Friday, June 5, 2009

Someone Said Shut Up to the ADHD Brothers!

And I practically did nothing. It took me a while to get over the whole scene. I finally came to grips with it today so that I could write a semi-productive post about it.

I have heard of this happening to people and I thought I knew what I would do but then it really happened to me and the sheer angriness and inappropriateness of the person completely dumbfounded me.

This is what happened: After picking Logan up from the school bus, Spencer, Logan, and I walked back into our building. We have a hard time with this transition. Unless I march them into the elevator like a drill sergeant, they will run around (street or hallway), laugh, shout, shriek, and do anything else that can earn them the title of "The ADHD Brothers."

That day, I saw my very elderly (90+) and blind next-door neighbor walking toward the elevator door with his home health aide. Of course, even though he had an aide, it was very apparent that an extra hand would have been good to hold open the door for them so I did. This of course resulted in the ADHD brothers being left to handle themselves for a minute or two.

Then another elderly neighbor from my building came by and saw the ADHD brothers doing their thing, jumping and shouting in the mailbox area. The elevator is very close to the mailbox area but my back was towards them because I was holding the elevator door so I could only hear them but not see them.

The next thing you know, this lady is shouting at my children, telling them to shut up. (Shut up?) By the time my elderly and blind neighbor and his aide were safely in the elevator, Spencer came running to me in tears. What an awful scene.

I got my two kids in the elevator and then she came in as well. Then, while looking at the floor and not at my face she reprimanded me:
-You have no control over your kids
-Your kids hold up the elevator on your floor because your kids are always playing with it
-Your kids are so loud, screaming everywhere
-Everyone in the building is talking about you

Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.

Sometimes, I kind of just ignore these people, especially if they are elderly and looked unreasonably angry as she did. However, she did make little Spencer cry and THAT AIN'T RIGHT. Either way, like with my neighbors downstairs, I usually tell them that my children have neurological disorders that causes them to exhibit certain behaviors that are hard for me to manage. But this time, I had Logan with me and I felt strange saying this in front of him especially in such a hostile situation. When he was younger, I would have probably said something but now if I talked about him in front of him, he'd probably ask me "Mom, what does nurcology shoulder mean?" Articulation, you gotta love it.

Nevertheless, I forced myself to talk back to her just because while Logan said nothing, I am sure he knew what was going on. I have to model how to respond to a bully, don't I? I told her that I do have control over my kids (why did I say that?) and that my children don't play with the elevator (not the way she says they do) and lastly told her that she was unbelievable (ma'am). Very weak, I know. It was just an odd situation. This lady is generally very nice and had even once cried on my shoulder because she is at home caring for her husband with Alzheimer's. I even gave her some information about a caregiver program I knew of that could have been of assistance to her.

Don't get me wrong, I know I should have just told her VERY FIRMLY that she had no right to do what she did and if she had anymore complaints, she could just direct it to building management. But this incident opened up other questions for me.
  • The truth is that I don't always have control over them and they are loud and unruly. How can I explain this while my kids are standing right next to me? Are there times when I shouldn't bother?
  • Should I feel bad that the "whole building is talking about me?" I know there are people who like my kids but of course, some people will not like their noisiness. I do care about my neighbors. I have to live with them. Should I now start a behavior training tactic directed at having good behavior in the hallway and elevator?
  • What are my rights when it comes to having kids with neurological disabilities and living in an apartment building?
  • When is a good time to talk to Logan about his condition?
  • When is a good time to stop talking about Spencer's (now 2) disabilities in front of him?
Either way, the wrong message was released by someone. This PR mom immediately went into damage control mode. I talked to Logan and told him that what the woman did was wrong and what to do if someone were to do that to him and how to act if we see her again. Even though he said nothing until I mentioned her, I could tell that he was quite bothered by her because he wouldn't stop talking about it for the rest of the day. It was also interesting how he kept referring the mean woman as Mr. Reilly (not his real name) my blind neighbor as the one who said the mean things. I wonder if that is a pragmatic speech issue.

Either way, I don't know if any of you are interested but now I'm really curious about those questions above and once I get them answered, I'll let you all know. If you have a tip on who is a good expert is to talk to about this, please write me an email and or a comment.

Picture: This is my "cutey face" picture of Spencer. How could anyone make a 2 year old cry like that?



Well, I don't know what the politically correct or the "right" thing to do would have been but I think this old lady was lucky it was you and not me because at this point these days - being fed up with all the looks and stares we get in public - I am just about ready to pull a "Jenny McCarthey" on anyone who says anything like what you experienced. And by that, I mean I would have probably told her, "They're autistic, you old bat!!!" (In "Louder Than Words" Jenny describes a situation where she yelled "He's autistic, you a**hole!" at a man who was making comments about her own son.)

Wish I had better answers for you but I hope you at least got a laugh.

Anonymous said...

I have found myself thinking about your post through the weekend. All good questions. I don't have the answers. Some things are easier to discuss, like a lack of fine motor or physical strength which requires more patience when doing new things or learning new sports. But being confronted and having someone yell at your child is something else. You are a good role model, you handled this really well and followed up - not leaving it be - with your kids. A lot to think about.

Anonymous said...

You really should stand up for yourself more. I know it's hard. I run a home daycare and there's one parent who doesn't like my son and when he interrupts to show her something or tell her something, she comes out with, "Can I finish talking to your mom." then leaves quickly so she doesn't have to interact with him. I know she can't stand him and the first time I catch her being less than respectful to him in my home, she's gone and will get an earfull about what I think about her and her parenting skills. This old bat is no different than my client-mom - they have some wrong wired sense of self-entitlement and the world owes them just for living or something.

Anonymous said...

We had a (townhouse) neighbor threaten us said he'd call police, attorney, and CPS - in FRONT of my child (his dog was crapping in my yard while he threatened me, mind you- because my child played outdoors during the day. In our own yard. "Too noisy". A$*hole works nights and wants to sleep with his window open!

I lost my composure completely. Screamed my fool head off at him - "he's got AUTISM you #$#*&, DEAL WITH IT - I have to, sorry no sympathy here - I haven't slept a full night in 5 years!"

Contacted the police myself to intro my son so they would know his needs should there ever be an emergency, and let them know what was going on. Filled in EVERY therapist, psych, specialist who works with us, so it is all on record. We are moving because of this - I can't take the stress, because everyone advised that he is a bully (he will only make the threats to me when I'm home alone) and to be safe, we should just go to the park to play. My child ACHES to go out and play in his own yard.

Deep breaths....karma will handle it.

Your questions: I never made an issue of 'telling' my son his diagnosis. He goes to a special needs school and everyone has challenges. He is also gifted, so it's impossible to outsmart him. He asked what his challenges were. I listed things like sensory issues, allergies, etc. He asked "what is autism" I told him. He knows I have a "recovery ribbon" on my car, and I have a full library of books with Autism in the title. He's heard me say to people "He has autism". I don't want it to be a big deal or a secret or shameful or anything. Just something that "is". For now. No different than the fact that I need to lose some weight -also a challenge. Everybody has something that is their challenge, that they have to overcome - past abuse, something.

Carol said...

I don't always have control, and I'm typical. Children with SPD, PDD-NOS or ADHD don't always have control either, even if they would like to. You don't tend to understand this unless you have a child with these disorders. Aso for how you explain this to others, in some regards, you don't have to. Many times, however, we feel we need to.

I'm new to this social language group, and at the building where it is held, they had free, 'business cards' that said, "My child has autism - sorry for the inconvenience. Thanks for your understanding." I thought this was awesome and snagged a couple. The back had a short paragraph about autism and how it may cause children to act out. I think this would be pretty easy to recreate on a program like Word or Microsoft Publisher. I'm sure a print shop could even typeset it and make copies. With cards, you don't have to openly or angrily discuss it in front of your kids.

Secondly, you shouldn't feel bad about the, "whole building talking about you," because this may or may not be true. People say and exaggerate things out of anger. However, if there is some truth to it, for your own sanity, you may not want to lend a hand to a neighbor in need and focus on your own children. That's a tough call, because I was raised to help others, but if the payoff is getting yelled at by someone, I'd prefer to keep the peace.

Disabilities - perhaps consider looking up American's with Disabilities Act. Everyone has rights and should not be discriminated against - special needs or not. I am sure you are protected. I wouldn't worry about this until it becomes an issue.

And lastly, I would talk to Logan when he asks you about his disorder or seems depressed or shows remorse. I'd keep it simple and tell him that you love him no matter what. You are a special mom and he's a special kid, and you were put together for a reason. Whatever you do love him with all your heart.

Penny Williams said...

The problem is that ADHD just looks like a kid behaving badly to the average person. I remember many, many times prior to the last year thinking that a parent needed to get a grip on their kid and their behavior in a store or a restuarant. I thought this because I was ignorant. I didn't know any more about ADHD than anyone else who has never experienced it with a loved-one. I didn't know there was something that could cause a child to misbehave and have no control to stop it. Hell, every time I think of all the times we punished our ADHD son for non-compliance to the rules, before he was diagnosed, I just want to cry. In fact, when he was first diagnosed and I finally understood the disorder, I did cry for each and every time I punished him for something, it turns out, he counldn't control.

Public educaiton is key but not likely to happen in our children's lifetimes. Too many non-believers (in ADHD) out there. Too much controversy and skepticism.

I do not hide my son's ADHD from anyone. I am not ashamed. Their energy and curiosity is a gift really.

As for the neighbor, I would have told her I could understand that the energy of my kids was overwhelming but that we don't use the term "shut up" with them and that it was completely out of line. And that if she'd like to know more about their condition and understand them better, I'd be happy to talk to her about it when they were occupied with something else. Well, I'd like to think I'd say that but I can be a bit of a scardy cat.

The bottom line is that the boys are who they are and they are wonderful. Anyone who doesn't know them the way you do is just missing out. We live in a detached (too secluded) home so I don't have to worry about neighbors. Just one more thing to add to my gratitude list.

You are an awesome mom and handle things in your own beautiful way. Your boys are lucky to have a mom and a family who understands them and loves them for who they are. THAT is what is most important.

bodegalee said...

I can be kind of passive aggressive about these things which is prob not the right thing to do, but dont like to mention dx's in front of my kids. I prob would have said something like: " I'm sorry they bothered you.. I'm sure you're prob not around a lot of kids and not used to this kind of thing. But kids do get busy and loud and I DO have control over them,.... and I do not appreciate your using "shut up" with my children.,.it's neither appropriate or necessary. So unless you want them telling you "to shut up" (because children learn what is spoken to them) I highly suggest you refrain from using that type of language around kids. UGH.. some folks just dont get it... Your children have challenges BUT lots of NT kids do what you described on an average day. If she doesnt want to be around kids she needs to go find a nice retirement complex to live in! Most seniors I know often choose to live in buildings with younger kids as it makes them feel good.