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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Loss Mitigation

Dear Family,

I think we need to try something new. I know that one of our family members seems to be the biggest agitator -the biggest annoyance and therefore, appears to be the source of a lot of disruptiveness. Well o.k. he is a big source of disruption.  He's 18 years old.  It would seem like there are certain things he should get by now.  Maybe he does get some of it, but old habits die hard, especially if you are still getting a payoff from all of your antics.

Here's the thing, that person let's call him the Disrupter, has a brain that works differently than most of ours.  This doesn't make him dumb, stupid or even crazy. However, his thinking is definitely different.
For example, he came out of his therapy appointment yesterday and said, "I guess if I want my life easier and to keep living with you and the sergeant (dad), I'll have to learn how to tolerate you."
Now I know damn well, that is not what his therapist said, but that's the way that he took it. Sounds like a little upside down thinking, right?

Let's not forget his diagnosis...

  • PDD/NOS (pervasive developmental disorder -not otherwise specified). In other words Autism which is a neurological difference.  His thinking is different!
  • ODD  (oppositional defiant disorder)  He has been known as oppositional and defiant since he was a toddler! Since before he could talk! This is the one diagnosis they got right early on. 
  • ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). He is acts impulsively, without thinking of the consequences of his actions. He is constantly moving in some way. He is constantly singing! This was on his 3 year-old neurology evaluation. 
  • Mood Disorder or Bi-Polar/NOS (signs include -depression, OCD obsessive compulsive disorder, easily angered, etc.)  

Sometimes, I think we forget all that HE is dealing with.  It's kind of amazing that he is doing as well as he is in all other areas of life, based on all of the things he has going on.

Yes. He drives us all crazy, especially me.  We are human. We can only be pushed so far before we are triggered into pushing back.  Fight or flight is a normal human response when we feel that we are being attacked.  It seems like in this house we often choose fight, instead of flight.  Flight would mean walking, perhaps even running away from the attack.  Some of us even seem to take flight directly towards the flame, instead of away from it. We seem to take some pleasure in the fight. It's like ...
Ooh! I got him! He's making me angry. He's interrupting me.  He's annoying me so ...Bam! Take that!
Even though that fight is such a waste of energy.  It certainly doesn't change the behavior of the person with a different neurology.

So what if we were to act like the Christians we profess to be and try to simply turn the other cheek?  What if we approach the person who seems to think differently than we do, with love and compassion instead of anger and further agitation.  Do you think that may reduce a small portion of his anger and disruptiveness?  I certainly don't think it will erase it.  It may mitigate it by a margin, therefore, making all of our lives just a little bit more peaceful.

Mitigate ...I love that word.  (Yes. I am in love with words.)  It means to lessen, make less severe or painful. (Yes. He can be painful.)

There are certain words in my vocabulary that I remember the exact  first time that I heard them, or at least actually became aware of their definition. I remember the word mitigation distinctly.

I used to work for a mortgage bank as a Loan Analyst.  (Yes. Once upon a time, I had a job that paid real money. We even got time off, and vacations. It was great!) Our department was called Loss Mitigation.  It was my job to look at loans that we were about to foreclose on to determine how we could lessen our loss.  When a bank takes a property back through foreclosure, there are a lot of expenses incurred.  If there was a way to lessen those expenses, then we may do something called a Short Sale, thereby taking a payoff for less than what the current owner of the property actually owed us.  This would have to be more than we would get if we actually foreclosed.

What if we could mitigate the amount of arguments, fights screaming and disruption in out house. Wouldn't that be helpful?
What if we could lessen our pain, and my headaches?
What if we could mitigate the number of times that I (the mom) have to step in to referee between everyone in this house?  And I do mean everyone, including the adults who supposedly are not on the autism spectrum.
Why do we buy into the negative behavior and try to teach a lesson by displaying more negative behavior.
What are we teaching?
What are we modeling?

We are modeling? You act ugly. I can act uglier.
Is that going to motivate him to change?
Is that promoting an atmosphere of peace?

One of us or more of us may be more resistant to change than others of us. One of us may not have the ability to readily change his thinking, just because we want him to. We can't control that can we?  But what can we control? We can control our reaction to him.

If one person is out of control for whatever reason, and you have the ability to remain in control, why not exercise that ability whenever possible?  I'm not saying it's always possible, but there are some places we just don't have to go. For instance ...
Do we have to go into name calling or cursing, just so that we can make the person who is not in control, or does not have the correct thought process, even more angry?
Do we meet irrational thought by adding insult to injury?
How does that make things any better?

I know we're all tired and we're all frustrated.  But it seems to me, that the more we give in to being upset by his antics, the more he loves it. What if we all take our power back, especially the 3 adults in  our house.  Imagine the example we would be setting for the child in our house who still needs to learn how to do this.

Let's give it a try and see how we all feel 2 weeks from now.

Let's meet anger with love. It will take energy.  Trust me. I've been trying this for a few days. It won't be easy. We won't be perfect, but let's try.  Let's see if we can mitigate our pain.

Sincerely,

Your Tired,  Loving, Wife, Daughter, Mother & Referee