Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Whatever my lot...

“Like all the best families, we have our share of eccentricities, of impetuous and wayward youngsters and of family disagreements.” Queen Elizabeth II.

I have 5 children. My oldest is 25 this year. I have not seen him or spoken to him in 3 years. I know he is alive. I know he is living somewhere in Brisbane & I know he does not wish to see or speak to anyone in his family.

I think Jossie may have Aspergers, a form of autism. I do not know because he has never been diagnosed. He was not diagnosed because when he was growing up few people had heard of Autism let alone Aspergers. He was in his teens before his behaviour became so outlandish we became alarmed. He is so high functioning (read diagnosed *gifted*) all the experts assured us his behaviour was normal teenage angst. I have raised 3 other teenagers. Nothing about Jossie's behaviour is remotely normal.

I have 4 other children. In retrospect I can see just how abnormal Joss' behaviour was but he was my first. I thought he was just odd & being different is no reason to be ostracised ~ but Joss was. He was clumsy & not good at sport, an almost unforgivable sin for a male in Australia's sport obsessed culture. He was easily angered by trivial upsets. He was manipulative & vindictive. He had trouble following directives & I would have to hold his face between my hands & make eye contact to issue instructions; never more than 3 at a time or he couldn't cope. The most telling thing is that he simply could not make friends. His grasp of the social niceties is almost non~existent. He was laughed at & ostracised by his peers his entire childhood. It did not help that he had an extraordinary grasp of language with which to abuse his tormentors & that he was obsessed with things of no interest to the average child.

I'm not a doctor. I could be wrong but as he entered his teens Joss became extremely aggressive. His rages were frightening & out of control. He shot up rapidly & became a gangly 6'6''. School became a nightmare & we pulled him out but Joss was on a spiral we were unable to halt. He moved out of home. For a while things would go well but Joss seems unable to manage his life or to grasp that there are consequences to his actions. Eventually someone or something would trigger him & he would go on a violent rampage kicking in doors & walls. I have never known him to hold a job; he cannot cope with the necessary social interaction. When he is calm he talks extremely intelligently & is an interesting conversationalist but his tendency to focus on the negatives in his life means he rapidly forgets kindnesses, positives, & that other people have feelings too.

He was living on the island with his only friend who, being homosexual, was nearly as ostracised as Joss. He was deeply into on~line computer games & seemed to spend all his time playing them when I picked him up for Christmas. It had been arranged previously, by Joss, so wasn't unexpected but he was put out at having to leave his game & not in the best frame of mind. Within 1/2 an hour he was smearing mango pulp all down our windows. It did not occur to him that this was socially unacceptable behaviour & flew into one of his rages when asked to desist. He demanded I take him back to his place of residence. He ranted the entire way about how badly he was treated & that he never ever wanted anything to do with us again.

A few weeks later, running into his friend, I asked how Joss was. His astonished friend blanched. 'But, I thought he'd moved back in with you!'

Joss was gone. He had told no~one & taken nothing, not even his wallet or phone, none of his clothing or possessions. The shock was devastating. You see, I love my boy. He is a piece of my heart & I have lost him. I cannot fix what is wrong. I grieve for his anger & sense of isolation; I fear for his safety. I know despite his height & age he has the emotional maturity of a young child, rather than a young man.

I am not one of those Christians who believe bad things never happen to true believers. I don't think the bible teaches that. Rather it teaches us to grasp hold of He who is our strength & refuge, our present help in times of troubles, our alpha & our omega. I cling to what I believe the Lord has promised me concerning my son & trust Him for the rest. It is all any of us can do.

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul. Horatio Spafford.


Mrs. C said...

Oh, Ganeida, thank you for posting this. I still feel terribly guilty that we were unable to get a diagnosis that "fit" for G until he was about 9. AND we had been asking for years and years.

I can only imagine what having a child 12 years earlier... oh, what those doctors were like THEN if they were so insensitive only ten years back.

My heart goes out to you. I really appreciate having friends who show me that whatever I have to go through, it's gonna be ok.


MamaOlive said...

You have hinted about things before, but to hear the whole story is just heartbreaking. I worry about my children (especially the 'firsts') and I'm pretty sure they are normal. To have one in need of help and be unable to give it... God alone. He knows. He cares. He is able.
God be with you and grant you peace.

Ganeida said...

MrsC, we were made to feel we should be able to manage a *normal* teenager. Unfortunately, for short periods, Joss is very good at dissembling & pulling the wool over people's eyes. The experts never saw him when he was out of control & terrorising my house. The guilt was awful but we are forced to live with his choices too. My other sons aren't saints but they were never like that.

MamaO, the funny thing is I do have peace. I don't like the situation but God has very firmly stated my son is His business now & I am to leave them to each other. My other children are a comfort as well as a blessing.

The Small Scribbler said...

I am raising an aspergers boy (His story is in my side bar under Finding Rest) and am so thankful that so much more information is available today. We didn't put all the pieces together until he was about eleven and knowing has made all the difference.

I have a brother much like your Joss and nobody had ever heard of aspergers back in the seventies, including my family, and sometimes it was just hell. I know about the terrorizing. He is almost forty now and has moved out of a burned out bus and has a wife and a child and a contracting business. It took him until his mid thirties to come into his own. He too, doesn't have much contact with our family (my parents hear from him about once or twice a year...see him about every three or four years)and the burden of guilt is great but it lessens with time.

Its a hard story to live and a hard one to tell. You are brave.


molytail said...

trust Him for the rest

Not the easiest thing to do, is it.

Y'know - reading this...along with taking it in as the missing pieces to the story as you've mentioned before, it's also giving me a peek at the 'other side' ...see...I kinda went off the rails as a teenager - well, I'd always been a little off them as a child, but the year that I was 12/13 was where it went from a little off to completely and utterly spun right off altogether. A long drawn out and messy story that I won't blather about here, but rather just mentioning it because to see the other side...the side of a parent grieving for the child - a child who, no doubt, could not/can not see the grief - has given me a lot to think on...

God has very firmly stated my son is His business now & I am to leave them to each other

The strength of your faith and your ability to put it right to the point always amazes me - in a wonderful way. *hugs*

Ganeida said...

You hit the nail bang on the head as is your wont, Moly; I *know* Joss has no idea of the grief & concerne he's caused ~ not even the inkling of an inkling. No cause for pride in a faith born of necessity.:) Where would I be without it? What hope would I have?

Mrs. Darling said...

Oh my ganieda. My heart just goes out to you! You are so courageous. Im afraid Id be running around like a headless chicken looking for him and neglecting the rest of my family in the process. I will pray for your boy!!!!!....and for you. Lots of hugs!

Ganeida said...

MrsD, my instinct was exactly to run round like a headless chook *fixing* things but the story of the prodigal son has a beginning as well as an end. Everyone focuses on the end but I got directed to the beginning. What does the father do? He lets his son go. He does not rescue. He does not *fix*. He does not bail his son out. He does not search for him. It is the hardest thing I have ever had to do but it ha really helped me understand how the heart of God grieves over His wayward children & longs after them...& rejoices when theyturn homewards. :)

Persuaded said...

ganeida... my oldest child, a daughter, is an aspie. as you know, i have other kids with special needs, including a 19yo son with down syndrome and autism who i don't mention on my blog. the asperger's is the toughest to deal with hands down. i absolutely know what you mean about the social difficulties... even before my girlie was diagnosed and i'd never heard of asperger's, i described her as very intelligent, but socially "retarded." She just was unable to pick up on the simplest social cues, unable to learn and completely unable to see things from any viewpoint other than her own. i'm so sorry that you have this pain in your life, but i so so so admire you and how you and your family are handling the situation. i'll really be praying for your jossie, and for you, my dear((hugs))

Ganeida said...

Diane, it is exactly that combination of fierce intelligence & the inability to walk in another's shoes that makes this so difficult. Calm, they are reasonable & logical. In a rage all sense of perspective, logic, sanity even, flies out the window. I think it's one reason why Joss never got picked up even though the school would have me up to calm him down so everyone else was *safe* or suspend him, or give him other labels like ADD (he was neither attention deficet nor hyperactive) or bad, plain & simple. For years I was saying something was wrong, that his behaviour was irrational but no~one believed me. My family would find it hard...but they never saw Joss totally off the air either. Like I said, he can hold it together, sometimes for quite longish periods then, whoosh! Off he goes.Only this time it seems he hasn't come back to earth.