difficult child 1 therapist appointment today spent in the CAR

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by gcvmom, Jan 12, 2011.

  1. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    He refused to get out of the car when we got to the therapist's today!

    The morning went fine. He finished his biology assignment before the tutor arrived, did some work for her, then after she left, he needed to use the restroom. While he was in there I told him that when he finished he needed to get dressed so we could go grab some lunch, pick up easy child from school and then go to his therapist appointment. He immediately started complaining about the appointment and said he didn't want to go. And that was the beginning of the end today.

    He refused to eat lunch (and combined with the fact that he didn't eat much for breakfast probably just made things worse). He wouldn't talk to me on the drive over. And he refused to get out of the car when we arrived.

    I explained what was going on to the therapist when he came out to get us, and without missing a beat, the therapist went out to the car to see if he could talk to difficult child 1 and persuade him to come in. He came back after about 5 min and said he couldn't even get him to unlock the door. So he and I talked for a little bit, then the two of us went to the car and sat in the front seat to continue our "talk". This essentially forced difficult child 1 to hear what needed to be said, even if it wasn't directed specifically to him. We paused periodically to see if difficult child 1 would respond to some of the things we were talking about, but he persisted in his silence.

    therapist sees this as a passive coping mechanism when difficult child 1 feels afraid or unhappy about something, and the car conversation was mostly about how difficult child 1's behavior affects everyone around him and whether it results in positive things or not, who or what is really in control of him while this is going on, pointing out which situations seem to trigger this behavior the most, etc. Mostly to give him something to think about.

    I went back to the office to schedule the next appointment, and when I came out, difficult child 1 was gone. I sent him a text and as I'd guessed, he was in the bathroom. His very next message to me was "I'm sorry" -- he usually does apologize later on. We just need to work on helping him cope better and not get stuck in this rut that ends up pushing everyone away. I was really glad therapist got to see him like this!

    So for now, no appointment until the week after his uro procedure on the 21st. Hopefully by then he'll be feeling better physically and then maybe we can start to more openly tackle some of his issues.
  2. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    This has to be hard for everyone. I am sure he is embarrassed and may have thought that he would be confronted about the reasons for the procedure at this appointment. Or he may have been afraid his body would betray him and he wouldn't be able to get to the bathroom and then everyone in the office would know about it. It could be a LARGE reason why he wouldn't eat - fear that he might have an accident due to the infection/bowel issues that are only somewhat in his control.

    I am glad the therapist got to see this behavior, and can now help you work on it. You handled this really really well.
  3. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    I don't think it's necessarily embarrassment... he talked about this (I think) last week at his appointment, since I'd told therapist the week before... Or maybe he just didn't want to chance having to talk about it again.

    therapist and I both see that this kid would rather avoid, stuff, run away, anything than deal with uncomfortable feelings or fears. That's the one thing I hope therapy resolves for him.

    I've given up trying to strong-arm him over stuff, and I will only brow beat him if it's truly a basket A thing (although I try to be subtle about the brow beating, ahem). Like when he refused to go in for the CT scan. I eventually wore him down, but it was important.

    I'm really not shocked by the assessment. difficult child 1 has always preferred to shut down when facing difficult things. He did it when he was a toddler, too. Spent the first day of preschool orientation curled up in a ball after they pried his fingers from my clothes. I felt horrible walking to the parent meeting as my kid screamed bloody murder, but I figured he'd snap out of it once I left. He stopped screaming, but he dug his heels in and refused to cooperate. Poor kid was exhausted and fell asleep on the way home that morning.

    Baby steps, huh?
  4. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Kuddos to his therapist!

    Shutting down/closing out aka walking away/silent treatment is a coping mechanism for many of our difficult children. Often others can look at it as a kid digging in his heels or defiant.

    My difficult child will just walk away.

    Interestingly enough, I was telling him night before last that walking away or avoiding a situation is not the answer. You have to confront not only your fears, but face the things that make you angry with a level of control. My difficult child uses this walking away as an alternative for anger.

    Wouldn't you know that as we were driving in to school yesterday morning, the morning talk show I was listening to was having a conversation about the Arizona shootings and one of the interviewees was talking about how important it was to face the unpleasant in life. By avoiding things that make us uncomfortable, we never learn to cope and move forward...etc., etc., etc.

    difficult child was listening......

  5. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    You and therapist handled things beautifully. I think it's great he did apologize. The refusal to talk or wanting to go is very much a coping strategy for so many difficult children. Of course, my difficult child goes in and talks up a storm just not about what anyone wants to talk about. Then his response is one of two, "Don't talk to me" or "Ice cream". I have no idea where he got the ice cream response from but it's definitely avoidance for him.
  6. I think it's pretty cool that the therapist basically held the appointment in your car. The boy was very much a captive audience and had to hear what you wanted him to. True, the world isn't going to do this very often and he does need to learn more appropriate tools, but that's what therapy is all about, anyway. I think it one of the many ironies of life that while some people are trying to teach their kids not to walk away and avoid things, I am constantly on my difficult child's back to "just walk away" as his natural response is to whack somebody or scream at them. Maybe the happy medium was hanging out in your trunk listening, too, and will come out next time. ;) Good luck, lady.
  7. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    What a great therapist! And hiow great to have therapy with all of you in the car!

    It's interesting how "appropriate" the IBS diagnosis was for your son - even though it turned out NOT to be IBS. IBS is the body's ultimate avoidance system...when you're in the bathroom or sick to your stomache - it excuses you from a lot of situations.

    Regardless, I think the doctor is right. difficult child 1 needs to learn a better coping method.
  8. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    That is cool that you have a therapist that will make car visits. And you know, if your difficult child truly did not want to hear what therapist and you said, the, "I need to go to the bathroom" may have come up while you were all in the car?

    He still is trying to grasp how therapist can help and it is so hard to let anyone, even tdocs, know of your challenges.

    My difficult child has decided that denial will work for him. I made the mistake of telling him before we stopped to fill up with gas about some information I shared with both psychiatrist and therapist. I looked at my almost empty tank facing an hour drive to therapist and thought, "Oh no! I blew it this time!" difficult child had said, "NO! We are not going! You don't have to tell them about that! I am just going to deny it." I was so afraid he would run while I was filling up with gas. I dropped him off with some $$$ at a Taco John's next to the gas station. My anxiety rose a bit when I tried calling him before going in to pay for the gas (I wanted to let him know I was going into the restroom so would be a little longer coming out) and he did not answer but then as I turned around, there he was, hands full of food asking who I was calling.

    My difficult child also needs time to think things over and usually the next time will have more positive outcomes. During a situation however, once those heels are dug in, they will stay dug in and the "I am sorry" that comes after is a very good sign that he wished it didn't go that way. Then I have to hope that the "I am sorry" along with what was said during the time (your conversation with therapist or my telling my difficult child that talking helps) will make things go better next time.

    You did good!
  9. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    That's a good point Andy! He could have played that card to get out of there, lol.

    I know he was listening, even though he kept playing poker on his phone, wouldn't look at us, wouldn't talk to us and had one finger in his ear. When we concluded and therapist turned to difficult child 1 to ask him if he had any questions or wanted to say something, difficult child 1 took a visibly large breath as if he had been listening so intently that he'd forgotten to breathe, hesitated and then said nothing. I had to stifle a giggle because I know he was processing what we said.

    Yes, this therapist is a keeper. He's the one who helped us navigate the crisis intervention meeting when difficult child 2 got suspended for bringing a Swiss Army knife to school and making a threatening remark to a bully.

    He revealed he's had to go to the home of one of his teenage patients who has a tendency to shut down in a rage and refuse to leave the house. At least we managed to make it as far as the parking lot! Hopefully things will go better next time. I'm going to try to remember ealier reminders for difficult child 1 so he doesn't feel surprised like this, but this is also something he needs to work on.

    Thanks everyone!