Sarah - posted on 01/09/2010 ( 4 moms have responded )
My husband joined the Army when our daughter, Olivia, was 18 months old. We were having her assessed for developmental delays when he left. Soon after she was diagnosed with PDD-NOS. Between April 2008 & December 2009 he was with us for a total of 6 weeks spread throughout that 20 months. Olivia is now 3 years old and has since been diagnosed with Autism by her neurologist and given another PDD-NOS diagnosis from a Pediatric Nero-Psychologist. My husband has heard stories of our children (I was 3 weeks pregnant when he joined & had our second daughter the day he deployed to Iraq in Dec 2008) via email and seen them via webcam. I thought I had prepared him for Olivia...for being a father of a special needs child, but I was so wrong.
We moved to Germany almost a month ago, where my husband was sent right before being deployed. I knew the change was going to be difficult for Olivia. We still do not have our household goods. In about a month we will have our early shipment, which will include most of Olivia's things, to include toys and such. It will be 2 months before we have everything like our furniture and all. Olivia has adjusted quite well actually. I packed a suitcase very full of her most prized things, like her Mickey Mouse dolls that she takes everywhere with her and her movies that she is obsessed with. It is daddy who is not adjusting well.
He snaps at her often. I am a firm believer in no spanking, especially a special needs child with limited communication. Yes. I have spanked her, but I also believe that when I have spanked her it is because *I* am not in control and it has nothing to do with her, but rather MY ability to handle her and the situation. My husband has spanked her 3 times now, once today on her bare bottom. He gets mad that he cannot leave drinks out because Olivia wants to drink from them. She spilt a can of Mt Dew on his Xbox because he left it out and she went right to it when we came home from running errands. She has dumped drinks a few other times because he has left them out, and each time a blow up. Am I wrong to think that even a "normal developing" child would probably spill them? He's lucky our 13 month didn't get them, she would have done the same.
And the screaming. Yes. It is hard to take. Olivia screams when she is happy and when she is sad or frustrated. She does a lot of head banging, and if she is told "no" she usually falls to the floor and hits her face onto the floor screaming all the while. Today my husband totally freaked out and spanked her bare bottom (she was naked). Of course this just caused her to scream louder and longer.
The kids are board. It is very cold here, and even more it has been snowing non-stop. Olivia does love the snow, and I try to take her out in it daily, but if we don't she is like a caged animal. My husband only has a few days left on his block leave before he starts back to work and he wants to be a homebody, so we don't go anywhere unless it is really needed. I know he sees that Olivia behaves more if we get out of the house. She LOVES going on car rides and such. One of our big issues is the roads are horrible here, lots of accidents. We live on a hill in a housing development and the only road we go down leads to base and it is a scary road. We don't want to take the kids out unless we have to. The next time we will probably leave the house is on Monday for doctor appointments and going to the store. I've been wanting to take them to the library for a few weeks now, but he just doesn't thinking taking them is a good idea because they are loud. I am definitely taking the girls out in the snow tomorrow, even if it is for 5 minutes. I wish we had a sled, but they don't have any on post. I also can't drive because I don't have my license here yet, so it isn't like I can pack the kiddos up and go anywhere.
We also have major sleep issues with Olivia. She is on 4 different prescriptions for sleep aids and still only sleeps about 5 hours, if we are lucky. We bring her to our bed most nights because she will sleep longer if she sleeps with us - usually pressed up against daddy, which honestly I know he loves.
I KNOW being away from us for so long and just coming home from deployment has been hard on him. I know that. I know that when he left us he had this sweet little happy, in her own world 18 month old, and that she hasn't changed much at all except getting much taller. It is so obvious that something is "wrong" with Olivia, and I know that he hates that. He has said he feels like we are being punished somehow. I feel so different from him, like she is a joy and a gift. That we were chosen to be her parents for a reason. He is having a hard time seeing that.
We are going to get him in to see someone about taking something to help him deal with everything at home. I don't know what else to do. I know this has been super long and that I'm new here, but I need some advice...any advice. My husband is a wonderful man, we love him very much and have been so proud of him serving our country. I know he can be a great daddy, but he has to learn to understand and accept his daughter as she is. I don't know how to help him get there. It's like he is grieving her and who she "could" have been. It's so sad to see that in him, but I don't know how to help him.
Thanks in advance. :)