Baby steps

Have you ever seen the movie What About Bob? In the movie, Bob suffers from several phobias. His psychiatrist has written a book called “Baby Steps.” After learning about the book, Bob repeats the words “baby steps, baby steps, baby steps” with everything he does. At this chapter in my life I feel like Bob.

On Thursday we went to Evan’s psychiatrist appointment. I was able to share most of what has been going on with her. She changed his medication from once a day to twice a day. She said if this doesn’t help, there is nothing else she can do until he turns five. I asked her about Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). Medication to treat RAD cannot be given until age five, and the medication is an antipsychotic. I feel very uneasy about a five year old taking antipsychotic medicine. Her suggestion was that I find a hospital that will provide inpatient care for him. She said she doesn’t know of any place that takes children under five though. Why is five the magic number?

When we got home from his appointment, I needed a moment to collect my thoughts. Hospitalization is something I would really like to avoid. Of course, I want the best care possible, but I think that should be a last resort. Ultimately it’s not my decision. As a foster parent, I have guardianship, not custody. Decisions regarding medical care are up to his physicians and the state.

Doubt reared it’s ugly head and invaded my mind. “Am I really the right person to be caring for this child? Should he be in a home without other children, so he has more one on one time? What if this medication doesn’t work? Has anything I have done so far made any difference?”

While I sat there at the kitchen table with my face in my hands, Evan came in and handed me a toy knife from the kids kitchen center. It was from a Melissa and Doug set. The knife is made of wood and doesn’t have sharp edges. He had broken it in half.

“Can this knife do this?” He asked me. I told him that it wasn’t supposed to be broken in half and for the thousandth time, I explained to him that we should treat toys kindly and not break them. If all of the toys are broken, he will have nothing to play with. I asked him why he had broken it and like always, his response was because he wanted to. Preparing myself for the storm that was going to follow, I told him to stand in the corner.

Much to my surprise, he walked over and stood in the corner. There is a first time for everything! He cried a little but he stood there. There were no shoes thrown, no screaming or banging his head against the wall. He did not make his body go limp. He did not scream at me about how he doesn’t like me. When the timer went off, I told him his time was up and he ran back in the other room to play.

Baby steps.

For most people, this incident sounds insignificant. Big deal, my child had a time out and didn’t act like the world was ending. For me, this was a huge deal! It shows progress. Consistency is so important when parenting. It may have taken seven weeks but he now knows that when he is put in the corner, no amount of screaming, yelling, throwing things, or any other negative behavior is getting him out of it.

Is it possible that he is exactly where he is meant to be? Maybe I am the mom he needs. What if seeing my other kids being disciplined when they misbehave is helping him? For seven weeks, each day we have stayed in the same place or taken a step backwards. This morning, I woke up one step forward. It may have been just a baby step, but it was a step just the same.

Knowledge is power

Anxiety is such a jerk! I feel exhausted all day long but once I get my pajamas on and climb into bed, I’m wide awake. Last night I was in bed by nine o’clock but didn’t go to sleep until after two o’clock. I was too busy reading posts in foster parenting groups about different behavioral and mental disorders in children. Who knew there were so many? Evan has been diagnosed with ADHD but my training through google.com has left me unsure. (Humor)

Seriously though, I would read a story the foster parent shared and then I would look up the signs or symptoms of the disorder they were describing. For several weeks I have suspected that he may have fetal alcohol syndrome. From what I gather, there is no way to know for sure unless the birth mother admits to drinking while she was pregnant.

Another thing I found was sensory seeking disorder. I copied this from understood.org.

  • Stand too close when talking to others and not have a good sense of personal space. (Learn how one mom taught this to her son using the “elbow rule.”)
  • Have an unusual tolerance for pain.
  • Walk with loud, heavy steps.
  • Enjoy jumping, hopping, and bumping and crashing into things and people—sometimes to the point of being unsafe.
  • Not know his own strength. (He may rip paper when writing, break toys or hurt others by accident.)
  • Prefer “rough play” on the playground.
  • Touch people and objects often.
  • Seek out or make loud noises.
  • Chew on shirt sleeves or collars and other non-food items

He literally has every one of these.

Remember the lady I talked about that did respite for Evan last week? She has been texting me this week and she asked me if I was familiar with reactive attachment disorder. I had never heard of it, so I looked it up.

  • Disobedient-check
  • Defiant- check
  • Trouble sleeping- check
  • Argumentative- double check
  • Incessant chatter- one thousand checks

Out of the thirty signs that were listed, he had all, except four.

There were several things I looked up that I didn’t think fit him. The good news is that he has an appointment with his psychiatrist tomorrow. I am hoping she can give me more insight about these disorders. I don’t think I am qualified in any way to make a diagnosis. It never hurts to research things on your own though. If nothing else, I popped the bubble that I’ve been living in and learned about real issues that children and parents are dealing with every day.