Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Mark, the therapist I wrote about called me yesterday morning and we spoke for a bit about E. He did not recommend getting a neuropsych evaluation. I was told it can be a waste of time and money and can be damaging for the child if taken to the wrong person. He recommended coming in for an evaluation and going from there. He can recommend some good people if E. really needs one. He said many times these kids "act" like they have a learning disability and manipulate many when they are perfectly capable of getting better.

Mark has a few opening this summer since families are on vacation, so we are able to come in to see him on July 11. One thing I LOVE is that he doesn't see the child alone. He wants to see the whole family, since E. is part of a family and his behaviors effect everyone.

I mentioned to Mark that for the longest time I didn't think my son had RAD or attachment issues. He didn't fit in some of the descriptions I have seen. He is not violent to others, doesn't typically tease or bully, and doesn't have full out rages (anymore). The response I got from him on the phone seemed right on..."that's not good". Mark said these kids are becoming the victim and are internalizing their anger. Then they become passive aggressive. He said we want E. to be able to identify and express what he is feeling, work through it and then hopefully he won't continue acting out as much to everyone else.

I also spoke of E. continually asking for food or water whenever we are in public or around new people. He does it in a way of is implying I am neglecting to care for him. Yesterday he asked for lunch when we dropped his sister at her friends house, as soon as I opened the van doors and he saw Mrs. J standing there. It was nearly 2 o clock and she said, "Oh, you haven't had lunch yet? I thought you ate already!". I told her that he didn't, we had a late breakfast and a snack through, then left to run a few errands. How sneaky of him to make it seem like I am the bad guy! Or the other day when we went to the beach for a few hours and invited a couple J. works with. He would NOT stop asking for water and getting into other's things sneaking drinks. He had three drinks of water in 30 minutes. He was NOT thirsty, but wanted to let it be known to everyone that he loves water and was really thirsty. Not normal behavior for a typical kid, everyone else was playing on the beach, kicking the soccer ball, or playing with the dogs. E. just hovered and annoyed. Mark gave me a good tip, instead of answering him over and over, just say, "It seems like you need some mommy time, come sit right here by me." Then he will soon hopefully learn that his behavior is negatively effecting him and not me. The problem though, is that most of the time when he is acting this way, he is already nearby and pestering. He doesn't want to be anywhere else.

I am excited about our appointment and ask you pray that we will be able to get insurance approval for 100% coverage. At this point it will cover 70%, not too affordable right now.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Checklist

Last night I slept horribly. I had dreams and nightmares about E. I felt like my brain would not shut off and all I could think about was how we need to start getting him help.

E. has his good days and bad days. I am fearful of summer with him out of school. He loves to hover around and annoy everyone present, rather than play like most five year olds. If we go anywhere or have anyone over, he spends the majority of time acting silly, cute, or just plain weird. There are occasions where he is sweet, happy and loving. But I sometimes wonder what is genuine and what is not. Last week in church he did great, was obedient, and even cuddled with me. But, guess what was at stake after church was over? Right, cake.

I spent part of last week doing some research about getting a neuropsychological evaluation for E. I was referred to a local woman who sounds lovely and I was so excited to call her. Unfortunately, she doesn't work with children younger than six. No one within an hour and a half drive from us does. I am wondering if we should wait until he is six. I have also heard rave reviews about a therapist a few hours away specializing in working with kids with attachment issues and trauma. I contacted him tonight by email to see how we can get help for E.

His group's website had a checklist on their site that caught my eye.

Circle the items if they are frequently or often true.
  1. My child acts cute or charms others to get others to do what my child wants.
  2. My child often does not make eye contact when adults want to make eye contract with my child.
  3. My child is overly friendly with strangers.
  4. My child pushes me away or becomes stiff when I try to hug, unless my child wants something from me.
  5. My child argues for long periods of time, often about ridiculous things.
  6. My child has a tremendous need to have control over everything, becoming very upset if things don't go my child's way.
  7. My child acts amazingly innocent, or pretends that things aren't that bad when caught doing something wrong.
  8. My child does very dangerous things, ignoring that my child may be hurt.
  9. My child deliberately breaks or ruins things.
  10. My child doesn't seem to feel age-appropriate guilt when my child does something wrong.
  11. My child teases, hurts, or is cruel to other children.
  12. My child seems unable to stop from doing things on impulse.
  13. My child steals, or shows up with things that belong to others with unusual or suspicious reasons for how my child got these things.
  14. My child demands things, instead of asking for them.
  15. My child doesn't seem to learn from mistakes and misbehavior (no matter what the consequence, the child continues the behavior).
  16. My child tries to get sympathy from others by telling them that I abuse, don't feed, or don't provide the basic life necessities.
  17. My child "shakes off" pain when hurt, refusing to let anyone provide comfort.
  18. My child likes to sneak things without permission, even though my child could have had these things if my child had asked.
  19. My child lies, often about obvious or ridiculous things, or when it would have been easier to tell the truth.
  20. My child is very bossy with other children and adults.
  21. My child hoards or sneaks food, or has other unusual eating habits (eats paper, raw flour, package mixes, baker's chocolate, etc.
  22. My child can't keep friends for more than a week.
  23. My child throws temper tantrums that last for hours.
  24. My child chatters non-stop, asks repeated questions about things that make no sense, mutters, or is hard to understand when talking.
  25. My child is accident-prone (gets hurt a lot), or complains a lot about every little ache and pain (needs constant band aids).
  26. My child teases, hurts, or is cruel to animals.
  27. My child doesn't do as well in school as my child could with even a little more effort.
  28. My child has set fires, or is preoccupied with fire.
  29. My child prefers to watch violent cartoons and/or TV shows or horror movie (regardless of whether or not you allow your child to do this).
  30. My child was abused/neglected during the first year of life, or had several changes of primary caretaker during the first several years of life.
  31. My child was in an orphanage for more than the first year of life.
  32. My child was adopted after the age of eighteen months.

If you find that more than a few items (more than five or so) have been circled, your child may be experiencing difficulties that require professional assistance. If, in addition to several items being marked, any of the last three items is check, your child may be experiencing attachment related problems.

Sadly, I circled 22 items on this list.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

down by the bay

K. and I spent a day last week at the nearby state park with the homeschool coop group. We played beach bingo, and found some creatures, and said goodbye to the school year and some great friends.

Fat lip

S. had his second trip to the ER last night, nearly a year after his first one. He was playing outside, tripped and fell right on his face. His mouth instantly gushed blood and the older kids started screaming. I remained calm, but realized, S may need stitches. I called his pediatrician and they said he would need to be seen by a specialist since the cuts were on his lips.

My friend was able to watch three of the kids, and C was able to stay longer at her friend's house. I took S. to the hospital and thankfully it was a short visit. The overall experience seemed way more traumatic than last year. You could tell S. was fearful and in pain. Poor kid. I must say, the hospital where he got treated last year was a lot more child friendly and thorough. S. did not see a specialist, but a nurse practitioner who used super glue on his cut.

Today, his lip is twice as big as it was last night, and he has a fever. He had a slight fever already from a cold, but it was not quite as bad as today. So we called the doc again and he was seen this afternoon. They said it is going to look bad, and there is not a lot they can do. They did prescribe some better pain meds for poor S. He doesn't want to eat or drink much.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

What's the big deal about TV, Movies, Computers and Video Games?

by Nancy Thomas

It really is a big deal! These children often have damaged and delayed development of the brain, due to early trauma, such as abuse, separation from the mother, not having their needs meet, and being left to cry for long periods, day after day. It is essential that they have the pieces in place necessary to give the brain optimum opportunity to heal.

• Time spent on these activities prevents the brain from healing
• Interrupts the normal thinking patterns
• Time spent out of reality
• Subtracts from time child spends doing healing activities
• Reinforces twisted thinking and behavior
• Eliminates relationship building activities
• Conditions viewer to tolerate more violence and more sexual behavior
• Increases expenses
• Deteriorates self-esteem

The seven to ten second scene changes that most movies and TV programs have, disrupt normal thinking patterns. In some programs, such as the Pokemon movie for children, the changes are actually at four-second intervals. For the brain to heal, the child must spend time thinking, feeling, touching, building, creating, designing, etc. Being in a "ozone state" completely out of touch with reality, for one hour is one less hour that the brain is moving forward in its progress.

The programs and games, themselves, have highly destructive elements to moral character building. These children who know right from wrong often and intentionally choose wrong repeatedly. The theme of many TV shows and movies conditions viewers to tolerate higher levels of violence, sexual behavior and disrespect. Even the commercials often depict parents as ignorant and the child having to tell them what the proper kind of breakfast food should be.

Children with emotional problems that have trust issues with adults often see the adults as inept, powerless and clueless; reinforcing these concepts is counterproductive.

The fourteen hours a day that we are given to help each child, must not be squandered. I see each minute, as a priceless opportunity. To waste them on destructive activities is unconscionable. The brain requires eye contact with a loving caregiver. The aforementioned destructive activities eliminate this. The brain and nervous system in order to heal must have touch. Loving touch and interactive play activity are not a part of watching TV or movies. The "zoning out" in front of the tube eliminates movement, smiles, and normal relationship activities. Some parents feel the TV is an inexpensive babysitter or a distraction to "keep the kid busy" so the parent can work or rest. I believe the time a child spends sitting and staring at the screen is incredibly expensive in the long run. Costs need to be observed in several areas. The cost to the parents is in the form of more therapy needed. While the cost to the child is in the form of more of their childhood lost, whereas, the cost to society is yet another member with delays in work ethic, relationship skills and/or moral character.

When I begin the therapeutic parenting program with a child I plan on not having the child watch TV, movies, play computer or video games for one solid year. I prefer toys that increase creativity, problem solving, cause and effect thinking, tactile stimulation, and focus. My favorite is a bucket of Legos. They make big ones for little hands all the way up to motorized for teens. Incredible creations the children build can be used as a centerpiece on your table at meals. To build self-esteem, I also like to have the child hold their creation while I photograph them. The act of photographing the child’s project in itself says "what you did is important." The follow up of showing the photos to friends and relatives and putting them on your refrigerator further builds the child’s belief in their abilities and value. Action video and computer games are very helpful for a child planning a military career, the increase in the trigger finger speed can be helpful in a real life battle situation.

It’s been over twenty years since we eliminated television from our home life. I find our children reading more, talking more and interacting more. Why not unplug the tube and plug into your child’s life!

First warm-ish day of 2011

On a sunny Sunday when J was off work, we headed to a nearby park with these two turkeys,

no, these ones...
pet and fed some animals,
"drove" a tractor,
climbed trees,
and discovered wetland life.

Monday, June 13, 2011

How do you know?

How can I tell if some of the behavior we experience with E. is related to trauma/attachment issues or simply a learning delay or disability? If it is defiance or normal childhood ignorance?

We are learning more and more about PTSD/RAD/trauma effected children recently. I have been meeting up with a wonderful group of ladies watching Nancy Thomas videos a few times a month. Great information! I have only seen two sessions but so far I am really impressed.

E. has been through so much in his short little life, and part of his early childhood is missing. No one knows what happened to him from birth to age 8 months. Who knows what trauma he experienced besides nearly starving to death? The fact that he went through the stress of malnourishment, being in an orphanage for years and then moving to a family he didn't know in a new country would be enough to effect him for sure...either emotionally or physically.

When the average person or even a close friend or family member (outside our immediate family) sees E., they see a happy, cute little boy who is eager to please. He rarely has behavior issues at preschool, does fine in the care of others, and loves to make others laugh.

At home, sometimes, there is another little boy. One that is sometimes defiant, that doesn't seem to know answers to questions, that can throw a huge tantrum and who rarely listens or follows directions. Up until the last year we thought this was due to a learning disability. We are starting to get a better idea that this might be something more.

Let me give you an idea:
Me: E, please go get ready for bed.
E.: OK.
E. comes out of his room with mismatched pajamas and a whiny look.
E.: Is it ok if I wear these pants with this?
Me: I know there are matching pants with that shirt, lets look.
I look through his drawer and quickly find the matching pair. No biggie.

Next day:
Me: Good morning E.
E.: Hi!
E. sneaks around the bathroom taking a really long time.
Me: What are you doing in there?
E. I am taking off my diaper.
Me: You didn't put a diaper on last night, because you don't need one anymore! When did you put a diaper on?
E. Hmm. I peed it.
I look at the diaper which is relatively dry, except on the outside, which feels slightly wet. Strange.

Me: Can you please get dressed? There are clothes folded on top of your dresser for you.
E.: Ok!
Me: Don't put on S's clothes though!
Hubby can't find S's clothes, which I also laid out on the dresser. He calls E. into the room. E. is wearing S's clothes.
Me: E., why are you wearing those? Take them off, and put on the other ones. Where are the other clothes for you?
E.: They are in the drawer.
E. had taken the clothes he was supposed to put on and put them in the drawer, under a few other items. Weird.

Another good example:
Me: E. why are are doing that?
E: S. is...
Me: How old is S.?
E.: Hmmm...
Me: S. is three. How old are you?
E.: Uhhh... I don't know how old I am.
Me: Well think about it a minute.
E.: Hmmm...eight.
Me: No, try again.
E. Uhh, seven.
This goes on and on while E. guesses several possible ages AVOIDING the number 5.
Me: (knowing he is lying and DOES know he is 5) I don't think you will be able to graduate preschool and go to kindergarten if you don't know your age. Are you sure you can't remember how old you are?
E.: I don't know.
Me: You need to sweep the floor in the kitchen until you can remember.
E.: I'm mad at you!
I let E. sweep for a minute and occasionally ask him if he can remember. Then, after a few minutes of sweeping, he suddenly can remember he is 5!

He has also done this when playing a color game, pretending he doesn't know the color and going around the entire color wheel trying to "guess".

Now some of you are going to say this is normal five year old behavior. I understand that many people do not understand how frustrating it is parenting these trauma effected children. Please know that this is a small picture of what I go through parenting this child everyday. And imagine that this is going on all day long. Then, when he goes to school, or grandma's, and to hear that he does not have any of the issues I describe while in their care...oh I hope you can imagine.

Why does he do this? Control. And that gets under my skin. I am trying my hardest not to let it. In the video (please bear with me as I have only watched it once and am not great at remembering details) I learned that kids effected by abuse, trauma, etc. use the back portion of their brain the most. This is the fight or flight portion. E. is here a lot, it is home to him, and he does what it takes to get reactions from us (mainly me) so he can stimulate this area. Our goal is to get him to use more of his frontal lobe, the cause/effect part of his brain. The part that helps with attachment, good decision making skills, etc. We want him to use and strengthen THIS part. So when he does something looking for a reaction, and we get angry and frustrated, he can see this and feel somewhat content and satisfied. When we react in another way, throw him off a bit, it will get him to start using the frontal lobe more. This is what I am excited about learning more about!

Saturday, June 11, 2011


I have had a very hard time these last few years. The stress of adoptions, attachment difficulties, raising five kids, homeschooling some, my husband's job and life in general is taking a toll on my body.

I went to the dentist last week and have three teeth that are needing repairs due to clenching and grinding in my sleep. Two cavities have cracked, one tooth is worn down. My crown also needs to be redone, not sure if it is related or not.

I also have had some problems with my arms, they have been numb and tingly for about a week. I had this happen last year, right before I went to Uganda. I thought it was stress and caused from me on the computer often. This time it is in both arms and more severe. I haven't been on the computer often at all. The doctor doesn't think it is carpal tunnel, but maybe a pinched nerve. She said to wait and see if it goes away. Well, since this is effecting my nerves and circulation, I didn't really want to sit idle. So I went to the chiropractor yesterday (first time I have ever been). She was very nice and really seemed to get me. She suggested taking fish oil and vitamin B6. I went for an x ray and will see her again on Monday morning.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Solar Oven

My daughter C. is working on a science fair project. She decided to build a solar oven and see how effective it is when baking brownies. I am quite interested in the outcome. She is using this design, which really got me excited to see how this inventor is trying to improve lives in Africa.

She is painting the inner box right now and soon we will start checking the internal temperature. Can't wait to see if it works!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I am going

to the ETAMM. I can't wait, you have no idea.