Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Fatal Link - A Must Read For Anyone Who Suspects Their Child May Have FASD

    About 6 years ago, I found a book entitled, Dandelion On My Pillow, Butcher Knife Beneath, by Nancy Thomas, and I suddenly grasped the magnitude of of Reactive Attachment Disorder. We had never heard of RAD before we began searching for an answer to B's problems. In reality we were trying to figure out if something was wrong with B or if we were perhaps mentally unstable. Which, I must add, is a very scary situation to be in! When I discovered Nancy's book, I finally understood, and as I didn't enjoy having people imply that perhaps I was simply being over dramatic, I shared the book. 

   Needless to say we received quite the responses! Anything from, "I don't know what to say," to, "Make sure your children never see that book!" Looking back I can laugh, but at the time it wasn't funny.

   You may wonder why I even shared the book and my answer to that is, in our circle of family, friends and so on, we were among the very first to implement some of the "odd parenting technique's that apply to those parenting a child with RAD." Keeping B with us, not allowing him to interact with people unless we were right beside him to monitor the situation, keeping him back from events that overstimulated him and insisting that no one other than mom or dad feed him, didn't always go over so well and our hope was that this book would allow people to see that we weren't being vindictive by not allowing them to spend time alone with B, we were protecting all parties involved.

  Another response was, "You are taking the worst case scenario's and act as though B will turn out like them." At that time B was a little charmer in public. He was sweet and compliant most times, if he wasn't, he manipulated the situation to make it appear as if mom and dad were being unreasonable. The people looking on had no experience with attachment disorders and couldn't believe a preschooler would have the mental capacity to make mom or dad look bad, besides why would a child do such a thing? The book I am about to share with you may make you think the same thing. But I want you to understand that sometimes when you look ahead and seeing what could happen, you have the incentive to be as pro active as possible now and maybe, just maybe, you will save both  you and your child a lot of heart ache in the future.



      I think I have found the FASD equivalent to Dandelion On My Pillow, Butcher Knife Beneath. It is called The Fatal Link. The author reveals the one link that is present in the shootings that happened over the years in Minnesota schools. Jody Allen Crowe taught at a school where many of the students were from a nearby Reservation, and came to realize that punishment/consequences did no good. "I would punish a student, he would cry and beg forgiveness, promising never to repeat the offense and the next day he would do the very same thing! It was so frustrating!"
      I will admit I had to smile because that sounds so familiar. This teacher began connecting the dots and realized alcohol was the culprit. He shares stories of family members affected by alcohol and says in part, "I want people to realize that FASD affects every walk of people, it is everywhere and I believe it is one of the main reason's our jails and Social Services are so overwhelmed. We have a generation of mothers who are affected and quite likely their children will also be affected. FASD is not hereditary, but the lives many people with this disability lead due to their inability to rise above their circumstances, contribute to generation after generation of people affected with FASD."

    I got the book yesterday and by bed time I was finished. I thought I understood FASD, but this book did an excellent job of explaining the many ways people can be affected as well as giving examples of situations the author faced. Maybe I liked the book so much simply because I know the author felt the same sense of helpless frustration I sometimes feel when Joseph simply cannot grasp what I consider a simple concept. 

    "The only advice I can give is STRUCTURE, STRUCTURE, STRUCTURE," writes the author, Jody Allen Crowe. Of course there are many other things you can do to help those affected with FASD but that isn't what this book was about, rather it was written so parents, doctors, law enforcement and those operating the prison systems would ask, "Why did this person do this," and look at their history, you may find prenatal exposure to alcohol is the common denominator." 

   I urge you to read this book for yourself, it contains a wealth of information and maybe it will help you better understand your impulsive, dramatic, immature child. 

    Like my FB page Tales From Our House Blog to receive new posts as well as see the links I share on RAD, FASD, adoption and parenting.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Why Our Parenting May Be Different From One Moment To The Next

        Joseph played with his toys beside my chair as I visited with a group of ladies, one evening not so long ago. When Dean walked through the room, he looked at me, asking without words if he shall take Joseph with him. I smiled and he called Joseph who jumped up quickly as he is only to happy to spend time with his daddy. After they left the room, someone asked me why we always keep Joseph either with us or in line of vision. I was glad she asked, as to often assumptions are made and someone ends up getting hurt.

     When B was home, most everyone understood he had "a problem," though few people understood exactly what the problem was. When he spent 2.5 years in a treatment home without permanent progress in bonding, Dean and I felt we were given a little more grace, perhaps we did have reasons for some of our seemingly odd, parenting techniques. :)

   Joseph has similar problems with attachment, he certainly doesn't have RAD, but due to the brain damage he suffered in utero, he struggles to understand cause and effect. This directly affects his bond with us because a child learns to trust through his parents providing both the care and discipline he needs. 

    Joseph needs cream put on his skin daily to keep it soft and moist. He hates the cream with a passion. I am certain his SPD is part of the reason he dislikes it so much. In his mind, when I put cream on him I am being mean. I have sat him down numerous times and explained why he needs the cream, last night we had just such a conversation.

Joseph: "I hate this cream! You don't care how it makes me feel, it hurts and you put it on anyway!"

Me: "How about I throw the cream away?"  

J: "But then my skin will crack and get sore! You must put cream on me!"

M: "So you are saying you are going to be angry if I put it on and angry if I don't?"

J: "Yes, because I don't like the cream and you put it on me anyway! But If you don't then it will hurt even more, so you must put it on!"

    This conversation is a classic example of brain damage caused by alcohol. I keep thinking that if I explain things in simple enough terms he will eventually "get it." Then I remember a quote I read some where, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result."

   This is also why Joseph does not have as solid a bond with us, his brain cannot make sense of his world and he views mom and dad as the people responsible for, "Making my life hard," as he says.

    All this to say, this is why we parent Joseph as one would a child with attachment disorder, even after he has been with us for 8 years. It is easy to get the impression that we are picking on him by keeping his world small but in reality we are doing anything but that. See, we know the possible reality of his future and we are determined to do our best to give him a chance to succeed. We know that giving him freedom to sit on other adults laps, cuddle beside them or drink in the attention they long to shower upon him, will only hinder his ability to bond with us.

   Due to his brain damage, he is much like a child who has recently been placed with us and we parent him accordingly. I know what people see in public would lead them to think he is well bonded but in truth, some of his baby like, adoration of us is all for show. He knows people will smile at him if he sits on mom's lap or gazes into daddy's eyes. There are other times however when he really is at that age level emotionally and mentally so we hold and cuddle him accordingly. This is why we sometimes make him sit beside us rather than holding him and other times offer to hold him. As his mom n dad we know him well enough (usually) to know where he is mentally.

   Joseph loves attention but he can't handle it very well. As one mom shared in a book, "My daughter was at the dentist and did a great job, knowing our daughter had some struggles, the dentist praised her. I explained that the next few days would show how well she handled the appointment, because she holds in her big feelings until she is at home." That describes Joseph very well. He may appear to be handling the attention but what no one see's is the fall out later on or in the coming days. We try to prevent these fall outs at all costs because they can easily damage the bond we are trying so hard to build.

The book I got the dentist story from can be found here. If you struggle to know how to relate to adoptive families concerning attachment, this is a must read!

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Women With Intention

Saturday, June 25, 2016

My Experience With SSRI Withdrawal, Along With A Warning

    I have recently, as in the past 6 months, embarked on a new learning curve, one I never dreamed I would experience personally. Through foster care and adoption I have learned, or thought I learned, the basics of withdrawal and how it affects someone. But until I began walking this journey myself, I will now admit I was absolutely clueless. Now before you start thinking I was using some form of illegal drug to "help" me cope, let me clarify, I was/am not. 

    When Tristan was three months old I was diagnosed with PPD (postpartum depression) and after trying various medications, none of which worked, my doctor prescribed Effexor an SSRI, and praise God it worked! I was assured there were no effects from long term use and by the time I should have been thinking of weaning, we were deep into infertility treatments, which is not a good time to get off your antidepressant's! Then it was foster care, adoption, RAD and well, you get the picture. When your home life is organized chaos at best, it is not the time to think of weaning. 




    Over the years I began adding more medications to my daily intake. medications for dizziness, another antidepressant that gave me more energy because Effexor is a "downer," and made me very tired and lethargic... and the list goes on. So I spoke with my doctor and told him I want to get off of this medication. He agreed, and I went from 300 mg to 150 mg and plunged headlong into withdrawal. 2 months later, I emerged feeling great but dreading the thought of the rest of the weaning process.


   At my next appointment, my doctor gave me a two week prescription for 37.5 mg. "Take it for two weeks. By then your body will be used to the lower dose and you can quit taking it altogether," was his advice. "But what about withdrawal?" I asked. He assured me I wouldn't go through withdrawal from such a low dose.
  
       I was in a panic, so in desperation, I began researching Effexor and how it affects people. I was surprised to find entire support groups just for people weaning off of this nasty medication. There was talk of locked psych unit's and horrible physical and emotional reactions. To say I was scared, is putting it mildly, because by this time I was experiencing withdrawal even worse than I had the previous time.

      Think the worse flu you ever had multiplied, combined it with head ache's, dizziness, extreme body aches, emotional instability along with a whole host of other symptoms. I was desperate because I honestly didn't know if my body could tolerate totally going off this drug in one more week. Thankfully I found a support group that listed supplements to help ease symptoms as well as weaning advice. The Road Back is another group I found, and they have a supplement designed specifically for Effexor withdrawal. These groups advise opening your capsules and taking out ten percent of the granules, every 4-6 weeks or as you feel able to limit withdrawal symptoms, a far cry from halving your dose and going off all within two weeks time!

   4 months after my second medication reduction, I am seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. I think I can finally say life is enjoyable again, I am no longer taking Ibuprofen every few hours just to function and the brain fog that clouds my ability to focus is fading. 

   Why do I share this here? Because this experience has been quite an eye opener to me and I know many of my readers have children on psychiatric meds. Not all medications have as severe side effects as SSRI's but this experience has made us more conscious of our children's reactions when they are "off their meds." 

   According to the doctor, you do not go through withdrawal with stimulants, but ever since Kiana has been on them, Dean has been certain that when her med's wear off, she experiences a form of withdrawal. Her behavior deteriorates and she becomes much more hyper active than she was before taking her medication. Mornings are even worse, we have one goal in mind when she wakes up, eat and take that pill! 

    Kiana's doctor recommended giving her a break from stimulants for the summer, as she has been on them for a long time. To say the last month has been an emotional month is an understatement! She was angry, so very angry over inconsequential things, things that it didn't even make sense to be angry about. 

    My cloudy brain (from my own withdrawal) took awhile to remember a phase I went through, a phase or irrational anger. It was scary for me as an adult to feel so angry and I knew what was causing it. After about a week the anger faded away and a new symptom took it's place, typical for Effexor withdrawal. 

   When I finally realized that Kiana's anger and severe mood swings were probably due to withdrawal, we changed how we approached her attitudes, but it didn't make a difference. 

    Fast forward and she is back on her meds and our happy, cheerful little girl is back again. The doctor said, "Some children need these med's and we are doing her no favors by not giving them to her." Thus ended our attempts at a summer free of stimulants. Kiana needs them for school so why put her through the agony of withdrawal, only to put her back on in a few months?



    In conclusion, if you or your child are on psychiatric med's, be careful, withdrawal is real, can be dangerous and even life threatening. Be careful, we need to remember we are dealing with the brain!
  

My Experience With SSRI Withdrawal, Along With A Warning

    I have recently, as in the past 6 months, embarked on a new learning curve, one I never dreamed I would experience personally. Through foster care and adoption I have learned, or thought I learned, the basics of withdrawal and how it affects someone. But until I began walking this journey myself, I will now admit I was absolutely clueless. Now before you start thinking I was using some form of illegal drug to "help" me cope, let me clarify, I was/am not. 

    When Tristan was three months old I was diagnosed with PPD (postpartum depression) and after trying various medications, none of which worked, my doctor prescribed Effexor an SSRI, and praise God it worked! I was assured there were no effects from long term use and by the time I should have been thinking of weaning, we were deep into infertility treatments, which is not a good time to get off your antidepressant's! Then it was foster care, adoption, RAD and well, you get the picture. When your home life is organized chaos at best, it is not the time to think of weaning. 




    Over the years I began adding more medications to my daily intake. medications for dizziness, another antidepressant that gave me more energy because Effexor is a "downer," and made me very tired and lethargic... and the list goes on. So I spoke with my doctor and told him I want to get off of this medication. He agreed, and I went from 300 mg to 150 mg and plunged headlong into withdrawal. 2 months later, I emerged feeling great but dreading the thought of the rest of the weaning process.


   At my next appointment, my doctor gave me a two week prescription for 37.5 mg. "Take it for two weeks. By then your body will be used to the lower dose and you can quit taking it altogether," was his advice. "But what about withdrawal?" I asked. He assured me I wouldn't go through withdrawal from such a low dose.
  
       I was in a panic, so in desperation, I began researching Effexor and how it affects people. I was surprised to find entire support groups just for people weaning off of this nasty medication. There was talk of locked psych unit's and horrible physical and emotional reactions. To say I was scared, is putting it mildly, because by this time I was experiencing withdrawal even worse than I had the previous time.

      Think the worse flu you ever had multiplied, combined it with head ache's, dizziness, extreme body aches, emotional instability along with a whole host of other symptoms. I was desperate because I honestly didn't know if my body could tolerate totally going off this drug in one more week. Thankfully I found a support group that listed supplements to help ease symptoms as well as weaning advice. The Road Back is another group I found, and they have a supplement designed specifically for Effexor withdrawal. These groups advise opening your capsules and taking out ten percent of the granules, every 4-6 weeks or as you feel able to limit withdrawal symptoms, a far cry from halving your dose and going off all within two weeks time!

   4 months after my second medication reduction, I am seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. I think I can finally say life is enjoyable again, I am no longer taking Ibuprofen every few hours just to function and the brain fog that clouds my ability to focus is fading. 

   Why do I share this here? Because this experience has been quite an eye opener to me and I know many of my readers have children on psychiatric meds. Not all medications have as severe side effects as SSRI's but this experience has made us more conscious of our children's reactions when they are "off their meds." 

   According to the doctor, you do not go through withdrawal with stimulants, but ever since Kiana has been on them, Dean has been certain that when her med's wear off, she experiences a form of withdrawal. Her behavior deteriorates and she becomes much more hyper active than she was before taking her medication. Mornings are even worse, we have one goal in mind when she wakes up, eat and take that pill! 

    Kiana's doctor recommended giving her a break from stimulants for the summer, as she has been on them for a long time. To say the last month has been an emotional month is an understatement! She was angry, so very angry over inconsequential things, things that it didn't even make sense to be angry about. 

    My cloudy brain (from my own withdrawal) took awhile to remember a phase I went through, a phase or irrational anger. It was scary for me as an adult to feel so angry and I knew what was causing it. After about a week the anger faded away and a new symptom took it's place, typical for Effexor withdrawal. 

   When I finally realized that Kiana's anger and severe mood swings were probably due to withdrawal, we changed how we approached her attitudes, but it didn't make a difference. 

    Fast forward and she is back on her meds and our happy, cheerful little girl is back again. The doctor said, "Some children need these med's and we are doing her no favors by not giving them to her." Thus ended our attempts at a summer free of stimulants. Kiana needs them for school so why put her through the agony of withdrawal, only to put her back on in a few months?



    In conclusion, if you or your child are on psychiatric med's, be careful, withdrawal is real, can be dangerous and even life threatening. Be careful, we need to remember we are dealing with the brain!
  

Friday, June 24, 2016

Summer At Our House

      Last night marked the final evening of Summer Bible School at church. We were blessed to be able to attend every evening, except Monday evening. The children enjoyed their classes, and Dean and I had the pleasure of listening to some excellent teaching on, Christian Homes and Families. I fully intended to take pictures to share here, but somehow in all the activity I forgot.

   We spend most afternoons swimming, regardless of the weather. The first day they went swimming, the water was a chilly 60 degrees and the temperature was barely over 70. They jumped in the water and came up gasping for air. Joseph loves the water, which played a part in our decision to get a bigger pool.




   Tristan has been helping his uncle pick strawberries this week. He enjoys it and it is good for him to work hard. He comes home tired and dirty!

    Last weekend Dean smoked two chickens. We used a chipotle rub. They were delicious. I used the last of it to make chicken salad, much to my daughters dismay.





Tristan and Kobi  -A dog is a boy's best friend-


The other week a friend gave me this gift. The children were thrilled to see the candy. Dean reminded them it was for mom...I did share though.


I tried a new recipe for Cinnamon Strudel Coffee Cake. It was delicious, but when I tried to make it again it flopped. (twice)


Blurry cell phone pic of my two girls. Dean went to wake them one morning and this is how they were sleeping.


One sleepy girl who was not about to admit she was tired.


Tristan's long awaited crossbow finally arrived! He bought it himself using money he earned picking produce and selling eggs. We have found that our children take better care of their things if they have to spend their own money.


Joseph drew this picture for me yesterday. He gave it as a gift but he has no idea how much of a, "Punch in the gut," he delivered. A child will draw their family as they perceive them and having mom at the bottom of the list says alot about the child's view of his mom. I texted the picture to Dean and said, "Sometimes I feel so appreciated, NOT!" He replied, "At least you are smiling, I don't even have a face!" I had to laugh but it was still depressing. You can read more about, "family drawing," here


Dean grilling some awesome burgers as well as a few hot dogs for the hot dog lovers. We use Old Bay seasoning on our burgers, what do you use?


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Coffee Shop Conversations

Picture


   

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Boundaries: A Tool To Help Children And Adult's Succeed

Boundary: A line around something's edge.

extinction concept elephant family on edge of cliff

    Dean and I have very distinct boundaries for our children. They know where these boundaries are and while they push against them from time to time to ensure these boundaries are secure, they generally feel safe within them.

   We have been accused, blessed, held in awe and trampled for having these boundaries in place. One of the arguments we hear is: "They will never learn how to make decisions if you don't allow them to experience life outside the boundaries." Our answer to that is, "The boundaries we have in place are to keep them safe, we know they are not able to traverse the world outside the safety net we have put in place. As they grow, mature and show they are able to make the right decisions, we broaden their horizons, giving them a little more freedom. If they do well with this, we continue to allow them this extra space and with time we give them a little more freedom. Boundaries are not put in place as a punishment, they are implemented to set the individual up for success. 

   For instance, Joseph cannot make good choices if he is allowed to run and play with a group of boys. This is due to brain damage, not lack of experience. If we as his parents give him this freedom, knowing he will get into trouble and possibly accidentally hurt someone, are we not being irresponsible? Plus, there may be damages to repair, children will not want to play with him and inevitably he will feel like a failure. As it is, we allow him to play one on one with other children while remaining in our sight because he does well with that. He comes away feeling successful, he has a friend and he had a good time all of which equal success.

    Children and adults who are unable to honor boundaries due to brain damage, lack of training or from too much freedom to soon, yearn for the security of having someone say, "You may not...." It also gives them an out. See, sometimes these people know deep in their hearts that they cannot handle what their peers are about to do, but if they say no, they risk ridicule. If they can say, "My mom, dad or whoever the case may be, said I may not," perhaps their peers will cast their judgement elsewhere.

    An inability to respect boundaries is something most people with a trauma history struggle with. In their previous home their top priority was survival. Emotional and verbal abuse can be just as detrimental as physical or s@xual abuse, in any of these situations the person has a goal of getting through the day with as little damage as possible, by whatever means necessary.

    If such a person is  removed from the situation and placed in a home where boundaries are not enforced, they will naturally continue with their previous method of life, with no thought of how it might be affecting another person or inhibiting their own healing. When boundaries are implemented, the person will fight against them but deep inside, perhaps so deep they themselves are unaware of it, is a sense of relief. Relief that someone finally cares enough about them to place limits and enforce those limits with consequences.

   A consequence is different than a punishment. A punishment is given to someone with the intent that the person will no longer pursue whatever it is they have been doing. A consequence is a teaching tool. We have been taught to use natural consequences whenever possible. Let's say Junior leaves his new ball glove outside and the dog chews it up. A punishment is given because he was irresponsible and left his glove outside, when he was perfectly able to remember to put it away without any prompts. Now if the child has experienced trauma or has brain damage, you might say something like, "Oh dear, Rover chewed you ball glove, how sad, now you don't have one," and leave it at that. No longer having a ball glove is a natural consequence. Every parent or caregiver will have to decide how to proceed from there. Whether Junior earns a new ball glove by doing extra chores or perhaps receives one for a gift, will need to be determined by what he is able to understand. If your child's brain damage is extensive enough that you know he is unable to care for his belonging's, is it really his fault the ball glove got left outside or does some of the blame perhaps lay with his parents?

    This same technique applies to older teens and adults who are attempting to heal from previous wounds or have brain damage and are learning to navigate their surroundings. It would be "nice" if these people could be given the freedoms other adults enjoy, but what we are forgetting is that while they are adults physically, emotionally and socially they are still growing. Boundaries will give them the same sense of security Joseph feels when we say, "No." 

    Often times these people have low self esteem from continual failure. They try and try but are unable to respond correctly and appropriately to situations their peers handle with ease. By enforcing boundaries, we eliminate some of these pitfalls and give the individual an opportunity to succeed. every success builds self esteem, which is a great incentive to conquer more hurdles. 



teenage girls climbing over the fence

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Titus 2 Tuesday #linkup
   

Friday, June 17, 2016

Why Sticker Charts Don't Work When Your Child Has An Attachment Disorder




Somebody finished a chart and finally received her prize. Now her big sister wants a chart as well, I don't think Kiana realizes there is hard work involved in changing habits and behaviors. 

I haven't done sticker charts for a long time since they have such detrimental affects on children with trauma and attachment struggles. When B's mobile therapist Miss D, began coming twice a week, she was certain a sticker chart would fix everything we were dealing with. What child doesn't like to put stickers on a chart and earn rewards? A child who is trying to control everyone and everything, that is who! We split the days up into three sections and when B had a certain amount of stickers, he would receive a prize. He actually managed to earn a sticker or two, but about then it registered in his brain that mom wanted him to earn stickers and receiving a sticker meant he was complying with mom and dad's rules. His behavior went down hill from there. He made certain he didn't earn any stickers from then on. When Miss D came out the following week she looked in puzzlement at his chart. "You got two stickers at the beginning and none since then," she said, "What happened?" B of course, just shrugged and I took the opportunity to educate her once more on why sticker charts do not work for children with attachment disorders.

When B earns a sticker, I explained, it goes against his self image of, "I am a bad person," so he actively sets out to prove his opinion of himself is correct by acting out. His negative behavior is what keeps up the wall he has built around his heart and when the sticker chart suggests he isn't doing a good job of keeping that wall up, so his behavior becomes worse. 

Another reason is, the simple control factor, earning a sticker for whatever reason means following the set guidelines, children with RAD don't comply with guidelines, because they must be in control.

Sticker charts made the negative behavior worse on multiple fronts so they were permanently removed from our therapeutic techniques.




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Here is the link to my new FB page for Special Needs Support Items, where we share links and products that work for our special needs children:  
https://www.facebook.com/groups/622816464548200/






Monday, June 13, 2016

Triangulation, Triggers And Trauma - Effective Communication Is Key

   Children feel most secure when their parents provide a united front regarding discipline, privileges and safety issues. People with trauma tend to subconsciously divide and conquer, it is their way of being in control. They only feel safe when they are the one controlling the people and circumstances. Anyone who has parented a child with RAD, knows these children are masters at driving wedges between their parents. This wedge serves two purposes, hurts mom and dad as well as keeping them from getting to close.

      B was effectively doing this very thing, until one day his therapist brought it to our attention. As with every child with RAD, B had a major problem with me, mom. His way of dividing and conquering was to "improve" his behavior when Dean was around. Somehow he was always able to hear the tires crunching on the gravel when Dean came home from work. Whatever was going on, be it a tantrum, fighting a sibling or yelling at me, it all stopped abruptly. Till Dean came into the house, B was smiling and chattering about his day. Naturally Dean, wanting to build a relationship with him, would engage him and give him some undivided attention. How B loved that, not that he wanted the attention, but he knew that he was winning Dean over while driving me away, exactly what he wanted. Neither Dean nor I was aware of what was going on. I only knew it made me angry when B changed his attitude when Dean was home. It felt wrong to me but I thought perhaps I was just jealous of the relationship they appeared to be building.

 When we talked it over, we came to the conclusion that if Dean was the channel through which B learned to love, it would be okay.  I would just have to be okay with being the bad guy for awhile and hope that eventually B would come to love me. That was nonsense, don't ever, ever do that!! 

    Despite my resolution, I struggled to maintain a good attitude and focus on the real reason Dean showered B with love while B in turn showered me with defiance and anger. As often happens, things became worse so gradually that neither Dean nor I were aware of it until one day Miss D, B's therapist brought us up short. You can read that story here

   Fast forward to today and we have a similar situation. Of course it is a different child and the motivation behind the triangulation is different but guess who was triggered by it? Yup, me. If you are thinking I get triggered by an awful lot of stuff, you are thinking correctly. RAD, FASD and CYS investigations will do that to you.

   Anyway, it began subtly as most things of this manner do. It noticed my desire to nurture Joseph was diminishing. I figured it was partly because of how tough he has been these past weeks, but deep inside I knew there was more to it, I just didn't want to deal with it.

   Dean took off work on Friday and we enjoyed having him home for a long weekend. Joseph ran along with Dean as he usually does and Dean, being busy, gave him a little more freedom than he usually has when he is home with me. And as usual, Joseph began edging towards over stimulation and I began to be triggered. See, when Dean is home Joseph can have more freedom for several reasons. One is, Joseph will not have a melt down as quickly when Dean reprimands him. Also, there are two adults around, when I am home with all four children, I need to keep boundaries a little tighter or chaos ensues. Plus the more over stimulated Joseph is on the week end, the worse he acts out when his normal boundaries are reapplied. 

   Last night Dean and I had the talk that we should have had two weeks ago and got back on the same page regarding our parenting. I am continually amazed at how quickly our "parenting structure" becomes in need of repair when we aren't consistently communicating. Sometimes we just get tired of this high level parenting business, other times we get busy or other things come up and we don't communicate as effectively as we know we should. Usually it takes small crisis to smack us upside the head and we quickly get on board again.

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Faith'nFriends RB
   

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Maybe They Don't Want To Be Rescued

     The weather outside exactly matches the weather we have been having inside here of late. This morning the sun was shining brightly and a few moments later, the rain was coming down in torrents! It rained for awhile and then the sun was shining once more. I decided to quickly do some edging around my flower beds, Shh! I know it is June but I have lot's of excuses! We were three quarters finished with the edging when it began to rain again. Joseph started hopping and dancing, trying to avoid the rain drops to no avail. Tristan, who wasn't thrilled about the edging project to begin with, thought the rain was a excellent reason to call it quits. I wanted to finish but the rain increased in intensity and we were in danger of becoming soaked, so I called off the project, much to my children's relief.

   In an earlier post I mentioned that the moods and ensuing behaviors are like the crashing waves, a crash then a lull before another crash. I think the weather we are having today is a better comparison...cool, rainy and windy with a bit of sunshine thrown in. 

   My 8 year old's were feeling cool and rainy this morning. Joseph is still mad about the whole privileges thing and Kiana, well could it be hormones!? I don't mind if they are grumpy as long as they are at least trying to make good choices. Today there wasn't any trying going on. After numerous consequences, talks and attempts to get them out of their funk, I told them they will need to sit on a chair until they are ready to try to make good choices. They sat all morning (their choice) because, as Kiana said, "I don't feel like trying!"  

   I was pondering how to help them as I mixed up bars and strawberry danish and I had to wonder if perhaps I need to stop trying to rescue them. When I am feeling like I imagine they are, I don't always want to be rescued, sometimes I just need to wallow in my misery for a bit. 

   I know what is bothering my children, we have talked about it, empathized, given consequences and held them while they cried but they simply aren't ready to let go of their perceived injustices, so maybe I need to just back off. That isn't easy though, I just want to fix things for them!

    On the bright side, Joseph gave me a sticker he found while  sweeping his bedroom floor and Kiana willingly said, "Yes mom!" when I asked her to do a job...so till the storm passes by we will enjoy the glimpses of sunlight!  

   I wrote a post (and deleted it) about normal families. See sometimes I wish we were normal, whatever that is. I think it is an absence of fear, anger, rage and manipulation but I could be wrong. Anyway as I was writing the post, I came across lot's of quotes about normal and I wanted to share some of them with you.

- Normal in this house is just a setting on the dryer. I might frame that one to hang in my laundry

- I tried normal once, worst 2 minutes of my life.

- Normal is overrated.


 And this is my favorite:

- Normal is an illusion. What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly.   


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Saturday, June 4, 2016

Screaming Won't Get Food In Your Mouth - An Analogy Between Food, Choices And Privileges

   "If you have a plate of food and you are hungry, how do you get the food into your mouth? By screaming, hitting and throwing things?" Such was the conversation that went down at our house last evening. The past few days have been really noisy around here, Joseph has been in meltdown/rage mode pretty much nonstop and I don't know why. Well, I know what the triggers have been but it is unusual for him to stay mad at the world for days after he is triggered. I cannot figure out if he is "stuck" mentally, simply trying out mom...how far can I push her before I get consequences, or if something "changed" in his brain. Unfortunately we fear it was the latter. Dean said it appears as though Joseph has recently become more aware that he is different and doesn't know how to handle it, so his behavior went down the tubes. I went to my trusty FASD support group and asked their opinion and in a nut shell this is the answer I got, "Yes, he has probably reached a new level of awareness and the rages are a result of that and between the ages of 8&9 is when my child's tantrums increase in intensity and frequency." Not what I was hoping to hear.

   Anyway back to the conversation. The privileges our children receive are a direct result of their choices. Simply put, "Bad choices=no privileges, good choices=privileges." Of course, we also take into consideration how hard they are trying to make good choices because we all have days where we feel grumpy and get short tempered, so if we see they are having a tough day but are sincerely trying to make good choices we give them grace. After all, we all need grace from time to time.

   Joseph has been furious that he doesn't have any privileges. The truth is, he does have many privileges, but in his anger and frustration he feels like he doesn't have any. We have been trying to tell him for years that if he makes good choices, he will get privileges but thanks to FASD, he cannot make that connection. Last night Dean tried again, "If you scream and yell at the food on your plate, it will not jump into your mouth, you must do help it by spooning it into your mouth. The same with privileges, screaming, throwing things and beating up on mom will not earn them, you must do something to get them, you must make good choices, by doing things like obeying and not screaming at mom. Do you understand?" Joseph grinned sheepishly and nodded his head, indicating that he understood. As of today, one would think the conversation and Josephs understanding of it never happened.



 What do you do to help your child regulate? Here are some of the things we use:

Teasing/playing - sometimes I will play peek a boo or tickle him. Often this will make him laugh which derails the tantrum but this technique hasn't been working this week.

Swaddling - I wrap him in a blanket, which he finds calming because it meets his deep pressure sensory needs.

 Rocking - holding him and rocking (while hanging onto his flailing limbs and trying to protect my face from said limbs) sometimes calms him.

Snacks - a snack or drink of cold water is often helpful but he has been turning them down as well. Like a mom once said, "You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make them drink." 

Shower - for some reason his anger and frustration go down the drain with the water... usually. This was also a no go this week. I considered putting him in the shower with his clothing on since he wasn't cooperating but I was afraid that would upset him even more, plus I didn't want him running away from me only to slip, fall and hurt himself.

Jumping - jumping on the trampoline or doing jumping jacks often settles those raging cortisol levels...except he refused to jump!

Tapping - which I wrote about here is another technique we use, but if you are to upset to eat, you most certainly won't tap!

As usual despite all the raging he still makes us laugh, after one particularly rough evening he sighed as he went to bed and said, "Mom, I decided I like you and dad after all!" We love you too Joseph, but a little less noise would be nice!

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