I realised whilst at work earlier this week, that although some people know that our eldest boy has difficulties, I have been quite resolute in telling people that things are okay. They aren’t okay, but it makes conversations easier if others can believe that adopted children are okay – some are, but some aren’t. It comes down to those thirds… a third will have no/few issues, a third will have significant issues and a third will have severe issues. For the last 3 1/2 years we have varied between the different thirds, but for the minute are firmly fixed in the significant issues band.
Our boy has attachment difficulties, sensory issues, general developmental delay and learning difficulties. These have been caused by his experiences in uteri, by his genes and by his early life experiences. He has wonky wiring in his brain, and doesn’t understand/believe things that other 5 year olds would not even think about.
When we moved earlier in the year, he thought he was staying at the old house, and getting a new family.
When we adopted Jelly, he thought he was going to be moved on to a new family and we were replacing him with Jelly
He doesn’t trust that there will be someone that he knows to collect him at the end of the school day.
He needs to know what is happening… he looks nosy, but it is a real need to know.
He likes to be in control, as long as things are going his way, he will be happy. If he is so minded he will go to bed rather than eat his tea when we have interrupted him from whatever he was doing.
He doesn’t hear instructions, unless they are simple and concise. He can’t process what he is being told… although is impressive at ‘stop’ when it is called out whilst outside.
He cannot cope with loud sounds…fireworks are a problem, the school dinning hall a real challenge, someone shouting can cause him to become overwhelmed and cry.
He struggles with change – any change. This evening for example has been a challenge, his teacher was on a course today, and whilst he knows the replacements really well, it was different.
He doesn’t understand things like personal space as most 5 year olds do.
He can’t do, what most 5 year olds can… he has only just learnt to write his name, he now has 9 phonics that he can confidently read. He has learnt a few high frequency words. He can count to 20, just.
He struggles to remember things that happened earlier in the day. He struggles to remember anything unless it becomes routine. Swimming has been a struggle, because he can’t remember from one week to the next what he is supposed to do – but it comes eventually when it transfers to the long term memory.
He doesn’t sleep… well he does but not well. More often than not (and it varies from every night in a week to 3 nights in week) he will wake up and spend 2 or 3 or 4 hours awake. He will lay on his bed and stare into space… we can only assume his mind is whirling.
When especially stressed, he has been known to cry in his sleep for hours. He has night terrors.
He can hold himself together at school…but because he spends the day in a high alert mode, and is stressed he comes home exhausted. We regularly (i.e. most school nights) end up with a melt down when it all comes pouring out. These can vary from suddenly bursting into tears for no reason, to laying on the floor, kicking, hitting and biting anyone who goes near. The amount of stress that the day has caused, is directly proportional to the fall out. He needs 100% of an adult’s attention when he gets home.
On the other hand, he is deeply caring about others. He is confident to talk to anyone (this too can be a problem). He is friendly, likeable and can be charming.
We often feel that we are foundering around in the dark. We know that love alone is not enough to help him (and us) life a more normal life, but we struggle to get support. Last week we were told at CAHMS that we just need time to be a normal family and to just love him.
There is much to love and we have hope. But there are times when we need someone to support us…and whilst we are lucky to know lots of adopters (both in real life and online) sometimes it would be good to have a professional say… ‘what about?’ and that is sadly lacking. We don’t know if it’s a lack of knowledge or a lack of funding…
We will continue to love and cherish both our boys. We will celebrate their successes. We will continue to fight for what we need as a family. But please try to understand… what we do might not be what you would do… but we have our reasons.