Monday, April 30, 2012

Therapy Tuesday Is No More

Today we went to see the girls' psychiatrist. She gave her blessings to stopping therapy until we find a Dan Hughes trained attachment  therapist. We are currently on four different waiting lists for  therapists I have interviewed over the phone. I will interview them in person as they have openings. The psychiatrist is concerned with finding GB more time away from Hope and the stress that accompanies being near her.  That should be possible now that we have waiver services for Hope.

Hope had four vicious tantrums over the weekend. The Dad is no longer allowing her to triangulate (thank you, Michael!) and Hope is not taking it well. The waiver service social worker is coming today to help us set goals for Hope. I have no idea of how many hours we are going to get, but I am hopeful.

We had several instances of Hope acquiring things that do not belong to her.  Trying to track down where they came from.

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Cavalry Signed On

All the required people showed up for our 3:15 at 3:30 today. The Dad and I have all the required paperwork signed. We officially have 24/7 crisis intervention in place. Our waiver worker is coming again on Monday to start setting up skill services and respite services. Mean while, I am looking at attachment therapists. I have had enough Therapy Tuesdays. It is time for a change. The therapist we have is not working. Hope is 6.5 and I hear the clock ticking loudly.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Support Needed

Today, at 3:30 PM Eastern Time, Hope's ICM caseworker, the new waiver caseworker, and the new caseworker's supervisor are meeting with The Dad and I here to see what support they can give us. If they say her needs are too intense, the only help left is an RTF and we won't do it. 

Please pray for us all- that we will have support from this program and peace will visit (at least occasionally) again.

Before Parenting in SPACE Even Started

The Dad and I took an early flight to Chicago and were at the hotel before lunch. The Dad had signed us up for a pre-conference session run by Christine  Moers from Welcome to My Brain. Christine is very knowledgeable about what it takes to parent kids of trauma. I don't think she calls them RADishes or RADlets, but they are still the same kids, kids who have come from the hard places. Christine is always real and a natural in front of a group. She is entertaining and I expected to enjoy this part of the conference.

Christine caught me with the first group exercise and I pretty much stayed in that place all weekend. Christine pretended to give each of us a magic wand that would change one behavior of one child. After we introduced ourselves, we were expected to tell the group what we would use our wand for. I was so caught up in listening to everybody's story that when my turn came, I had not thought about my answer. My first instinct was to use my wand to protect GB, but that wasn't one behavior. The next thing that popped into my head was the smirk Hope always has right after she successfully triangulated one person against another (usually me). I.HATE.THAT.SMIRK! After everybody had introduced themselves and used their wand, Christine asked us to think about the behavior we used the wand on. That behavior was our biggest trigger.

She gave us a couple of minutes to try and figure out why Hope's smirk was a trigger for me. I closed my eyes and imagined Hope with her smirk on. As I was doing this, Hope's face turned into my youngest brother's face, but the smirk stayed the same.

My youngest brother went through his short life manipulating people to get what he needed or wanted. He was really good at it. I resented him most of his life. He died at 27, driving drunk, trying to outrun a state trooper after he side swiped a car. I had never made the connection before, but that was the force behind Hope's ability to make me climb walls with just one smirk. I spent the most of the weekend in my head, trying to sort things out.

The lesson I took away from this session is that not only do I, as a parent of children with RAD have to become familiar with their triggers, but I have to deal with my own triggers from my past. It wasn't a lesson I was looking for.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Yin and Yang of Returning Home

I expected payback when The Dad and I returned from Chicago. GB was a little clingy. She told me everything she had done, interspersing how the items she brought kept me close. She slept in my night gown, which still smelled like me. She brought Ernie, which had been MK's when she was little. She brought the sleeping bag I had given her pre-Hope. The friend who kept her sent me an occasional  picture and she was obviously coping.

Hope showed me everything the friend keeping her bought her- jackets, shirts, and plenty of Bling! When asked if she missed us, she said no. It was much funner at the other friends house. Outside of shoving all the stuff she got in GB's face, Hope was fine Monday.

Then came Therapy Tuesday. Hope raged three different times Tuesday afternoon and she was vicious. She told the therapist she didn't remember ranging, but on the way home, when I asked her how many times she raged today, she knew without even thinking about it. Sigh.

Hope is no more attached than she was 18 months ago.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Significance of the Pickle: By The Dad

I follow many (OK some) of the same blogs that my honey follows. I very seldom comment, but I still get a sense of belonging from listening to others challenges, feelings, actions, ramblings, etc. We all need to feel we are not alone! And I thoroughly understand, and appreciate the support, encouragement, and advice she receives from this on-line community family. Lately I've been feeling a bit jealous of this.

Although my honey is on the front line dealing with our children's issues more than I am, I do consider myself a very involved dad. I have a somewhat flexible work schedule and work from home more than from the office, so I am home frequently when the girls are home. And I have adjusted my priorities considerably in recent years to place a much higher priority on family #2.

After my honey returned from this year's Trauma Mama retreat in Orlando I began to really think about the jealousy I was feeling. What about the dads? Am I the only one that feels this way? I was reading Christine's blog when I discovered House Calls Counselings Parenting in SPACE conference.  And just like Arlo Guthrie said "It come like a flash, Like a vision burnt across the clouds" why don't you go to this conference and get connected? And maybe they'll be some other dads there, too. Thinking this could be a common experience that helps my honey and I get closer to being on the same page, I asked her to attend with me. "What the .... would we do with the girls?" Fast forwarding a bit..... she still didn't want to go as we left for the conference last Friday....

WOW, what an experience! I had read a number of books and articles at my honey's suggestion, on attachment theory and therapeutic parenting. I was NOT a non believer but I can't say I was fully convinced. After hearing first hand the stories of many other parents experiences, and just one session on the Fundamentals of Attachment, all the books and articles came to life for me, and it all suddenly made sense. Not only made sense but looked almost obvious. Of course these kids respond differently. And of course you need to parent them differently than I was parented.  They are physically wired differently!

The sessions I attended were very informative and I learned, or validated a lot of critically important stuff. Now I have attended a variety of conferences, e.g. technical conferences for my job, and a number of conferences for a variety of volunteer organizations I have been involved in. Across the board I have found that as valuable as the content at these conferences is, the real value comes from having the opportunity to talk with, and laugh/cry with other people in similar circumstances. This conference was no different. I got to share my story, and hear the stories of many others that validated so much of what I was feeling. I made a number of new friends, AND there were dozens of other dads there!

I heard other dads express some of the same feelings I was having, and I gained valuable insight from listening to Michael Moers. I am not alone! And there is a significant role for the secondary caregiver. Thank you again Michael. I no longer feel jealous or left out. I have found a family that I am a part of. This family gets it, and I am so looking forward to staying connected through the blogs and FB. I guess I really need that iPhone now. :-).

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Importance of Parenting in SPACE

I went to the Parenting in Space (SPACE: Safety, Support, Supervision, Structure, Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity and Empathy.) Conference this past weekend. I was wildly unenthusiastic about leaving the girls and flying to Chicago for three days. The Dad had decided we should go. He took care of all the arrangements and I went along with it, albeit dragging my feet and whining quite a bit. 

I already had the connections I had made in Orlando. There are many women that will listen to me whine, offer help when I am overwhelmed,  and make me laugh when it seems like I have forgotten how. I knew The Dad didn't have this, but I didn't think it mattered. After all, men do not have friends that connect on meaningful levels, and they most certainly do not have any interest in sharing feelings. I was wrong.

Any Trauma Mamas who have been to Orlando know that the best thing that comes out of it is the conviction that we are not alone. There are other women living the same crazy life that we are. On the way home from the conference, The Dad and I were talking about  what we each considered the biggest gains we took away from the weekend. For the Dad, it was the many DOTs (Dads of Trauma) he met. The Dad wrote about his perspective  and I will post what he wrote tomorrow.

I was really surprised by how much The Dad got out of the weekend. I was more surprised at how much I learned about myself. I will try to share as much as I can in this week's posts.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

It Doesn't Mean I like It!

I am going to Chicago for the Parenting in SPACE event in Chicago. The Dad and I leave before the girls are up tomorrow. There are some pluses- I think I'll get to have dinner Sat with one of my favorite Trauma Mamas. It wouldn't hurt for The Dad and I to spend time without the girls. I believe I have made solid arrangements for both GB and Hope, separately.

BUT I am not comfortable with both of us being so far away from them for 3 full days. I dislike meeting large (say any more then eight) groups of people. I will feel claustrophobic.

The Dad really wants to meet other Dads that are doing this. I already have my Trauma  Mamas.

I will stop whining and start packing. But that doesn't mean I like it.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

I Slayed a Dragon

Today, I slayed one of my dragons. Not using a sword. Not using my intellect. I slayed this dragon with an abundance of paperwork. Every email, every note home, every Tuesday Therapy post, every piece of paper I could find, I dumped on the SPOA  meeting table., along with the IEPs and evaluations that weren't good enough last week. The ICM worker was eloquent in her description of me getting the sh*t beat out of me. Hope has been approved for waiver services.

No time to celebrate. Next dragon is  family court with MK this afternoon. I will update on MK and Booboo on the other blog when I get back.

Thank you all for your prayers and support. I appreciate everyone of you.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Taking on SPOA

The SPOA committee meets again tomorrow morning. I have all my bogus paperwork from Texas. I have the listing from CHASK. I have my very knowledgeable friend's translation of this listing. I have  a copy of every email Ms. V.Y. Teacher has sent me since Hope crashed in November. Good thoughts and prayers are appreciated.

Monday, April 16, 2012

My Friend @ Life in the Grateful House

My friend, Lisa, writes over at Life in the Grateful House.  After being gone so long, she has started writing again. For those of you that know Lisa, 'nough said! For those of you who haven't had the privilege of knowing Lisa, I would like to give you a short  introduction and the reasons why I think you should pop over to see her blog.

  • Lisa has been a Trauma Mama for over five years and has seen it all.
  • Her daughter, J, is well along on her journey of healing. J is remarkable in sharing with other Radlets who are not as far along in their journey.
  • Lisa is a Tapping Guru, Reiki Master, Hooper extraordinaire, and all around person I can count on.
  • Lisa and J created a video on Tapping just to use with Hope. We have just started  using it, and I will let you know how we progress.
  • She is one of the most talented photographers on the internet. Some of her pictures have driven me to tears, with me being clueless as to why.
  • Every time I visit Life in the Grateful House, I come away with new ideas, a different perspective, or a piece of beauty.
  • I love and trust her and neither are something I do easily.
  • There is a lot more to Lisa's story, but it is her story to tell.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Back in the Thick of It

Hope raged twice yesterday when the Dad wasn't home. I didn't lose it, although I thought about it. Thankfully, GB earned her dollar and stayed out of the room. Hope stayed together enough in the afternoon to have a play date with the brother of one of GB's friends. It worked out well because the boy Hope was playing with has a PCA  all day Saturdays and their were three adults supervising four children.

This morning, Hope raged before we even got downstairs because there were no clean socks in her drawer. She knocked over a table and a chair, scratched, punched and hit me. She started screaming "I want Daddy" and something broke inside me. The Dad came and I told him to leave, he was not involved in this incident. It took until 11:30 before Hope gave up on waiting for Daddy. She finally calmed down. We cuddled and processed where we started (lack of socks) , result (2 1/2 hour meltdown), and consequence (She has to stay within three feet of me all day). She picked up the things she knocked over and threw. Then I let her cuddle her Daddy. She is now playing quietly with her doll at my feet.

Tomorrow, I will tackle SPOA again. I have no choice.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Moving the Other Blog- update

New post on other blog with information. If you did not have access to the other blog when it was on blogger and haven't received a recent email from me, you can email me for the information. If you are a new reader and I don't know you, please include enough information that I am comfortable sharing the other blog with you.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

I Lied

On Monday, I posted that I had no expectations that the meeting set up by Hope's ICM worker would result in any real help for us. At the time, I thought that is what I believed. Alas, I was kidding myself, The Dad, and everybody else at that meeting. I only realized it today.

The ICM worker called today and said the SPOA committee turned down her request to transfer Hope to a program that would meet her/our needs- one with on call 24/7 crisis management, behavior management services, and regular respite. I wasn't surprised, but after I hung up I found myself close to tears.

SPOA wants more records of psychological and psychiatric testing on Hope. They already have all the records of every evaluation that has been done on her. There is nothing else to give them.

Hope had her usual difficult morning, but did make it to school. This afternoon, I do not have it in me. I took her book bag without looking at her communication log or homework and set her in front of the TV, where she  will happily vegetate until dinner. After dinner, it is medication and bed. Therapeutic? No. It is what it is.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

IEP Season Is Here: How Not To Get Burnt

It is that time of year again. Parents who have children with special needs are attending their child(ren)'s Annual Review. After 30 years of making every mistake ever made, I thought today would be a good day to list the ones I should have never made, in hopes of helping someone else avoid them.
  1. The IEP is a legal document. 
  2. If something is agreed to by the school district, but not put in the IEP, the agreement never existed.
  3. If the school district tells you a 504 plan is "just as good", they lie. A 504 plan does not have as many built in protections for your child.
  4. When the school district says you can't have a service for your child "because that is not how we do things in this district" that is a HUGE red flag. By law, the first thing they need to determine is your child's needs. What the district has to offer does not determine your child's needs.
  5. Following the IEP is not optional. Everybody who comes in contact with your child HAS to follow his/her IEP, even if they don't agree with it.
  6. The more prepared you are when you go into the meeting, the better the meeting will go. The school saves money by assuming the parents will not know or insist the child have an appropriate IEP.
  7. Every parent with a special needs child should bookmark  This site does a great job of answering the questions of  what your child is entitled to as far as a FAPE (Free Appropriate Public Education) and lots of suggestions to help you get it.
  8. Never sign anything but an attendance sheet unless you are absolutely sure you know what you are signing and why they want you to sign it. If you have any doubts, tell the district you need time to consult with your professionals to make sure you understand what your signing.
  9. If your child has done something the school views as serious, do not agree or sign anything without professional advice. This recently happened to a friend of mine and they held a Manifestation Hearing without explaining how serious it was and the long range consequences it could have  for her son. Fortunately, she knew enough not to sign anything. In these days of zero tolerance, you have to be extra vigilant.
There is a lot more to making sure your special needs child gets the FAPE education they are entitled to by law. This list is only a good start.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Important Stuff

Hope's meeting today gathered information. The information  will presented to SPOA tomorrow and we probably won't hear anything until Thursday.

One of my Trauma Mama friends' son made a really bad choice. My  friend was devastated. I am so proud of the way our group rallied around her with love, support, information, and practical help. There is no other group of ladies I would rather have my back then this group. I love them all.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Not Worrying About My Radlet

 Hope's massive team meeting, set up by ICM will take place tomorrow, sans outside therapist. I have no expectations of actually getting help from this meeting, so there is no energy going into it.

I am concerned about GB. She came home with mixed feelings about spending time with her birth father. J was very unpredictable relating to her and did not do well with X. GB and X unabashedly enjoyed the time they spent together and were not happy to part.

Since we have been home, GB has requested extra cuddle time and several times has fallen asleep in my arms. She seems much more sensitive to Hope's nasty remarks, which Hope tries to save for when no one is listening. I know GB needs more support and I am at a loss as how to provide it. There are many supports available for children with autism, but my gut feel is that the processing difficulties from the FASD is behind most of GB's current struggles. Support for FASD is non-existent in my area.

I also have to admit I am not keen on leaving her for the Parenting in Space  weekend in less then two weeks.

GB's needs get lost in the chaos RAD brings to our lives.

Saturday, April 7, 2012


There is a new post on the other blog. Blogger currently only allows a 100 readers on a private blog. I am trying to migrate the other blog to word press, where that won't be a problem. Please be patient. I am hoping to get everyone shortly.

Friday, April 6, 2012

My 500th Post Here... On Being a Therapeutic Parent

Being a Therapeutic Parent is not just hard. I am sitting here, nursing my swollen hand, scratched face, and bitten arm and looking at Hope. Hope is in control and doesn't have a mark on her because of the last ninety minutes of sweat-pouring-down-my-back effort. It is only 2 o'clock in the afternoon. 5 1/2 hours to bedtime. My question is "How do I continue to be a Therapeutic Parent?"

After thirty years of parenting kids from the hard places. I have mastered (mostly) the art of waking up and looking at each day as a fresh start. I have always struggled with the day that has already gone south. I struggle with feeling that my best wasn't good enough. Obviously, since my child has just managed to rage for X hours. Or my sweetheart just called the worker a F*cken' B*tch. My child walking out of Manifestation Hearings also tend to make feel like it is pointless to go on. If I stay in that place long, the tears start.

When I reach the why*bother*stage, I find I have to intentionally fight my way out. And, so far, I have not found a sure fire way out. Sometimes, really cold ice tea and a rocking chair, helps me reset. Another time it might working in the garden. Occasionally, another Trauma Mama can talk me down. Before all my health problems, a long walk helped. Chocolate has a good shot, too. None of these methods give the grace of a new day.  I am tense. I keep Hope on a short leash because I know if she has another major meltdown, I will be unable to keep my therapeutic panties on.

I can appear patient. I can sound reasonable. I can even go through motions correctly. So what is the problem? The problem is children with Reactive Attachment Disorder have a built in emotional radar that spots a sore points and aims for it. They can't  help themselves. Time and healing are the only things that help. 

We are on our way home, facing 17 hours of driving. I am asking God for the grace to keep myself regulated because I know Hope won't be. It would be unreasonable for me to expect it to be any other  way.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

X's IEP: My Work Is Done

Today I knew the IEP meeting was at 11 am. I was dressed in my professional best (shoes, even). I introduced myself, including my credentials. I had my graphs, a list of the information the school was suppose to bring to the meeting, and the relevant law dog eared in my WrightsLaw book.

X has appropriate reading goals, research-based reading interventions, and Extended School Year written into his IEP. They will be evaluating X's word retrieval speed and doing an FBA.

Last night, my son smacked X and gave GB the middle finger. I read the riot act to my son. I told him he would only have supervised  visitation with GB. I also told him if CPS took X away, I would be going to court to take X back to New York. I know I don't need one more kid, but J has had a vasectomy and there will be no more children from him.

I get to leave tomorrow and drive the 17 hours back to New York.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

X's IEP- The Interim

At X's IEP Monday, one thing we accomplished was the initiation of a communication log. Tuesday, X came home with his communication log. It said, " Behavior was out of control today". No details. Hard to deal with.

X is busy writing a letter of apology and I am working on justifying an Individual Behavior Assessment.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Faking it- An Improvement

GB and X are doing well together. Hope is struggling. She spent an hour this morning crying and repeating "I have to go in Daddy's room." The first time, I asked why. Hope said her shoes were in there. I told her she had to wait until The Dad woke up. The crying continued. She asked over and over again to go into The Dad's room. An hour later she was still asking. It was pointless to say anything. Hope wasn't listening.

When The Dad got up, Hope was still going strong. He told she couldn't do anything until she was in control. She kept repeating, "Mommy won't let me". The Dad was repeating "you have to be in control". Forty five minutes later, Hope was back in control. That was an hour and forty five minutes of her brain totally shut off. To top it all off, Hope's shoes were not in The Dad's room. That set off another cascade of crying. GB felt sorry for her and found the shoes.

I have kept my cool, at least externally. I still hear the little voice in my head saying,"The answer has been the same the last hundred times. Why do you think it is going to change?" Right now the words stay in my head, I get busy with something else and try to wait patiently for the nonsense to end.

I still have more work to do for X's IEP. Tomorrow I will have pictures.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Off By a Bit

I had just started working on plotting my grandson's reading scores this morning when my son gets a phone call saying the IEP meeting is NOW not tomorrow at 1:05. I was wearing sweats and slippers and had X's records  spread around me. I scooped up X's records and went as I was.
X was reading at a DRA level 10 in June 2011. In September, 2011, he started back to school reading at a DRA level 6. It wasn't until the end of January, 2012, that X reached a level 10 again. That was as far I had gotten when they called.
We got a lot done, but stalled on extended year services. We are meeting again on Thursday to complete the IEP. I will be in Michigan until Friday AM.
I will be prepared and wearing my professional persona my then.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Up for the Count!

We are safely in Michigan. Tomorrow (when the Valium wears off) I will start working on IEPs. I just wanted to let you know I am back in the fight again.