February 11, 2008,
A.M. asks from Peoria, AZ on February 08, 2008
My Husband Gets Too Upset at Our 2 Year Old
Since my son started walking and getting into things my husband gets very angry and yells at our son for everything. If he crys he tells him to stop being a baby. If he moves while we have trying to get into the relax mode or bed time he will use a tuff mean tone and high voice and say night night. My son then will start crying and he won't let our son relax and fall asleep like anybody does. His daughter is queen bee the princess and never does wrong in her fathers eyes. We have joint custody so when shse is with us she gets what she wants when she wants but our son gets yelled at and punished by him all the time. Let alone he is autistic and had the emotional and behavior of a 7 month old. We have been fighting all the time lately about this to the point I rather leave and take our son away from him since he can be so agressive towards him. I am not sure what to do. I am so sick of fighting with my husband I took him the therapy and the developmental peditrician and he still thinks that they are babying his son and he needs to get in trouble cause he is two. He doesn't think or look at the condition are son is in and that upsets me. Our son has only been in therapy for ablout a month so there hasn't been much progress from that so he just thinks that his son should act like a normal child and knock his fits off. I just don't know how to handle this anymore. Any advise will help
P.N. answers from Albuquerque on February 09, 2008
2 year olds are a different kind of child to begin with but autistic also that is hard to deal with. I would think hubby would do well to go to some sort of support group. Maybe a dad's of autistic children group and get feed back from other dads. Even if you could find other parents with an autistic child to see how they interact with their autistic child.
J.S. answers from Phoenix on February 09, 2008
I have a couple of friends whose boys have autisim. It took a while for the dads to understand and connect with them. they were in denial for quite some time. It sounds to me like your husband is just lashing out that he doesn't have the "perfect" son. somebody he always wanted to play sports with or whatever it is he likes to do. I'm sure you know that your household is under a lot of stress right now. But keep fighting for it. I think your husband might come around it is just going to take time.
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R.D. answers from Phoenix on February 08, 2008
I completely agree with Kristin! Men have a hard time dealing with 'defeat' or being different. It sounds like your husband is acting this way because he doesn't know enough about the special needs of your son.
I go through the same thing with my husband. First comes the frustration and the arguing, then comes the talking, and then hopefully he understands and things change.
I also heard another Mom say that her husband doesn't always take her word for it, he needs to hear it for himself from the doctor. I think that is another 'norm' for most men. Very rarely do WE know what we're talking about.
I would try sternly talking to your husband sometime when the kids aren't around. Look him in the eyes and tell him that your son is special and doesn't see things the way your other children do. Try to break him down and tell you how he is really feeling. It sounds like he needs to face what is going on and then after he accepts it, he will find that his son is very special and needs just as much love and affection as the other kids.
I don't know what kind of person he is, but maybe asking him to write a letter to his son would help him. Tell him to write down his feelings for him and his hopes for the future. Tell him to be completely honest and then seal it up in an envelope and no one else will ever read it.
Otherwise I would suggest him to go to therapy. I don't think most men would do that on their own, so you may have to go with him a few times.
I would say to you though that leaving will not solve your problems. I know things get frustrating and I know I tend to get defensive too where my children are concerned. But bottom line is that this is his son too and you need to give him the chance to accept the situation and change his attitude towards it. But divorce should be the absolute last resort. Divorce is too easy, it's the hard path that is usually the right path.
I sincerely hope your husband can realize what a special gift your son is. It sounds like you may have a long road ahead of you, but please keep your chin up! Be strong for your son!
M.W. answers from Fort Collins on February 09, 2008
tell you husband he needs to go to a parenting class. You be little your children when they are young and it will definately come back and bite you hard.
When there little is a learning time, and a fun time, not a being in the Army time.
Take a chill pill Dad, he is just a little boy and you were one once and if your father treated you the way you treat your child, then shame on him. Try to remember how he made you feel if he treated you badly and ask yourself, is this the way I want my child to feel?
A.Z. answers from Albuquerque on February 09, 2008
I think a lot of what others have told you is right on, but some is a bit harsh. I have taught a kindergarten and preschooler setting with autism, and I know that these kids are a 'different ball of wax.' I am also in a masters program in special education, and am learning about the process that parents and families go through when their child is given such a diagnosis. My guess is that your husband is a wonderful man, and he is morning the loss of the son he expected. On the other hand, it is essential that you both learn how to raise your son in a way that gives him the best chance - and with children with autism, the consensus is the earlier you intervene and begin working with him in ways that support him, the better his chances in the long haul.
I am assuming that you are receiving early childhood intervention services. These services should happen in your son's natural environment, but they should also involve (in large part) information and training for you, your husband and your daughter, in how to best interact and raise your son. Your case worker (and you should have one) is your first line of support, then the therapist/s who are working with your family (likely you are working with a speech therapist to help him communicate more effectively, but there are other supports you may not yet be aware of). Also, there are support groups for parents of children with disabilities. Go to the Parents Reaching Out (PRO) website www.parentsreachingout.org and try to find a support group that you AND your husband can attend. The sooner he and you come to grips with this difficult diagnosis, the better off your son and your family will be.
There is a whole system of support out there for you, it is just a bit difficult to understand how it works at first.
If what I have written makes no sense, feel free to e-mail me privatly and I'll gladly help you figure out where to get the support you need both for your family and yourself. Although it may seem like you are alone and this is a unique situation, I think you will find that your husband's and your reactions are quite normal. But, you need to work through it, for your son's sake.
PS By the way, children with autism are also unique, amazing and wonderful people. Your son is your son first, he just happens to have autism. There are people with autism who have been quite successful. For example Temple Grandin (who has written several books on cattle husbandry and autism -look for her book 'thinking in pictures' for insight into your son's world) is a professor at the University of Colorado and is world renown for her work with cattle. She speaks publicly and has an enjoyable life. Your son has lot's of opportunities, just like everyone else. It's just that the flavor of his life (and thus yours) will be a little different.
C. answers from Fort Collins on February 08, 2008
You say you are married to a wonderful man! Sure doesn't sound like it to me. If you cannot convince your husband of the unique nature of his own son, then try having him being directly involved in the therapy, hearing what the professionals have to say. From my own point of view, it seems when my husband hears about something going on directly from me, he is less likely to be convinced, than if he hears it from a professional source, like a doctor or therapist. If that doesn't work and your husband continues to treat your son in this manner, then I would definitley leave him. Maybe a separation will open his eyes to what he once had and could potentially be gone!
T.J. answers from Denver on February 09, 2008
I want to start by telling you that I am also a mom of a 22 month old who has Autism. He was diagnosed at 18 months so I understand the challenges you are facing.
If your son was a typical 2 year old who was getting into trouble that would be one thing. Raising a typical toddler requires so much patience. Being that your son has Autism, the same expectations for behavioral compliance cannot be put upon him and the level of patience required is SOOO much higher. I'm truly sorry that your husband doesn't understand that and isn't offering the support to you and your son that you both really need.
When my son does something he shouldn't be doing (ie. standing on the end table or playing with the glass door on the entertainment center) I sternly tell him no and remove him from the area that he is getting into trouble in and redirect him with a different activity. There are times where I find myself losing it and yelling at him. Sometimes the frustration level gets too high when he is repeatedly doing these things. I just make sure that I do my best to pay attention to how I discipline him because even with Autism you have to convey that a behavior will not be tolerated but I think the key is to be sure and redirect them.
As far as the emtional meltdowns, they are something that are beyond the child's control. Even a typical toddler has difficulty controlling their emotions. Being that Autism is a neurological disorder, you can't really expect that these kids, who most aren't talking and can't express themselves, to keep their emotions in check. I feel that you have to find a way to let them know that you understand their frustration and again redirect them as best as you can.
I really hope for you that your husband will open up to the reality of your son's situation and embrace the differences and appreciate what he does have with his son. I'm not sure "wonderful" is the right word to describe your husband based on how he is treating your son. Did your son ask to go through life with these challenges???? Why should he be "punished" even further by the way your husband is treating him. I would feel the same way as you if my husband wasn't supportive and treated our son as a lesser being. I would run for the hills with my son and raise him in an healthier environment. Autism splits so many families up and I hope that you and your husband can get counsiling for yourselves so that doesn't happen to you.
I wish you the best.
T.N. answers from Phoenix on February 09, 2008
Reading your post broke my heart and made me want to scoop up your little boy in my arms and protect him from his father. Your husband needs an attitude adjustment immediately. I am empathetic of the disappointment he surely must be feeling right now, but that does not make taking it out on an innocent baby acceptable whatsoever. We all get frustrated with our children, but it is not okay to treat a child like your husband is. And treating children with different degrees of tolerance and love is damaging and unacceptable. It's normal to feel warmer towards some of our children during their different stages or with their different personalities, but as adults we must take responsibility for that and change our hearts.
Anyways, I'm so sorry you have to deal with this. It's one thing if your husband is trying hard to overcome his lack of control, but it sounds like his heart is not in the right place. My dad had a temper that he struggled to overcome and my mom stayed with him because she trusted that his heart was in the right place and he was always reading books and listening to tapes to try to improve (too poor to afford therapy). He would yell and "lose it" over the smallest things and he'd always apologize profusely afterwards. Although he never physically harmed us it was still frightening and confusing as a young child. But my dad had such a strong desire to change that by the time I was 12 he had successfully overcome his temper problem and gained control over his reactions. My husband can't even believe any of the stories because my father is such a gentle man now. I'm very grateful they remained committed and kept our family intact, but I'm also glad that my mom insisted that my dad change and that my dad was willing to do go through the extremely difficult process of personal change. You need to judge whether or not your husband's heart is in the right place. Does he recognize that he has a problem and that the way he treats your son is completely wrong? Does he apologize and strive to change and seek the professional help to do so? It doesn't sound like that's the case from your situation, but I could be wrong. If he's a "wonderful man" as you claim, then I would think he would be open to professional help.
One other question--did he treat your son like this before the diagnosis or only afterwards? That would help determine whether or not his irrational behavior stems from the diagnosis or not.
J.T. answers from Albuquerque on February 09, 2008
I had a similar problem when my sons were both diagnosed with Sensory issues. It has been a year, and my husband still has a hard time dealing with the fact that his sons are not "normal". I have a 3 year old and a 2 year old. I made my husband come to every evaluation and OT in the beginning, so he can see the light at the end of the tunnel and learn how to cope with the boys. It took about 6 months of other people-mostly professionals-to get my husband to participate in play with my sons. Sometimes, I think that Dad's have to go through a "mourning period" when they realize it will never be the way it is supposed to. My husband now gets together with another Dad who has a son with Down Syndrome, that has also helped. But by no means is it perfect. He still has a hard time and needs to constantly leave to cool off or collect himself.
Sound like you are working with people who are helping, we use Abrazos, and they had a great social worker who helped us. Is this an option for you? Let me know if I can help.