""

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Over Stimulation? Go To The Bounce House!

It is a well known fact that children with a history of trauma do not do well in a loud, chaotic environment. Dean and I have made a conscious effort to shield our children from over stimulating situations. You have probably all seen us pull one child or another aside when they are playing in a group. You may have wondered why we did that because as far as you could see, everything was under control. What you may not have noticed was a giggle that was higher pitched than usual, pupils that were dilated, flushed cheeks and behavior that was just slightly over the top. These are signs our child is losing control and will either melt down or do something inappropriate unless we can redirect them.

Anyway, knowing all that, I took the children to The Bounce House yesterday. Yeah, I know, not very smart. 
 We arrived shortly after they opened and not all of the bounce houses were inflated. When the air compressors kicked in to blow up the houses, the noise level increased but everyone was okay with it. Then the music began and more people arrived. Kiana spaced out first. She told me she doesn't know what to do. I was surprised because she was the last of my children whom I would have expected to be bothered by the noise. She would have loved to sit and play games but I told her I paid for her to jump, not play games. 
Joseph held it together very well until just before we left. Several times I had him stop and take deep breaths which really helped him. He had a grand time bouncing around, climbing the ladders and going down the slides.

But ever since he (and his parents) have been paying a high price for those moments of fun. His brain is firing randomly, he cannot find the words to tell us what he wants, he is bouncing around the house, banging into things and taking apart everything he can. I literally need to watch him like he is a toddler. On the bright side we haven't had many tantrums or melt downs, amazingly. 

I was feeling discouraged about the whole situation last night. I love Joseph dearly but there are times FASD is hard, when that happens I remind myself what it was like parenting a child with RAD and FASD. It is amazing how quickly one can forget!
Anyway, I was sharing my thoughts with Dean. Okay, maybe dumping my feelings would be a better term. I asked him why I cannot just accept my lot in life once and for all. I get so tired of fighting the same battle! I always come out victorious in the end but the battle can get so tiring. Dean told me that often when a christian is serving where God wants him, the tempter will come to try to steal their peace. That put things into perspective for me! 
You would think that after experiencing the peace and joy of being in the center of God's will, I would know better than answering the door when the enemy comes knocking, but to often I give in and then I need to fight the battle all over again. Please pray for us, sometimes the road ahead looks overwhelming.
Image result for parent of children with FASD quotes


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

I Wish I Was A Neurologist

     I think everyone who has a child with a brain injury be in prior to birth or after, should be able to  have an immediate understanding of neurology. Last night I told Dean, "I am going to become a Neurologist." He just smiled and said, "Great!" I have laid aside the book I was so excited about the other day and picked this one up instead. You can order it here.
    We are still awaiting an appointment at the Kennedy Kreiger Center and in the meantime I am learning all I can about FASD, thus all the new reading material. The other day there was a comic on my special needs FB page. It read, "Don't you just hate it when you are the smartest person in the room.....and you are in a doctors office?" Understand, I am not bashing doctors, nor am I boasting my knowledge because it is far below what I should have to parent my children successfully. Just ask them.:) The person who posted the comic was trying to portray how parents who have a child with FASD feel in a doctors office. The brain is the "New Frontier of the 21st century" and doctors and scientists are constantly learning knew things about the human brain. What a doctor learns in medical school may well have changed by the time they licensed. Of course they don't go to medical school and then stop studying but my point is, our brain knowledge is constantly changing. Add brain damage to the mix and the fact that no two people with FASD present exactly the same and it becomes a complicated issue. 
     More and more in this huge learning curve called FASD, I am learning that I know my child best and I am his advocate. Doctors and therapists will share their opinions and treatments but the parents are ultimately the ones who have to decide which treatment path to take. This book lays everything out very plainly. It explains all the basic "brain stuff" such as which parts of the brain do what and what will be affected when each part is damaged. It also goes into the child's metabolism and how it can be affected, what happens then and it isn't as simple as weight gain or weight loss as I once thought. There are lot's of resources in the back of the book as well. I am making myself read the book from front to back instead of reading what I think pertains to my family. 
   The more I read and learn the more amazed I am that we are even alive! So many things attribute to the developing brain, where a child is born, prenatal and post natal health, food, water, maternal mental health, living conditions, stress, illness...everything we experience in life affects the size, shape and health of our brains.

                         

This book talks quite a bit about our reflexes. We are born with some such as grasping a finger. When you place your finger in a baby's hand he will curl his fingers around it. There are some reflexes a baby develops at periodic times as he grows. At the same time, he will lose some of his newborn reflexes. The author shares what it was like raising her daughter who has FASD. The daughter was missing some reflexes and still had some "baby reflexes" at 12 years of age. One of the reflexes she mentioned was when you sense you are going to fall, you automatically put your hands out in front of yourself to break the fall. Joseph doesn't do that. I never thought about it before but that partly explains why he gets hurt so often. The reflexes he does have are delayed and he has a very poor sense of balance which also attribute to his many tumble's, as does his perception of where he is in space. 
   Another intriguing thing the author mentioned was nose breathing. Her daughter didn't know how to breathe through her nose, this in turn deprived her already struggling brain of oxygen. 
   At the bottom of one of the pages of this book was this quote: "If you have told your child a thousand times, who is the slow learner?" Ouch! 


Monday, July 27, 2015

Chewlry Teething Necklaces

INTRODUCING:
             Sensory Beads by Sandra

to order email me at: sensorybeads@gmail.com
      
        Several of our children have oral sensory needs. I looked at the chewy toys online but the prices made me reconsider. Then one day while out shopping I found some, but the price, ouch! Do I buy one or don't I? I finally decided to buy two of them and I was glad I did. Lia and Joseph walked around chewing on their beads for the remainder of the day. Those beads are still among their most cherished possessions. 

   Dean got to thinking and researching and figured out we can make and sell them for much less than I paid so we began experimenting and this is what we came up with. 
                           

A custom made necklace 

10" and 15" chewy bead necklace








Sensory beads are made with 15 mm food grade silicon beads, nylon string and break away safety clasp so your child cannot strangle. These are made for older children with oral sensory needs but are also excellent for teething toddlers and babies. Specify boy or girl, or let me know what colors you prefer and I will do my best to accommodate you.

15" necklace $11.50
10" Necklace $8.00
(price does not include $3.00 shipping)

to order email me at: sensorybeads@gmail.com














Saturday, July 25, 2015

Why My Son Cannot Bond

  I received this book in the mail yesterday and I am so fascinated with all of the information it pertains.  

                                                  
  Here is the link to Amazon if you wish to buy the book yourself.
  
  I used to think providing a child with a "good" home is all they need to thrive. That idea went out the window when a toddler came into our home and threw us into the most intense years of our lives. As we learned more about attachment I came to understand why this was not the case but I still had questions. Then we learned about trauma and prebirth experiences and things made a little more sense but still questions remained. A big one for me was why can't Braden attach to me? Then he was diagnosed with FASD and a few more pieces fell in place but he still couldn't attach. He had a huge fear of me as mom. I did everything, the therapists, psychiatrist, folks at TAP, his FASD specialist, nothing worked. Then I spoke with a wise woman whom shall remain unnamed. She said, "Sandra, you broke his trust way back when you took him for visits and left him screaming at the door with the very people who neglected him and caused much of the trauma in his life. The neglect compounded with FASD makes it impossible for him to understand the situation and realize that he is now safe. He will possibly always view you in the same category as his birth parents. One of the people who cannot be trusted." That hurt to hear but it made sense and was also freeing. I agonized over his inability to bond with me, there must be something wrong with me if a child cannot love and trust me, was my reasoning.
  All that to say this book took all the bits and pieces of knowledge I had concerning attachment, trauma and the human brain and put it together in one place. Best of all it is written so people like me can understand it. (I did have to read the first chapter through a few times in order to wrap my brain around the content but now it makes sense). I am in awe at how fearfully and wonderfully we are made. 
       I will praise thee for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. 
                Psalm 139:14

    "Although the unborn child is unable to identify sensations and feelings of distress it can certainly experience neurological distress with which it's emotions are closely linked."
  While still in the womb the child is created in ways to best adapt to the world it will be born into. For instance, there was a study done during a war, I forget which one, where a whole city was closed off and the inhabitants were unable to get food when their supply ran out, so they existed on a few calories a day. There was a study done on the babies who were yet unborn at the time and they found that many of them were obese and had serious health issues. Why? Because the babies bodies' were "taught" to hang onto every calorie. When there was once more plenty of food, these babies, now grown, packed on the pounds.
  In light of that, many children who enter the foster system are the product of chaotic homes and distressed, depressed and fearful mothers. Their babies are born, expecting the world to be a fearful, dangerous place.
  The book talks about this phenomenon. It says that a child born under these conditions may "come around" if it receives good parenting. However many of these children are placed in the system or receive mediocre care so the sense that the world is a dangerous place is further cemented in their brains. The most crucial time for these brain pathways to be corrected or reconstructed is in the first three years of life. 
  Braden's first three years of life were anything but peaceful when one considers his chaotic home life, being moved to a foster home which is a traumatic experience in itself, having the person who should have been keeping him safe take him to see his birth parents.... no wonder he was controlling and manipulated people! He was only trying to protect himself!
 I know it is not helpful to look back and say, "If only." That is something I have to continually guard against when I think about Braden. "If only we would have known some of this information when he was placed with us!" I do realize that a lot of this information makes sense to me because I have witnessed it first hand. Just reading about it isn't enough for me to really comprehend some issues such as a child refusing to budge even if his very life was at stake. Really? Oh yes! For me there is something about witnessing these things first hand that is necessary in order for me to process what I read. So, even if I would have known all about attachment, trauma and brain damage prior to Braden coming into our home, I probably would have had a hard time believing and understanding it. That is why it is so helpful to have a therapist who has personally dealt with these problems. Once I asked a therapist how she can handle working with these problems all day. She replied, "I can go home at night and leave the problems at work, as parents you are responsible all the time, that is what makes trauma so hard."



Friday, July 24, 2015

Cherry Crest Adventure Farm




Yesterday I took the children to Cherry Crest Farm. Our original plan was to go to the Barnyard Kingdom, using tickets they received for participating in the Summer Reading Program at our local library. When we arrived at the Barn Yard Kingdom we were welcomed by a large sign that said: Grand Opening July 25. We were two days to early! So we went to Cherry Crest Farm instead. 
Meet two of the local farmers, Tristan and Kiana

The water table was a highlight

As was playing in the "Corn Shed."

Water Art consisted of water, blackboard and a paint brush

Ride 'em cowboys!

Joseph loved standing in front of the large mister fans. They sprayed a fine mist over everything

Riding the pedal tractors

Holding day old peeps

I allowed the children to choose something from the Sweet Shop. Tristan chose flavored sugar. He filled a tube with different favors of powdered sugar. He thought it was great.

Trying to decide what she wants. This young lady always wants the best, which makes choosing something difficult. She finally chose a laser light so she would have the same thing as Joseph.

We also enjoyed the hay ride, small red wagon rides through the corn maze, ice cream, pillow bounce, sling shots and the long slides. Tristan was almost to old to enjoy most of the fun but the younger three had a good time. We came home tired and sunburned.












Wednesday, July 22, 2015

God Is In Control

    Today is such a beautiful day but my heart is heavy for all those who are grieving. Is it just me, or has God been calling a lot of young parents Home lately? I must be careful to count my blessings and lift my family and friends up to God instead of dwelling on the pain and grief of this earth. 

   On Sunday our minister reminded us that God is good. He was not asleep when a father drowned on Saturday nor did the angels neglect their duty when a mother lost her life on Monday. God is over all and while we will not understand why He allows some things to come into our lives, we can trust that He can use our circumstances to further His kingdom. 

              Image result for God is 

   In our human reasoning we cannot understand why mothers get cancer, why a couple who loves children and would make excellent parents, has their foster baby taken and have to work through daunting legal issues to clear their name when they didn't do anything wrong. Why do innocent children have to suffer for their parents choices? Why do the people who try to help them need to choose between keeping their children safe and provoking the wrath of CYS?

   Some of these things we will never understand this side of heaven but we can rest in the thought that God is on His throne and He is alive and well. He hasn't forgotten, He hasn't turned a blind eye and He most certainly hears our prayers. 


     It is these hard experiences that deepen our relationship with our Father. They strengthen us and each us to truly rest, knowing God is faithful. He doesn't leave is children when the going get's hard.     
               Image result for God is

    There is something about reaching that place,  where you suddenly know this is the end of the road. There is nothing left and your very life feels like it is hanging in the balance and then Jesus reaches down and touches you and suddenly the fear is gone and you know that Jesus is all that matters. He can redeem any situation, no matter how hopeless things seem because HE is GOD. 
     







Monday, July 20, 2015

Summertime - Swimming & Picnic's

School starts in 5 weeks!!! Now I am in a panicked rush, trying to get all the remaining summer activities crammed into a few weeks. 

           

       This is where we spend at least an hour every afternoon. Lia was finally brave enough to walk across the pool with her life jacket on today. She was so proud of herself! 
                                    
               Dean is enlarging our outdoor picnic area. 

            
      Kiana and Joseph were delighted with all the dirt. Never mind the fact that they have a 10' round sandbox full of sand to play in, dirt is so much more fun. Joseph gets so dirty he is impossible to get clean. The dirt is ground into his skin. 
   Tristan wasn't quite as enthused by all the dirt because he had the job of removing all the roots so we could mulch. He tried to recruit his siblings help but declared they are slower than turtles!

                           

A large package came in the mail....addressed to gift was from friends of ours who have a daughter with Reactive Attachment Disorder, the same diagnosis our son Braden has.


Picnic time! Pulled pork, sweet corn, watermelon and blueberry milk shakes....it must be summer time! I like to eat out side, especially when we have corn on the cob. I don't enjoy trying to sweep corn kernels off my kitchen floor.

This is Lia's latest outfit...a beanie and glasses. 



Friday, July 17, 2015

Tips To Get Your Child With Trauma Talking

        Getting our children to talk is like pulling teeth, teeth that aren't loose mind you, painful, time consuming and messy. Most of their talking issue's stem from trauma. They don't have a solid sense of self (I will go into that in another post) so they are unable to separate and identify their feelings. Most of their feelings come out as anger, defiance, stubbornness or what we call acting dumb (I will write another post on this). I am writing this post for myself as much as anyone because I tend to forget the different methods of getting a child to talk when we are in the thick of a "I won't/can't talk session.

  Using puppets or stuffed animals makes it easier for a child to talk because it doesn't feel so close and personal. I will have my teddy say to my child's stuffed lion, "It looks like you are feeling _________ today, can I help you?" Or I may say, "It makes me feel sad when my friends are sad. I want to help you feel better. Can you tell me why you are sad so I can help you feel happy again?" 

   I wrote about using jounals in another post. Those journals have acquired a lot of miles in the past two months. They get pulled off their shelf almost daily and occasionally several times a day. I am trying to change the mind set from "journals are a consequence" to "Writing in my journal helps me feel better." Sometimes if a child won't talk they will write. Those are the easy fixes and don't happen very often.

When there is something bothering a child and they need to talk so they can feel happy, we sometimes will tell them to do jumping jacks, run laps or jump on the trampoline. Physical exercise works wonders! If a child is really "out there" and refuses to run or jump, we sometimes turn it into something silly. I will chase them around the table until they are laughing or we will see who can jump the highest or run the fastest. I make sure to make a big fuss over how much faster they are than I am. Once they are laughing and having fun they are sometimes willing to talk.

  Another tactic that often works is when I say, "When I was a little girl ___________ made me feel sad, scared, worried etc. I wonder if that is how you feel." This works when you know what is wrong but the child hasn't been able to identify what is bothering them. A similar idea is to say, "I knew a little boy/girl who had__________ happen to them and they felt so __________. I wonder if that is how you are feeling."

Sometimes our children are simply being stubborn. Does that happen to anyone else? Sometimes a motivator works in these situations. I will set the timer and lay a piece of candy or a sticker on the counter and tell them they may have it when they have told me what is bothering them. You have to be careful with this though because my children soon expected to be rewarded for talking. Because of that, this is usually one of our last ditch attempts.

  Other times cuddling them and reading a story or having a tickle fest will get them talking. I found this book and sometimes we will pull it off the shelf and read it together then talk about how holding hurt feelings inside make us feel scared and alone.

  Give your child something with protein, a spoonful of peanut butter will do. I learned that tip from another adoptive mom. You can follow her blog here. A glass of cold water and a bit of protein are sometimes all it takes for our children to open up and start talking.

Please share any tips you use to get your child to talk about their troubles, I am always looking for new idea's.
  

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A Summary Of The Past Week


Beautiful flowers from my sister in law.

I haven't been blogging much about what has been happening at our house. Why? Because it is pretty calm and stable right now. I know, I shouldn't say that but for once I can, so I am going to let every one know!

We spent the past week end at a cabin with other families who have adopted. We had quite the bunch of energetic youngsters running around but no one got hurt, for which we were thankful. Anyway, Monday was kind of rough around here but it would have been rough even without trauma figured in. For some reason we all find it hard to readjust after a vacation, no matter how short it is.
  Joseph didn't have a single meltdown all weekend! He started to a few times but we were always able to divert his attention and get him interested in something else. He is extra spacey these past few days but I think he has a perfect right to be, after keeping it together all week end. Last night, while reading a book he looked up and said, "I like to check where I am." I gave him a puzzled look and he explained,"I wake up at night to see where I am." That is the kind of comments he makes when his brain and his mouth aren't in sync. 

This is something they learned at the cabin: If you put a smashed water bottle between your fender and back tire it makes a lovely noise. They think it is lovely anyway. Joseph's bike was making a dreadful racket and he said, "Mom I wonder when my engine is going to blow up!" The joys of homemade toys combined with a child's imagination!

Can dogs be passive aggressive? When we came home from the cabin Kobi had one of my flowers pulled out. Till Monday evening two more were in shreds. He seldom bothers them which makes me think he was making us pay for going away.

Enjoying hot dogs for a snack after swimming in You can't see the two plastic eggs Lia is sitting on. She told me she is going to sit on them to eat her hot dogs, then they will hatch.


Tristan no longer comes running for a band aide when he cuts his finger, he makes his own out of a paper towel and electrical tape.

My sister gave me some iced coffee mix. All I had to do was add milk and ice cubes. Lia loves the stuff but she isn't able to have much because she cannot handle the caffeine. She has enough energy as it is.


We are enjoying fresh blueberries in shakes, smoothies and parfaits. 

My children are all book worms. Kiana and Joseph have recently graduated to reading while they walk. When I call them they come slowly, stumbling over the edge of the carpet and bumping into things....all the while their noses are buried deep in a book. We were at the library this morning and stocked up again, it is amazing how quickly they can read through a book. 

We have also been swimming whenever it is warm enough and sometimes when it isn't. Our pool isn't very deep but I don't trust leaving the children by themselves so I usually join them. Dean built a deck along the one side of the pool now I can sit on my lawn chair while they swim. This week I started packing a lunch for them to eat outside. One less mess to clean up and they love it! Kobi is only to glad to clean up any scraps, including soggy sandwiches that accidentally fall into the water. Our pool has been a great investment. Swimming in excellent therapy and meets some of Joseph's sensory needs at the same time. It also tires out little people and then they nap more often, which is another good thing. 











Monday, July 13, 2015

What Makes A Good Friend


                                          

 What makes people friends? Shared experiences, joy, sorrow, mutual interests, time spent together, love, a deep understanding of the other persons interests and emotions? 

Sometimes Dean tells me I think to much. :) He usually says that when I am trying to figure out a complicated issue that has no right or wrong answer. I love to debate which is fine until I begin thinking to hard. Anyway, I have been thinking about friends and what makes people become friends. When does an acquaintance cross the line and become a friend? 

                Image result for who is a friend

             I have several friends who help when they can and listen when they can't. These friends are the kind who stood by when we were struggling with RAD and said, "I don't understand but I will support you." 

                                                 Image result for friends who know your needs 
                                                   

               I have a friend who I can count on to tell me the truth even if it isn't what I want to hear. She has guided me through many bumps over the years. We live miles apart but she has walked a road similar to ours and isn't afraid to tell me when I need to let things go and move on. She is just as quick to tell me to cut myself some slack, best of all we can laugh over crazy things that only those who lived with RAD, would find humorous.

                     Image result for loyal friend

   Then there are those "old friends" people you have known for years. People who know the good, bad and the ugly about you. These are comfortable friends, people you can invite over even when your house is a mess and you have nothing but stale chips to serve for a snack. 


                              Image result for new friends

               
       New friends, the people you will meet or have recently met. You never know where your friendship will go or who you will meet because of your new friend. I met many new friends through this blog, people I wouldn't have been blessed to know otherwise. 


                                                 Image result for friends who know your needs


       We spent the weekend with a group of friends who are willing to lift us up when we think it is impossible to do so. We stayed up late and enjoyed good food and talked about well, everything mom's talk about. We encouraged each other to go on and found strength in sharing our burdens, knowing those needs would be brought before our Father.

                                         
                                            Image result for shared experience friends

       And then there are those people who have become my friends because of our shared experiences. Isn't it amazing how people can have a bond based on an experience? Those people who know what you will need before you know it yourself because they have been there, they know the joy and pain. You can do likewise drop a card, gift or meal off at someone's house when you know they will need someone to acknowledge their sadness, pain or fatigue. Send them flowers when they need to be cheered up after a dreary day where things just didn't go right.

                    Image result for there is a friend who is closer than a brother

There is also the Friend who never let's us down, who claims us as His own even though we don't deserve it. This Friend carries our burdens and intercede's daily on our behalf. This Friend loves us, He even gave His life for us. Let us strive to be like Jesus and be genuine in our friendships


Shared on: Friendship Friday