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Baby steps (part 2 if I’ve used this title before?!).

Published April 26, 2018 by thefamilyof5

Big girl comes home from school every day very ‘hyper’. This is an indication of anxiety. Every day I spend about 30-40mins talking to her as soon as she walks through the door, she tells me about her day, processes her thoughts and unloads everything on to me. She feels calmer afterwards and I can get on with making the dinner.

On quite a few occasions she’s come home more hyper than usual. For example, there was the day of her science fair, a Friday, she came home in such a state we almost called an ambulance or took her to A&E. It took 4hrs that evening to get her to a relative state of normal, but it took until the Sunday lunchtime for her to really be feeling ‘ok’.

Then there was yesterday, a change in timetable first thing in the morning and an extra long PE session with 2 potential new teachers was just too much. She came home very hyper/manic and again, it took me some time to calm her down and help to regulate her. This time, she was able to tell me why she was so hyper, usually she isn’t aware and we have to work it out together, she recognised that the PE lesson first thing in the morning had left her feeling anxious and overwhelmed all day. She recognised things that she had done throughout the day were because of her anxiety. She told me about jumping in class and generally being ‘silly’ all day. These are not behaviours that you would usually associate with big girl, unless she was anxious.

We talked about how hard it must be for her to feel this anxious all day and how it wasn’t healthy for her brain or her body to be feeling like this for long periods of time. We talked about what she thought she could do to help herself calm down once she’s recognised her anxiety levels. We came up with many ideas, such a leaving the classroom, talking to a teacher, going for a walk, using the sensory room, sitting and reading a book and a few others, none of these she felt would help her. The only thing she felt might help was being at home or with me. We talked about how maybe phoning home could be an option and she thought that was worth a try however, having the courage to ask a teacher to let her call home posed another issue.

It’s amazing that she has, for the first time to my knowledge, been aware, in the moment, of how she is feeling, it is also the first time she has been able to recognise that things she is doing ‘aren’t right’ and are because she is anxious. She said that when she was jumping around she was telling herself in her brain that she needed to stop and things weren’t ok. But she couldn’t.

What is exceptionally sad about all of this though, is that all of this information is in the Letter to Teacher that she gave to her teacher during her transition to school. It specifically mentions silly behaviour being a sign of anxiety, it talks about new faces and changes to routines being a trigger for anxiety AND it also suggests offering a phone call home as reassurance. Big girl is developing a new awareness about herself and how she feels, but she can’t do it all by herself. She needs help to regulate and feel safe.

We’re meeting with school tomorrow, I really hope that we’re able to help her teachers to really ‘know’ big girl and not just see the facade she allows them to see.

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Big girls bag of worries.

Published April 11, 2018 by thefamilyof5

Big girls been struggling this half term, she’s very hyper, manic even, and not sleeping.

I managed to establish with her yesterday that she’s worrying about going back to school because she’s finding break times difficult. She often doesn’t have someone to talk to, or play with and finds being alone uncomfortable. She doesn’t want people to see her looking sad or alone so she finds herself running about, bouncing like a bunny (her words) and generally appearing busy. She tells me she doesn’t like acting like this (it is all very out of character behaviour for her, she’s not one for silliness really). She says it makes her even more anxious pretending to be enjoying herself and still worrying that people will be ‘looking at her’. We had a chat about it and I explained that I’ve been speaking to her teachers who will be trying to support her better at these times and also how she could go and stand by a teacher when she is feeling left out. We also talked about what she could do to feel less lonely and with nothing to do. She gathered a colouring book and some loom bands to put in her school bag and seemed happy with this idea. I thought, I hoped, that might be enough to reassure her.

After another sleepless night I suggested she spent some time really thinking about her worries. Breaking each part down and looking at what it really is about. I gave her some ideas on how to do this such a story, write a diary, design a poster etc. It really is something she needed to work through by herself. Big girl spends all day avoiding her thoughts by keeping busy and filling the quiet with noise. I suggested if she processed her thoughts and came up with some ideas and solutions that she felt might help, then she might do less ‘thinking’ when she’s in bed each night.

She disappeared, and reappeared about 20 minutes later looking pleased with herself.

Big girl: mom, I’ve just realised, if I can tell my teacher I have a pet hamster then I can tell her I have no one to talk too as well can’t I!

I really hope it’s as simple as that and she is able to remove her mask at school and let them see her struggles, or in the very least this simplified idea affords her some sleep tonight.

Hello, is there anybody there?

Published November 20, 2017 by thefamilyof5

Its been a while eh, I’ve so much to update you with, especially if you haven’t been following my Facebook page, or Instagram.

So. I’ll break it up in to two parts.  Before July & since July.

Before July

Things were brilliant. The girls were calm, I was calm. They were enjoying their tuition and learning. We were making some lovely memories. Our DDP therapy had mostly stopped, a few sessions with Big girl, but sessions mostly just involving me with the focus on giving me a space to reflect therapeutically. They were attending a dance class and a cookery class and had joined our local ParkRun community event.

Baby girl was really benefiting from having me near, her attachment getting more and more secure. She was also beginning to show signs of maturing. Still clingy, but growing up socially. She was having deeper thoughts that didn’t just revolve around herself and food. She remained adamant however that she would never be going back to school. Ever. Hmmm we’ll see young lady!

Big girl was plodding along. Her difficult ways remained, our attachment was still an issue, especially in respect of school work/home education, but overall things were pleasant and she was happy to work for the tutors. She even found a new love of maths. The issues we faced were simply with regard to her education, she was resistant to do any work for me. It was just like the homework difficulties we faced when she was in school. We decided it was time to look at getting her back in to formal education. She hadnt really ‘grown’ as much as we’d hoped and a more formal setting with social opportunities she could manage, in an environment that understood her was what we felt she now needed. She hadnt grown enough to manage mainstream education as we’d planned so that left us with special school’s. I spent a few months researching local SEN schools and found the one I thought she could manage. I let the SEND team know of our request towards the end of June.

Middle girl, well, what can I say, she has absolutely thrived since we removed her from school.  She’s grown way more confident, her speech is brilliant, in fact some days you cant shut her up, she’s been enjoying imaginative play, messy play, she’s been dancing and singing and being funny, she’s funny, who knew!? She has really started to open up, trusting me with some of her feelings, trusting me to say ‘yes’ when she wants something, trusting me not to reject her, our attachment really beginning to blossom.

Since July.

Late spring the therapist and I agreed that the DDP hadnt been as beneficial as we’d hoped, especially for Big girl. We agreed that some 1:1 basic life story work might help her move a few obstacles that would then allow her to engage in the DDP work later on down the line. Big girls attachment was a big focus, always had been, and the root to all of the small difficulties we were facing, including her reluctance to receive an education from me.

So the work began in the first week of July. It immediately became tricky with her first meltdown less than a few days later. We’d seen nothing like this since she was in school. A few more sessions took place and the meltdowns returned, each time increasing in severity. She became violent again. Always towards me. Baby girl and Middle girl were scared again. And angry that this scary behavior from big girl had returned. No one could understand it, not even big girl. She was being swept under a wave of anxiety that she wasn’t expecting, didn’t understand, and didn’t know how to escape from. She was fighting to control the waves but they just kept coming.

The application for the SEN school slowed down because of the end of year and then of course the school holidays. I went to a meeting to talk about her needs and let them know the importance of her moving to the right school. Especially now, the return of her violence reminded me of how difficult things had been when she was in mainstream school and not coping. We couldn’t afford to get it wrong again. None of us would survive that again.

It was around this same time that our replacement post adoption social worker was assigned to us, our previous one had retired at the start of the year. It felt like she had come just at the right time, had she been assigned to us a month before, we’d have sent her packing, but instead, just like Nanny Mcphee, she was there just as we needed her. Id like to say that she made everything better but I cant. I wont go in to details but needless to say for the first time ever I felt judged and blamed for big girls difficulties. So much for Nanny McPhee!

Things got worse, my bruises got bigger and new ones began appearing before the old ones had time to heal. She was bigger than last time, stronger. Baby girl and middle girl were totally traumatised and big girl had succumbed to the darkness. She was feeling more and more unreachable as every second passed. She was angry, putting her self in danger, defiant, obstructive, self harming, arrogant and generally just bloody awful. We’d opened Pandoras box inside her head, she didn’t know how to close it, she wouldn’t let us help her close it and each therapy session served only to open it more. She wasn’t ready. She was completely overwhelmed, filled with hatred and anger I’ve never seen in her before, she was barely recognizable. By September we were all on our knees and we needed real help.

Our therapist was reluctant to believe that the therapy was the cause of all the violence and aggression, since they hadn’t apparently discussed anything difficult yet, so she wanted to continue. She nor the social worker were able to accept the impact that the volatility and violence was having on baby girl and middle girl (never mind the rest of us), nor did they seem to understand that we had no respite options and very limited child care. we needed help. It was really 24/7. During a meeting with the post adoption team and our therapist they all apparently agreed that the issues we were having were simply ours, nothing related to attachment or trauma, we were simply struggling to parent a typical teenager and needed generic parenting advice. There was nothing they could do. In other words, we screamed for help and they put their backs against a wall and blamed us. Case closed. A referral was made to a generic parenting support team and we rang CAMHS in desperation.

We had the usual difficulties getting access to CAMHS, because big girl has a diagnosis of Autism everything is instantly blamed on it and we get told ‘its normal autism behavior’, this is before they even meet with us, never mind with big girl. We protested and they agreed to meet us to talk through the difficulties. They agreed after lengthy discussion and a few tears from me that it sounded like big girl was in fact overloaded with anxiety and would likely benefit from some medical support. We would need to wait for another appointment.

The SEND department have agreed to a SEN placement for Big girl (she has no idea yet) but do not agree that the school we chose is the best one to meet her needs. Our nearest generic SEN school is adequate they feel and as such will not provide transport to the school we need for her. Without transport she cant go. She wont last a week in the generic school they’re proposing. So we’re stuck. We need to find a way through. She needs an education. She wont accept an education from me. We know the consequences of putting her in the wrong school. She’s too fragile for us to get this wrong. Things have become even more difficult with her at home and at this rate we’ll need a residential school or foster care. This now needs to be sorted out fast but no one seems to be in a hurry.

Since the start of the life story work in July, big girl has either been angry or manically happy. Neither is pleasant. Whilst she’s never been easy, she has always been respectful, kind and gentle. Never one to break rules or be cheeky really. We haven’t seen the big girl we’re used to for many months now. She’s still in there though, I haven’t given up hope of that.

This weekend, after another long week of her anger brewing and tensions increasing things reached a peak. She hurt us and then she put her self in danger by climbing on to a roof, we were left with no alternative but to call the police for help.

The policeman arrived, lovely he was, very gentle and kind and understanding. Whilst the Sunday roast, that I’d popped in the oven in an attempt to maintain some normality, roasted away in the oven, he tried to calm down big girl, reason with her and ultimately diffuse the situation. She finally came indoors but she wasn’t calm. He stayed for over an hour, almost long enough to join us for dinner. He apologised that there wasn’t much that he could offer by way of practical support. He could see she was a child struggling with her emotions. She remained rude towards him the entire time. He made a ‘referral’ which he said should bring help, or at least get us some much needed attention. Baby girl and Middle girl, whilst they still found the entire ordeal traumatic, they coped surprisingly well. He left. We ate dinner, she chose to eat in a different room to the ‘stupid idiots’ otherwise known as her family.

We’re all still feeling quite shell shocked today unsurprisingly. Big girl hasn’t really been able to reflect or even really calm down, we’re all still ‘stupid idiots’ (worst words she knows) but she isn’t hurting anyone, for now. She’s angry at the bruises to her foot and hand that she sustained whilst kicking and punching the (unlocked) double glazed door. She’s annoyed that we removed her from the house, to the safety of the back garden (nearest place), to stop her from hitting, kicking and biting us more. She doesn’t really even understand why we’re expecting her to say or feel sorry. She isn’t able to acknowledge her own actions at all or look at me for fear of seeing the fresh bruises she left on my skin. Again. She is feeling ashamed I think, but doesn’t understand that feeling. She knows only anger or happiness and she isn’t feeling very happy right now. None of us are.

The lady from the generic parenting support place is due tomorrow morning, we might actually terrify her. If she brings a sticker chart god help her!

Despite the events of this weekend, CAMHS are unable to see us any sooner than the already scheduled appointment next week they say.

So that’s us. Hows your year been? 🙂

 

Ginny Moon – My Review 

Published June 1, 2017 by thefamilyof5

I was asked to write an honest review of Benjamin Ludwig’s new book Ginny Moon, published by @HQStories , I was sent a copy to review by Midas.

It’s been some time since I’ve read an actual whole book, usually I struggle to concentrate for more than a paragraph these days.  I often get asked to review books via my blog but I usually just say no, knowing I’ll never manage to read the book never mind write a review as well. For some reason though, this time, I said yes. I’m not sure why, I don’t think I even read the email fully before replying, my instinct was just to say ‘yes’.

The book arrived one Saturday morning, it was a lovely hard covered book with a real luxurious feel to it. It had that smell, you know the one, new books, oooh it’s lovely, I remembered it well. You don’t get that with a kindle/ebook, which is why I’ve never bought one.

I sighed when I saw how thick the book was though, “I’ll never get chance to read all this!” I told MrFO5. I sat down, feeling a bit sorry for myself, wishing I’d never said ‘yes’.
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There’s no slow introduction to the story or the characters, it jumps right in from the first line. The story is told from Ginnys perspective. The book consists of lots of dated, short chapters, which make it feel even more fast paced. It’s funny, sad, heartbreaking and gripping. It pulls you in with every word. By Saturday evening I was more than half way through the book, feeling quite proud of myself and desperate to read more. MrFO5 said I had to sleep though.

The story is about a 14 year old girl called Ginny. She lives with her adoptive parents, after at least 2 previous failed placements. Ginny is also autistic, which is portrayed brilliantly throughout the story. I found myself thinking about big girl a lot whilst I was reading this book, so I really got drawn in emotionally which made it even more enjoyable to read. Those of you that follow my blog will know that my girls are all adopted and autistic.

I had a few theories in my head about how the story would pan out from the off. My theories changed throughout the book as the story progressed and things became clearer or the plot took a path I wasn’t expecting. Despite a pleasing (I don’t want to say too much) end to the story, I felt sad when I finished it on Sunday (yes, it only took me 2 days!! I was utterly gripped and couldn’t put it down). I really enjoyed this book and wanted to read more. My love of reading is back, thanks to Benjamin Ludwig and of course Ginny Moon.

I can’t really tell you anything more about the story line without giving too much away, and that would just spoil it! So you’ll just have to read it! Its brilliant!
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I’m still here! :) 

Published March 14, 2017 by thefamilyof5

Those of you that don’t follow me on Instagram or Facebook/twitter may have been thinking I’d given up with my blogging. I haven’t. I’m still here. I just have less time to write these days.

The girls are outside playing in the sunshine with the children from our street, the hoovering is done, the surfaces are clean, the washing is drying and it’s too early to cook tea! So I thought I’d make the most of it and post a little update.

We won!! Our fight with the local authority for funding for tuition is over. 2016 was quite possibly my most stressful year ever. 2017 is looking much better. We have a tutor for 1 hour of maths and a tutor for 2 hours of English each week all funding through big girls EHCP and middle girl’s newly acquired EHCP. Which means I can spend more time being just ‘mom’ which is what my girls really need from me. Oh and we have more time for fun things like science and art and French, Oh and making chocolate bars like we did today 🙂

So things are really looking up for us all. A huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders. We’re really beginning to truly ‘enjoy’ life again.

I was sitting here today, listening to the radio (and squeals and screeches from outside along with the rattle of scooters zooming up and down the street) and reading random deep and meaningful quotes about the meaning of life when it struck me. I fought for our family and I won. If I hadn’t, if I’d allowed us to continue on the path we were heading down, then I’m confident big girl would no longer be living with us. But she is, she’s here, and we’re all safe. And I did that! I stuck by her when she needed me to and I fought her corner for her. I endured her violence and aggression whilst protecting everyone else. I hope one day she is able to reflect and see how much she is loved. I hope she’s able to feel proud of herself and her family.

I know this is a bit of a jumbled up post, but I’m really going to try and post more regularly. I’ve really missed writing here, I find it very therapeutic to off load my brain to the poor unsuspecting readers of my blog 🙂 be grateful I didn’t do it much in 2016, it really wouldn’t have been a pretty sight! If you don’t follow my Instagram or Facebook pages, please do, I’ve been there a lot more than I have here.

My Special Assembly

Published January 10, 2017 by thefamilyof5

We had a special assembly today, some people came to visit.

Everyone was really excited to hear what it was about, but not me. I don’t really like it when strangers come in to school, it makes me feel all weird and scared inside, I don’t know why.

Anyway, today was no different, there was a man with a stripy T-shirt and a lady in a blue dress. I felt funny in my tummy. Mr Jones set up the big screen for them, everyone thought we were going to watch the new Disney film that came out in the cinema last week. But we didn’t.

 At first I wasn’t really sure what was happening, I heard lots of words but I couldn’t make sense of what they were saying, and then I realised. It was all about me! These people had come in to school to tell everyone about me. They told everyone about what it was like, you know, before I got adopted. They told everyone in my school that my birth dad used to hit me and my birth mom. They even told them about the times they both got drunk, I remembered how they did rude things to each others private parts that night, it was gross. Then they told everyone about the time they left me in the house by myself for the whole day, I was so hungry but I didn’t dare leave the house or cry, they’d have just got mad and hit me. Everyone was looking at me. I just looked down. I didn’t want to look up and see their eyes starring at me. My cheeks burned. I really wanted to cry but then they’d all laugh and think I was a baby. I just sat quietly and hoped they’d stop. But they didn’t. They got out the laptop next and showed a film. I took a peek. It wasn’t me in the film and I didn’t recognise any of the other people, but I knew It was about me. I just knew it. The man hit the lady and the little boy sat and cried, he was hiding under his bed. Just like I used to. It was definitely about me. I felt sick. I wanted to get up and run out, I wanted to ask my teacher if I could go to the toilet, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t trust her now. I thought she was my friend but she let these people tell everyone about me. My mom let this happen too, why would my mom tell them all of this stuff about me, why did she let this happen, how could she!! No one will ever want to be my friend now, they all know I’m bad.image-boy-ashamed

I didn’t talk to anyone for the rest of the day, I knew they were all sniggering and talking about me, they thought I didn’t know, but I did. When the bell went at the end of the day I got my bag ready super fast and ran outside to my mom who was waiting for me. I gave her the biggest hug, I wanted everyone to see that she loved me. When we got home I shouted at my mom, I shouted a lot. I told her how much I hated her, I hit her, Just like I saw my birth parents doing to each other. I was bad. She needed to see how bad I was!

My special assembly today was about Child Abuse and Neglect. The visitors in my school were from the NSPCC. My teachers hadn’t really thought much about me when they planned it, they didn’t consider how talking about such things would stir up my traumatic memories, or how I would feel hearing my life story being discussed in that way. My mom didn’t know about the assembly so when I went home and screamed at her and hit her, she had no idea why. She didn’t know how to help me because she didn’t know what was wrong. If the teachers in my school had listened to my mom and read the books that she suggested then they would have known what would happen and I wouldn’t be sat in my room crying now and my mom wouldn’t be sat in the lounge crying and bruised.

Events like this aren’t suitable for all children. Schools need to be better educated on the lasting effects of trauma and neglect so they can begin to have some insight in to how these things effect these children. A simple phone call to mum here would have allowed her to either prepare her child, or withdraw them. Because afterall, mum always knows best.

 

 

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