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9/26/2011 - Monday
  • 9/26/2011 9:53:33 PMWho Has More?In a cocky moment, Michael made an off hand remark that he had more school work than his older brother James who is a junior.  Generally, when Michael makes such stupid remarks - because he is so hung up on "winning" and "losing" (aka being "right") - that he will not back down and continue insist that the stupid and foolish thing that he has said is true, right, or correct.

    Just like the example of when Michael told Grandma he could swim and it was quickly proven false as evidenced by his trip to the bottom of the Oconto River and having the Life Guard jump in and save him - this school work issue was quickly settled by a simple visual comparison of the actual classes and their associated assignments.  This was on Sunday.

    A classic behavior of Michael is to always study his opponent (aka everyone), discover what irritates them, and repeat as many times as he feels are necessary.  On Monday, Mom had to run some errands and help a friend of ours move.  While she was gone, Michael decided it was a good time to re-engage his brother on the issue of who had more school work.  To the innocent bystander, it would appear as if this was a new, never before discussed, and unsettled issue.  To the people who reside in our home, this is like watching the same rerun of Gilligan's Island for the 500th time.

    Literally, it was nearly word-for-word the same discussion with the same emotion and same insistence that he was right even though it was already proven that he was wrong.  James was not in a mood to tolerate this behavior and as we've been instructed by our psychologist and Nancy Thomas to take action rather than attempt to "unwind" the hair-ball logic of Michael-style thinking, he sent him outside to run some laps around the yard with the hopes of restoring the proper oxygen level in Michael's brain.

    On a related side note - this is an awful position for the other children in our home to be in.  Trying to instruct them on how to handle another kid in the home who is intentionally trying to cause conflict through disruption, dissension, disunity, argumentation, agitation, and any other means available to them is difficult.  What are they allowed to do that is not going to make things worse but yet confronts the behavior and bring it to a halt?  James did the right thing in sending Michael outside.  My only wish is that he and the other kids did not have to contemplate how to "handle" someone in the home who is actively trying to destroy from within.  Perhaps this is good training for the missions field on how to handle wolves in sheep's clothing.

    This is about the time when Mom got home.  There was Michael, running around in circles.  I'm afraid that this will become the defining picture of his life.  Mom steps out of the car and Michael smiles and waves, "Hi Mom!".  It was as if what was happening - was not happening.  This is somewhat akin to a kid getting caught with cookie crumbs and chocolate smeared all over their face believing that by simply smiling and waving at you that you will overlook what is painfully obvious.

    The questions in my mind are:
    - Is Michael actually glad to see Mom?
    - Was Michael irritated that Mom left to help someone else?
    - Is Michael pretending to be happy and oblivious of the fact that he is currently running in circles?
    - Does Michael understand that there will be questions asked and answers expected for all of this?
    - In what manner is Michael attempting to control or manipulate what is going on here?
    - Why does this behavior keep happening?

    In the discussion that followed, Michael was asked about the events that lead up to him being sent outside.  As usual, getting information from Michael is like pulling teeth.

    Mom: Why are you outside running?
    Michael: Because James told me to go out and run.
    Mom: Why did he tell you to do that?
    Michael: Because he said he had more school work than I did and I said that he didn't and I said that he said he said I said he school work that I said to me yes I said look at he said I said...
    Mom: Why are you talking about this again?  Didn't you get this settled yesterday?
    Michael: Yes.
    Mom: Who has more school work?
    Michael: James.
    Mom: Why did you tell James that you had more school work again today?
    Michael: I don't know.
    Mom: Did you want to go out side and run?
    Michael: No.
    Mom: Were you trying to irritate James?
    Michael: No.
    Mom: But you did.  You irritated James and caused an argument.
    Michael: I know.
    Mom: What could James have said or done to answer you?  What could he have said to make you happy with his answer?
    Michael: Nothing. (This is key)
    Mom: So James cannot give you an answer that will make you happy.  It looks like you wanted James to become irritated and now he is irritated so you got what you wanted.  
    Michael: That's not what I wanted.
    Mom: What did you want?
    Michael: I don't know.  (Is this a lie?  Does Michael really not know what he wanted or did he really want James to be irritated but he simply didn't calculate what would come next?)
    Mom: While you were outside running around, were you angry with James for sending you outside?
    Michael: Yes.  (This is classic finger-pointing blame-others RAD behavior.  Michael is angry with James who became angry after Michael tried to make him angry.)
    Mom: Why?

    This is generally where Michael's mental gears begin to smoke and grind to a halt.

    Mom: Go and put another empty victory in your victory bottle.
9/24/2011 - Saturday
  • 9/24/2011 10:52:04 AMSabotageMichael is reading a book called, "The History of Inventions".  He asked me, "How come there are always lots of people in the book that tell the inventor that they will never be able to do what they're trying to do?"

    I replied, "You know Michael, there are even some people who actually try to sabotage what the inventor is trying to do.  Why do you suppose they do that?"

    Michael answered, "Because they don't want the inventor to succeed".

    I asked him, "Do you ever sabotage things?"   Michael just sat there and stared at me for a long moment before replying....... "yes."
9/20/2011 - Tuesday
  • 9/20/2011 8:49:18 PMSwitched-on School HouseWe have decided to keep Michael home for school this year rather than put him into the local public school and spend a lot of time trying to educate the teachers there on RAD and deprogram Michael when he comes home every day filled with things that shouldn't be in his head.

    Since we have home schooled all of the other children, we have acquired a great deal of material over the years.  Since Michael is a different kind of learner (this is secret code for a student that will dominate every waking moment of every day) we decided to lean a little more on some computer based curriculum.

    Near the end of last year, after warning the school facility about keeping an eye on him, Michael was busted for surfing for porn on the library computer.  Thankfully they have software that monitors such things and he was quickly found out.  This incident occurred over the course of two days and an explanation of Michael's behavioral changes during that time is worthy of its own story.

    Anyway, one program that Michael does is Brainware Safari which does require internet access.  I have firewall software on the computer that blocks all internet traffic except for that program and it's back-end website.  No surfing is permitted.  No other programs can get out.  Brainware Safari is good for him because it has been designed in such a way as to prevent cheating.  Michael hates this program.

    Another program we use is called Switched-on School house.  We purchased the entire Grade 6 curriculum.  Michael hates this program as well but for different reasons.  I think the primary source of his angst comes from the fact that he doesn't get the interactive response from the computer like he would from trying to manipulate a person.  No matter how many times Michael answers the wrong information into the computer, it always comes back with a message indicating that he is wrong and it will not allow him to continue until he has completed everything.  Additionally, it tracks everything he does and makes a real nice report at the end for Mom to look at.

    One more program that we use is called Spell-it Deluxe.  This program was originally created by a company called "Davidson" but I don't think it is available new from the company anymore - although you can still get it from Amazon and other websites.  Last year at the public school, another source of Michael's emotional pain was spelling.  He played games continuously both with his spelling list and how he performed on the test.

    Michael would lie about which words were on his list, if there was going to be a test this week, if there was going to be a pretest this week and most frequently - what his teacher actually said about the list of words.  All of this came to a head when he would intentionally misspell words so that we would not be correct when we told him that, if he worked hard he could get 100% on his test.  Did you catch that?  Maybe you think that sentence was malformed.  What I meant to say was that Michael wanted to be proven correct - meaning - he could work hard on his spelling words and it would be to no avail because in the end, the words would be so difficult that he could prove that they could not be spelled correctly no matter how much effort was put into studying them.  In other other words, Michael intentionally throws tests because to him, this makes sense and is some kind of a "win".  We want him to do well and he wants us to not get what we want - therefore he fails the test on purpose.

    What is more bizarre is that Michael himself often said that it bothered him that other kids got good grades on their spelling tests and sometimes they would say things to him about being stupid because he only got 8 out of 20 words correct.  The key here is that Michael "COULD SPELL" the words correctly if he made up his mind to do so, but he is in such conflict over his own twisted perceptions of winning and losing, and doing what he wants over doing what other people want - that he cannot think clearly and logically about doing what is best for him.  Michael is the kid who would happily drink poison if he thought it would prevent you from "winning".

    This is where the computer comes in handy.  It doesn't play such games and it is very upfront about it.  I have often told Michael that his "short cuts" are really "long cuts".  Every time he cheats, skips school work, or tries to manipulate the assignment because he "just wants to be done", it ALWAYS turns out to take longer because he ends up having to re-do the assignment as many times as it takes until it is right.  This is an elusive concept for Michael.  

    In the end, if it were a human teacher - they would ultimately become frustrated with him and give up.  Michael sees this as a "win".  Quite literally, he celebrates the fact that he caused someone to give up on him.  He fails to take the next logical mental step and realize that he just lost an opportunity to move forward and has lost or damaged another relationship.

    Thank God for computers.
9/14/2011 - Wednesday
  • 9/14/2011 11:10:52 PMFalse Epiphany Last week Friday we had one of the worst days possible.  Near the end of the day, Michael was contemplating killing himself by eating a cake of Glade air freshener but he changed his mind after mom and I explained some things to him.  I drew him a little line chart in the dirt of our driveway to represent the ups and downs of life and how by killing himself he would be throwing away all of the progress he has made in his life.  As time passes, the bad times don't seem as bad and ultimately, things become better than when you started.

    Afterward he said to me, "Thanks Dad.  This is good (referring to the chart in the dirt).  This clears up a lot for me."  Then Mom suggested to him that killing himself by eating a room deodorizer would likely be painful.  Michael had misread the label that said, "May cause bodily harm.  Liquifies at 125 degrees." and took that to mean any one who ate it would burst into flames that were 125 degrees and die.  She said, "do you really want to burst into flames from the inside?"  I don't think that Michael gave this too much thought.  She then told him that we chose him to be on our team so that we could all win together and not to have him come and destroy the family from the inside out.  Michael said, "I always imagined winning and being right by myself and alone.  Thank you for telling me this.  This changes everything."  My Corn-O-Meter went off the chart at this point as this sounded very strange and artificial.  I believe him when he says that he imagined being a one-man team and winning alone but the part about this crucial information changing everything...  This is the same message we've been giving him for 3.5 years.

    Now before you begin thinking that Michael has just experienced his first epiphany, let me share some more.  Michael has a condition called Spondylo Arthritis.  This is basically arthritis of the large joints such as knees, hips, and lower back.  He has been on some very powerful medication such as Methotrexate and Humira which put him into a medicated remission.  Earlier this year, the doctor said that his treatment had gone so well that after 18 months we would begin trying to ween him off of the medication.

    First we took him off of the Methotrexate and then slowly took him off of the Humira.  Things were going well for a while until he developed a problem with his right eye.  With this kind of arthritis, it is important to have an ophthalmologist on your team so they can watch for reaction within the eye.  Loss of vision is a common associated problem.  At first we thought he had a case of pink-eye but when we took him to the doctor, we learned that his iris had become stuck on his lens and was keeping his pupil open.  This was causing his eye to become inflamed and irritated.

    We put him on two kinds of eye drops - one to dilate his pupil and the other to bring down the swelling.  He was on this for an extended period of time with little success and in the end, we put him back on the Humira and he now has cataracts.  So anyway, this is the current state of his eye problems:  swelling and irritation are gone, no redness, he has some floaters in his eye, and he is back on Humira to keep everything in balance.  He is back in a medicated remission.

    Getting back to our original story, Michael has just experienced what appears to be an epiphany or some kind of small mental awakening.  However, for the last two weeks or so, Michael has had a very red eye.  At first we thought perhaps he was having some kind of relapse with his iris or perhaps the Humira wasn't working.  Today, Peggy brought him to the ophthalmologist and discovered that... get ready... there is nothing wrong with his eye!  Yet there it is - red.  Hmmmmm.....?????

    "What's going on here Michael?", asked Mom.  Forget all of that stuff about the epiphany because sometime ago, Michael concluded for some reason that is known only to him that rubbing his eye until it was bloodshot would be a great way to get attention and make people feel sorry for him.  He kept doing this repeatedly to irritate his eye and sustain the red color for nearly two weeks.

    How do I know this?  Because he told me!  Then - 30 minutes after the eye doctor appointment where the doctor did a grand total of NOTHING, the redness in his eye cleared up.  I shouldn't say that the doctor did nothing because he did TELL us that there was nothing wrong with his eye right after taking the money for the office visit.  No eye drops.  No cream.  No treatment.  30 minute later - no redness either.  What about a miracle?  NOT!

    All of this begs the question, "Why?"  Why go through all of the trouble and irritation for a little sympathy?  

    Consider the following story:  Once upon a time, there was a woman who had an order of delicious McDonald's french fries and she wanted to share them with her son.  Did you catch that?  SHE WANTED TO SHARE THEM.  So she offered a fry to the son.  "Here son.  Have this french fry.  I want you to have it.  Go ahead and take it", she said.  She reached in, grabbed a fry and extended her arm so that the french fry was right in front of the son and easily within his reach.  The son - wanting nothing to do with any free gifts, decided to trick the mom into looking away.  "Hey!  Look out the window!  I think I see a dragon!", exclaimed the son.  The mom briefly looked out the window while the son snatched the french fry out of her hand with the skill of a professional pick-pocket.  

    This doesn't directly answer the question of "why" but it does shed some light on a few things.  Michael does not like when love and affection is offered freely but prefers to trick other people into giving it to him.  Why is that?  Perhaps it is an issue of control since he cannot control the way another person loves him, when they do it, or how they show it.  Perhaps he feels empowered by taking it on his terms.  Perhaps it is a matter of trust.  If he takes love on his terms, then he can control the outcome, the duration, and the method.  Getting people to feel sorry for him about his eye is within his control.

    But also consider this: Michael has a long detailed track record of how controlling other people to get what he wants does not work out in his favor - yet he continues to try anyway.  He says that he is persistent because he hopes that one day it will work out even though so far it hasn't.  In fact, he has been punished many times and has many more enemies now than he did before.  Yet on the other hand, when he supposedly tries to just be a friend and develop good relationships with others, he claims that this doesn't work and he has no patience to continue trying.  This begs the question, "doesn't he know that he will get caught and that something bad will result from lying, cheating, and manipulating other people?"  After all, how could he NOT know.  He has the experience of thousands of encounters where it worked out poorly.  The question then becomes, "is he actually trying to make things better or is he trying to keep things bad?"
9/12/2011 - Monday
  • 9/12/2011 9:52:01 PMBrainware Safari and Ice CreamMichael has been working with this computer program called Brainware Safari to help his cognitive thinking skills.  The program has various little memory/thinking related tasks for him to work through and over all it has been a real challenge for him.  

    In one particular exercise he has been working on, the application tells him 4 random numbers between 1 and 100.  The numbers are then displayed on the screen and Michael's task is to put them in order by clicking on them in the proper sequence.  This involves listening, memory, linking what is heard to what is seen, and sequencing.  Michael repeatedly fails at this and is frustrated.

    Mom is watching while Michael struggles and so she decides to give him a hint.  She repeats the 4 numbers that were spoken and puts them into the right sequence.  Basically, she gave him the answer.  All that was required to do was for him to click on the numbers.

    Can you guess what he did?  He clicked on the 1st number correctly, then the second number correctly.  For the third number, he hovered the mouse over the correct number for a long time.  He waved the arrow back and forth and then suddenly clicked on a different incorrect number.

    Brainware Safari is very good at detecting failed exercises and attempts to cheat.  As soon as the incorrect number was clicked, a sound was made and a message flashed that his choice was wrong.  All of this happened very quickly and since Michael has bombed this exercise so many times, he knows the sounds of failure.  No sooner had he clicked on the wrong number and got the fail noise - did he immediately look at Mom with raised eyebrows and an expression that said, "SEE!  I Clicked on the right number but there must be something wrong with the computer!"

    Mom said, "I was watching you and I knew you would not click on the right number even though I gave you the answer.  You clicked on the wrong number on purpose."

    Michael gave mom a very puzzled look as if he wasn't sure what she meant or perhaps what she was saying was pure crazy talk and he would never do such a thing.  We refer to this as "playing dumb".  This was all a big mistake or misunderstanding because Michael "really tried his best to do the right thing".  At least that is what he likes to tell himself.  He tells himself the lie that when you do the right thing, it’s too hard and it never works out – so why bother.  Then he said, "Sometimes the computer doesn't work when you click right on the number so I click next to it because that is how it works."  

    Of course as an experienced computer programmer, that is how I write all my software.  I don’t want the user to correctly and exactly choose the right answer.  The best option for every user is to choose an option that is close to the correct answer – but never the correct answer…  

    Mom said, "I was watching you and waiting for you to do this.  You knew the correct answer and you chose not to click on it.  Now you're saying that you tried to click on the right answer but you're blaming the computer for not working correctly.  Why?  What is the point of all of this?"

    Michael answered, "I don't know"

    I'll tell you the point.  It's a game where the rules of play and the definition of winning and losing are only known to Michael and only have meaning to him.

    So what is the proper response to a Reactive Attachment Disorder game such as this?  At our home, we have a score chart that we keep on the refrigerator that has a column for each of our names.  When Michael does this sort of thing, we go and give ourselves a point and then say, "Thank you for giving me a point.  That was very kind of you.  Now I have 25.  Thanks Michael!  You're the best!".

    A friend of mine suggested that I redeem my points for a prize.  I think that when I hit the magic number of points (which is known only to me), I will redeem my points for a big bowl of ice cream.

    Brainware Safari
9/7/2011 - Wednesday
  • 9/7/2011 8:27:10 PMScared Straight after 20 yearsFor the better part of the last 3.5 years we have been trying our best to speak truth into the life of our adopted son.  The short background on Michael is that he has been both abused and neglected early in his life.  People who suffer through the things that Michael has experienced develop a unique perspective on life.  This is a view that is commonly described as "twisted", "warped", "upside down", "backwards", or just plain "wrong".

    Truth and reality are concepts that seem to elude him.  One of the primary underlying causes of this is a gross lack of cause and effect thinking.  In simple logic terms it goes like this: If A - then B.  If I do (A), then (B) will happen.  The reverse is also frequenlty true although not necessarily:  If B - then A.  If (B) has occured, then (A) was the cause.  Or at least (A) is one of the possible causes.

    This kind of thinking is a little too much for someone who believes that they can do (A) and avoid the consequences (B).  Furthermore it is a problem if they believe that consequences (B) randomly occur and are unpredictable.  In practical terms, this means that Michael feels he can lie, cheat, and deceive and there will either be no consequences or he is smart enough to evade them.  Then when consequences do occur, he cannot trace them back to their origin.  He thinks the deliverer of the consequences is just being mean and unfair.

    I had enquired to several professional people about bringing Michael to the local prison so that he could get a tour of the facility and perhaps encounter some people who also stuggle with the consequences of their actions.  Apparently in our area, they don't have such an open program.  Recalling the documentary "Scared Straight" that my wife and I saw as children, we decided to borrow it from the library.  The most recent version of this feaure includes interviews of some of the people involved 20 years after the original filming in 1979.

    We had been telling Michael about the kinds of things that go on in prison but in typical RAD fashion, he didn't believe us and thought we were just trying to scare him into obeying.  I remembered that there was a great deal of foul language in the film but I didn't remember all the references to sexual abuse that happen in prison.  It was diffucult to watch.

    One thing that stuck out immediately was how the kids all seemed to think and act just like Michael.  They didn't have a care in the world and were convinced that nothing bad could happen to them and that there was nothing inherently wrong with stealing, lying, vandalizing and any other criminal behavior they were engaged in.  The all had a very disconnected view towards all the other people around them as if other people were simply opportunities to be taken advantage of.  They spoke just like Michael.

    As the film progressed, the prisoneers reflected in their own words and style - the same sentiments that we have been giving Michael.  Wake up!  Put cause and effect together!  Don't think that your so smart that you can avoid consequences!  Prison is a terrible place!  Do the right thing!  Treat others as you would like to be treated!  Get an education!

    During the movie, Michael frequently hung his head like he does when he is trying to initiate an out of body experience.  It was like he was trying very hard to disassociate from the horrible information that his eyes and ears were taking in.  At the end of the movie we asked Michael what he thought of all of this.  
    "That is worse than I thought it was going to be", he said.

    The Scared Straight prison program is over 30 years old and has over 50,000 kids go through.  It has an 80% success rate.  I don't know how many of those kids have Reactive Attachment Disorder but I hope their message sinks in for Michael.  Unfortunately Michael has demonstrated that combining words with logic and consequences has proved ineffective.  We will see.

    Scared Straight after 20 years on IMDB

8/13/2011 - Saturday
  • 8/13/2011 9:37:25 PMAfter InsanityAlbert Einstein said, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  Sooner or later most sentient beings will come to the conclusion that something is amiss.  What happens then?

    Let's say there is a certain kid whose main stated goal in life is to control everyone else.  Not just control them - but also control any and all information that is passed around, among, between, and known by everyone.  They want to be the only one who knows the truth of what is going on.  They want to win and be the best at everything - including things they know nothing about.  Additionally, they want to command the respect of everyone -  even if they have to lie or cheat to get it.  Everything is viewed in terms of wins and losses where getting what you want or being right (or appearing to be right) is a win and anything else is considered wrong and is a loss.

    But they are continuously frustrated because all of the plans to realize their dreams always fail and they are always getting punished for what seems to be unknown reasons that don't seem to be their fault or within their control.  In fact, most of their problems are the result of other people foiling their plans or seeking revenge.  Just like the definition of insanity, they repeatedly try the exact same approach to achieve their heart's desire and are repeatedly disappointed by the exact same results.  This puts them into a state of despair where they hate their own life.  Nothing works out like they want.

    What's worse is that their mom and dad keep telling them that they are making a lot of enemies, wasting valuable time and basically flushing their life down the toilet.  In fact, if they continue on this path it will result in either imprisonment or their own death.  The kid is so angry about everything and especially these unsolicited parental words that they would like to kill themselves just to get all of the anguish of life over with quickly so they won't have to suffer any longer.  But if they kill themselves, then mom and dad will be right.  If Mom and Dad are right then this of course means that the kid by default is automatically wrong.  Being wrong (aka losing) is worse than death.  Suicide is no longer a viable solution.

    On the other hand, mom and dad also keep saying that they could turn their life around at any time and they would be much happier.  In fact, everyone would be much happier.  This also is not a viable option for two reasons:  1) the kid is very lazy and change requires work plus time.   Since we all know that yesterday never happened and tomorrow never comes, the inclusion of time makes changing impossible.   2) if the kid actually does change and things do get better like mom and dad said, then again - the parents are right and the kid is wrong.  Again – this is worse than death.

    So the kid won't kill themselves and won't change so they are seemingly stuck between a rock and a hard spot in life.  They resign themselves to the idea that the only thing left to do is make everyone around them feel miserable just like they do.  Somehow achieving this feels like a win.  Maybe.

    Can you imagine living with a person who thinks like this?

    I can.
5/15/2011 - Sunday
  • 5/15/2011 10:59:32 PMRAD TruthTrue = Truth = Right = Feel Good.  These terms all mean the same thing and are interchangeable.

    False = Lie = Wrong = Feel Bad.  These terms all mean the same thing and are interchangeable.

    If I say it, then it is true.

    You're too stupid to discern truth.  Furthermore, you are not capable of knowing whether what I'm saying is true or not.

    No matter what you say, whatever I believe is true.

    I'm smarter than you are because I'm younger than you.  Not only that, I've lived in another country and seen a great deal of things that you haven't.  In a perfect world, I would be teaching you.  You say that I'm getting older every day and that using my logic this means I am getting dumber every day.  You're lying.

    There is no difference between being true and being right.  Consequently, being wrong is the same as being a liar.  If I don't like what you say, then you are both wrong and a liar.  If you don't like what I'm saying, then you're wrong, a liar, I hate you, and I'm going to get you back for making me feel bad.

    If you say something that involves time in any way, such as "I will be there at 7:00", then truth is determined at 7:00.  Further more, if anyone says such a thing there is really no point in wondering if they are trustworthy or not.  It is a given that other people are not to be trusted.  You just simply wait until 7:00.  If they are there on time, you forget about it and the person is still to be considered untrustworthy.  If they are not there on time, then you pat yourself on the back for being right about them being untrustworthy.

    Everyone is always scheming to play a trick on me just like me.  I must always protect myself from being tricked.  The way I do this is by tricking you first to gain control over any and all situations.  One of the most basic and important rules in life is to always have the upper hand, or to have the advantage over someone else.  If I can't overpower you, then the next best thing is control over information.  Only I know what is "really" going on.  You only know what I tell you.

    I don't like it when you know things that I don't.  Whenever you seem to know things I don't, you're lying.  Here are some examples of your lies:
    - You say that taking care of my teeth is important and brushing them is the best way to do that.  The truth is, you're just trying to trick me into doing what you want.  If I do what you want, then you win.  This goes for taking a bath, and clipping my finger nails too.

    - You say that doing my homework will make me smarter and it is a tool that I can use to help me care for myself and get a good job.  The truth is that you're trying to trick me into doing what you want.  You give me impossible assignments so you can watch me fail and gloat over it.  You just want me to feel stupid so you can feel like you have power over me.  I will do what you ask, but I'm not going to do it the way you want me to.  I'm going to frustrate you with my school work.  When you get angry, then I win.

    If you win, then this means that I automatically lose.  While I do want to win, it is more important for me that you do not win.  My number one goal in life is to make sure that you lose.  Then you will know what it feels like to be me.  Somehow this is like a win for me.

    You say that if I "continue on the road I'm on" that I will likely end up either in jail or dead and that only a small number of children like me actually make it.  These words make me feel bad.  You're just trying to scare me you just want to put me down.
4/15/2011 - Friday
  • 4/15/2011 2:30:50 PMI'm gonna get you backMichael came home from school yesterday and with a revealing voice that reeked of tattling and parental negligence said, "Guess what mom?".  "What?", mom answered.  "Today at school, when I went to have the secretary put my eye drops in, she noticed that Dad forgot to put my eye drops in from this morning and she had to put them in to make up for that".

    So there you have it.  Proof of parental negligence on my part.  I forgot to put his eye drop in his eye this morning.  What Michael neglected to tell the secretary about this obvious sinister act on my part was that he likes to play games with his eye drops.  For example, Michael likes to not tilt his head or open his eye in such a way that makes it easy for mom or I to put the eye drop in.  Basically, he doesn't like getting them and his plan to "get back at us" is to make it difficult for us to put the drop in.

    Another thing Michael failed to mention is that he had knowingly skipped taking his bath from Tuesday night.  On Wednesday morning after he awoke and walked passed me, I smelled his body odor and asked him if he took his bath as scheduled.  "No", he replied.  Keep in mind that he has been on the same bath schedule for approximately 3 years.  When he is irritated about something, he likes to "get back" at either mom or I by avoiding the bath tub.  Since it was too late for him to take one in the morning, I sent him to school on Wednesday thinking he could take one on Wednesday evening.  That didn't work out and he missed his bath again.

    On Thursday morning, I remembered to remind him to take a bath.  I had his eye drops out on the counter and ready to go for when he got out of the tub but I forgot about them.  In addition to reminding him to take his bath because he cannot be counted on to remember and follow through on his own, I spoke with him about pulling more stupid games with his homework.  For example, he has been working on the same book report for three weeks now.  Both mom and I very tired about having to tell him to make the same corrections on his report over and over again.  This is a source of frustration that is worthy of its own story.  In addition to the book report, Michael got more F grades on his homework.  In one example, he brought home a science study guide that he was supposed to work on in preparation for a test.  Michael likes to write down crazy nonsensical answers and then pretend to be shocked when confronted about them.  Needless to say, all of this was going through my mind on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings.  For that matter, this sort of thing goes through my mind every day and has been since Michael became part of our family.  It is non-stop Michael games.  Please forgive me if I forgot to give him his eye drop.  It was a simple oversight.

    So this morning I asked Michael why he wanted to get me into trouble with the school secretary.  "I wasn't trying to get you into trouble with her", he responded.  "Ok, the next time I won't tell anyone".

    You have to be very careful with Michael's words.  To me, this sounds a lot like, "Ok Dad, the next time you are a neglectful parent, I will keep this a secret from the school authorities who are protecting me from your poor parenting".

    "That's not what I'm saying Michael.  I think you wanted to get me into some kind of trouble with the school secretary.  You wanted to make her think I'm a bad parent because you're angry with me about something."  I said.

    "That's not it Dad", said Michael.  "You always think I'm angry about stuff and that's why I do stuff like this".

    "You are correct Michael.  That is exactly what I think.  When you do stuff like this, how often is it because you are angry at someone?", I asked.

    "About 95% of the time", responded Michael.

    If I went to the casino and I knew that 95% of the time if I bet a certain way that I would win, I would call that a virtual guarantee and I'd be super wealthy.  95% is very, very, close to "always".  Of course Michael has no idea what he just said.  His main goal is to be disagreeable and he does not have the mental ability to follow a path of logic that is longer than 5 seconds or 2 sentences.  Michael will say or do anything to be oppositional.  In most cases, his oppositional position on any subject makes no sense.  In summary, Michael does not like my words so he takes the alternate position so that we can be on opposite sides of an issue where there will be a clear "winner" and "loser".  If he can show me to be the "loser" or "wrong", then by default he is the winner.  When asked what he would "win" if he is proven right, he can't answer because he doesn't know.  His "victory" is hollow.  All he knows is that if I'm right, then he is wrong.

    Take tooth brushing for example.  If I tell him to brush and he does it, then I got MY WAY which means he didn't get HIS WAY and he is the loser and we all know that with the RAD kid, losing (in any form) is the same as death.

    I demonstrated the meaning of 95% verses 5% on the kitchen counter.  Then I asked him if this eye drop incident was one of the 95%.  "Yes." he said.  I'm sure it must have "killed" him when I told him that he had just agreed with me and proved me correct with his own words.

    "Ok then", I said.  "What are you so angry with me about that you wanted me to be in trouble with Mom and the school secretary?"

    "You're always teasing me and trying to bring me down", said Michael.

    "Really?", I asked

    "Yes, you're always teasing me about my nervous habits like petting my head or rubbing my nose", said Michael.

    These are things that Michael does when he has been confronted with something such as being caught in a lie.  "If I stopped teasing you about these things, would you stop trying to get me into trouble?", I asked.

    "Probably not", said Michael.

    You have to appreciate that kind of honesty from a kid.  I often wonder if he realizes what he just said.  Is he just leading me on a pointless conversation where he throws out accusations and statements that are not based on facts and have no point?  Statements which take me time to explain and then refute?  I think that Nancy Thomas would say "Yes.  He knows what he is doing by holding his end of a conversation in this manner."  Mrs. Thomas has said, "If you feel like you're getting confused when speaking with a RAD kid, it is because they are intentionally trying to confuse you."

    "Ok", I said.  "That's obviously not the reason you're trying to get me in trouble then.  What is the real answer?"

    "I was angry that you were yelling at me about cheating on my science and making up answers.", Michael answered.

    Now we are getting somewhere.  In basic terms, Michael frequently sees other people as being in his way and causing him some kind of harm.  In this case, Mom and I made him not only do his school work, but we would not allow him to scribble down any nonsensical answers.  Michael likes to hurry and do his school work on the bus ride home to avoid having Mom or Dad make him do his work according to the instructions.  (i.e. correctly).

    One of his main goals in life is to repay people for what was done to him.  Again, in this case the offense was making him do his homework.  Many times there is no specific offense for which he is paying someone back.  The actual reason could be as simple as him being irritated about something where nothing was actually "done" to him.  He is just crabby or irritable.  That is enough reason for him to seek revenge.  The only thing left to do is to find the appropriate candidate for him to repay.

    Generally speaking, the requirements for selecting the correct person to "repay" is as follows:
    1. If the person is mom
    2. If the person has recently irritated Michael or is Mom
    3. If the person is preventing Michael from acquiring something he wants or is Mom
    4. If the person is telling Michael what to do or is Mom
    5. If the person, animal, or object is loved by or is special to Mom

    Michael went on to say, "I was angry.  When I saw the opportunity to get you back, I took it."

    "What kind of trouble did you think you were going to get me into by telling the secretary and mom?", I asked.

    "I don't know.  I thought that mom would have a talk with you or something.", he answered.
4/12/2011 - Tuesday
  • 4/12/2011 11:02:58 PMCrazy AnswersMichael likes to give crazy answers on his homework.  The origins of the actual answer given is an interesting study in itself.  Sometimes the answer is a composite of other random words that appear on the page, sometimes it is a duplicated answer from another question, sometimes it is a single word such as "Bright" or "Yes".  In today's episode, Michael was supposed to study for a science (human biology) test that he will be taking soon.  He had some vocabulary words to define and then some other words where he had to tell what function each word performed for the human body.

    He had words and answers like:
    - Inhale = "brith in"
    - Exhale = "brith out"
    - Carbon Dioxide = "turn sugar into nerg"  (he means energy.  Get it?  "N" + "ER" + "G")
    - Nose = "worms with wet air in and out"
    - Plasma = "nitrogen  gos in blood to lungs"

    There was just a lot of crazy answers.  At one point, he asked me if he could use the dictionary because he couldn't find the word "Plasma" in his school book.  Get this – his current chapter is about blood and the respiratory system.  All of his vocabulary words are derived from the current chapter and he couldn't find the word "plasma".  "It's not in yellow", he exclaimed.  "All the words are in yellow".  Apparently, the book identifies key words for the chapter in either bold print and/or yellow highlight.  "Sure", I said.  "Go and use the dictionary".

    Michael goes to get the dictionary and comes back a few minutes later.  "It's not in the dictionary either!".  He is upset now.  "How did you spell the word?", I ask.  "Palsma", he responds.  Keep in mind that Michael has the correct spelling of the word on his Study Guide – the worksheet that he is currently looking at and trying to write the answers down on..

    "Bring me your book and the dictionary", I tell him.  I check the dictionary and the word is right where Noah Webster left it.  I check his book and look at the page that talks about blood.  Sure enough, the word is there along with its definition.  It wasn't in bold print or yellow highlight, but it is there – right in the middle of the page.  I give both books back to Michael and tell him to keep looking.  He continues to look but can't find it.  That is when he writes down his "nitrogen gos in blood to lungs" definition.

    I ask him to show me where he got that answer.  With a very cocky look on his face, he stares me in the eye and with his right hand he points down hard on the center of some page that happens to have the word "plasma" on it.  I think the sentence he was referring to was, "Red blood cells float in plasma and carry oxygen and nitrogen to the body".

    Then I ask the same stupid question, "show me where you got your definition from."  Again, he points down hard to the page with a cocky hand motion.  I tell him to look at the page and show me.  Michael now looks bewildered as if the answer was just there a moment ago but now seems to have disappeared and been replaced by "other words".  He looks up at me confused as if to say, "I don't get it".  This is part of Michael's "dumb" act.  He does this when he has been caught cheating, taking a short cut, or in this case - just making up answers.  

    Then I go into the explanation of what a definition is.  Does he know what a word definition is or is this just part of the continuation of his acting "dumb"?  At this point, I don't know and I don't care.  "Your answer is wrong.  It doesn't tell me anything about what Plasma is", I tell him.

    Now he is angry.  He crosses his arms, scrunches his eyebrows together, purses his lips, and with a huff begins to make an angry face as if I am being unreasonable and have asked him to do the impossible.  As he sees it (or claims to see it), I have asked him to produce the correct answer out of thin air.  This of course is part of the act.  In other similar situations, he has stomped his foot, begun to cry, and rant.  He can actually get himself very worked up.  If you didn't know him or know the situation, you might think that he was just confronted with some devastating and life altering bad news such as, "You have an incurable form of cancer and there is nothing you can do about it."  

    Michael goes back to frantically flipping pages in his book claiming that the answer is not there.  Clearly this is a mistake by either the book printer or his teacher.  Then Michael pipes up with another one of his defense excuse mechanisms.  "We did most of this page while we were in class today", he says.  The implications of this statement is that, whatever he had written on his paper was approved by his teacher since she gave the answers to the class.  If his answers are "wrong", then the teacher should be held responsible for giving out "wrong answers".  After all, it is not Michael's fault for simply obeying the teacher and writing down what she said.  Furthermore, it is not only unlikely but impossible for Michael to have written down something different than what the teacher said.

    It is always fun to confront Michael with his own answers.  He hates it when I read back to him, the answers he wrote down.  They are usually incomprehensible.  If I'm in a good mood and I recognize a word he is trying to spell, I will say the word correctly.  I usually never put additional words in when they are clearly missing.  Michael's standard line of defense for this is to claim, "You are just trying to beat me down".  

    I often wonder where such a comment comes from.  Did he think of that one on his own or did someone else tell that to him?  Over the course of the last three years, we have encountered numerous people where we have explained some of the details and complications of dealing with Michael.  In some cases, we will get a response from other people as if we had not even spoken.  I mean it is as if our words did not even register with the other person.  In another example, while speaking with one of someone about his behavior, they responded, "I have found that when you treat a child like a criminal, they act like one".   Such a comment can only come from someone who is totally ignorant when it comes to dealing with kids with attachment disorder.  For that matter – when it comes to dealing with anyone with mental disorder.  The implication here is that Michael's behavior is our fault.  In another example, I was explaining to someone else some of Michael's behavior towards his school work when we are at home.  The response I got was, "Michael's behavior at home is really none of my business".  I'm still at a loss to explain where the comment of "You are just trying to beat me down" comes from.  I'm not sure, but this much I know, raising a kid with Reactive Attachment will make you feel like you're on your own.

    Again – all of this blame shifting/stupid acting is nothing more than a stall/blame tactic and Michael uses them constantly.  I take his head in my hands and direct his face to the center of the page that contains the answer.  As soon as I let go, he moves his head to the opposite page and then acts like he cannot find the answer on the page I directed him to.  I take his head once again and redirect it back to the left page where I had originally pointed him to.  Michael moves his head to the far left margin and acts like he cannot find the answer in the margin notes.  Then after a minute, he raises his head with a smirk as if he is a "bone head" for not seeing the answer that was right in front of him the entire time.

    I leave Michael to write down the short definition of Plasma from the book and finish the rest of his words.  He proceeds to mis-copy the definition by spelling words incorrectly.  Then he makes up more garbage answers for the remaining words.