Oct 042016
 

I ran into someone that I hadn’t seen in about fifteen years today. Long story short, she is really going through it with a child they adopted.

The girl is 14 or 15 now, and went back and forth between the birth mother and foster care from a young age. After a neglectful and turbulent early childhood, she was adopted by this friend, whose family had been respite providers during those years.

Good foster families play such an important part in anchoring and providing stability for children that have no stability in their lives. And usually there is no thank-you from the child, who may be unable to appreciate the safe haven that has been provided.

Helping a kid who doesn’t seem to want help, (and is often defiant and destructive to the family unit), is a hard burden to bear. I felt for my friend, because we have been there with Lilly. I feel like we’ve been to hell and back with Lilly.

Has it been worth it? Absolutely! What advice do I have for people in this situation? Here is a mini-list of tips:

1. Take care of your marriage. (I will talk more about this topic in two weeks, so stay tuned.)

2. Take care of your health. Eat nutrient rich foods and be active physically.

3. Have a list of people on your team, and their numbers. An actual list. After you put down the professionals, rack your brain to  add helpful people who are not professionals. When in crisis, if you don’t have a list, you may not be able to focus on who to call for help.

4. Know the signals that will tell you that your child is becoming dis-regulated or agitated. With Lilly, she would pace, suck her thumb, and hunch her shoulders. When these happened, I knew we were headed for trouble if there wasn’t an intervention.

5. Think about interventions. Make a list of things that could be used as interventions. More about this in weeks to follow.

6. Don’t hesitate to call for help! It’s when you try to do it all alone that either you get harmed, or something really bad may happen.

7. Document everything unusual and date it. Add names of anyone who heard or saw what you are documenting. I’m talking about unusual or bizarre behavior, harm to animals, self, or others; accusations, fire-starting, running off, breaking items, stealing, etc.

With the holidays coming, it is wise to be proactive if you don’t already have these things in place. Nothing is fool-proof, but you will fail if you don’t think about this seriously.

Love my readers, Nealie

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sep 122016
 

Are You a PuristA Purist has strict or precise rules that do not vary, regardless of the situation.

I know God says that we aren’t supposed to lie, but  have to believe that He was okay with it when Corrie Ten Boom’s family hid the Jews from the Gestapo, and lied to do it.

A purist would have turned them over to the Gestapo, because it’s wrong to tell a lie.

What am I getting at? Someone had a special-needs child, and his fish died. It was a fish that could NOT have been identified by the child in a police line-up.

The purist insisted that the child be told the fish died, even though there was a high possibility of a melt-down and self-harming after the child was told the fish was deceased.

Someone else felt that it was fine to replace the fish and not say anything. Replace it as many times as needed, and make that the longest-living fish in the history of the world. Why? Because there have been too many crazy incidents in this child’s life, and he isn’t stable.

Personally, I don’t believe that one-size-fits-all when it comes to damaged children, and I’d vote for the fish that lives forever.

Comments either way are welcome. 🙂 Nealie

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Apr 242016
 

For a long time every morning I would pass a sign that said, “Miss a Day, Miss a Deal.”

I hated that sign. I don’t even shop there. But that slogan … it made me slightly anxious, because it implied that I was missing something.

Stupid, I know. It goes in the same category as comments such as, “Why did you do that?” Why did I do what?

I remember being at my sister’s house when she was dying. She ordered me to pack her things in boxes, and to use packing tape to seal them. I haven’t been able to hear that rip of packing tape without sadness since that day.

Think of something that causes a little anxiety for you. If little things like these can get us going sometimes, imagine what might trigger a traumatized child.

The color of a room may bring back bad memories.

A certain noise may be a trigger. Maybe it preceded abuse.

Seasons, holidays, people with dark hair/light hair -who knows? We need to be sensitive to the things that may seem to be triggers, and not just chalk-up behavior to disobedience or defiance.

If there are problem behaviors that defy reasoning, then maybe something like this is at work. Pay attention to repeated reactions to certain people or things. Trauma kids often don’t even know why they get upset, so we need to help them by paying attention. Say a child has a memory of dropping their ice cream cone and getting beaten for the mess it made. It would be easy to assume that ice cream could be a trigger. Who would think that something that is good and fun to you, could be a negative for a child?

Keep a log of episodes and what went on those days. What season was it? Where were you? Any sounds in the background? Any different foods served?

A therapist with trauma training and knowledge can be valuable.

Listening to other trauma-parents can also be helpful.

Love my readers, Nealie

 

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Apr 122016
 

Lilly is in her twenties and wants to smoke. She’s told me that she has the right to smoke cigarettes, and she is correct.

The only thing that I could come up with (to deter her), was to say that I also have a right. I have a right to stop bringing sweets when I visit her, if she starts smoking cigarettes.

Today she asked me again about getting a hooka pipe. That was probably the 20th time she has asked. Picturing Lilly with a big hooka pipe makes me giggle. Can’t help it. I think that she means an electronic cigarette.

So, do my readers have any input here, other than getting religious on me? (I don’t think that smoking will keep you out of heaven, but you will get there faster if you smoke.) What about an electronic cigarette? What are the potential dangers to Lilly and those around her, and what are the costs?

Do you think that she should smoke an electronic cigarette? Do you think she should get a hooka pipe?

Can you think of other ways to talk her out of it?

Developmentally disabled people can and do drink, smoke, and become addicted to drugs and alcohol. I added a new resource that will help families of DD people navigate when this happens.

Love my readers, Nealie

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