WTF just happened

Gavin’s arrived home and Lizze and I were talking to him about his treatment of the hospital staff.  He basically told me that Mommy made a big deal out of nothing. 

We informed him that he lost his choice for dinner and would be having oatmeal. 

He was okay with that. 

Lizze, while talking to me afterwards said that he probably didn’t care about the oatmeal because he had pizza for lunch.  I responded to Lizze by saying, maybe he won’t go to Grandma’s this weekend. 

Mind you,  I was talking to Lizze and not to Gavin.  In fact it was more like I was thinking out loud. 

Apparently, Gavin overheard me and launched into a huge tantrum.

I managed to get him into his room and he unleashed all his rage.  I made sure the boys were okay because Elliott ran away hysterical. 

I went back upstairs to talk to Gavin.

I asked him why he was upset.  He screamed at me that he was mad because he couldn’t go to Grandma’s house.

I told him that I never said that.  I explained that I was talking to Mommy and he simply overheard part of the conversation.

He responded with,  then why am I freaking out? He was completely calm until he realized that by having the tantrum he probably through away his chance to go to Grandma’s anyways.  At this point, he began to tantrum again.


I don’t know what we are going to do.  We may send him anyway, just to get him out of the house.

Lizze and I will have to talk about this. 

This was posted via WordPress for Android, courtesy of Samsung’s Galaxy S III. Please forgive any typos. I do know how to spell but auto-correct hate me.

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Rob Gorski

Full time, work from home single Dad to my 3 amazing boys. Oh...and creator fo this blog. :-)
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What I don’t understand is, if Gavin is in control of his actions like you say (and I’m not saying you’re wrong here, I’m just saying I don’t understand it), why doesn’t he seem to realize that you could catch more flies with honey than vinegar, so to speak? I mean, that by being civil and following the rules and apologizing if he gets caught in error he’d be acting in his own self interest, while all the screaming tantrums and stuff just make it less likely that he’ll get what he wants.


MeaghanGood you have to remember that this is more of a reactive attachment disorder issue and less an Autism one. It’s very confusing, even to me. 🙁


lostandtired MeaghanGood One of my online writing projects I do is a regular guest posts for a history/death penalty blog called Executed Today. It’s run a post every day for the past five-plus years, on the theme that “on this calendar day in this year, so-and-so got executed and here is the story.” I’ve had 85 entries posted since 2010 when I first started writing for them and the blog master loves me. One particular case I wrote about that got posted last October named Henry William Hagert and you can Google him if you want. He came from Cleveland and was executed in 1945 at age twenty, but he was condemned for crimes he committed when was just seventeen. Among other things, he kidnapped and shot two boys in cold blood for no reason at all.
Hagert was a really scary character. In his confession he said, “It’s pretty serious, you know. I kidnapped one kid and killed two others … I just felt like killing them, so I killed them. Now it all seems like a bad dream” and “I’m not especially sorry for any of those folks I have hurt … The whole thing is just like a smashed fender … When it’s done, it’s done — that’s all.”
Anyway, my point is — Henry Hagert really reminds me of Gavin. He just really didn’t care about anybody or anything. But like Gavin, it doesn’t sound like he was born that way; he got pneumonia and a high fever when he was seven years old and he was kind of never the same after that, became aggressive, unstable, etc. His mom said he complained about seeing little people that mocked him. What is the difference between an evil person and one who’s just terribly sick? Hagert did donate his corneas; he was trying to help someone there. In addition to the murders he committed he kidnapped a little boy, but left him alive and called his parents to say where he was. There must have been something inside that cared a little about the human race.
But I think Gavin will do better. I mean, to begin he’s got a loving family that’s rooting for him and he’s had intensive psychiatric treatment and what have you from a young age, and they know a lot more about mental illness and how to fix it. There are medications, and residential treatments, and stuff. (Hagert was in a psych hospital once but they let him go because they didn’t know what to do with him.) I have faith in you, Rob, and in your family and in Gavin, that he will turn out, if not exactly okay, at least as close to okay as he can get.
I greatly admire you, Rob, and Lizze, for what you’ve been through. During my Great Headache Crisis one of my catchphrases was, “Just when I say I cannot take any more of this, it turns out I can.”


I am speaking completely out of turn because I've never met Gavin, but I am a teacher in a juvenile correctional facility and work with hundreds of kids who have diagnosed AND undiagnosed mental illnesses or conditions. Do you feel at all that Gavin was manipulating you when he asked, "Why am I freaking out?" I completely agree that he seems to be a very intelligent child, and the more intelligent they are the more easily they can manipulate people. But what if you had a talk with him while he is calm and say, "I heard you letting me know that you felt out of control, and that the tantrum you had was a reaction that surprised even you. I appreciate you letting me know how you felt right then, so you're still going to Grandma's this weekend if we don't have any more tantrums between now and then." That way, you're recognizing his documented inability to control himself sometimes, but you're also not just giving in to him or demonstrating that his behavior is inconsequential.
I often butt in towards other parents where discipline is concerned because my job requires strict adherence to our facility's rules while also working with these kids in a compassionate way. The strategies I use in my LOCKED classroom allow me to stand in front of eleven juveniles who have raped, killed, assaulted, etc., and not feel afraid for even a minute. So, sorry for intruding or assuming you haven't tried everything!!! 🙂


Rob, you have done nothing wrong at all. Forgive me but wasn't that a private conversation between you and Lizze that was not meant to be overheard, let alone have someone freak out when said person was not directly addressed for that matter? I'm sorry, with you and Lizze already walking on eggshells 24/7 and feeling the need to monitor every thing you say, no, that's not right. You and Lizze have every right to talk among yourselves privately no matter who may meltdown because he doesn't like what you had to say. Saying non stop prayers for you and Lizze to have peace and for Gavin to get the help and placement he needs. Enough of constant monitoring every word you say, especially in conversations with Lizze!


It might help you to change your consequences.


I'm sorry I was debating about commenting and then I read another commenter. First of all – I can't imagine what it would be like with 3 kids.  I only have one child and that gives us more room for error.  We did not have other kid's safety or other issues to contend with.  However I agree it would have been better if you had not said that in front of him.  Autistics take everything literally and very seriously.  I don't know, Gavin sounds a lot like my son used to be at that age.  At age 15 he is much more in control and compliant.  Patience, time, therapy, patience, time, therapy.  Therapy for all of us on how best to communicate so we are all clear and consistent & not do things that upset each other.  We all have our own triggers.  Not three kids but three people with our own issues- some diagnosed & some not.  One goes off and we all react to each other.  We had to all learn how not to do that.  It is hard.


Rob, I mostly read your comments (although I put some of my own).
However, I have to point out that mayhapps this one is on you.
If he overheard you talking, it should be on you not to talk such sensitive things in front of him?
I mean, Unless it is a formed decision (to not let him go to Grandma’s house), he should not have heard this conversation….
Again, I am always amazed how you can handle him and your other 2 kids. but You are not "infallible" and I think that on this matter (at least as far as I can read them), the blame is on you….
I am just saying it to give you some perspective on things.


@RoniHolzer I respect your opinion. Sure, in a controlled environment that would have been best. The thing is though, this isn't about him being sensitive. This is about him throwing a fit because he's not getting his way. This is about his choices. If this were different more typical circumstances I would agree. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.


@lostandtired  @RoniHolzer 
Rob, Iapologize if I come out wrong. I don't mean to point the finger at you.
I meant only to raise an awareness to a point which might be missed.
The way you wrote, I have no idea if you were all sitting at the table (when you spoke with Lizze about him not going to Grandma's) or if you were alone with Lizze behind close doors.
But what i meant was that if you are talking how you might punish Gavin while he's close by (and he heard you and freaked out), then it was probably a lack of attention on your part. Which is fine, after all we are all fallible.
But obviously if you were behind closed doors and he was listening in, then this is not your fault (but something you should take into consideration as well when you speak with Lizze in private).


@RoniHolzer no apologies needed. I totally understand what you were saying. The point I was simply trying to make was that he was ease dropping. We weren't behind closed doors but he wasn't part of the conversation.
Thank you for the point of view. 🙂


I know this is probably a lame question, but I'm going to ask anyway. Does Gavin have any talents other than his writing? Would he be able to express his anger and other emotions artistically, instead of physically? Has he ever tried?
Obviously Gavin has some measure of control (maybe complete control) in starting and stopping tantrums. He has them even though he should have learned by now that they usually produce undesired outcomes. Is it possible to teach him to redirect his own behavior into something more positive, but which puts him in control, which he obviously wants?
I have read that Gavin is regressing, which I took to mean both physically and mentally, and psychologically. Is he able to assist in his own care? For example, this weekend can he help keep himself calm, by redirecting his own behavior…by concentrating on something he likes, other than manipulating others?


@hudginsvicky that's a good question. This is actually part of what makes this so frustrating. There are so many things going overlapping that I do think know up from down. ..
Gavin is very capable of helping with his own care. He does have other talents as well. The reason why some of that won't work is because he's wants to freak out. It's not a lack of options or an inability to control himself, it's a choice. His goal is to become so disruptive that we give in and remove the consequences.
Having said that, perhaps their is some hybrid version of your suggestions that may work. Thank you and that wasn't lame. 🙂


Rob–Do what you have to do.  Dear God,. I know I would.
Regards, Leslie