Friday, January 22, 2010

Control to the extreme

Children with RAD crave control more than they crave anything else including relationships, love, comfort, fun, or showing others that they are smart or capable. They even crave it more than food!

Because of the way their brain had to adapt to survive in their less than ideal environments as babies and toddlers they feel that giving up control, even one tiny iota of it, means death to them. They will stubbornly hold on to their chosen control tactic with all they are worth, while life passes them by. They'll miss out on family fun, playing, dessert, outings, just about anything rather than giving up that control that they view as so vital to their survival.

Just for the record doing something my way means giving up control.

To give just a little glimpse of what this can look like, I will use just one example from the last 2 days...

One of Jada's school assignments was to count out 3 blue plastic bears. I already know that she knows the color blue and how to count to 10 (she can count to 10 using manipulatives as well by touching each item as she counts it). So this request is well within her ability.

At 9:30am on Thursday morning:
Initially I gave her a bag of plastic counting bears that contained 4 different colors. I asked her to hand me 3 blue bears. She pulled out all the red ones and gave them to me.
"What color did I ask for?" I ask her.
"This one?" she asks as she points to a green bear.
"Is that what I said?"
"Is it?" she repeats back to me.

I have her choose between doing 10 correct jumping jacks or 20 sloppy ones to 'get the blood flowing to her brain' so she is sure to hear me correctly next time I say my request. She does 20 sloppy jumping jacks after falling to the ground and moaning for a few minutes.

Again, I say, "I want you to give me 3 blue bears. What is it I want?"
"What number is it? 2 red ones?"

More jumping jacks, the blood must not be flowing enough yet...

"I want you to give me 3... (1.. 2.. 3.. ) blue (I hold up a blue bear) bears. What is it I want?"
"This one?" she asks while holding up a blue bear.
"Right!! How many?"
"Oh, that's okay. You can try again. I want 3 (I count to 3 with my fingers, then I count to 3 with her fingers), blue (I hold up 3 blue bears) bears. What do I want you to do?"
"Get red ones?"

More jumping jacks. I tell her to think about it and I'll be back to her. A few minutes later, I try again. "I want you to give me 3 blue bears."

She pulls out 1 red bear, 1 green bear and 1 yellow bear and hands it to me.
"Yay!! You gave me three!!!" I pop a jelly bean into her mouth. "Now make them blue."

She tenses up when I get excited about giving me the correct amount and makes sure to NOT do that again. For the next 2 and a half hours until lunch I am monitoring her while I am watching the other kids and making sure they are staying on task as well as trying to break through their controling games. About every 3-5 minutes I ask her if she's figured it out yet. She gets out 5 blue bears, 2 yellow, 1 red, and probably every other possible combination except 3 blue bears.

We eat lunch, have quiet time and get back to it in the afternoon. She stays at it for the rest of the day, taking breaks to get her blood flowing to her brain by doing jumping jacks and jumping on the mini-trampoline. Finally it was bed time, she still hadn't counted out 3 blue bears.

"No problem!" I tell her. "You can try again tomorrow! Hopefully getting a good nights rest will help!"

So 'tomorrow' was today. After breakfast and chores, she gets back to it. This time, I write out on the white board

" 3 blue bears "

I draw 3 dots under the number three, put a blue bear under the word blue and draw 3 bears under the word bear.

Lunch comes and goes. Still can't count to 3...
Quiet time comes and goes. Not yet...
It's nearly dinner time and we whip out the video camera to see it'll motivate her to comply. At this point I had taken away all the other bears except for 3 blue ones. I just asked her to count the 3 blue bears.

The video camera WORKED!!! It took a little prodding, but it worked! After she said it, we celebrated. She got a jelly bean, we did a dance together and we went downstairs to the swing in the basement to play together.

After coming back up, Brad asked her to count to 3 again, but somehow she couldn't do it.

I do have a method to this maddness. I figure that I'll wait them out. I do my best to not let their stubborness effect me. I know they WILL be stubborn and try to control things so I plan on it happening. I try not to let it make me frustrated or angry. If by chance I do start to feel frustrated or angry, I DON'T let them see that. They LOVE it when they feel strong enough to control another person's emotions, especially an adults. Anger is what they are used to and comfortable with so they try to create it in their environment.

So, why would I home school them if this is what I face everyday? Because it happens at school as well. They are not interested in learning. They want to control everyone and everything around them. At least at home, we can work on attachment in the midst of all their controlling games.

My task is to change the way they think by rewiring their brains in a sense. When they finally do comply I make sure that good things happen. I might dance around the room with them, do a little chearleading type cheer for them, pick them up and spin them in circles. Take a 'break' with them and play or move together (moving together promotes attachment). Often, I pop something sugary in their mouth. Sugar activates the pleasure center of the brain. So when they comply with something I've asked, I try to associate this with something pleasurable. Eventually, with constant repetition, instead of thinking compliance equals bad things happening for them, it can mean good things happen for them.

The other day Jazmine finished ALL of her school work and chores (this doesn't happen very often with any of them). We threw her a party complete with cupcakes, candles and singing. She did it again the next day!!! Talk about a modern day miracle!!! We got 2 days in a row from one of them! Day 3 was not as good, but that's to be expected. Healing takes place in in spirals. They make progress and then regress. The good thing is that each time they make progress it's just a little more than the last time. And every time they regress it's not as far back as last time. With 3 steps forward and 2 steps back, we move forward.

So one jelly bean at a time, one silly dance at a time, one celebration at a time, one hug at a time, one tiny breakthrough at a time, healing and attachment happens.

I tried to post the video but I couldn't get it to convert to a format compatible for the blog.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Our Christmas Nativity Scene Play

I know it's a little late to be posting about Christmas, but I couldn't pass up posting these pictures from our fantastic Nativity Scene play done with my kids, my mom and my brother and sister, Justin and Lauren.

Acting out the Christmas story has been a tradition in my family since I was little. My Grandma made all of the costumes and we used them every year. I was so excited when my mom told me she had them.

Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem on a donkey.

Joseph - Kishawn
Mary - Jazmine
Donkey - Justin

The birth of Jesus:
played by Makenzie (pink binky and all)

The beautiful angels announcing His birth:
Lauren, Kiana and Jada

The shepherds were sore afraid!
-Justin and Mom-

Mary and Joseph enjoying and being amazed by their baby.

The kids were SO into this!
It was very sweet to watch how tender they were being with each other.
It's moment's like these that make all the struggles worth it!

The shepherds and wise men arrive to see the baby Jesus.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Baby Pictures of the Kids!!!!

While I was in Arizona for my sister's wedding, I got to meet part of the kid's biological family. My mom went with me to meet their birth mother's dad, step-mom, and step brother and sister. They were very welcoming to us. I had a great time with them.
The kid's mom died in a car accident last April. Her family gave me some pictures she had of the kids that they had found after she died.
I was very excited because other than the pictures that Jada's foster family gave me of her, I had no pictures of them before we got them.

This picture was actually taken after we got them.
It was taken during one of the visits they had with their mom.
(Kiana, Jada, their birth mom, Kishawn and Jazmine)

This is Kiana as a baby, before she lost her baby hair.

This is Jazmine as a baby.
From left to right - Jazmine, birth mom, Kiana.

Jazmine, Kiana and Kishawn as a baby before he lost his baby hair.

Jazmine, Kiana and Kishawn

Jada sometime between 0-4 months of age.

Thank you so much to the kid's family for giving us these pictures!! They mean so much to the kids and to me! What a priceless treasure!