Under seige

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Malika, Jun 20, 2011.

  1. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    I am being to feel under seige in the village... This feeling is not objective, probably more than partly paranoia or projection, out of proportion and so on. But I still feel it!
    At the moment relations with my closest neighbour are extremely strained, after our last conversation in which he told me that everyone in the village is complaining about J... he also told me that the other neighbours (these are the only three houses in this part of the village), who come here just on on holiday and who are here now have "particularly complained" about him - why? What has he done to them? Nothing, I think, except maybe speak to them, as he does to everyone, as though they were four years old and not separated by a barrier of respect...
    Anyway, yesterday J went and talked to another neighbour, further away, who was outside his house pruning a window box. J was doing his usual thing - grabbing hold of things, wanting to play fight with the man, being over-exuberant - and when I went up to "retrieve" him, this man started make all these unpleasant comments like "My goodness - you're really going to have to watch him!", "I bet he's terrible in school, isn't he?" "Four years old and he's like that already!"
    All this is typical and I just feel like I'm at breaking point... for **** suck, I wanted to shout (the French equivalent) - what's wrong with you all? We're not in the ****** army - he's just a hyperactive child... Of course I didn't say any of that but just smiled and said "Oh no, he's quite good in school".
    But here's the thing... I want to get out of this place! I want to be in Britain which is so far from perfect and paradise but at least you have more chance of meeting with tolerance and good humour on a regular basis or Morocco which is full of hyperactive boys... All this constant carping and drilling of their children and what is all for - does it lead to the development of real human values that actually matter at the end of the day?
    Okay, rant over. I am feeling stressed in this place with a little boy whose behaviour is entirely blamed on me. I know that applies in other places too, not just here...
  2. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Malika, you have been very much on my mind for the last few days.

    On Friday on the radio here in Australia, there was an interview with Professor Tony Attwood, a world authority on Asperger's Syndrome. He made the point very clearly that Asperger's, like other forms of autism, is a neurological condition. Too many people still label it as a mental disturbance or similar mental illness condition. it is not. ADHD is also neurological.

    But what really shocked me, is when Tony Attwood said that in France, the "cold mother" theory on the cause of autism and Asperger's, still prevails. It could explain a lot of the flak you are copping. He said he is visiting France often, to give talks on this to professionals as well as others, but it is difficult to change this view when psychiatrists make their money out of it.

    The link is: http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2011/06/17/3246425.htm?site=sydney

    Go get it fast, it will probably disappear after a couple of weeks.

    husband & I listened to it on Saturday evening when we drove to a dinner. The talk goes for about 45 minutes.

  3. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    The first thing that comes to my mind on that statement? Nazis and Communists.
  4. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911


    I'm sorry that you are feeling so alone, that's never an easy feeling when it's like you and your son are an island to yourself. In my mind the picture I'm seeing is a young Mother, and a rambunctiious child full of life and energy - and a bunch of old fuddies, well on in their years sitting in stone and mud homes, so quiet that you can actually hear the sound of the regulator ---'tic', 'tock', 'tick', 'tock' and then along comes a lively, healthy, wonderful NORMAL four year old boy exhuberant and if he were here in America amongst any neighborhood or McDonalds play place, playground or in Canada in a park among peers of his own age? He wouldn't seem anything.BUT.NORMAL.

    Amongst a bunch of elderly men in a French village who are ready to have absolute silence and peace? I would imagine a goat with indigestion is an anomoly and disruptive. I can't imagine what a 4 year old boy with energy and ADHD is to them. Probably thinking he should be taken down to the local Vicar and dunked in the holy water repeatedly. (don't try it either - I did with Dude - did not work)

    The GREATEST thing about our kids is that they truly separate our real friends and allys from the ones that we couldn't depend on for squat. In all my years I have NO friends left that I feel I could call in the middle of the night and say "I need your help." and they would come running FOR ME. For one reason or another to do with Dude - either his behaviors, or his brushes with the law, or the word psychiatrist? Have caused them to step, together - step away -----and I knew it as it was happening. I'm not a dummy. When I needed them most? When I was crying the most? When I could have used a friend to hug me, to just hand me a tissue? To take me out for a lousy cup of coffee and just smile? They all left. Made excuses, had things to do. Interestingly enough when they needed someone to come get them on a horrible, story night on the side of a road - raining cats and dogs to change a flat beacuse they couldn't get their husbands on a cell? I got a call - hadn't talked to them in over a year - but I got a call. When they were out of money, and had overdrawn their bank accounts and didn't want their husbands to know-I got a call for a loan. When they were so sick they couldn't get out of bed, and their entire family forgot them - we took them groceries, and cleaned their house - fed their animals, fixed their cars...and to this day my DF doesn't get it. And maybe he never will - and that's okay. Even after those times? They still don't come around. That's okay too - I really wouldn't want them too. I don't do what I do to get favors back - I do it because I know how it is to be left alone and lonely. Not a good feeling.

    But I also know who is a real friend, but more importantly I know how to be one - and I know HOW to be an example to my SON. THAT was worth the price of admission on how NOT to treat people .....So while all this is heartbreaking? Take it from me - it's a valuable lesson even at four - and he gets it. He's actually learning HOW NOT to treat people. And you can tell him so. Because it won't always be like this ----someday you both will move and be in a place that people will appreciate you both for your uniqueness - and they won't call it - weirdness.......and you'll know the difference, and you'll say to your son - NOW THAT is a good model for you.

    Hope this makes sense. And FYI - my Family? Welsh and Irish on me wee Mothers side. My Father? Native American and Dutch.

    Your son is unique and beautiful - and don't ever let anyone make him think otherwise ----
    Hugs & Love
  5. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Sometimes, it isn't what is against us, but what is for us that makes the difference.

    Seems like you're caught in a situation where there really isn't anything "for" you. And that's tough. More than the country or anything else, you need a support system. Not all of us have that - even where ADHD and some of these other diagnosis are "better supported", if your peg doesn't fit the shape of the holes available then you're left with... nothing.

    Sounds like you'd have your Mom for support if you went there... which may be a bigger difference than the "against" factors.
  6. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Thanks all.
    Well, Insane, I think you are right. At the same time, it wouldn't be true or fair to say that there is nothing for us here... sometimes I do a practice, which may sound a bit corny, of recounting one's blessings, a kind of gratitude practice. What we have here is a sweet little house in a most beautiful place, with immediate access to the countryside which is a great teacher for children, a health and social services system second to none, probably the best schooling there is to be had in the state sector in France. Those things are not without importance. However, close friends, family and love for Jacob are to be found in Morocco and England, not here...
    Star, thanks for your funny and compassionate words (this is sounding like an Oscar speech already :)) I loved your just ever so slightly caricatured vision of the village - alas I am not a young mother but old enough to be wiser and tougher than all these silly little slights... but I think it was a kind of straw and camel's back effect, you know. Things of late have been accumulating and have built up to a feeling of "something has to give". I'm sure many of us here are familiar with that.
    HaoZi, much as the villagers - not these specifically but probably villagers anywhere in France or comparable countries - are uncompassionate and judgemental, I would hesitate to compare them to totalitarian Fascist or Communist ideologues :)
    And Marguerite, thanks VERY much for this, which I have not yet had the time to listen to but will do tonight or tomorrow. Funnily enough, this morning I had an interview with a woman who is helping me set up my translation business (paid for by the state, one of the perks and privileges of living here) and we got talking about hyperactivity and some of the difficulties I am facing with people's judgementalism. She told me that she had a friend with a hyperactive son who faced identical criticism and ladk of understanding. She commented that the problem was that ADHD and autism and the like are simply not well known or understood in France and that in these kind of respects, France lags behind many other western countries. She also made the perceptive comment that it is easier to condemn than to try to understand and that anything that does not fit the mould is just stamped on or ignored here. She is, I should point out, French - but with a background in psychology...
    Horses for course... I came here because of my attachment to Jacob becoming fluent in French. I don't regret it, but it is perhaps a stage, a stepping stone to the place where we will eventually settle.
  7. exhausted

    exhausted Active Member

    Dear Malika,
    Your posts always bring me back to my own experiences with my son. ADHD,Autism any mental problem, be it neurological or not was not and I believe is not accepted here either. The critism and the "running" away of friends or potential friends hurts like crazy. I still get raw thinking of it. I spend time every year in my school trying to help fellow teachers develop compassion, understanding and skills to better serve these kids and their families. We are just not there. For some it may be better. I live here in Utah amongst a most judgemental, linear majority. Children are expected to spend 3 hours each Sunday at church-imagine the eyes rolling and ill advised advise being throw at me weekly! (Needless to say, I'm a less active member of this majority). I had to remind myself that there was no ill will (maybe I was fooling myself) and my job was to educate. So each time I was given unsoliceted advise, or critised (including family), I tore off on a speech about ADHD and the methods I was using and the names of the experts and blah,blah,blah. People started to leave me alone-sure they thought I was a sandwich short of a picnic as well. In the end I still hurt and I hurt when I hear that you are going through this in 2011 in a world far better informed. Everyone knows what color hat the Queen wore to the wedding, but nobody knows that the intellectual and spiritual world has moved on.

    I hope and pray for you to have one wonderful friend (as I do) who understands and loves you both no matter what. I hope that this friend will need you too, as this is the stuff of strong bonds.I hope that you will be able to pursue the countryside with your little guy and see the joy the two of you have because you love each other and the village has a lot of sick goats (thank you Star) for the old men! Hugs!
  8. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Malika, make sure you download that file ASAP. We could email you our copy, but it is big.

  9. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    I listened to the two talks last night, Marguerite - very interesting. Strange how France is singled out in this way.
    Yes, exhausted, I am sure it is a universal problem. At the same time, when I think of the complete acceptance and lack of criticism/judgement I have from my English friends and a few others, I do realise that another way is possible. Oftentimes it has been friends who have pointed out qualities that J has that I have lost sight of amid all the criticism/opprobrium (now there's a good word :) ) And I have definitely got tougher and more resilient... as we all do, I'm quite sure. Last night there was an open-air after-school activity - stories about Africa by two visiting "story tellers", with drums and gourds, and a lion... (not real, alas). The 3 and 4 year olds were there with their mothers... Before the stories began - during them, J was quiet and attentive - J was doing what he does, running around on the grass, shouting, "making an exhibition of himself"; a year or so ago I would have been mortified, really embarrassed in the face of all the good little children sitting quietly in their places. But now, I just have a feeling of acceptance - that's the way it is, some parents understand, probably more do not and criticise or judge, but it's not J's fault and it's not mine, and he has a right to be as he is.
    And then... J was more badly behaved than the other kids from one point of view, but from another... at one point a little girl - 2? - wanted to put something in the bin; J put his arm round her shoulder and gently led her to it. I didn't see any other child doing anything like that.
    It seems to me that life in general consists of the way "the world" sees things and the way things really are... the first is cold, competitive, inhuman often; the second is full of joy and wonder and the only real meaning consists of compassion and following the way of the "good heart". So I think having a child who is different in this way just places us slap bang in the second world, which is very difficult and painful but a kind of gift also. The road less travelled...
  10. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    Sounds like he was smart enough to run off his excess energy first so he could sit still through story time :)
  11. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    J is still 4 right?

    Malika when my middle son was that age he was probably just the same way. If you notice in my signature I refer to him as my ADHD success story. When Jamie was 4 and 5 he was so hyperactive he could have probably been used to power a small village. He was constantly on the go from sun up to sun down. Luckily for us, we lived in the country so we could open the doors in the morning and let him out and he could run, ride his bike and play, play, play. He was sweet as he could be with not a mean bone in his body.

    Now when he started Kindergarten he had to start on medication because there was no way on this earth that he could ever sit still for an entire school day nor could he pay attention for that long. He was completely miserable too. He would come home in tears asking me why little boys were expected to sit inside that long when there were swings and monkey bars outside...lol. Who wants to learn letters and numbers and spelling when the big outdoors is calling to him?????

    That went on for Kindergarten, First grade and halfway through Second grade when suddenly the light bulb hit him and he ran home and told me "Mom, I get it now...I am supposed to learn my work and then I get to play longer!"

    Now he still took his ADHD medication until he started high school and he would have continued on it until he finished his formal schooling but here if you want to get into the military you have to be off medication for 4 years and his lifelong dream had been to go into the Marine Corps like his grandfather so he opted to go off his medications when he started HS. His grades suffered and he did struggle a bit with hyperactivity but he started running 3 miles each morning before school and he ran long distance for the track team in HS which helped somewhat. He was also in the JROTC in HS. All that physical activity helped keep him busy and less apt to by hyper.

    As an adult he chose a career which suited a person with ADHD. He doesnt have a desk job. First he was in the military. Movement...lol. Now he is working with the Sheriff's Department. Movement...lol. It works...
  12. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Thanks Janet. It's good to hear about the success stories :)
    In relation to what you say about your son, I am a little confused about J. He is totally hyperactive, but in as far as school is concerned, he will sit still and concentrate on the things they do... When I went to pick him up from the after-school club tonight, he was sitting stock still in his chair playing bingo with the others (and the adult assistant) - they hadn't finished so I stayed for another 10 minutes until they did; he was totally still and totally concentrated on the game for all that time... So I don't quite know how that fits into the picture of ADHD.
    I guess everyone thinks "Oh it would be so easy if..." And I think "Oh it would be so easy if my son were just hyperactive", like yours was. I think J is basically very sweet natured, but he does definitely have a violent, aggressive side - a lot of anger and pain in him, I think, doubtless related to the adoption also. And this is the part I find hardest with him - the outbursts of temper, the terrible things he will say when he is upset/thwarted - eg "I'm going to cut you!", "I'm going to tell Daddy you are horrible!", etc, etc. (which came out tonight)... So though he controls himself well these days in regard to being violent towards other children, I would be really fooling myself if I claimed he didn't have a mean bone in his body...
    I definitely feel pressured by the living arrangements. The arrangements of the houses is such that all noise travels into my neighbours' house and vice versa. Because they are so judgemental and ghastly, spreading malicious gossip at the slightest opportunity, I feel paranoid about what they can "hear" of J's temper tantrums and outbursts... I know it's silly to care about what they think. But somewhere I do. And it makes me stressed and inhibited in my responses, feeling like it's all fuel for their spitting fire... I've even had to tell him they are not nice people, that they say to everyone he is naughty, and that he is not to play near their house - this is the only way to get him to understand and accept this (they complain bitterly about the supposed things he does when he is in their part of the territory). Not really the lesson I want him to learn about neighbourly relations.
    It is DEFINITELY stressful raising a difficult child. Sometimes I think I am crazy to be attempting to do this on my own, when I actually have quite a lot of stressful reactions because of past experiences of my own... I feel it would be helpful for me to be talking to someone in relation to this and how it impacts on dealing with J. I feel stressed and provoked by his gfgness... all goes well when he is being co-operative and sunny, but that is not the constant picture... And then he picks up on my stress and it all gets worse... I sense he really, really wants affection and love through all his difficulty and sometimes it is just so damned hard to keep sight of that when he is being difficult and, in his own 4 year old way, abusive...
    Just a bad night tonight because he was REALLY tired and, unusually for him, wouldn't sleep... the tireder he got, the most horrendous his behaviour.
    And tomorrow is another day...
  13. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    ADHD people can focus on something they enjoy, often to the point that you could blow up something in the next room and they wouldn't notice. But if they're bored? Tired? Hungry? Allergies acting up? Pffffft... hang up any guarantees.
  14. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    That's what Tony Attwood was pointing out in his interview - Aspies, for all their faults, are capable of amazing kindness.

    The raging and the nasty things they say are said out of anger and frustration. When they calm down they generally regret it, unless the anger continues. That's why if we can prevent the anger and frustration, they do a lot better.

    Being able to sit still in class - these are generally VERY bright kids who really value any person who helps them with their education. For difficult child 3, even the teachers who were NOT fair to him, who really pushed his buttons, he loves and values, he will seek them out when he sees them around the village, he will go up to them and greet them in friendship. In my opinion, I find it difficult to be civil to these people because of how they treated my son. I can see it in their eyes - they know how they dropped the ball. The first time difficult child 3 headed their way I swear I saw them trying to avoid him. They were scared he would be rude or critical. But instead he greeted them excitedly, shared with them how he was doing, was very friendly. He is far more forgiving than I am.

    But then - he is also capable of some dangerous raging too. So was difficult child 1 who no longer loses his temper. difficult child 1 is so incredibly focussed on staying calm these days, he seems almost shut down. He is a deep thinker, he is an extremely moral person. But he does think about his morals, he's not an automatic pilot. For example, a very religious person we know did things a certain way which caused problems, but I thought difficult child 1 would be fully supportive of her actions because they are those of a religious conservative. However, difficult child 1 said, "Not cool. She should not have done it that way. it removes the onus of free will, and God gave us free will for a reason."
    [I'm not trying to preach in any way - just giving an example of how an Aspie can still think about his beliefs and not just parrot them]. difficult child 1 happens to be religious; it is not uncommon in Asperger's and autism. But never forget - atheism is also a religious point of view. Some Aspies and autistics are zealously atheist.

    Malika, have you managed to read up on "Explosive Child" yet? Collaborative problem-solving? It might give you tools you can use, and that teachers can use.

    You are trying to do a challenging job in what I now realise is a very difficult environment, at times hostile. No wonder it's hard on you. I am glad you are an intelligent, rational person who is also strong enough to do this.

  15. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Have you had a full evaluation done? I'd look at Aspergers or other high functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) (there are some psychiatrists that believe that ADHD is actually on the spectrum). It would explain why he does well in the high-structure of school and is more 'wild' at home.

    Even pre-difficult child, boys like yours would make me smile. What a zest for life!!!! That will serve him well in the long run.
  16. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Malika, you could have problems in France with a possible Aspie diagnosis. If a shrink suggests the "cold mother" theory to you, don't let it put you off all shrinks. Just print out some of Tony Attwood's stuff and educate them! But it could account for problems getting your son diagnosed.

    Also - school attitudes might lag behind doctors. So if you get the label, teachers might try to act all social worker on you and try to teach you how to show love to your child. I had to endure some of that, it is very frustrating. But really, if you can stick it out and come out the other side, you will win permanent supporters.

    It could also account for some of the village crud you're getting.

    Where I live, it is a small isolated seaside village, people here can be very judgemental. I know people have looked at me with my physical disability, and assumed that it explains difficult child 3's behavioural problems. Of course, there is no link. Or people assume I'm also autistic and just choose to walk with a limp!

  17. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Well, we see a child psychiatrist (frankly not that great a help as yet as we have an appointment once every six weeks) and I have a neuro-psychologist exam scheduled for the autumn - the child psychiatrist says he is almost certainly ADHD, but very sociable, an easy communicator and not autistic. To me, it's clear he doesn't have Asperger's - you only have to see him, really. He's quick to read emotions, emotional expressions, doesn't have any great passions about unusual things that occupy him on his own, no issues with eye contact, etc. Listening to the Tony Attwood interview really just made it clearer for me. And, of course, in saying that it is not because I have any prejudice about Asperger's or denial about it... ADHD/ODD is not something I would really go for!!
    But I do think he is very bright. And I think also that (as is apparently typical of ADHD children) he really relishes structure and stimulation, both of which he gets at school. This is what I find - that when I set things out for him clearly and precisely, as they do at school, in terms of an activity, he will rise to the occasion and fulfil the expectations. He is now seeing another speech therapist (though to be honest I'm a bit confused as to why at the moment as she says he has no problems with language or speech delays); the first time we went it, it was farcical - he was running in and out of all the rooms, wouldn't stay still to talk to her, went to the loo and was bellowing at me like some latter-day despot to come and see to him afterwards, etc. The second time we went, I prepared him well ahead of time, said she was going to see him by himself to ask him some questions, I was going to wait in the waiting room and that if he was good afterwards we were going to the playground. And he was good as gold - amazing transformation. Went off like a lamb, sat down with her and answered all her questions with concentration, emerged smiling at the end.
    I was at the dentist's this morning and in a waiting room woman's magazine there was an article about autism... Things are obviously slowly evolving in France, people are getting more aware. It was about the parent of an autistic child who was told there was nothing wrong with her child who wasn't talking or speaking until she went to the States and there he was quickly diagnosed with autism. She has now set up a centre for autistic children in Paris - with a huge waiting list... The article did say that France had been held up in its attitude to autism because of the trend to psychologise everything but that now it was increasingly accepted that it was a genetic problem, nothing to do with parents. This is Paris, though... things are obviously to filter out from the centre.
  18. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I'm glad the interview help 'gel' things for you. That's important and validating for you.

    One point I will make - if he is ADHD, he is not automatically ODD. And even if he does seem to fit ODD, it can be turned around simply by handling him in a different way.

    Another point - there is some similarity in how you handle an ADHD kid, to how you handle an Aspie. There are also some traits that overlap and span from normality to severe autism. Example: today I was getting coffee. I saw a small boy (maybe five years old) running noisily back and forth while his dad waited for the coffee. I watched the boy; to me he seemed to be stimming, he was moving in a repetitive manner, shaking his head as he ran as if trying to make himself dizzy. He was also making the same monotonous noise as he did so, as if trying to enjoy the sensation of the vibration of the sound as he moved. Then he stopped suddenly, leant against his dad and let his dad hold his head in a way I remember difficult child 3 doing. In fact difficult child 3 would sometimes grab your hand and put it on his head, as if instructing you to hold his head in just that way. But then the boy moved away to look at a map on the wall. "Where are we on the map, Daddy?" he asked. The boy listened as his father showed him, then asked, "And where is Grandpa?" Again, the boy watched while his dad showed him. They talked at length and in detail, a much greater detail than either of my boys did at that age. Then their coffee was ready - the dad had a standard coffee but the boy had a "bubbacino" - I don't know if you have this where you are, it is frankly an abomination for real coffee lovers, it is pure froth piled into a tiny cup, faintly coffee flavoured, purely for very small children. By this stage I had struck up a conversation with the dad who said, "We have a ritual with embellishing the bubbacino. First it gets powdered chocolate, then sprinkles, then syrup." And I watched as they did just this, the boy supervising to make sure Daddy did it just right. The dad said his son adored coffee and tea - weird for a small child. I recalled difficult child 3 as a baby, collecting coffee cups and putting his face in them to inhale, like a kid sniffing glue.

    Now, this boy probably does not have autism. or he might be mildly Aspie, but currently is functioning well socially. He seemed totally unselfconscious of other people's staring and totally uncaring of social niceties. But he may also have been younger than he seemed. What I'm saying - a normal kid can behave this way too. But this was clearly a very bright child, linguistically capable and socially outgoing. Compatible with Aspie, but also compatible with normal. Or with ADHD. But what struck me was the way the boy's father interacted with him; he did not try to discipline, but he did apply some gentle controls, mostly by redirection and use of routine. He allowed the boy to control the coffee ritual for them both because it was a gift to him to do so. it was producing a lovely "just the two of us" time together and the boy was relaxed and happy because the ritual was followed.

    It was just a couple of minutes out of my morning, but I found this boy fascinating. I see similarities; but I also see differences and perhaps a glimpse of what my boy might have been like, if only...

  19. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Wish I had you with me when the going gets tough with J, Marguerite, to inspire me with calm positivity and wisdom :) Actually, seriously though, wouldn't it be good to have some taped version of how to deal "otherwise" with difficult children... Anyone know of any such material?