Noticing … And More Waiting …

So whilst Biggey has been at home since 10th January it has enabled me to spend much more 1:1 time with her. Whilst this is quite positive it has also been very enlightening. Here are some of the things I’ve noticed.

She never starts a conversation. Ever! She only joins in with others or responds (sometimes) when I speak to her. Now, the reason I haven’t noticed this is because Littley talks non stop. It’s only been during this time of just the two of us that it has become apparent. I can walk into the room and she doesn’t look up or speak or acknowledge anyone is there. We can walk down the street and she only chats if I start chatting.

She always plays the same things.. If I say go and play she will go and colour pictures, never anything else. If I say play on the Wii she plays the same game. Again, if Littley is around then she chooses different games and activities so Biggey must have been following her with that. I knew Biggey struggled in this area and thought her lack of imaginative play was down to early neglect but now I’m not so sure.

She never brings me things to show me what she’s done. Never, ever! She will tell me she coloured a picture (after I’ve asked her) and still doesn’t show it to me unless I ask to see it. When I think about, she never has brought me work from school or those plastic bottle models or anything else.

She strops when asked to get changed or struggles with getting dressed. Now I know some kids do this this. She will also put on the same clothes all the time. Yes, all the time! I have to remove them from her bedroom. If I say put a clean top on, she strops. It’s a little odd. Littley is like a fashion show model on contrast – she would wear all her clothes (and some of mine given the chance) in just one day!!

She has lots of obsessive tendencies . Again, these have become more apparent now I see more of her. I keep finding her wiping down the kitchen surface (and it’s not that messy!). She tidies my cutlery draw! These are just a few examples.

She has an inability to change it adjust her language for different situations.. So if she hears a boy in the street shout and swear, she will come in and tell me about it, but she repeats in exactly the same way she has heard it, with same volume, same venom and no abbreviation to “f” word or whatever. She also uses ‘playground’ talk with grandparents (which is a bit embarrassing).

There are more things I’ve been noticing too so when I was my Camhs meeting the other day I asked for referral for her to be assessed for Aspergers or Autistic Spectrum. The more I’ve looked into this, the more I believe she is Aspergic. If so, it would go a long way to explain some of the reason for her having had so much difficulty making progress in certain areas. It would also be really useful to know if she is and what would help her to be able to settle better when we get a new school sorted. Apparently Aspergic girls are also very good at copying other children so that the condition can remain undetected. I believe the Biggey has been copying others at school, certainly in Junior school. Yet this will be much more difficult to do in the busy classes of a Secondary school.

There are often a lot of things which help Autistic kids and also help traumatised and attachment issue kids so the cross-over is understandable.

A letter came yesterday from Camhs. They are not making appointments for Autistic assessment because the waiting is to long. They may come back to us in around three to four months!! More waiting then ….

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Love Conversation

Valentines Day. A tricky day in our house. You see, although the girls have been with us for over six years, we are reminded that Love Is Not Enough for my girls; it is often reported and written about that it is not enough for those children who have suffered trauma, loss, neglect and the rest.

In these six years we have come a long way and put in an incredible amount of therapeutic hard work to repair the damage done in the early years. However, my biggey was five and half when she came to us; she had already spent more than three years in the birth family and (just exactly what she had experienced and witnessed in those three years would fill a book) needless to say it had a profound effect on her.

So, this year as with every year on Valentines day I bought my girls a card and a little present as yet another small sign that I love them. However my biggey find its really hard to hear good things about herself so my messages and actions of thoughfulness, kindness and love were met with disbelief and rejection.

There were signs there that she was struggling generally with the basics of the day. She didn’t seem to be able to function properly when getting dressed; messy eating at breakfast along with moody face and sulky language. In the typical theapeutic parenting way with a dash of Dr Dan Hughes curiousity I tried to wonder aloud what was going on. “Nothing!

My littley was delighted with her card and token gift and went off to school quite happily. My biggey is of course still not in school so I had more time to be curious and explore. However, every attempt I made to interact was met with sulky rejection and pushing away. In the back of my mind I did wonder if it was about Valentines Day, yet if I ask then I am at risk of putting words in her mouth; she will then latch on to them and say and ‘yes that’s it’ and we never really sort the issue out. So, I didn’t say what I was thinking.

The next hour was tense and difficult because everything I asked her to do was a silent battle. Hers to maintain defiance and sulkiness and for me to maintain smiles, outward calm and nonchalance at her responses. Within the hour she was shouting at me.

“Just leeeaavvvve meee alone”!

I can’t remember what about now but I quickly made sure the front door was locked since I didn’t want it risk another running off session! I was ironing, and as best I could, I continued so that it reduced the confrontation that was occurring. She is often better when I reduce eye contact, it is less intimidating for her. None of this helped today. I was really close to just shouting in an old fashioned parenting way so I told her I was going upstairs to get some hangers for the ironing. I thought this would put space between us for even a moment and, in any case, I needed a moment to just take a breath!

When I got downstairs she wasn’t there! She was escaping thought the garage! Bugger! I didn’t remove the key for there. I ran into the street to see her running off in her socks. More bugger, swearing and dismay. I quickly ran in and got the car keys and went after her. I really wasn’t in the mood (and didn’t have time) to be letting her get out of my sight otherwise I may well end up with another police incident. Fortunately I managed to catch up with her in the next street and blocked her way. I had to man-handle her into the car. I was in a mode of just do what I have to do, yet in the back of my mind I do wonder what this looks like, I brushed that aside and carried on with the necessity of keeping her safe.

When I get her back home we sit outside the house, she in the back, me in the front. No eye contact, no confrontation. “Please let me help you darling” I say. “I can see that you really do have big feelings and that running must have been a big need too. I know it seems mean when I ask you about your feelings but I do it because I love you”.

What I got was a verbal attack which ended with “you don’t love me”. More exploring and I also got “I don’t belong” and then, as we really get to the bottom of the matter she said “I wasn’t loved. They didn’t love me and they were horrible and mean to me and they hurt me and this just reminds me that I wasn’t loved and that I was hurt”.

What can I say? She is right. Is she right? It’s a fair point. She is entitled to her opinion and her feelings. She had to live through that and I wasn’t there, so I cannot possibly contradict. How awful for her and its so sad. So, I say “I’m so sorry darling”. I’m always saying sorry to her. I say sorry when I don’t need to, when I don’t feel sorry, when I have nothing to apologise for. I say it because it helps her. It helps her to feel better, to feel somebody cares; I do care, more than she will know.

When I get her in the house, we have soothing words, drinks, biscuits, hugs and I get her calmed down – for now. By tea time, all this comes back up and we end the day in a similar way to which it started. Shouts, strops, moods, ranting, hating, soothing, hugs and a very very early bedtime. I am thankful that these big strops leave her exhausted. At least I get the evening quietly to myself, to recover.

I wonder if her birth parents gave her a thought?

A Look Back

A Look Back

I’ve spent a lot of time in the family and in my blog writing about my Biggey at the moment. However, as I write this in February 2014 and share with the online community that is The Adoption Social‘s theme of One Year On, it has made me stop and reflect a little as I take a look back over 2013.

My Little girl can step forward and take centre stage for this one! This has been a good year for her. This time last year she was struggling with many changes taking place in her little 9 year old life. There was a change in teachers in her class at school (for the better as far as I was concerned). However change is difficult and she struggled more with a fear of the unknown so that added to the increased anxiety she was experiencing. She was also having great difficulty with school work as they were looking at Victorians and studied The Street Child where there is focus on an orphan named Jim, with no shoes, no food, a mother who died and so on.

Later they also worked on Greek Myths so they’ve got Medusa and her head of snakes and the rest of those lovely stories. Because she is emotionally much younger it is hard for her to differentiate myth, legend, story from real. It also connects to her own scary traumatic early life too (of course!).

She was mentally and physically quite a mess

I spent much of last year in and out of school and she spent much of the time in and out of class. Working somewhere else, on her own, on a project. I’m grateful that they were so accommodating and understanding of her issues and trauma but she was mentally and physically quite a mess. This was easily seen by

  • her eczema being quite bad
  • she wasn’t sleeping as much (which is always the clue with her)
  • her eating pattern suffers
  • the fingers and toes are chewed and picked until sore
  • there were lots of falling out with friends
  • many days the tears and drama and meltdowns needed to be mopped up when she got home.

Mop it up we did and kept going, as you do.

Move forward to Summer 2013

More tears because she didn’t want to go into Year 6! She didn’t want to grow up! Bless! (Who does, was all I could think, but it’s not helpful for her.) She did manage a whole 3 days of residential trip at the sea-side which was amazing and gave us lots to be able to reflect on and boost her confidence.

Again we worked on transition, new teachers and all that and we got through it. I was thankful that the TA is the same and one she trusts a lot and one of her teachers (she has two) is the same as last year. Our summer holiday to the same place as last two previous years was the best holiday yet. Fewer big issues, fewer bossy, stroppy child.

Come September she struggled a bit with Year 6 and had quite a lot of friendship issues but we managed to contain them without massive explosions (most of the time). Halloween was still pretty rough and Christmas was Christmas (we tend to skim past it as best we can) and the New Year arrived.

We can see her flourishing

She was away on another 3 day residential in January and came back delighted with herself that she had managed every activity and in her words

even the scary ones!

Since then, we can noticeably see her flourishing. There’s been a definite upward improvement in her abilities, confidence, behaviour, sleeping and friendships. I do believe these residentials ¬†have boosted her enormously and have Miss L and Mrs A to thank (and many other wonderful people in school) for their contribution toward my Littley’s progress.

Now, I’m not saying it’s all hunky dory and easy. However we have to come to a level of acceptance (mostly) about just how she functions and what she is and is not capable of. We still have the rages, the defiance, the trauma, the sleeplessness, nightmares etc etc. However, we had a fab parents evening last week, where she is doing very well and meeting all targets and is much less angry. I am not in school as often either. So, well done my darling! Fingers cross we can keep this going.

Take a Look Back

I often say to adopters in this world where everything is fast paced and always rushing onwards to ‘what next’ and what is bigger / better / faster we need to stop for a moment and just take a look back. See how far we have come and take a moment to reflect on the positive little things. ¬†Give ourselves and our little ones an enormous pat on the back!

 

I’ve linked this with The Adoption Social Weekly shout out #WASO

The Weekly Adoption Shout Out

Still Waiting

The Local authority were supposed to come back to me by close of play Friday about whether the SEN panel decided to allow my request to change Biggey’s school. Guess what! I didn’t hear from them!

I sent an email after 5:30 saying that I am wondering what time their close of play is. Sarcastic? Hopeful? Naive? I’m really trying hard not to p!&& people off because I need them to do their thing. However more importantly I need my child in school!

Everyone (family, friends, colleagues) I speak to cannot understand all the difficulty we are having. Cannot understand that the school would not meet us, cannot understand that it is taking so long to get changes. Cannot understand that we are having to fight, chase, nag and do all of this on our own. People say you would think they would recognise this child needs to be in school and do whatever to help that happen.

Well, no. That’s not how it works. I and many others are not surprised that help is minimal, poor or non existent. Such a shame that this is what we (adopters) have to put up with.

This panel met on Wednesday, by the time there is action next week that’s another week my girl has been out of school, then half term is looming so nothing will happen during that week either.

I’m tempted to escalate the issue. I will do if I feel necessary.

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We Have a Plan

I went along to the meeting with the Senco at a prospective new school for biggey. I’d had the local authority email a copy of her statement across beforehand so that she could peruse and hopefully be informed before the meeting.

The welcome into school was friendly and I already felt welcome (rather than an inconvenience as I have experienced elsewhere), so that was a good start. Mrs Senco was on time, had booked a meeting room and apologised for having to “wade” through the pupils on their break!

We went through the busy throng in the canteen area of kids being kids, chatting, laughing, pushing a bit, eating toast but generally seeming to be enjoying school life. Mrs Senco turned to me and said “I guess this would be difficult for your girl”!!!!!

Oh yes, absolutely. I like this lady already.

At the meeting room she positioned herself beside me, rather than across the table from me which I found to be a nice touch. I got all my paperwork out and I had prepared quite a list of things that I feel I would need. The first and most important for me was communication (since it was none existent in other school). Straight away she gave me assurance of different methods of communicating, email contacts, home school book discussed, and main reception will always try and find someone, yet she would be the main contact – no passing off to anyone else.

Yes, we’ve heard all this before and this time I was able to challenge a couple of aspects yet also put the information into context of what I had already experienced in making the appointments and having been in the school a couple of times already. I did get a better feel that I could believe what she said would happen.

Next, support. Straight away she said, quite honestly, that it will be difficult to assign an attachment figure or two because if Biggey came now it would be part way through the year. That’s said, she did not completely rule out being able to do something helpful from how until summer and then sort it better from September. Also said would identify a safe place for Biggey in school and provide her with photos and names of all TA’s and relevant people.

OMG ! YOU GET IT!! I managed not to jump up and kiss her at this point. Whilst containing those feeling I also managed to contains own self berating ones about why I didn’t choose this school before. So, (hopefully still outwardly looking composed) I raised something else on my list and she already had thought of that, and the next, and the next. All before I had to ask. Amazing.

When looking at the Statement she quite plainly and frankly said that we can put aside academic needs until we have her feeling safe in school. Until then, she knows she will not learn, yet we can still aim to have her in school! Oh yes please! That’s absolutely what I want and need! I now want to lavish her with chocolates (even though I nearly always keep all chocolate for myself!).

What areas of curriculum does she struggle with? Talked through all those, including the fact that she simply struggles just because of time of year (you know, the usual birthday, Christmas, Mother’s Day, Easter, Halloween) as well as struggling in some topics. When I mentioned that RE is nearly always an issue for her she did say that we could consider asking for her not to study that. This is usually done on grounds of religious belief but if it’s very difficult then … I said thank you, I’ll give it some thought when really I want to whoop loudly. I had never thought of that!!

Transition. She said it needs a steady approach to get her integrated calmly and safely back into school and school life (well, I know that, but brilliant that she does too)! Talked about her even just going in for an hour a day with me too and sometimes just sitting in canteen or the open library area and be able to watch everything happening then progress in small steps from there. She can have a buddy until she finds her way around, there are options for getting into classes and so on. How great that they will accommodate things at her pace (within reason).

At this point I wanted to jump on the table and do a little dance!

There was lots more discussed. Everything on my list was covered and I was more than happy with the answers and ideas and ways of approaching things.

She openly said they will not get everything right but they will work with me. I felt it only fair to then also admit that I will, at times, be a very stroppy parent and apologised in advance (although I still believe my Stroppy hat is a tool I use quite well). She seemed fine with that.

The next day I wrote to the Local Authority and asked them to consider moving Biggey’s named school from her current one to this one. We will have to wait about a week whilst it goes through SEN panel but they will come back to me and let me know the outcome. If approved, they would then have to formally approach this school and see if they will agree to take Biggey. It could all take about 3 weeks so no chance of getting her anywhere near school before Feb half term.

However, we now feel we have a plan. It’s important for me to feel like I have plan. Some of it is a waiting game, some is out of my control, but we have a plan.

The night that we made the request, my lovely hubby and I slept all night – for the first time in ages. Now that felt like a result!

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