When he was about two and a half I began seeking professional help. I hoped someone would be able to give me some magic remedy, some specific answer to help Zack to act better. There just had to be something I was missing.
I first talked with his pediatrician, then a couple of therapists and psychiatrist, all of whom told me the same thing “he is just temperamental, high-strung, normal, testing his limits. Just be consistent and firm.” I felt so helpless and frustrated, they just did not understand. I knew children had temper tantrums, but not ones that go on for hours and hours and several a day. I was consistent, I was firm, but NOTHING stopped him from these rages. I left each visit more determined to find an answer, one that they must not know of yet.
During a rage when he was 3 years old he busted a hole in his door by ramming a Little Tikes plastic rocking horse into it. This is was just the beginning of many holes he has put into various doors and walls in our home. It is hard to explain, but he has no control, he just throws things, whatever is in his way he will kick, punch, hit, or throw. It is equally easy to see it is not “him”. He changes when he is like this, his whole appearance is different.
It was always a battle. I would say “you can stay in your room with the door open but don’t cross the carpet line until you calm down”…he of course would come out, only to be put back in the room with the same instructions and he would again step out. This would continue for at least 2 hrs at time, the same instructions, the same consequence, until finally I realized “he isn’t getting it!!” He can not see that what he does will result in a consequence, all he can “see” is what is in his mind at the moment.
He began hitting me when he was angry. I would try to discipline but to no avail. I would say “you do not hit mom”, try time out, which never worked and no consequence ever prohibited his impulsiveness. He would just strike out, when he was that other boy. He was smart, very clever. We turned his door knob around on his bedroom door (something I read in a book) to keep him contained during his rages. Well, my little genius could always find something to pick his lock with.
Zack would wake up some mornings screaming, for no reason, just screaming!!! He would have “the look” that glazed over, somewhere out there look. We never knew what was going to happen next. We were on constant alert with him; he was either loving us or hitting at us and screaming. When he woke in the mornings we always held our breath until we could see his face to know what the mood for the day was. Zack’s facial affect changed with his moods, he had a certain “look” when he was in a bad mood, it was clear he was not himself. He had a more pleasant, relaxed and brighter eyes when he felt “normal”.
To see him, this beautiful boy, big, bright eyes, funny,silly and smart,no one would even begin to imagine the devastation and pain he was living. We were living. When he was Zack, the real Zack, he was delightful, witty and a joy. The reality of our life was unfathomable to outsiders.
Our house was total chaos, it seemed at all times. During one of Zack’s lengthy rages, and screaming fits I heard sirens, sounded like a fire truck or police car, my imagination began to run wild. I thought a neighbor called DSS (dept. Of Social Services) to report me for child abuse. I would not be touching him, he would just scream for hours at a time with no letting up, and who would believe me?
(page 4 tomorrow)