The Inability to Just Try

c8abd1f76bb73cb1751c94853bb4a592There is such a huge difference between ‘can’t’ and ‘won’t.’ Basically trying and failing or refusing to try at all. Cooper refuses to try and it makes me freaking insane. As a parent it is heartbreaking to see your child try and fail. And trust me, I know this firsthand. It seems like every week we are doing one or two evaluations and I watch as cooper fails it all. And then add in the fact that his 15 month old brother is toddling along side him doing it all. But there is another level to this. A level that I couldn’t put my finger on for the longest time. And I guess it took watching Sawyer to figure it out. Cooper refuses to try almost everything; especially when forced.

And what I am slowly starting to understand is that until he wants to try and learn we are at a standstill. I feel like I am at a super dramatic crossroad  in my 3 year olds life. He has to decide that he wants to learn. I can’t make it. Hell, I can’t make this kid do anything. And his defense mechanism when he is being forced to try and activity is to throw his body back, go limp and scream. It’s paralyzing to me.

I HATE this part about my son. I hate it so much I could scream. I have always been honest here and I am not going to stop now. I don’t hate that things are hard for him.   I don’t hate the fact that he doesn’t talk. I don’t hate his developmental delays. Hell, I don’t even hate the  evaluations. All these things are heartbreaking and crushing but I can accept them and hope to conquer them. What I hate more than anything is his inability to try. I hate that we have a god damn village built  to try and help him and he doesn’t care. I hate that he hate’s everything. Just try kid. Let us teach you.

Have Apraxia. Hell, have delays up the wahzoo. Just freaking try. Please.

At one extremely low point in this journey I brought Cooper to the pediatrician and sobbed in the exam room. I asked her to tell me what was wrong with him. I actually said, and I quote, “What’s wrong with him? It is something medically or is he just an asshole? I have to know.” She burst out laughing. She hugged me and sat down next to me and talked with me for over an hour. At this point she told me that besides the language delay she didn’t see any red flags so we most likely had an extremely challenge, strong willed child on our hands.

There is  no  point in potty training until he ‘wants’ to use the potty. There is no point in trying to force language (not that we could  anyway) until he ‘wants’ to communicate. So, a standstill it is. We are doing this shift in our home life where we do fun stuff with Sawyer and ‘hope’ that Cooper joins in. And I would  say he usually does. Or he  at least sits back and watches. I think that is all his brain will allow at this point. So, I guess, we take it or leave it.


20 thoughts on “The Inability to Just Try

  1. I wish I know what to say. I think it’s okay to get mad at the situation, to cry and to want so bad for Cooper to try. Just pour it out mama, then you can face another day with a lighter heart. Hugs.

  2. I’m sorry this is so hard right now. I’ve been where you are. Mary had a similar issue with a preschool evaluation. The psychologist asked her to do things I know she can do and has done before, and she just sat there and stared at him. It was awful. BUT I had to remind myself to think of it from her perspective – what may appear to us as stubbornness, may actually be overload. We ask so much from our kids with all this therapy. At some point, it is just too much, and with no words, he is communicating in the only way he knows how. Behavior is communication, after all. I know this is going to sound like it goes against all the “expert” advice, but I have seen tremendous progress in my kids when we back off a little on the expectations and join them where they are. Mary likes to stim with strings and shred paper. So instead of making her play with us, we sit down with her and shred paper alongside her. It is so freeing, and rewarding. There’s actually a whole OT type program built around this idea on a more intense level called Floortime. I know it’s easier said than done (I really do!) but try to remember he’s 3, he needs to be allowed to be a kid. Give yourself permission to enjoy him, right where he is – even if that means backing off on the work stuff. Build up the trust, then the “try” part will come. Hugs.

  3. As the mother of an autistic son, I understand the struggle. But let me also guarantee that your son can feel your resentfulness, disappointment, anger, and despair in him. He seems like he doesn’t care. He laughs at others’ distress. He fails to comply – no – he doesn’t understand why complying is important. He is not invested in pop-culture like Halloween and other holidays. But I promise you he feels deeply. Consider: He does not try because failure is terrifying. Yes- he knows when he “fails.” He knows that his brother “succeeds.” Let me quote my son, coming home from school after having been sent to the principal’s office, tears streaming down his cheeks, face utterly fallen: “Why is everyone perfect but me?” I knew then that he knew better than anyone his struggles, and my job was to build this child up. This is what helped me: look at him through Jesus’ eyes as a soul made perfect by God. No matter what he does or doesn’t do, he is a perfect soul in the eyes of God, and that is how I work to see my son EVERYDAY.

    • Hi there. Let me first say I agree 100% with everything you wrote. Secondly, I believe in my heart the reason why we are so exhausted as parents is because we spend every second of every day motivating, encouraging, hiding the disappointment, etc. Cooper is not quite 3 1/2 yet and I am certain that he is unaware that he is different. We aren’t there yet. Someday yes. But not yet. And honestly, when we do get there I think I will be thankful that he has the awareness although the discussions will be heartbreaking. Thanks for stopping by! I love hearing from moms like me but farther along.

  4. *hugs* A lot of times ABA is suggested to help our children learn new tasks and be motivated but another method that many folks find useful and in many ways more motivating for children (and leads to more results) is the FLOORTIME method. You learn to follow the child’s lead and they allow you to see what they see and why and then they will in time follow your lead. My son enjoys this method and if forced to this day…he is the most stubborn person in the room. Compliance…not even a chance.

      • Your welcome:) also check out the Hanen Centre’s website. They train SLP’s worldwide and have training workshops for parents. Their books and videos are in libraries. They are international but based in Canada but are well known amongst SLP’s. “It Takes Two” is to get your child to communicate. Fern Sussman an SLP wrote More Than Words and her book and program changed my son’s life. She uses the Floortime method. Check it out;)

  5. I agree with the floor time comment. I too read about this and it works. Jonah was just pushing cars back and forth. My initial thought was to stop him and show him how to play “correctly.” Instead, I copied him. And the way he looked at me, it was priceless.
    I also wonder, what would happen if you just ignored Cooper and played with brother? Does Cooper become interested? Does it peak his interest?

    • I agree…my son has natural stubborn “genes” and is smart so he doesn’t like to be forced and likes to do things his way. But he loves it when he sees someone copy him. Its actually one of the easiest ways to befriend any young child and allow them to trust you when they are learning to accept you. I didn’t know this until I began this journey and was really frustrated trying to teach my son things. Its hard to “re-train” oneself sometimes but I think when you see that little face light up and then clue into what you are doing then its priceless.

  6. My oldest is extremely stubborn and avoids any tasks that are difficult for him. It drives me nuts! Hang on, with time, therapy, and a whole lot of motivation things will start to move forward……usually when you least expect it!

  7. When Finn was first diagnosed (at 3 1/2), I reached out to a friend whose son had the same diagnosis, but was about 10 years old. My friend told me that for her son (whose name, ironically, is Cooper) the ages of 4 through 7 were really hard for him, but then he turned a corner and things got A LOT better. I know she was trying to give me a light at the end of the tunnel, but at the time, I wanted to punch her! Finn wasn’t even 4 yet and it was already so hard! I had to wait 3 1/2 more years before it got easier?
    The point of my story is that I SO GET where you are coming from! Finn is exactly the same way. We say black, he says white. We ask him to do ANYTHING and the answer is always NO! But, I have to say, it has gotten better. It had a lot to do with him getting older and him feeling safe (sensory issues being addressed, etc) I know you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel right now. It’s kind of a long tunnel, but perhaps you will find some glimmers of light just to get you to the next day. It will get better. One day at a time.
    Sending you a hug and some strength. 🙂

  8. When I look at your beautiful boy I see potential. I see a little person on a different road, it is not less, it is just a different way of learning and loving. I have always had high expectations for my boy, even if that means he is doing something small that other kids do naturally. My son is very stubborn, but I have learned he does things in his own time and now that he is at school he learns so much from the other kids too. It must be so hard trying to find Coopers voice, my son was a talker so I cannot imagine what that must be like. When all else fails on any particular day I just smile and tell my little man he is very special and doing so well. I hear you and I know your frustrations, just tell yourself…all in good time and enjoy the little moments of joy, I know sometimes that is all we have. Did you ever see Carly’s story? Sometimes we just have to discover another way to communicate. Blessings to you and have a peaceful day.

  9. Imagine you’re in the middle of a mosh pit, both your thumbs are broken, and someone is telling you to complete an extensive cross stitch project. Kind of extreme but just what came to mind…first you would need to get out of the most pit (sensory overload), then either you would need to wait for your thumbs to heal or work out an alternate way (motor planning difficulties that accompany apraxia), and the whole time you wonder why on earth you should need to be doing this cross stitch anyway. This is similar to what we are asking of our children. I was frustrated bc we worked over a year to get ethans AAC and he hardly uses it…but then I had to consider the kid is 4…I am an adult and it’s hard and frustrating for ME to use and I don’t have the additional issues he has. I had to rethink what I was asking him to do and expecting

  10. Oh and I have to agree w previous conmentors…it really seemed when we quit trying so hard and pushing so much that he began to really explode .with both my son’s the harder they are pushed and the more pressure and expectations are put on them the quicker the behaviors and meltdown and shutdowns happen

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