The fundamental issue with SD
I was going to post this as a rely to a comment in the last blog post, but I thought maybe it deserves a different entry because it was getting rather long and I'm rambling on and on.
I know the common reaction to SD's issues is that DH needs to do more or that he hasn't done enough. Every time she sees a new psychiatrist or therapist, I know they're thinking "how did this kid get this far without more being done!?!?".
Certainly when she was little, there were problems. But since DH has gotten his life together and gotten her full time about five years ago, the crucial element to understanding their relationship and how SD got where she is her reaction to everything.
SD’s way of dealing with anything that is difficult or challenging is to quit. This was well before she was diagnosed with depression. She has no ability to handle adversity or frustration. She gives up when anything is even remotely difficult for her or if she can't immediately do something correctly or immediately know the answer to some math problem or if she doesn't know what a word is an a book. It's too hard, she can't do it.
Almost everything is difficult for SD. We knew as a preteen when we got her full time that she was behind due to her childhood. But her reaction always has been – it’s too hard, I won’t do it.
A good example is fine motor skills issues. She can’t make very small movements with her hands. It’s frustrating for her. When she’s tried to play video games, she can’t make small movements so her character doesn’t go where she wants. So she quits. She’s never kept trying, failing and eventually after hours and hours gotten better. She always says she’ll never improve and she always just sucks at everything.
Other kids are not kind and I know she’s incredibly self-conscience about how uncoordinated she is, so she’s probably been bullied a lot about it at school but she’s never told me or DH about any incidents.
The way DH reacts doesn’t help and therapists have tried to get him to “coach” more than try to tell SD to do this or do that. He gets frustrated that SD can’t just move video game controller the “right” way and how she can’t possibly have problems playing a video games our toddler can easily play. Or why she can’t just sit down and spend 15 minutes doing her math homework rather than wasting 15 minutes doing nothing.
About 3 years ago when SD started to go downhill, she was having a lot of trouble in school not turning in homework assignments and her grades were from B/Cs to Ds. DH met with teachers and the counselor and set up a study schedule, a homework tracking system and was told to make sure he regularly checked in with SD to see if she was following through with homework.
When he got home from work, he’d go up to SD’s room and wanted to see her homework list, what she had done studying for the day and how she had done on tests or quizzes.
That lasted a few weeks and then SD started hiding in the attic to avoid having to talk to her dad about homework and school. The attic access is in the closet to her room, so she could sneak up there and then pull the attic ladder up behind her.
DH typically gets home at 7 or 7:30. Every evening for the past 3 years has been pretty much constant fighting with trying to get SD to do homework since then.
What frustrates DH so much is that if SD would just do as she's told and do her homework or take her medication or participate in therapy session (frequently she doesn't) then all the problems would be gone. His parents were immigrants from SE Asia, so he grew up in a home where there would be no tolerance for doing what SD is doing.
DH has tried to be more encouraging, but SD doesn't buy it. There have been many times when he says something complimentary to her and she calls him a liar or he's just saying that to be nice.
DH is entirely different the way he interacts with BD. BD is only 4, but there’s already things she can do better than SD. BD is very smart, very artistic, very outgoing and friendly. She isn’t going to have the same problems SD has in school or physically or making friends. As BD gets older, I know the comparisons between SD and BD will get more and more apparent.
SD essentially missing development most kids get in early childhood plus she was exposed to drugs and alcohol when her mom was pregnant and experienced early childhood neglect from living with her mom. DH worked very hard to get his life together after a difficult childhood. BM never was able to stop using drugs. DH knows he made mistakes when SD was young, especially allowing BM to raise her when he knew she was not equipped.
With something like fine motor skills, DH saw how much different BD was growing up than SD did. A counselor at SD’s school had recommended getting SD to do more activities to practice fine motor skills – like arts & crafts projects.
I remember one time BD was about 2.5 was coloring/drawing. DH told SD she should work on coloring and drawing too – since she needs practice on fine motor skills. This lasted for all of five minutes and we had one of the most epic tantrums ever – from the 13 year old, not the 2.5 year old. The reaction from BD was priceless. She was horrified and I think she realized how parents feel with kids throw tantrums.
It’s not like SD has a major disability. She could improve but she doesn’t put any effort into anything. If it’s difficult, she quits.
A friend of mine's younger brother has down syndrome and biggest thing I can say about him is that he tries so hard. Everything is far more difficult for him than is for SD but at least he tries.
So, saying DH needs to do more - he might but it's honestly better when he doesn't try to push SD so much because she doesn't and it just more arguments about her refusing to do what he tells her to do.
DH wants a list from a doctor of things to do to help SD. He wants to follow the list, that's where things get bogged down. He says over and over if SD would simply do what he tells her to do, all of the problems would go away. But she gets frustrated and quits and that's where it all ends.