I have been working on Tortuga's lifebook and trying to use Corazon's as a guide. It is still hard to do because I have so much more information about Corazon's history than I do about Tortuga. Thus, my approach has to be different. I don't seem be able to access good resources on lifebooks (beyond the ones that are trying to sell me a prefabricated one and those don't work for me.) I feel a sense of urgency with Tortuga's because he struggles so much with remembering everything including the good times with our family. Corazon used to disassociate from everything and didn't remember anything until we'd gone through it a couple of times. Every time we introduced something new she would declare "I have never had/done/seen....this before!" We often couldn't sort out if it was true or not and even when we knew she had done it before she denied it or genuinely didn't recall. Of course, some of it was also part of the RAD because it was her way of gaining sympathy or attention from strangers. So if someone said, "I'm going to see a movie this weekend." She would declare that she had never gone to the movies as a way of getting attention. She would then argue with us if we reminded her that she had been to the movies. I remember when she had been taking swimming lessons for about six months and one of my work colleagues was talking about inviting us over for a pool party. Corazon excitedly declared that she had NEVER been in a pool and asked my colleague if she could please show her what to do when we got there. I reminded her she had been in various pools and did so every week during lessons. Corazon started crying and screaming that I was lying. My colleague (who was also a friend) didn't know what to say. Needless to say we didn't go.
Behaviors like that were commonplace and I find Tortuga doing this too but I think his is more connected to developmental and cognitive delays. Corazon always lived in the moment and didn't really connect the people, events, activities in her life. People came and went and she just became a new person with each transition. Corazon was a "charmer" and worked hard to become whoever people wanted her to be. Tortuga definitely has trouble putting the pieces together but he isn't trying to be what others want. He just cannot seem to remember much of the events in his life whether they happened three years ago or yesterday. It is a coping strategy for him (it was for her too but different.) But it also means that when he is angry about not getting something he wants or thinks he is entitled to he loses it and really does seem to convince himself that everything in his life is awful.
For Corazon, the lifebook along with posting pictures of her all over her room REALLY helped. The lifebook documented what we knew of her life before us and what we didn't know. We were able to write the good and the bad so that they were REAL. For example, she left one home after a month because she engaged in some very unsafe behaviors and there were other small children in the house. We wrote about that in simple and appropriate language so that she understood that she made unsafe choices (doesn't remember the specifics anymore) in that home but that it wasn't because she was "a bad kid." Corazon described herself as a bad kid for the first two years we had her whenever anything came up about her earlier life and even her choices in our home. We worked intensely to disconnect the bad behavior from the good kid for so very long. She still pulls it out and now even asks questions about it.
When I started Tortuga's he wasn't interested and so I stopped working on it. I just pulled it out this past week and am trying to tackle it again. Anyone with good ideas about how to approach this when we have no photos and almost no information about his life before age 7?