How do you relate to someone who is being overly friendly with your attachment challenged child? I took Joseph along grocery shopping the other evening, as it was his turn and he had had a very good day. The three youngest children take turns going shopping with me. It gives me some one on one time with them and I learn lot's of interesting things that I never knew before.
As I said before, Joseph had an excellent day on Tuesday. He was happy, willing to obey and a joy to be around. That is something children with "improvised attachments" struggle with, so the genuine smiles and hearing, "I love you mom," were especially cherished.
Anyway, back to my question, when we arrived at the check out, the cashier looked at Joseph and asked, "How was your day?" Joseph looked at me and I knew he was thinking, "What does this lady know about me?" I smiled at him and he turned to the cashier and said, "It was good."
Cashier: "And what did you do today?"
Joseph: "Rode bike"
Cashier: "Who did you ride bike with?"
Joseph: "By myself"
Cashier: "Do you have brothers and sisters, do you like riding bike with them?"
This went on the entire time she was ringing up my purchases. Joseph was becoming more overstimulated and flustered with every question. His face was flushed, he was chattering away and having a very hard time staying in one spot. I am sure the cashier had no idea that her questions were so unsettling for Joseph. She couldn't know that I narrowly averted a meltdown on the way out to the vehicle, nor did she know that the rest of the week would prove to be incredibly challenging for Joseph and I. My question is, how do you handle such situations? It would be easier to just keep Joseph at home, but I know that isn't realistic. I wish I was a tactful person who had an answer for every situation, but since I haven't been blessed with that ability, I brace myself to weather the storm I know will follow.
Children with FASD often have very good verbal skills but their level of comprehension typically doesn't match what comes out of their mouth. This means that while Joseph was giving appropriate answers, his brain was scrambling to keep up. Meanwhile his insecure attachment was also causing problems. See, children are very perceptive, they usually know exactly how mom is feeling in regards to a situation. They may not be consciously aware of this, but when mom is uneasy, their subconscious is screaming, "DANGER! This situation has mom on edge!"
In this instance I was on edge because I was not in control of the situation and I had no idea what Joseph would say next. A secret fear of mine is that Joseph will say something that will be misinterpreted.
When the child senses mom is on edge, guess what happens? Their little bodies immediately react to that signal and they are back in trauma mode. This my friends is why Dean and I, along with most people who have children with attachment issues carefully monitor and guard our children's interaction with others.
The above scenario doesn't just happen with people outside of our immediate family, it happens to us quite often.
We are constantly analyzing what we say and how Joseph hears what we say because what goes in his ear and then into his brain, may not be anything close to what we said.
So in conclusion, it isn't that we don't trust you. We know how Joseph's brain works and how he reacts to situations that unsettle him. The reason for all this can be summed up in two words, brain damage.