Sunday, October 30, 2011

It begins...

Most of Tortuga's "trauma" times (moves from birth mom, moves to foster homes, move to RTC, move to our home, etc.) took place between October 30 and February 20. This is our hell time with him. Each and every year it is as if a switch has been flipped as October 30 rolls around and his behavior starts to spiral downward. He will become easily dysregulated and angry and aggressive and violent. Bad times all the way around.  This year, we have been trying to prepare for it a little differently. We started talking about it in August and we started to call attention to the behaviors and feelings that often emerge around this time of year. We also pointed out that we are going to be extra sensitive and extra vigilant to try and address these as soon as they arise. We have reintroduced tapping and practicing patience and alone time under his weighted blanket in anticipation of all of this. Each week I plan on introducing a new guided imagery and a new set of journal prompts to help us all get through the process and document it for him.

Today, as if on cue, his dysregulation was palatable from the moment he got up. He was agitated and "off" throughout the day BUT he held it together for the most part.  We have started a "chart" in which he will track each time he finds himself feeling "off" or doing something he should. We have made it a "family project" to help him through this time without letting him blow it for the rest of the family. In previous years we have cancelled many activities because he couldn't handle it but we aren't going to do this this year and he will be writing about each of these in his journal. So far, he seems "on board" with the idea and I think it is helping him feel a little more in control. I don't know if it will help but it may give us some insights as we move forward.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Puberty and RAD

Puberty and RAD. Any advice out there?

Please don't say "run for cover!"

That's not working.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I am listening to you dear boy...

I hate that it's sometimes so easy to miss things that are right in front of my face. For a long time now Pollito has been telling me (not in so many words) that he needs to be near me and closely supervised. I ignored it and just refused to listen. So he screamed louder and louder with behaviors that were worsening by the minute.

Last week I (finally) put my foot down after the umpteenth time of his willfully destroying something.  I told him I heard him! I heard that he didn't want to play in the play area unsupervised. I heard that he didn't want to play outside unsupervised. I heard that he didn't want/know how to be nice to younger children if he wasn't supervised. I heard that if he was told to be mindful of something, it was an invitation that he break it, damage it, destroy it,  or get it stuck in something. I heard that he needed to be near me at all times.

Then I took away "everything." Playing outside with the toys. Playing inside with the toys. Playing with the other children. For a week. It doesn't matter what he did or if the offenses meet the "punishment." (They do and they don't. ) It matters that I took advantage of an opportunity to make his world a little smaller (which I actually didn't think was possible) and take away the anxiety that all those choices, all that responsibility, all that "choice" creates for this little boy.

It has been a week (and he asked for me to extend it until this weekend by telling me that if I let him play in the play area he was going to break something of Milagro's) and he has had the BEST WEEK EVER in homeschooling. He has finally learned his numbers up to 35 and can write them accurately without looking. He remembers how to write his first AND last name. His handwriting has improved. His drawing and coloring are absolutely breath-taking. His decoding includes actually remembering consonant blends--th, sh, ch, bl, st, etc. and the sounds that oo, ou, ow, aw, au, and ing make. When he sits with his books to "read" he actually tries to sound out the words and remembers most of the words he knows.  When he plays on his mat with a few choice toys he mostly plays with them appropriately. His voice stays in the normal range for volume AND we actually understand his speech a whole lot better.  Most importantly, he seems happier. Yes, we still get the defiance and the opposition. Yes, he still tries to do the opposite of what he is asked. Yes, he still pouts and cries when there's a big transition (like bedtime) but it is so much better. And he is genuinely smiling more often.  Today he happily did  Corazon's chores because she isn't doing so well and he smiled all day long.

He was letting me know that he needed ME. I have resisted this with all of my being because he doesn't have RAD. Yes, he has some attachment issues and probably some form of ODD coupled with language development challenges. But since my other two with RAD need CONSTANT supervision and monitoring, I had let this go on for way too long. So now we are making his world a whole lot smaller and we are making gains quickly and steadily.

I hate it when I don't listen to what my kids are really saying.

Lesson learned.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Musings by Milagro

Milagro is obsessed with all things Sc**by D**. She, Pollito and our 4 year old neighbor can play for hours making up and solving Scooby and the gang mysteries. She is also a chatterbox. Sometimes this makes for an interesting combination.

 This morning she came downstairs and announced that we had a new mystery to solve because the ghost on the zip line (one of our Halloween decorations) was going off "more than usual." I hadn't noticed. She came over to hug me good morning and continued.  Her theory was that "onalarity" was happening. Having no idea what she was talking about I asked her what that meant. She announced "ON-A-LAR-ITY!" Still unsure about what she was saying I asked her to explain. "Onalarity means that one ghost is controlling another ghost, even if one ghost is real and the other is pretend like ours on the zip line!", she said.  I asked her where she got this word and she said she made it up. ("I always make up words mom, I am smart like that!")

Then she announced "Mom, our house has a lot of mysteries."
"It does?", I asked.
"Yes, mom. LOTS of mysteries. First there's the mystery of where Grandma Ginny is up in the sky." (C.'s grandmother just passsed away last week.)
"Then, there's the mystery of why my closet door doesn't close all the way when we slam it shut.", she continued.
"And, there's the mystery of where is my wallet."
"And, now there's the mystery of "onalarity" and the zip line ghost." she concluded.

After a short silence, she asked "which mystery do you want to talk about first--closet, ghost, Grandma Ginny or wallet? Come sit next to me so we can have our talk." as she patted the seat right next to her on the couch.

All this before my morning coffee.

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