Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Sibling Relationships - Living With FASD

Like everyone else, people with FASD long to be loved and accepted. Due in part to all the trauma our family has gone through over the years, Joseph and his siblings have a strained relationship. They endured trauma in their bio homes, then secondary trauma in our home due to RAD and FASD. The secondary trauma, cemented their thinking that our home is not safe. Obviously mom and dad were not strong enough to keep them safe because things happened to intensify their fear and pain even while mom and dad were saying, "You are safe now." 

Joseph's actions are similar enough to his brothers' that his siblings are triggered even when he means no harm. Because of his inability to read social cues, Joseph often steps into a situation and causes more chaos. It looks like he is intentionally antagonizing his siblings, when in reality he is just trying to help. Joseph has weak core muscles so he isn't good at playing physical games, while slow processing speed makes him an easy opponent at board games. Play is usually where children build relationships. The above reasons plus Joseph's lack of self control make that nearly impossible.

With all this stacked against him, he has a hard time building positive relationships with his brother and sisters. He wisely thought up of a plan. He would be super helpful, which is a good idea except that FASD once more got the upper hand. For instance, when he wants to open the door for someone, he pushes past them and then proudly holds open the door. That doesn't go over well with temperamental siblings! If I drop something, he will drop his book and come running to pick up the fallen object, tripping over his feet in the process. He tries to quickly clear the table all by himself but drops dishes because he carries too many at one time, despite repeated reminders to carry one plate at a time. Sometimes I feel sorry for him and other times I need to remind myself to be empathetic. If he would do what he is told to do instead of forever rushing in and trying to help, life would be so much easier for everyone. The problem is, how do I explain that to him? He melted down the other day because, "I was just trying to help and now everyone is cross at me!" 

We were at a loss as how to help him until Dean struck on a brilliant idea, "You need to ask before you try to help people." He told Joseph. "Sometimes people don't need help and sometimes when you try to help and the person doesn't want help it just makes them grumpy." 

The flip side is his siblings. In reality they should be the one's who are showing grace. However the whole trauma thing discolors every situation, plus someone with Neuro Lyme isn't exactly prone to graciousness! Sometimes I think perhaps we should begin family therapy to work through some of these issues, but Kiana wouldn't be able to process much, neither would Lia and Tristan isn't at the age where family therapy would appealing. Maybe I am just taking the cowards way out. Have any of you tried it? If so, what did you think? We went for a few sessions around the time Braden left but our hearts were so broken and bruised from the past years that it wasn't very beneficial.

And so, that is the current situation at our house, trying to teach our children how to have good relationships when the odds are stacked against them!

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