Around this age he began exhibiting strange, obsessive compulsive behaviors. As I recall the first one was clipping his toenails and fingernails several times a day, not until they bled, but always making sure they were smooth. He also had a fixation on the toilet seats in the house; they always had to be down. If someone came out of the bathroom he would question if you put the lid down, we would reply in the affirmative, however he always had to go check behind us to see if we really did. Sometimes he would be watching TV and jump up to go check all the toilet seats in the house. Zack would only drink out of certain cups, and eat off a certain plate, shoe laces had to be tied just perfect, not too tight, not too loose. Some mornings we would have to retie shoes 4 or 5 times before it “felt right.” Clothes always had to feel a certain way (and still do), he won’t wear any denim, and pants, shorts and shirts, must all be very soft. We use to have to cut tags out of everything before he would wear it. Then the smelling and touching of things, he touches everything, and smells just about everything. He is very sensitive to odors, textures, and tastess.
I am an educated person, not a genius or a doctor, but knowledgeable, with a BS in Psychology. I have worked at a Psychiatric hospital off and on for 14 years, so I was not totally ignorant to such behaviors, but from a child?? Someone had to have the answer, the magic consequence for his rages, and the appropriate punishment for his defiance. I just had not found that person yet. I had to figure something out to help him, to help us!!!
I read every book I could find on childhood behaviors, on discipline, on different techniques to talk to your child, etc…I went to several seminars where famous pediatricians were speaking to hear there advice on getting a child to sleep and on how to discipline. Somewhere, someone would have the answer, since I obviously did not!!!
I tried every crazy, absurd, and laughable method they all suggested, but to no avail. The rages continued, the sleepless nights, the impulsiveness, the exaggerated reactions, the crazy up and down mood swings.
Looking back now on my choice of professions to enter into, with the abundance of options given to a college student the fact that my choice was that of psychology and mental health still amazes me. I had no idea at the time how vital this education and the work experience I would have would help me to understand and deal with a child with mental illness. One big factor was my mother, who has been a psychiatric nurse for numerous years. Her work at the hospital was always so intriguing to me. I also believe that God, or another force beyond myself urged me into this area, knowing long before I did how vital all of this prior experience would help me to learn, understand and deal with a child with some obvious disability. During our lengthy search for help with Zack, trying to understand what was wrong, if anything, the social workers, nurses and doctors that I knew from my work were a constant source of information to me, always offering advice, suggestions, and valuable information.
I can honestly say along with all of the craziness, confusion, and tension in our household, we were able to enjoy Zack during his calm periods. We took great pride in his athletic abilities, he was a natural in any sport or anything that involved movement, coordination, balance or working with his hands.
At 18 months we gave him a golf club and the very first swing was one of a pro. He handled the club as if he had been playing for years, and could launch a golf ball as far as his father. His father would take him to the driving range with great pride as the other men marveled at his abilities. At about 2 years of age he began riding a bike with training wheels, and at 4 could ride on a two wheeled bike with great ability. He was also capable of building elaborate objects out of legos. This may not sound so astounding but we thought for a 3 year old this was amazing. When Zack turned 5 he began racing BMX bikes and took to this again as a natural, he could ride the track with hills, jumps, turns like a 15 year old. Zack consistently placed 1st or 2nd. Troubles began to occur with this sport because of his huge demands on himself to be perfect; he HAD to ALWAYS be 1st. It was unacceptable to him to place 2nd or 3rd, and when he did a “fit”, and rage would occur, not a pretty sight for other parents or kids to see on the race track. Because of these “fits” we made him stop racing until he could control himself better, and understand that it is for fun, and that winning is not the object of everything. Once that was over, he began just doing bike tricks in the street, he has a jump and would practice all day, and again amaze his friends with some of the things he could do on his bike. cont… (continued)
Some fun links here of a more present Zack
http://www.foxcarolina.com/local-video/index.html?grabnetworks_video_id=4503568 FoxCarolina News interview