Thursday, February 23, 2017

Intertwined Fears - Life With FASD

Joseph has a deep set fear of any and all emergency vehicles. One would think that after all these years I would remember this. 

  Yesterday our neighbors had a small trash fire and the local fire company was called to put it out. We didn't arrive home until everything was over, although the trucks were still on the scene. Since we share a drive with these neighbors the vehicles all went past our house on their way out the drive. Joseph had had an excellent day at school but the sight of those trucks rocked his world. I left him watch the trucks leave, thinking that might calm him. Our evening was slightly rocky as both Kiana and Joseph were struggling with fear that the fire would come down and burn our house.

This morning I got everyone up and out the door, never once thinking of the fire. This afternoon, Josephs teacher sent a note home from school describing their day. She told me how she handled each situation that arose and wished us a good evening. Joseph was ornery, obnoxious and over the top emotional. I couldn't figure out what was going on and he of course, couldn't tell me. As I was mulling over what could be going on I remembered the fire. Of course! Poor boy, I hadn't even reassured him before he left for school this morning, no wonder he had been a handful.

I told him I want him to write a story for me which he cheerfully agreed to do, but when I told him I wanted him to write about the fire, he stalled. "I don't want to," He said, "Then I will remember all the scary things that happened and feel scared all over again." I told him that writing down our scary feelings is a good way to make them feel smaller. He looked doubtful but in true Joseph form, he wrote a detailed story about what he saw and felt. I read his story and praised his good work. He finished his paper by drawing a picture to go with the story.

Dean is working late tonight so the children and I ate supper without him. Joseph had several meltdowns during the meal and intentionally provoked his siblings, all things that point to an emotional instability. When he began sobbing I sent him to his room and told him I would talk to him when he finished crying. Sometimes he, like me, just needs a good cry before he can talk.

When I went to his room I asked him what was wrong, "I don't like getting consequences!" He wailed.

"Why do you get consequences?" I asked.

"Because I like to fight!" He exclaimed. 
"If you don't do the naughty, you don't get consequences," I reminded him. He wasn't convinced so I asked if he gets consequences when he is making good choices. He shook his head, then said, "But I don't like consequences!" We went went through the whole thing again and I finally decided it is pointless to pursue that topic as his FASD making it impossible for him to comprehend what I was explaining.

When it was all said and done, he was worried about an upcoming school meeting and the fire. Eating supper without daddy was the straw that broke the camels back. He is now happily playing in his room...until the "big feelings" overwhelm him again, which could happen at any time. One of the symptoms of FASD is something that is referred to as "Swiss cheese brain." The brain is likened to a block of swiss cheese and the holes are where the information gets lost or misplaced. This means that even though we had this discussion and Joseph is now calm and cheerful, in five minutes he may totally forget we ever talked and the fear will be back in force. Then we will have to start at the beginning and work through everything again. This will happen many times over the next few days, until he finds something new to worry about.

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