6 years ago…

6 years ago today we were having our last child free evening.

6 years ago we thought we knew.

6 years ago we thought we understood.

6 years ago we thought we’d be some of the lucky few with a seemingly unaffected child.

6 years ago we slept.

6 years ago trauma was a stranger.

6 years ago we’d barely thought about FASD – we did go to an evening training on it.

6 years ago we’d not thought much about CPV.

6 years ago we didn’t know how much rage a small body can hold.

6 years ago we didn’t understand the difference between a meltdown and a tantrum.

6 years ago we’d read lots, but not appreciated what it meant.

6 years ago I didn’t know how much we would have to fight to get support for our boy(s).

6 years ago I didn’t know some of my now closest friends.

6 years ago tomorrow we moved a boy and changed his world.

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6 years…

6 years ago we were coming to the end of introductions; I was just reflecting on that time. Life is not what we though it would be; but in some respects it is better. We would not be without the boys however, there are days when I wish it was easier.

I was trying to explain this morning how challenging Boyo finds this time of year. There are a lot of big emotions surrounding this time; but most people cannot appreciate that.

Just before he moved in with us, at the end of introductions (6 years ago today infact), Boyo’s foster parents threw him a big leaving/birthday party. This left him with an immense fear of parties. We spent years coaxing him in to them as he’d get to the entrance and stop.

What’s more it means that his moving in date is ingrained with his birthday.

We have had a weekend full of noise, lots of screaming and shouting and general talking. We have seen attempts to hurt everyone else in the house; and as usual I have taken the brunt of it, because it’s better he hurts me (or hubby) than Jelly. There have been meltdowns over the slightest thing. There has been sitting in doorways (me) whilst he rages. Constant refusals, the trying to fight has been relentless.

This week will be tough; we know that. But this will come to an end. Just as today when I was walking in the sunshine I could think spring is coming; I know that our families spring will come. That sometime towards the end of this month Boyo will find his way to feeling more regulated. It helps that spring is coming, we can be out after school as it’s no longer dark; he can burn off some of that energy that he carries with him. Spring will come, but first we have to finish this most challenging of times.


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Improving sensory processing…

We’ve been working on developing Boyo’s sensory systems for 6 weeks now. The changes are dramatic and amazing. I wish I could show the videos of the start and the progress we’ve made, but you’ll understand why I can’t.

We are aiming for 8 sessions of 3 mins each, every day. Quite honestly, we don’t achieve it, ever. But the intention is there and because the intention is there we are trying hard. He can already do things that 6 weeks ago I wouldn’t have believed possible. It’s not easy, some days we do minimal work, but on the days when things are good, we do a lot. And some parts of it have become part of our daily lives… drinking yoghurt through a straw, playing noughts and crosses with sweets & straws, island hopping and feely bags are things that he loves to do and will do everyday without argument.

Building up to using a gym ball and holding his body horizontal on it was challenging. We couldn’t start with the gym ball immediately, because it would have been a distraction. But we got there, faster than we thought we would. Commando crawling is hard for him still, but we are building up. Tomorrow we plan to start a new set of activities balancing on ropes.

School have also helped. His morning TA makes him read to her laying on the floor on his front. His afternoon TA does a circus of different exercises (gym ball, commando crawling, pe spots) several times a week.

And because he is more aware of where his body is, because he is happier in walking without needing to know where his feet are, because he is less saggy in the middle. Other things are improving too; he is moving around the house in calmer manner (at least some of the time). He is able to walk downstairs without help from the banister. He is swimming straight, no longer in a banana shape going all over the pool.

I showed our SW the videos earlier in the week. He was amazed. Admittedly he did re-write history about why we are following this plan…funnily enough not his idea, although he seems to want to take the glory for it. The whole thing of him telling me it wasn’t possible to see this therapist; and me finding out it was possible and where she was working from seems to have been forgotten. Mind you, it doesn’t matter; the result of the work is a calmer and more grounded Boyo so I don’t actually care.

There is still more to do. We are both aware that this is long term process; but honestly the benefits are worth it. I cannot wait until we get his bike out. I am hoping that he will be able to cycle and look where he is going, not looking at his feet with me following behind going, ‘look out, there is a car/person/street lamp there’

An underdeveloped sensory system, not sensory processing issues. Words that changed Boyo’s world.

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The end of one year…and the start of the next ten!

It appears that I’ve got to the end of my 30’s, tomorrow is my 40th birthday. The last week has involved several celebrations, lots of cake, alcohol and friends. Tomorrow will involve a quiet day (possibly out) with not much fuss made.

I always find birthdays are a time for reflection; this one for me possibly more than most. When I started this decade I had just miscarried following an IVF cycle. The first 18 months of my 30’s continued in much the same way. In summer 2009 (in a bizarre twist of fate shortly after Boyo was born) we decided enough was enough and went back to our research we had done about adoption and decided that was our way forward.

The end of my 30’s sees me in different place; and by different, I mean truly different. I am mum to two boys, both with learning difficulties, attachment issues and one with probable (so probable that the paed said he did but can’t formally diagnose without evidence of birth mothers drinking or cognitive assessment) FASD.

Life isn’t what we thought it would be. But neither of us would be without the boys.

I am holding onto my job, generally by my finger nails, but holding on as long as I can. I truly enjoy what I do, and truly think my workplace is filled with lovely people, both adults and pupils.

No adopter will be surprised when I say the my friend list has mostly changed since I was 30. Although that isn’t the passing of time so much, as the adoption of two children who came with issues. Some of my friends remain the same, truly there with me walking this path & accepting that sometimes I have to say no. I have added a number of fellow adopters to my friends and also mum’s of children with additional needs.

We’ve moved house in the past decade. I honestly hope not to move again in the decade or two. We love our new house, we love the space we have. I don’t love the amount of work that needs doing still on the house, but we knew when we moved this was the case.

When I started my 30’s I had no idea of what the next 10 years would bring, and I’m pretty certain I can’t predict what will happen in the next 10. However; whilst 10 years ago I was in a dark place, we are surrounded by love, joy and light (and a good helping of trauma).

Sometime around 10 years ago I read something that I have held tight to over time;

Holding onto hope, until the pain of holding on is bigger than the fear of letting go.

I have no idea now, where I first heard this quote, nor where it originated from. But it has held true over the past 10 years. I hope that the 40’s brings something new – I don’t hope for better, just different!

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more meetings

I really wish I could properly reflect on the last few months, but it simply isn’t possible. All I can say is ‘too much’.

We had a meeting at Cahms this morning. Not as promised by our social worker a discussion about starting play therapy (I knew this before we went), but a one off consultation about ways forward and what they might be able to do to help. We very much laid it on the line; we think he needs some Play Therapy. We talked about his issues, the problems we are seeing; the concerns about school.

We talked about primary trauma and secondary trauma. We talked about ‘naughty’. We discussed what we do and how we do it. We talked about some new ideas. We had an agreement that play therapy is probably what is needed; although their recommendation is not to wait for them but to apply for ASF money. They also are making a recommendation that he is referred and they can do some work at school to help school understand him better.

We feel that it was time well spent, which we weren’t expecting on our way this morning.

This afternoon was a meeting with the SENCO at the boy’s school – with discussion firmly on Jelly (with a slight detour to a couple of Boyo issues). We talked about possibilities, we talked about ideas we both needed to sound out. We haven’t got a clear idea of ‘next’ except that we do have another meeting with Jelly’s class teacher arranged. And we do have a plan of moving forward.

There is a debate raging about whether Jelly should move into y1 with his peers or whether he should repeat reception. There are benefits and problems all sides up. There isn’t a clear, he would be better here because… and the problem is made worst, because the Ed Pysch we have worked with for 4 years, who is clued up on Attachment issues due to older adopted children in the area; has now left. And nobody knows who or when he will be replaced.

Another day; more meetings, more emails. But a much better day than I expected when it started.


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Looking forward

I was going to write a post about the year just lived; but somehow this evening I feel I need to write about the year to come.

I am ever hopeful that this week we will receive the help we need as a family. Admittedly I have had this hope for the past two years, however in the next two weeks both boys have individual appointments to see people who might help them/us. I have to say I have much more hope in Boyo and the proposed assessment and help for him – it is what we, the paed and another therapist think he needs, not what our SW wanted to provide. I have gone out and found someone that I am hoping will provide the immediate assessment that is needed and our SW has hammered out details of a proposal which feels right. And we have dates for it starting.

I am less hopeful about the help proposed for Jelly, but feel that CAHMS is probably a stepping stone to other support in future. We will see.

As a family 2016 we found ourselves recognising a new normal. It doesn’t often feel easy, but as long as we recognise that it is our normal we are okay. Moving into 2017, that normal continues. We know what works (some of the time), we are very clear on what doesn’t work (mostly). We have given up worrying about what other people think; but are relentless in making sure that people don’t say things to the boys that will hurt/damage them or our relationships.

We are lucky enough to have supportive friends both in real life and online. Not everyone understands; so this year I hope to grow the friendships that help and prune some of the others. I know who I can trust with the details, and who just needs the broad brushstrokes.

I will say No more often when asked to do things. I will say Yes more often when it involves selfcare.

We will have new issues, new problems and new joys and happiness. No-one can tell what this year will bring; but for us it will hopefully bring increased moments of happiness. I am also hoping for more sleep.



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What you see…

I know, you saw us again, him being challenging, me obviously been a bad parent, because surely only a bad parent would put up with being hit, kicked and called ‘stupid’, ‘big idiot’ and whatever other insult he was throwing out. And I know that you always see us like this; it’s kind of the peril of living opposite the end of our road… you see us at some of our worst moments. when I am insisting that we need to be out.

What you didn’t see was the amazing way that he held himself together at one of his most difficult times of the year. What you didn’t see was the anxiety and worry and stress that suddenly broke out. What you didn’t see was the boy who coped with two days pre-Christmas, Christmas day and Boxing day with only one major melt down (late on on Christmas day). What you didn’t see was the amazing progress our boy has made.

What you didn’t see was the immense way that he coped at school for the last two weeks, when his routine was shot, mostly to ease his little brother’s life.

What you didn’t see was him joining in with the party games at the annual Christmas Eve party; and the delight from those who attend each year, in sharing how well he had coped, how much he has progressed.

What you didn’t see was the patient way he coped with having to wait to open presents on Christmas day, first so his grandparents could come and see them open them. And then later waiting until his Great Grandmother could see him open his presents.

What you didn’t see was the way he coped with going to see his cousins on boxing day and let them play with him (without him controlling them). You didn’t see the way he made sure that when he felt wobbly he came and grounded himself; ‘Mummy, I need a hug, I need a tight hug’.

What you didn’t see was the fear. That we might not remember him. That presents might mean he was moving. That everyone keep telling him Santa was coming to his house, and strangers in our house terrify.  The immense fear that we love his little brother more than him.

What you didn’t see was the return home after the trudge up to the trig point and over the moor and home. What you didn’t see was the calming effect the walk had; what you didn’t see was the massive hug he gave me, his dad and his brother when we got home. And you didn’t hear the whispered apology.

He doesn’t want to be this way. He didn’t choose to be this way. It just is, his way. He didn’t have the amazing start to life your children did. We love him unconditionally, that means in the bad times, as well as the good. Life has happened to him, in a way that your children cannot comprehend, not that they should.

So next time you see us, with him struggling to cope, please try not to judge.

Take note – my boys, both of them have done amazing well over this busy, frantic time. They have both struggled at times. They have both shown that they have struggled. But I am amazed with them; and so, so proud

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