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AnaK's picture

Hi everyone, I am new here and found this forum while searching for info on my family issues. I have 2 biological sons ages 6 & 8. They are typical boys who do sports, music, and are well liked at school and by my friends. Of course they are kids and sometimes need discipline, but we have no major issues. I also have an autistic 9 year old step son and a 7 year old step daughter. The main issue I have right now is that I feel at the end of my rope with my step son. The step kids live with us every other week, so we have them 50% of the time. My husband works full time and I have the kids after school for a few hours until he gets home. My step son is extremely physically and verbally aggressive and I have tried to help this for a long time and am simply done with it. I don't mind the incessant clapping, humming, and other autism stuff too much, but the constant defiance, disrespect and opposition is just unbearable. A typical day with him is filled with threats and aggression. If I say "please pick up your toy" the answer I get from him is "shut your fucking mouth", or "you need to get out of this house", or "shut it", etc. nothing nice ever comes out of his mouth, and at times he has thrown things at me, scratched me, hit me, etc. He also treats my kids this way reason why I don't allow him in my kids rooms or near them often. My husband doesn't really do anythjng other than "buddy don't talk that way" and just showers him with gifts and attention. My step daughter also needs discipline but gets put on a pedestal all the time because she seems perfect next to her brother. I'm just tired of living around so much physical and verbal aggression from a 9 year old. It's unhealthy and a bad example to my kids. He gets ABA therapy 4 days a week and I see no improvement. I feel bad for saying this but after so much effort and therapies with no results I don't have much hope for him. I'm tired if watching him in the afternoons and I'm tired of taking so much crap from him. I do not believe an alternative care situation can be found . No daycare or nanny wants to deal with this, and his mom is useless on her off weeks. What to do..

20YearsAsAStep-Mom's picture

That sounds like a hard situation for you and your kids. I don't think it is fair for your kids to have to live like that. Watching or being the victim of abuse over a period of time is going to hurt their mental and emotional wellbeing.

Your children should be your priority as they are so young. Move out and raise your children in a loving and peaceful environment.

Orange County Ca's picture

I'm far from an expert on Autism but doesn't their repetitions behavior speak towards needing a routine way of life? If so it would seems that the constant switching "homes" (he doesn't really have one) would leave him in a state of constant disruption. Daddy should speak to his doctors about this in my opinion. Recent studies are showing that 50/50 is a poor parenting method and I presume that study used children without diagnosed Autism.

Time to end the babysitting. Can one blame the mother too much here as surely she's going through the same thing? But if father can't cajole her into it then he should give up 50/50 parenting. Anyway there must be someone who needs the money badly enough to sit for a few hours after school. It's usually a matter of how much money it will take. But I'll take your word for it that you've tried and failed.

Telling Daddy he'll have to find a solution or you're leaving puts the pressure on. Without you there is no in-house sitter. I think it's time to tell him that either he take your complaints seriously or you've got to go. You have little choice, either the boy is contained physically or a 9 year old will become at 15 year old and presumably be able to do some real damage to those around him.

Am I right that you're not working? You're expected to put up with this full time during the summer i.e. all day when its Daddy's week? Now is the time to act forcefully giving your husband a ultimatum to solve this or that within a few days of the last day of school you'll be gone.

Rags's picture

Special needs or not if a 9yo kid in my home spoke to me in that manner or got violent with me or anyone else in my home I would back hand them across the mouth each and every time that vitriolic profane crap came past their lips.

I was a regular member on a much smaller Step Community many years ago. One of the members had special needs kids of her own and her DH had special needs kids from a previous marriage. Her SD was very violent. The lady was a trained special needs care giver. As her very violent SD got older and nearer to adult size the SM was trying to figure out how to break the behavioral escalation before SD got violent. She would often have to wrestle with SD and restrain her when she became violent.

I suggested a spray bottle with water in it and to spray SD in the face when she started the aggressive posturing and yelling that preceded the violence. This worked to distract SD and break the escalation cycle. I suggested that if plain water did not work to put some Tobasco in it. She never had to add the Tobasco. A heavy spray of water to the face broke the escalating behavior.

So, when little mister sewer mouth gives you vitriolic lip if you do not feel like backhanding him across the mouth, douse his face with a spray bottle of water. If they does not work, make a 50/50 solution of water and Tobasco for the spray bottle. That ought to take care of the hell spawn behavior of SS-9.

IMHO of course.

Good luck.

Poodle's picture

Rags u really have to understand that this is not the way to raise an ASD child. I normally really like your posts but you are out of your sphere of competence here. Listen to those of us who raise ASD kids. They are big-time copycats. You hit an ASD boy, he will not learn that that is consequences, he will learn that it is ok to hit. Period. The whole point about the disability is that the person finds it hard and in some cases impossible to connect cause and effect. A lot of them hit without even realising that they are hurting people. Imagine if you taught them an even more fun form of silly behavior! That's what you'd be doing, and the consequence for you would be that the kid went around spraying people whenever he saw a spray -- including all sorts of substances no doubt that ought not to be sprayed in the face. And arguably, that would be your fault not his.

Rags's picture

No doubt I have no experience raising or dealing with special needs children. The level of profanity that this boy spouts is beyond anything I have experienced or could tolerate. I suppose if I was raising a special needs child day in and day out I would have a far more tolerant and accomodating perspective.

My hat is off to those that raise and love these children.

As for the spray bottle .... just water worked for the lady I used to chat with. No Tobasco.

I do find it interesting that until the esteem movement started and a large number of people began majoring in childhood behavioral syndromes these behavioral disorders were far more rare than they appear to be today. Historically it appears that accountability parenting seems to have dealt with the issues far more effectively than the more tolerant perspectives of today. Why is that? I would like to know more and to understand.

Have we created a problem that is far bigger than the reality by coddling and not dealing directly with the unacceptable behavior?

Thanks and best regards,

Rags's picture

Thanks for the reply. After I posted the note you replied to I was thinking about the asylum system from the 19th and early 20th centuries and how the less enlightened way of dealing with the mentally and behaviorally ill used to be to lock them away from society. Your comment confirmed what I was thinking. Obviously not an effective way to deal wth the issue and care for those who are mentally and behaviorally ill. I certainly don't advocate a return to that nightmare situation. I do think there needs to be a well defined and accountability based way of dealing with each unique situation. What that is ... I have no idea.

I have two sets of friends with behaviorally challenged kids. The teenage son of one set of friends is autistic and is a very mellow kid that causes few problems. They work closely with support organizations and their son seems to be thriving and improving. The consensous of the parents and expert is that he will never main stream that he will have to be cared for over the course of his life. His parents have establish wills and care agreements to make sure he is cared for comfortably once they are either no longer capable of caring for him directly or have passed.

The other set of friends has two special needs sons. The eldest is violent and extremely aggressive with ADHD and a range of other Dx'd issues. Their youngest is autistic and very mellow. The eldest is a hellion. They are regularly firing their doctors and support organizations and cycling through the professionals in a seemingly endless effort to find someone who will tell them what they want to hear which I believe is that there is some environmental illness causing the issues with their boys. They are told that the issues with their eldest are purely behavioral and that he requires very strict routine and discipline and the youngest needs a calm environment. These friends choose to try to keep their sons together which IMHO will wind up with one in prison and the other one likely either severely injured or dead. Fortunately the boys are fairly young. One is ~10 the other is ~6.

Interestingly when we spend time with them their eldest is perfectly well behaved. Historically he was just as crazy in my presence as he is in the stories his dad tells at work. He calmed completely down in my presence after an incident when he punched me in the crotch and I grabbed him firmly by the upper arms raised him to my eye level, got in his face and informed him that I was going to spank his butt and would spank his butt every time he behaved that way in my presence. Then I swatted him on the butt a few times and put him down. Since then every time he sees me he sits quietly and we have nice conversations or he brings a book to me and asks for me to read with him. Wven when we meet them at a restaurant he calms down when I show up. On a few occassions he has been blowing his stack when my wife and I walk in to the restuarant and he clams up as soon as I sit down at the table. Of course I was on mommy and daddy's shit list for a while for confronting their hellion-esque little angel but they regularly comment about how he is so calm and mellow when I am around and a violent hellion most of the rest of the time.

I think I represent a consistency or expectation that he does not have usually. He clearly understands that I have zero tolerance for his crap and that if he pulls his usual volatile violence in my presence that there will be consequences.

I am not sure why this is the case but ....... it seems to work. :?

AnaK's picture

Thank you all for your advice. You all have some great thoughts. I'll make it clear that I will not hurt him any way. I just won't. What I do when he is enraged out of control is pick him up and put him in his room until he calms down. If he gets out I'll pick him up again and put him back in and say "you can come out when you're calm and ready to be safe". Lucky for me now he is pretty small for a 9 year old and easy to pick up, but I know he's not going to stay this way. It sure gets my blood pumping when he's like that, but I make the conscious effort to remain calm and not give him a reaction.
Also, something that is difficult to understand and explain is that he doesn't respond like a typical child would to regular discipline. If you raise your voice, he get gets louder and the aggression gets worse.
Honestly, I just feel like my energy to deal with it is running low.
As far as his mother goes; she is remarried and does not work but she will not take him on her off weeks. She has declined to take him even on occasions that he has been sick if it's not her week.
Yes my husband attends weekly therapy sessions with him, and 2 out the weekly sessions are in our own home. Usually when the therapist gets here my step son starts unleashing the rage on her and trying to kick her out of the house exactly like he does to me. In fact the first of the two hours she spends just trying to get him to stop yelling and calm down so they can start working.
It's tough...
We had 1 babysitter that he had for a long time who moved a year and a half ago. Since then we have had 4 babysitters that didn't last over 3 weeks just quit.
I have talked to my husband about step son seeing a doctor and considering medications. He is going to talk to his mother about it.
I'm a grad school student that takes all my classes in the morning so that I can be home with my kids after school, but even though I want to finish the program, I'm considering quitting and getting a full time job so that I can have the financial independence to leave if I decide to and not have to deal with this anymore.
I don't want to because I love my husband and he is a good man, but I have to think about my kids and our safety, and I'm beginning to worry about what the future is going to look like. We have lived together for over 3 years and I have always thought step son's behavior would get better as he matures, and I have always tried to help and be proactive and understanding, thinking that therapy and a good home routine will work, but it's really discouraging to see no improvement. I don't expect him to be cured or anything, but I can't stand the aggression anymore. He's just mad and aggressive all the time about anything.
And no I will not be watching him this summer. My husband is taking a month off to be with his kids during his weeks and the other month he will go to a special needs camp.
I think I'm leaning towards finishing this school term and getting a full time job. I'm done watching him in the afternoons after school ends next month. I know this puts my husband in a difficult situation, but I just can't do this anymore all while his mom is free doing whatever she's doing.
I also want to say that this makes me feel like an evil step mom and I don't like it. I want to be empathetic and accept him and help but it's hard. Today for example my 6 year old was taking a bath and I noticed step son went in the bathroom and was saying something mean. I walked over to ask him to leave the bathroom and within a second he reached out and scratched my face, luckily his nails are short so my face is fine, but I'm tired of living like this.