called last night to report on yesterday's therapy session where the heat was turned up a scoach. Things started out as usual. Colin was settled into the room before his therapist and his aunt entered. He was hunkered down and tuned out the first part of the session where he was to have a chat with his therapist. Then came the part where the psychology intern turned on the "trigger" sound. She played the same recording of windshield wipers where Colin ran out of the room the past two weeks. This time had a twist.

My sister was blocking his exit when Colin went to escape. If he wanted the sounds to stop, all he had to do was ask. When my son realized he was trapped and was forced to use his words, he chose to sit and endure his "torture" rather than speak up.

While I am concerned about the potential harm that Exposure Therapy may cause, I am fine with the way this is being handled. Colin needs to learn to communicate his discomfort. If he were to do so, the sounds would cease. My son also seemed to be fine after the session and did not rage. As long as we do not have a breakdown, I am content.

I have a conference call tomorrow with our psychologist to plan for this weekend's visit.

Until then.....

We are a Work-In-Progress!