Friday, May 31, 2013

Trajectory of Healing

We are coming to the end of a 9 month family based treatment program, I am glad and ready to take a break for awhile.  No more frantically cleaning the house several times a week to prepare for the therapists.  No more wasting hours each week teaching the therapists discussing trauma/attachment and the lasting effects it has on my children.  It became pretty evident early on that this would be one more thing to add to our list of therapies that didn't really help.  Within the first few weeks the therapist told me he didn't really know what to do with our family.  He was used to going in and spending the first six months teaching the parent how to develop structure, rules, rewards and consequences.  All these things were in place in our house from the day I brought them home.  It is what I have heard for three years, the only thing the therapists we have seen know how to do is reprimand and scorn.....I mean.... help the parent :)  I understand that in reality the majority of the kids they see with behavior issues are really just products of their environment and poor parenting skills, but when a child who is truly mentally ill comes along, no one knows what to do.  I don't understand this.  I've spent the past three years reading, researching, talking with other parents.  I've developed strategies, skills, and tools for my kids to use.  I'm tired of doing their job.  Yesterday I asked the therapist if he had any suggestions for helping James with his impulsivity and processing delay.  He has always been very impulsive, doing whatever pops into his mind.  Unfortunately his impulses tend to be hitting or throwing or yelling in your face.  These things will not go over well in his 5 day a week preschool next fall.  We have really been trying to work on this and what I have noticed is that what often comes across as defiant behavior seems to be more of a processing delay.  For example,  if he comes up and screams in your face, you will ask him to stop and he will immediately scream in your face again, he may even do it with a laugh.  There seems to be a five second delay for what you have said to sink in, and you may even have to say it several times.  I don't think what he is doing is intentional, I genuinely don't think he is processing what is going on around him and what is being said correctly.  Anyway, the therapist says to me, "Brett, why do you always ask these questions that I can't help you with?!"  Um I don't know.....guess I just figured you were the one who went to school for this stuff!

Matthew had a new Psych Eval for the camp he will be attending this summer.  The family based counselor was there and asked how he was doing in the program.  He told the evaluator, "Matthew was a good trajectory of healing before we entered the picture and I believe he will continue on a steady path of growth."  Its true he has come so far, no thanks to the many 'professionals' along the way, for once in my life I'm taking the credit on this one, I'm the one......ok, ok, Ill give Matthew some credit too :)

I'm ready to be done....4 more weeks.


I know a lot of my fellow trauma momma's have a BIG issue with kiddos lying.  When Matthew first came to me this was also a big issue for us.  He would lie about everything, teacher asks what he had for dinner, he would say Pizza when he had Tacos.  He would tell you the sky was green or that someone had stolen his lunch at school.  I quickly realized a few things about his lying.  First, he used lying as a test with adults.  If you believed his lie he would brag about how he "tricked" the adult.  In his mind if you were this easily duped you certainly were not smart enough to be trusted to take care of his needs.  Second, it gave him a sense of control over his environment, he could easily send the adult into a tailspin with his lies and gain attention.

Although I could certainly understand WHY he was doing this it became an endless battle and quite frankly drove me batty.  He would be coloring with a green crayon but tell you it was red.  Next thing I know I'm in a 20 minute argument with a 5 year old over the color of a crayon. For some reason I just HAD to have him admit he was lying, even though we both knew he was.  Somewhere along the way I heard the greatest advice I had ever been given in regards to this lying issue:  Do NOT give him the opportunity to lie!  How simple a solution and why hadn't I thought of it.  I just stopped asking him questions.  No more, "Did you steal that cookie off the counter?."  Duh?!  Of course he stole the cookie his mouth and hands are covered in chocolate!  Instead I would just say, "I see you stole the cookie off the counter, since you ate that you will not get a cookie at snack time." And I would walk away.  If he started with a story about a miraculous possum that came in and stole the cookie, I would say, "That's a very good lie you came up with, you are SO creative!"  I also did not believe anything he told me, everything was followed up on and checked.  He would get upset and say, "You never believe me!"  And I would simply say, "You are right, you have told me so many lies that I do not believe you right now.  Hopefully when I see that you are telling me the truth all the time, I can believe you and you can earn trust." After doing this for awhile the lies diminished, he wasn't getting anymore control in the house by telling them, he wasn't engaging me in arguments, and I became an adult he couldn't dupe, someone who was smart enough to take care of him.

Check out this great article on lying.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Angry Drawing

Matthew and I have been reading through a book called "A Safe Place For Caleb".

In the book they have some great ideas for kids, one of which is what they call Angry Drawing.  The child basically just scribbles hard on paper when they are upset to get out there frustrations.  Matthew has really enjoyed this.

One of the things we did a few weeks ago has really helped Matthew when he gets stuck in an angry place.  I used to try and tell him to do a certain strategy and was just met with defiance and anger.  Well the other day we sat down together and I had him create a list of all the appropriate things he COULD do when he was angry.  He came up with the following:

1. Angry Drawing
2. Pushups
3. Yell into pillow
4. Breathing Exercises
5. Squeeze and release muscles
6. Punch mattress

He hung the list in his room.  Now when he gets angry instead of telling him "Go do some pushups" or "Use your breathing", I tell him go pick three things off your list to do.  This has given him back a sense of control when his anger and frustration is making him feel out of control.  It has taken away the focus on me telling him what to do and empowered him to pick his strategies.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Emotional Hot Mess

We has some out of town guests with us for a few days.  It was wonderful and my boys had a blast!!  However, after they left this morning my son was an emotional hot mess.  Apparently these are the ONLY friends he has and he will never make another friend in his whole life.  I had to laugh!  I am so proud of how far he has come.  A year ago he had no desire to have friends all he cared about was controlling every situation with peers.  Today he desperately wants friends, he is learning the skills he needs in order to have successful peer relationships, and he is really trying to put it into practice.  Despite a few times over the weekend when he needed to take a minute and regroup, he did a great job!  
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