The start of something…

Last summer I spent a lot of time talking to adoptive mums in our weekly school holiday park meet ups. This shouldn’t shock anyone who actually knows me; but several new ideas were dreamt up. For 5 years now we have met in school holidays in local parks, with a few extra bigger events thrown in; but there was discussion about how else we could spend time together.

A variety of ideas were discussed some of which will come to nothing, whilst others are regularly discussed at our coffee chats. Some other people have taken on, whilst there were two that I agreed to attempt to sort. One is still in the planning stage but the other one came about last Saturday.

A very small group of 4 families (the first weekend of a school holiday didn’t help us here) met up at a local outdoor spot and went for a walk. These are families I have known since shortly after Boyo was placed; and obviously the children have known each other this long. It felt like an amazingly familiar group of people. Between us we had 8 children (although the eldest is now 15), 3 dads and 3 mums (& 4 dogs). It actually was a good size group because as we walked we could talk.

Most of the children were bunched into a pack together, although sometimes some lagged behind and some ran in front. But the adults got to chat, about adoption, about family things, about life. It was a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours and we ended at a playground, so the children could play some more.

I am already planning a couple more walks in different locations, with different walks to do. The spot that we were in this last weekend has a variety of walks around it. There are also many other lovely spots to walk.

#glowmo Boyo managed to let other’s throw our dog’s ball. And the friendships that exist and continue to flourish bring joy to my heart.

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Day 3 of the school holidays…

It’s utterly possible it’s nearly a month since I last posted, having promised myself I would do better. However, this last weekend himself and I decided that next year we just brace from start of Dec until the end of March. If we know it’s going to be tough (to be fair we knew) and plan for tough, it’s possible that it’ll be manageable.

Passing his birthday and mothers day, with a significant improvement in the weather has seen a vast improvement in the bad things, meltdowns, rages and hurting.

Of course, at the weekend when speaking to a couple of adoptive mums (this is another post) I foolishly said that at the minute Jelly was causing me more bother than Boyo. Today was the first solo day (of many) of the Easter holidays… I’m not sure I need to say more than…

 

I had to stop the car on the way back from the garden centre.

One of the boys and me walked home from my mum’s house, whilst the other one stayed and played with Granny as the car was no longer a safe option.

 

 

So now I am re-evaluating my plans for the rest of the week – because I am too tired to drive with things being thrown and hurting going on. Hopefully our mornings will be okay as he is going to tennis (10mins in the car each way), but I had hoped we could go and see a friend one afternoon. It’s okay walking from my mum’s, she only lives a mile away. My friend lives on the other side of the city.

I know it is partly a change in routine. I know it’s partly because I have changed my tack with him and he is really spoiling for fight. I know it’s because he absolutely knows which button to press (hurting his brother). I know it’s partly because it’s my mum’s birthday tomorrow.

Knowing this doesn’t always help; I still get hurt, Jelly still gets hurt. I can cope better with me getting hurt – hence the walking home. I struggle with Jelly getting hurt.

 

 

#glowmo watching Jelly play in the backgarden un-interrupted, just pottering in a busy manner.

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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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