Friday, February 16, 2018

Where we began

So now that I'm all sentimental about how far the family has come, I wanted to share where we came FROM. When Little Ham arrived, he was diagnosed with this: RAD (if you have time try to read this, it's a lot)

We believed that he had RAD, but also didn't... because we couldn't get our heads around what RAD was or what it would mean to our family. I must have read that page 100 times, looking for clues for us and coming out with a general sense of hopelessness. "HOW CAN YOU DEAL WITH SOMEONE WHO DOESN'T UNDERSTAND THE PASSAGE OF TIME?"

Once he arrived. we didn't have much of a chance to look back at the article, it's the only one we've found that really lays out the IWM.

This week I looked back at it. Little Ham had a giant dose of the anxiety, omnipotence, hyper-vigilance, scarcity, and dissociation. His emotional regulation was undeveloped, and he was very temporal. Basically the whole article with the exception of Indiscriminate affection applied to him quite well

We have been able to make significant progress with memory, hyper-vigilance, scarcity, Dissociation, Victim-hood, Temporal experience, Integration, language discipline and Consequences, adult attention, Discipline and Consequences, and boundaries. We still struggle with  emotional experience, Information and Power, and Nuisance behaviors. Oh the Nuisance behaviors.

Here they are, clipped from the article. You can see where they would be problematic:

Information & Power:  Information is power and AD children know this very well.  They will go to great lengths to control the flow of information about them in order to maintain their power to manipulate others' image of them.  AD children give out very little real information about themselves, for they view that as giving their power away to others.  Telling the truth, therefore, is to be avoided as a matter of policy, and adult urgings to do so can be seen as attempts to steal the child’s power because the adults want it for themselves.  Much of the fabricating of AD children is intended to keep adults confused about what's real and what isn't.  When asked questions, AD children often stall by “playing dumb” or “forgetting”, hoping that the adult will get impatient and give a prompt or clue around which the child can fashion an answer that will please the adult while giving away no information. 

Nuisance behaviors: These are frequently occurring, more minor behaviors such as interrupting, noisemaking, asking excessive questions, or relatively incessant chattering that serve multiple purposes: 1) disrupt the simplest of everyday interactions and block relating, 2) ongoing reminders that the AD child is not under the adult’s control, 3) nonstop chattering diverts awareness into left hemisphere language functioning and away from right hemisphere affective awareness (true of excessive verbalization in general), 4) discharge anxiety, and 5) probes the external environment to acquire information about the situation.  From adults’ reactions to these “behavioral probes”, AD children begin to piece together who is punitive and who is supportive; who will respond and who will ignore; who is more structured and who is more lax.  The child with AD is likely to use the responses to his probes to figure out how to “manage” the adults.  

We've been dealing lately with Disassociation in that it is not possible to get Little Ham to tell the truth long enough or consistently enough to get a glasses prescription set. Half way through he shuts down and starts simply grunting or answering "yes" to all the questions, and he then gets glasses he can't see out of. We are now on our third prescription, after he JUST  NOW failed the eye exam at school. so we aren't sure if he was disassociating during the school exam, or during the main eye exam or what. We have an appointment next week for yet another prescription...

Dissociation:  To protect themselves from their own own threatening feelings, AD children learn to dissociate or disconnect themselves from their own experience in the present moment.  Their selective perception is so well honed that AD children can appear to almost shut down parts of their brain in ways the average person cannot comprehend.  Experience itself is erased from consciousness as though it never happened.  Threatening questions, as well as any possible answer that might have immediately arisen can be obliterated right out of awareness.  AD children learn how to move and hold their bodies so as not to trigger physiologically stored emotions and memories.  This primitive denial is beyond the reach of conventional forms of treatment and is a major reason why such treatment tends to fail with AD children.  Overall, this dissociative response is made up of many different tactics including: increased distractibility and fidgeting (can look like AD/HD);  becoming confused; circular answers; vague or contradictory language; inaudible or unintelligible speech; loss of short-term memory; shutting down one or more of their sensory processing systems so they literally don’t experience their own sensory input (can look like learning disabilities except that processing can improve dramatically as attachment  develops); immature and/or faint tone of voice;  loss of eye contact; bodily preoccupations (picking at skin, scabs, bug bites; fingernail chewing, itching and scratching, hair twirling, aches and pains, repetitive movements, playing with fingers).   

 But, we soldier on. It took about a year to even understand that these were RAD behaviors, and now we work on omitting them using behaviorism and modeling. Still more years of work ahead of us, but also so much progress.

Friday, February 02, 2018

In Sickness and In Health

So one of the most surprising parts of adopting is the phenomenon of trying to treat the child when they are ill. Because the child doesn't know you or trust you in any way, the double whammy of feeling lousy, and believing there's no one to turn to is overwhelming.

When Little Ham arrived, the first several illnesses were quite difficult. We were up many times all night long because he wouldn't accept medication, including ear infection antibiotics and aspirin. Sore throats became the stuff of legend (between Hambone and me) and headaches were earth shattering.

As you may know, this year the flu virus has been very severe and ubiquitous. This week all of us got a stomach bug, and tonight Little Ham came down with a sore throat and fever.

I was just upstairs and Little Ham willingly accepted medication from me and told me he loved me after he took it. Sometimes I forget how far our family has come.

This simple action. This profound change.

Life is amazing.