Last night my husband and I attended the Leaky Brakes 101 workshop. This is a series of six information sessions given by various members of CPRI that are available to anyone who is interested in learning more about Tourette's Syndrome, ADHD, and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
Dr. Dunc was last night's presenter and he gave us an in-depth look into what it's like to have "leaky brakes". Leaky brakes are what Dr. Dunc uses to describe the disability that causes Tourette's Syndrome, ADHD, and OCD. To summarize it briefly, it's as though the the kid is driving a car with leaky brakes, no matter how much they want to stop, and they know they should stop, the ability to do so just isn't there.
What came through loud and clear from Dr. Dunc's presentation is the emotional price these kids are paying because well meaning adults just don't get it. The sheer frustration that they go through. I know my son must have gone through it because it took me several years to come up with strategies to deal with him.
In the example with the car, Dr. Dunc describes how the kid is driving down a steep hill, going really fast, with a cliff at the end. There's a stop sign, a little old lady crossing the street and a cop car with its lights flashing behind him. The kid knows it's time to stop. He's desperately pumping the brakes. Then there's this adult in the passenger seat saying "If you stop this car right now, I'll give you this whole bag of candies!" Well that's no help!
After the inevitable crash, the same adult is now yelling "What did you do that for? Didn't you know to stop?" Of course the kid will say yes, and he probably has a look of "Oh crap" on his face because he really wanted to stop and avoid the disaster that he knew was coming. Then the adult yells "So why didn't you?" and all the kid can say is "I don't know." Now the adult figures, this kid is just being bad, and hands out a punishment. The result is a stressed out, and of course, stress makes it even harder for the kid to work his brakes.
Luke has learned a lot through the various programs he has attended through school and I've learned a lot through my self-educating. As a team, we can now manage his leaky brakes pretty well. First, I learned not to get emotionally invested in the behaviour. Whatever it is, I need to be his calm, safe spot so that I'm not adding to his problem. Second, I've learned not to push. If he says no, I'll get back to him on it. Chances are he needs some time and he'll change his mind. Thirdly, I find that just changing the situation works well. For example, if he and his brother are poking each other at the supper table and just can't seem to stop when I ask them to, I'll make them change seats. The workshop we attended last night showed me why these things worked and gave me some ideas for fine tuning them.
I'm looking forward to the next five sessions. I don't even know what it is that I don't know, but I expect that I'll have a better idea when we're done. If you guys find this information useful, I can try to post after each of the sessions.