…Matt perceives expressions of anger as being extremely threatening to him and dangerous because they mess his life up, so there are big scary things like tornadoes or thunderstorms. So when he talks about tornadoes and thunderstorms, essentially what he is talking about is concerns over loss of control; loss of control of his bad feelings, loss of control of his temper and an inability to do things that he would like to be able to do. What he is doing is where previously he would strike out, he is learning to inhibit his striking out toward other people although he still does strike out physically toward mom some. Now he will slap his legs or hit his head. He does these in the context where, for example, he is told to do something that he doesn’t want to do like setting the table, clearing the table or going to bed…
First of all, I think that this paragraph is really inaccurate.
Matt was afraid of storms which was related to his feelings of a loss of control. Load of crap. I remember several really bad storms coming through as a kid. The power would go out and my mom would shut every curtain and shade. Sometimes we had to take shelter in the basement. As children, we were afraid. This is a completely normal response. However, Matt did have the tendency to ruminate about things after the rest of us were over it. In later years, I joked around with Matt about us being storm chasers. Storms were exciting and excitement is fun.We both liked watching storms in the later years.
In those early years, there were a lot of things that tended to set Matt off. He would have meltdowns from loud noises, people showing strong emotions such as fear or anger, making him do things he didn’t want to do, or simply for no logical reason at all. The storms included all of the ingredients that would set Matt off.
Matt inhibiting his striking out towards others was another load of crap. Matt was 8 when this was written. He would spend the next 15 plus years of his life striking out at others. The next five years after this was written were the most intense periods of striking out in his life. I don’t remember him striking his legs, but he did hit his head often. I remember a time when my mom was working at the kitchen table with my younger brothers. Matt was sitting on the floor and repetitively banging his head forcefully against the wall. It was impossible to concentrate on homework or anything while this was happening. The head banging behavior was so severe that my parents had to strap a helmet on Matt’s head.
He was also violent towards others. I have seen him repeatedly kick people. He scratched my arms until I had cuts and bloody scratches up and down my arms. He punched me in the upper arms. As a child, I told myself that this would make me stronger. I have seen him throw his head back into my mother’s face. He gave her a bloody lip. When Matt was excessively violent towards himself or others, my mom would try to restrain him. She would be punched and kicked for her efforts. She also had more bloody lips and black eyes. He twisted my daughter’s arm. It took two adults to pull him off of her. He struck out at the teachers at school that were trying to help him learn.
Matt’s signature move though was hair pulling. Typically, he would pull someone’s hair and not let go until someone removed him. In general, this required one or two people. My mom always screamed at this time because she worried that Matt would be hurt in the process. During these meltdowns, it created a very strong fight or flight response in us. I have a really hard time when there is conflict in my house of any kind because it elicits within me the same response that I had as a kid. It terrifies me. I don’t respond normally.
Many times throughout my teenage years, I was a victim of this hair pulling. I loved having long hair. After years and years of this, I couldn’t take it anymore. One day I went to my room with a scissors and chopped off 5 inches of hair after I was attacked. It was traumatic and horrifying.
I found the last sentence of this report to be true. Matt would strike out when he was told to do something that he didn’t want to do. It was hard for my parents to make him do anything because that meant someone was going to get hurt. Oftentimes, Matt would strike himself in the head with his fist. Plus with his tactile sensitivity, he would not allow my parents to brush his teeth without a fight. Every single day was a struggle, but my parents refused to institutionalize him. My mom was against this strongly. There was a time when the doctor threatened to commit him. My mom had to pull him out of all social settings to avoid this, but he still hurt me. He hurt my friends. He hurt my mother. He hurt my cousin. He hurt my daughter. He hurt his teachers. He hurt total strangers. I stood helplessly nearby while I watched them cry.
On occasion, my mom expresses feelings of guilt for taking a normal childhood away from three healthy children for one broken child. After everything that we have been through, I still think that she made the right decision. We made it through and all have a greater appreciation of life.