This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Bear Ran Away

With school starting, I'm mourning the loss of a chore system that actually worked.

Each kid has a few "personal chores" - including cleaning their own room, one load of dishes (or in Kitty's case wiping down the kitchen counters), and a character trait they're working on (positive attitude, personal hygeine, no meltdowns). The rest of the chores are thrown in a pool and each child can pick and choose what chores they want to do. We pay $.25/chore.

The most important part is that they couldn't do anything until the chores are done. No visiting friends, no electronics, no books.... I thought the kids would resent Kitty for choosing not to do any chores, but she actually stepped up a little. Bear had job all Summer so this worked well.

Now of course school is back in session and Bob is back to studying all the time. Ponito has football practice (has to be at school by 6:30am), is in accelerated classes, band AND theater. I've been so focused on getting ready for Kitty's ARD that I haven't had time to figure out how to deal with reassigning chores.

I didn't have much choice, so I decided to see if the kids could maintain on their own. Needless to say no one did any chores, and by Saturday the house was a mess. Hubby was working, but he'd warned the kids that any chores undone would have to be done on Saturday. So I ended up cracking the whip. Bob had spent the night with Grandma because they had a Sunday School teacher meeting Saturday morning - so she wasn't home.

Ponito did a little work, then tried to slip out to play with his friends. Kitty whined, complained and had mini meltdowns, but did do a little work. Bear isolated in his room "cleaning" for awhile, then came downstairs, sat on his behind, and started bossing everyone around.

After a little while I realized that they were not going to finish without help, but I felt they needed a consequence if they were going to learn not to put off chores and that no one else would just do their chores for them, so I decided they needed to pay me for my time since I was being kept from my work. I figured I would do a couple of hours of work (at $20/hour) and have each child pay me $10.

I found Bear sitting around playing on his itouch (has internet access). I reminded him that chores weren't done and he needed to be helping. He grunted and ignored me. I went back to cleaning the kids' bathroom upstairs (Bear is pretty much the only one who uses this bathroom and the one usually responsible for cleaning it, and it was DISGUSTING! I scrubbed spit off the walls and cleaned worse off the toilet and floor.) I came back downstairs to put in a load of laundry and found Bear still playing on his itouch. I told him if he didn't put it away and help then it would be mine.

Bear started yelling at me. He refused to do chores. Said if I wanted to clean that was my problem, but he didn't care what the house looked like. That I "never" clean the house. I told him I DO clean the house, but I'm mostly cooking, shopping, chauffering, filling out paperwork (4 kids starting school = tons of paperwork) and working on the kids' stuff, therapeutic parenting....

Bear started threatening to leave. He's 18 and an adult and he was done talking to me. I left the room before I said something that would make him feel he had to leave. This is the first time he's threatened to leave in almost a year. Within 10 minutes it was time to leave to drop the other kids off at Grandma's and take him to therapy.

At therapy he was sullen, which the therapist hadn't really seen before. I gave a brief summary of what happened, but Bear claimed his mood was because of something that happened several days before, which he refused to talk about. Finally I left therapy, and he talked to the therapist for the last 20 minutes. I took him home where I did more cleaning and he hid in his room (claimed he was cleaning the spit off the walls, but I saw no evidence of it).

The kids spent the night at Grandma's as usual. Sunday morning I was writing an e-mail about my concerns about Bear's behavior (irritable, isolating, slurred speech, vomiting...) and suddenly thought I better check his room for drugs... just in case. First place I glanced I found his sleep med/anti-depressant that he hates to take. I looked further and found more, and more, and more (38 tabs total) and some of his other meds. *sigh* I pulled the mattress and box spring off his bed to search, and pulled his bed away from the wall (more trash, more food, more meds...).

I threw away the trash, confiscated all the stuff that didn't belong to him, took out all the dishes, put the dirty clothes in a basket... and got tired. I didn't put the bed back together. I didn't take down the piles of dirty laundry. I didn't put the furniture back. I just went to Grandma's to pick up the kids. After lunch I put off going home for as long as I could then went to the house. Since Hubby wasn't with me, and Kitty was, I didn't want a confrontation in the car. When we got home, Bear went straight in before I could talk to him.

He shut his door and slammed around in his room. I worked on scrubbing the bathroom walls while he calmed down (I hoped). When he took down his laundry I figured it was safe and walked past him. He began fussing at me. I told him I was worried about his behavior so yes, I'd searched his room and found a ton of prescription meds, which was very unsafe. He got angrier, and finally stormed out of the house saying he's an adult now.

I called the MHMR crisis line to see what I should do. They asked if he was suicidal - No, homicidal - No, having a psychotic break - No, was currently medicated, but hadn't left with any meds. So legally he's an adult in this state so they had no advice. He came back in while I was on the phone, got some clothes and said he was going to a family friend's house.

The family friend has 3 adult children (18-22) that are seriously mentally ill (she has legal guardianship of 2 of them). Her youngest goes to the same special school as Bear. Her oldest is a good role model of someone with a serious mental illness coping with it, going to technical school, and successfully living at home. I trust the friend to not let Bear go on a pity party or blame everything on me. She's been through this with us, and she mostly "gets it" (although she doesn't deal with the trauma part since her kids are bio).

Hubby wanted to go get Bear and fuss at him. I admit I wasn't too happy (don't like being yelled at), but I told Hubby we should try to view this as free respite. If we fuss at him, he's more likely to dig in and refuse to come home.

The first night he stayed at a friend's house across the street from the family friend (still in our neighborhood) and went to school in the morning with the family friend's daughter. The "friend" was a 15 year old girl that Bear is attracted to, and the feeling is mutual. We warned the girls' father.

Poor Bear. He spent the night on a couch, the family's main bathroom is broken so the whole family was sharing a small one, but worst of all, their AC went out. This is Texas. We've had 72 days of over 100 degree temps and no rain.

I talked to Bear's therapist, who was careful with confidentiality, but shared with me that Bear feels I see him as a patient or a diagnosis. The therapist was telling me to be more supportive and nurturing. I thought about it and realized this is a Catch 22. I don't see much of Bear because he likes to isolate, unless he's asking for (demanding) something. When I have to say no to Bear and Kitty, it works best when I use concrete reasons, preferably where the blame doesn't fall solely on me (although they blame me anyway). Ex. you can't drive now because of your meds and diagnoses - at least until we have the results of the neuropsych exam, your team decided what your school placement should be, you can't watch PG-13 movies because it triggers your issues...

I thought about why I'm not like the kids' teachers, family friends, and all the people that are constantly telling them they're wonderful and can do anything they want to do.

  • The kids believe they're worthless and that all adults, especially caregivers are untrustworthy. If I tell the child they're wonderful and loveable, then they know I'm a liar. (like trying to tell an anorexic person that they're not fat)

  • The kids don't want to accept their diagnoses. I'm sure they think that their diagnoses make them broken, unloveable, unworthy, horrible... it feels like life or death. Anytime we bring up their diagnoses then we're threatening them.

  • EVERYone is telling the kids they can do anything. SOMEONE has to tell the kids the truth (as gently as possible) and help them learn how to fix it. SOMEONE has to advocate with the schools or wherever to get them what they need to become functioning, productive citizens capable of relationships. If I smelled I'd want to know. If I didn't have the skills and/or abilities required for a job then I'd want to be told before I invested a lot of time applying/training for it. As a therapeutic parent, it's my job to tell my son he's acting intimidating. It's very rare that people will tell you why they're not hanging out with you anymore. (although Bear did have a girl dump him because he seemed like he was "always angry").

  • It sucks that we have to be the grown ups and don't get to be the fun parents who do nothing but tell our kids how amazing they are.

Bear's plan was to friend hop until Thursday evening after the high school football game where he wanted Hubby to bring him home. He felt that would give "everyone time to calm down." I told him that I wasn't upset with him, but if he needed the time we would be there when he was ready to come home.

The family friend brought him over Monday evening to take his midday meds, pick up more clothes and meds for that night and the morning (I had told her she had to administer them and that one day's worth of meds was all I would provide - since her kids are on major psychotropic meds too, she understood).

That night we got a call from the family friend asking if Bear could come home. Apparently none of his friends' parents would allow him to stay with them. So Bear is home, but it wasn't on his schedule. He's been surly and quiet.

I haven't asked anyone to do chores because I still haven't had time to do a new chore list (Kitty's ARD was today - more on that in another post). Will be interesting to see what his reaction will be.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Kitty's IEP meeting

Sent to Kitty's IEP team, therapists, skills trainer, MHMR therapist, and CRCG lead:

Yea, we finally have a date for Kitty’s IEP meeting! Tuesday, August 30th at 3pm. Below I’ve listed some of the items I feel need to be discussed.

cell (###) ###-####

There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child. There are seven million.
~Walt Streightiff

  1. Kitty’s schedule includes 2 Reg Ed classes with Inclusion help (Science and Social studies). {Prior to this all her core classes have been "Applied" - fewer than 8 kids per class, modified coursework} This was mentioned at the annual IEP meeting as a possibility, but we’d put it off because she had still not demonstrated the ability to do homework (it’s been attempted, but always dropped again because Kitty is unable to follow through). These will be the first regular ed core class Kitty has taken since she flunked Science in 5th grade.

  2. Homework – Kitty was supposed to start doing homework last semester as a way of demonstrating she was ready for regular ed. I have no idea how she did during the beginning of last semester… obviously she didn’t attempt homework the last 6 weeks. Kitty’s homework tonight was to read a chapter in World History and take notes. She waited until 30minutes before bedtime to mention she had homework (we’re not used to asking because she never has before – and she had spent all afternoon puttering around saying she was bored). Then she asked how to take notes. We told her to write down key facts (subject and verb) from each section to help her remember what it was about. She couldn’t figure out what was important and what wasn’t. She wanted her sister to help her (but sis has her own homework). She wanted to just download the notes from the inclusion teacher’s website, but we encouraged her to try first (and it was way too late to do this). She gave up and went to bed.

  3. Switch PE to smaller, less crowded class like aerobics?

  4. We need contact info for the new school psychologist (or whatever they’re called), now that {the one we were working with} has left {laid off due to budget cuts and replaced with a part time person who rotates among several schools}.

  5. Kitty only got credit for 3 classes (math was double blocked) last semester. This was NOT what was agreed to at the last IEP meeting (she was supposed to get an average of the six weeks grades she completed). Her schedule currently shows that next semester she will have to repeat science and speech. Last semester’s grades:
    · Appl English I 90
    · Appl Alg I & Lab 93
    · Appl World Geo 99

  6. Special Therapeutic School Bear attends assessment/ “observations” results from last semester? Kitty was observed by ___________ and info was supposed to be gathered from her teachers in lieu of a full Functional Behavioral Assessment -FBA (which we didn’t have enough time to complete at the end of last year since Kitty wasn't at school much), to help determine if she should attend the Special School. No one seems to have access to this information. {Struggling to Stand - I officially released them from the obligation to complete this at the end of last school year since we ran out of time}

  7. I am officially requesting new FIE (Full Individual Evaluation - school version of a psych eval) including FBA.

  8. Not currently on ADHD meds – we discontinued Kitty’s Conc*rta this Summer as we were worried it might be triggering mania. We tried a new med, but she had a bad reaction to it, and we can’t try another until she sees her new psychiatrist.{new psychiatrist refused to make any med changes until she had a chance to review Kitty's info because Kitty is "complex" so we won't be seeing a new ADHD med for at least a month}

  9. Kitty is currently between psychiatrists – 1st appointment with her new psychiatrist Thurs, 8/25 1pm (FYI, Sleep study Fri, 8/26 8:15am)
    Neuropsychological appt coming within 2 months.

  10. State Standardized Testing (TAKS)? Kitty took a TAKS test while at {most recent psych hospitalization}. Results?

  11. Change Academy to childcare ? (Was Health and Science} No longer interested in being a surgeon. Really enjoyed working with children as an aide over the Summer.\

  12. Nurse: Kitty’s anxiety leads to somatic complaints. Kitty’s way of escaping situations that are overwhelming and anxiety producing is to absent herself or dissociate – Somatization is a common defense mechanism. We can remove going to the nurse as an option, but this does not alleviate the anxiety and removes one of her calming techniques so we need to find an alternative.

  13. NEEDS:
    a. Consistent behavior specialist support person she can go to when she is overwhelmed and stressed. This person needs to be readily available (case manager, Ms. P, teaches classes so would often be unavailable) and familiar/ trained with calming techniques so they can help Kitty access and utilize (Kitty’s skills trainer has volunteered to work with this person).
    b. Quiet place with few distractions, where she can decompress,.
    a. To work toward Kitty being able to delay dealing with stress feelings until a more appropriate time (like lunch, study skills… therapy).
    b. For Kitty to gain the ability to initiate these techniques on her own and for them to be effective.

  14. Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is a mental health disorder in which a child is unable to form healthy social relationships, particularly with a primary caregiver. Often children with RAD will seem charming and helpless to outsiders, while waging a campaign of terror within the family. RAD is frequently seen in children who have had inconsistent or abusive care in early childhood, including children adopted from orphanages or foster care.
    Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) is a mental health disorder which occurs when children have to deal with chronic traumatic events that cause great pain (emotional or physical) usually causing problems with the child forming a secure attachment bond leading to an inability to self-regulate, connect to others, and understand why they act the way they do. Constant trauma may lead to the child using dissociation as the only way to cope with problems, which can make controlling their behavior and emotions and understanding themselves very difficult. C-PTSD often leads to lifelong problems that make children likely to have to deal with even more trauma and other difficulties, including psychiatric and addictive disorders, chronic medical illness, and legal, work/school, and family problems.
    Cerebral Dysrhythmia – right temporal lobe is a permanent brain injury. The temporal lobe is associated with perception, memory, speech, and recognition of auditory stimuli. The right side is associated with creativity while the left hemisphere is associated with logic abilities.

  15. Overall deficiencies in adaptive skills appear to be causing Kitty to be unable to accommodate the rapid changes required in changing classes, academic and social demands.

  16. Kitty's current FIE dated 1/15/09: “It is the examiner’s hope that Kitty would be able to attend at least some, if not all, of her classes in the general educational setting, but it appears that she would need a smaller more supportive setting as a home base or as a place to fall back to in times of emotional distress. Kitty would also benefit from a small group social skills program and a structured study hall or learning lab period.
    Small group setting especially for weaker learning skills (short-term memory, reading, writing and spelling)
    Minimize Distractions
    Break down tasks into manageable parts
    Check for understanding often
    Peer Buddy or peer tutor”


Sent to Kitty's therapists, skills trainer and MHMR casemanager:

FYI, we met the new psychiatrist today. She seemed nice. Basically she hadn’t read any info (like old psych evals – despite us offering to provide them during the intake we were told not to bring them until this appointment.) So we were asked to summarize Kitty’s history, give info on all the meds she’s ever taken and why she was taken off them, asked what we’re looking for from the psychiatrist, and what’s going on currently. She also met with Kitty separately. At the end, she declared Kitty “complex,” commented that most of her current issues seemed trauma related and therefore meds/med changes would not be very effective, and stated she would not be making any med changes (including adding back Conc*rta or trying a different ADHD med) until she’d had a chance to review the documentation. Nothing can be changed until our next meeting which is 9/14 at 10am… if then.

Any notes or recommendations regarding school she felt should come from the therapists.

I’m thinking of requesting that the school pay for partial day hospitalization/ intensive outpatient (which Medicaid will not cover). My reasoning is that this is what’s best for Kitty, but maybe they’ll see that placing her in the special school is meeting us halfway. I feel that right now if all we’re asking for is the special school, then the compromise will probably be the high school behavior program staff (aides) trying to provide what Kitty needs to the best of their ability (considering that there are only 2 of them for the entire school). What do you think?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Tom Sawyer's Chores

Probably need to change Ponito's online nickname to Tom Sawyer. This kid has gotten his friends to help him do his chores ALL Summer, and they thought they were getting away with something!

Summer rules were, "you can't play until ALL the chores are done." Ponito is apparently fun to play with, so his friends would help him do his chores so he'd be "done faster." Sometimes I would find the kids fooling around before chores were done (hence believing they were "getting away with something.")

This Summer I decided that ALL chores were worth the same amount of money, no matter how easy or hard. (You get a quarter for making sure the cat water bowl is full, mopping the kitchen floor or mowing the lawn!). Since ALL chores had to be done, even the tougher chores were completed. Some kids did a bunch of chores, some did none. Kids have personal chores that have to be done if they want to use electronics (like play on the computer). Surprised me but it worked. I'm sad about school starting tomorrow and we're going to have to go back to the old way.


Ponito is in the FAIR Club yet again.

· using a friend’s phone to get a Facebook account
· boldfaced lying with no remorse to both parents about it (even after seeing Mom pull up the account in question)
· smashing a fish tank repeatedly with a toy car while neighbor boy filmed it (even after told to stop)
· lighting trash on fire without adult knowledge or supervision during a severe drought
· saying rude things (like, adopted siblings are not really part of the family) and not apologizing, showing remorse or explaining what you meant {even though this may not have been how you meant it, you were told it could be taken that way and you still chose not to apologize}

Here's his writing assignment (it's tougher than usual since this wasn't his first offense and he committed another offense - and got caught with another - before I finished writing the assignment for the first!):

Extra Chore: Replant the grass in the front yard. Cut dead bush and trellis into lengths no more than 2 feet. You may include your friends, BUT you WILL tell a parent ANY time you do anything but the assigned chore (even chew gum). Make sure to clean up neatly and that all debris goes into the trash.

Writing Assignment: _ Read all of the sections of Trait#3 (in Becoming the Best You Can Be) and complete all of the activities and “Now You Try It” sections (make appropriate substitutions as needed – for example if it says younger siblings, substitute siblings instead), including playing the Integrity game with the family (add 5 cards of your own). Read Da Family Rules. Take the FAIR Club exam (because you got into trouble while already in the FAIR Club). Read “The Forever Child A Tale of Loss and Impossible Dreams” to help you understand how it feels to be adopted. Write apology letters (using the Rebuilding Trust page) to Bear and Kitty for rude comments about them not being “real” family. Write apology letter to Mom and Dad for lying and breaking their trust -include the definition of remorse. Complete the "What I Want" Page for Facebook and a cell phone.

The FAIR Club exam - is a consequence for getting in trouble when you're already in the FAIR Club. It's mostly fill-in-the-blank, True/False, Circle all the correct answers,... type stuff. On topics like Lying, Media, Stealing... etc.

One of Ponito's sections was Empathy. He had to watch the movie A Kid in King Arthur's Court (one we own that seemed applicable) and read a book about an adopted child (from the Forever Child series) and then write a short story about how it would feel to be a kid in King Arthur's Day who was thrust into our time. I wanted him to get some empathy for how it might feel to be Kitty and Bear and be told they're not part of our family because they're adopted.

Since school starts tomorrow I took pity on Ponito and let his friends come over and help him with this since it was the last thing he had to do. I decided to let him act out his story as Improv instead of having to write it down (although my original intention was to have him use this exercise to help him understand the assignment better, I decided to let it replace the writing assignment). Ponito is taking Theater this year and one of his friends who took it last year introduced him to Improv.

He and his friends had a blast during the first "show," but missed the point (how scary it would be for the time traveling kid) - their main character had a major teenage attitude. The second time I was the drama coach and set up the "scenes" with hints as to how to play it ("you've never been in a car before... you can't read... you're the foster brother and you're going to help him find his classes...").

If anyone is interested in what they came up with I'd be happy to detail it here. *Hint - in the first version they sent the boy to school and strapped him into a chair at a table with 2 other "special ed kids" who grunted like cave men and hit each other while they answered multiplication questions like 9x3=... It was hilarious but sad!*

Latest happening? I got the boys (Ponito and Bear) to rip out the carpeting in the front room (Bob is frantically trying to finish her Summer homework before school starts, and when Kitty's not a quivering bowl of melted jelly over the start of school, she's still allergic to the carpet, so she's excused). Guess Ponito gets the "Tom Sawyer" behavior from me.

They were excited about it and I didn't even have to pay them! Ponito tried to get his friends to come over and help, but I guess they'd already put too many hours in this morning with the Improv so they refused.

It's the only carpet left downstairs and for years every dog we've ever owned has decided it was the perfect potty spot. Our current dogs are generally outside dogs, so when they need to potty they don't have a "tell" (like scratching or whining at the door or barking) they just get up and wander into the other room. It's boiling hot outside so they're inside more often, and we recently had the front fence replaced so they had to stay inside day and night for 3 days. The 17 year old carpet was disgusting. We just couldn't get it clean.

Now it's bare concrete and I've got to figure out what to do with it. Will probably end up painting it for now until we can afford new carpeting or wood or something.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Getting Kitty What She Needs

My good friend Struggling To Stand gave me some good advice in a comment on the last post, so I thought I would share it and my response here:

Get IEP support ASAP. CALL THE ARC. (And, Mary, I strongly suspect you have not done that yet.)

OK, I remember you suggesting this before, and you probably answered this question, but what about the fact that Kitty is not mentally retarded? Her overall IQ is 91 (although in processing and memory it drops to 70 - causing her learning disabilities and some of her other issues). Her primary diagnosis from the school is Emotionally Disturbed with a secondary of learning disabilities.

One in-the-long-run option is to try to get her to be educated at home -- not home-schooled, but where they send a teacher to your house. They do that when kids are too physically fragile to be in regular schools.

We tried to get this at the end of last year when Kitty was obviously unable to handle school. Without a letter from her psychiatrist it is out of the question, and even then the school will fight it tooth and nail. The only person I know who got this without a physical disability or illness (and she had to hire a lawyer and continuously fight) had a child with a severe concussion that took months to recover from. The school found a way to keep us from getting it even though the psychiatrist was willing to give approval (they waited until the IEP meeting to let us know they hadn't gotten hold of the psychiatrist - who we had waiting to sign/write any form or letter they required). Now of course we're between psychiatrists so don't have access to this option at all.

if you keep Kitty out of the start of school, send letters to the director of special education, the school administrator and possibly even the school board. (SHORT letters, Mary. Don't explain anything.

Love this! How does this look?

“Because the last time Kitty attended {regular school} full-time, she became depressed and suicidal requiring her to be repeatedly institutionalized, and because the school has been unwilling to hold an IEP to determine appropriate placement for the new school year in a timely manner, I am keeping her at home until a proper placement has been made for her. I am officially requesting in-home education for her during that time. Thank you.”

At her last IEP meeting, what was indicated about when the next one would be? Is there anything in writing from them talking about when the review for the special school would be?

The IEP team at the last meeting said that because Kitty was emotionally unstable (and they obviously assumed she would be going back to "normal" by next year), they didn't want to make decision about next year (beyond adding a Study Skills class) until an FBA was complete (Functional Behavioral Assessment). Because there was so little school left by the time we got the IEP meeting we finally decided that there wasn't time to do the full FBA so they just did an assessment of whether or not she should go to the therapeutic school. I was told the assessment was done and someone would be talking to me about it, but that person never returned my calls, and most of the people on the IEP team don't even know it exists.

Now the school psychologist has quit, the person doing the assessments works several different schools and is "unavailable," and Kitty's old case manager who apparently received a copy of the assessment last year is supposed to share the results with me "before school starts"... which is Tuesday.

Kitty has the overall appearance of being back to "normal." All last year I tried to convince everyone that "normal" for Kitty was NOT functional, but was unable to get them to see it until the med changes (adding anti-depressants) that prevented her from being able to hide what was going on inside. Everyone seems willing to acknowledge that the mess that Kitty was after the first hospitalization, required changes in the school, but now that the meds are out of her system they all seem to feel everything can go back to normal. No one will acknowledge that we need to address the issues that got her hospitalized in the first place.

In looking at Kitty's old FIE (Full Individual Evaluation - psych evaluation done by the school, last updated 2 years ago while Kitty was in private school), I realize that they had much more insight into the emotional mess that Kitty was/is, and now I'm worried that a new FIE will be watered down because the teacher/ school staff interviews will have almost no insight (the private school teachers had a much closer relationship with Kitty and she opened up to them). I REALLY wish we'd been able to got the new neuropsychological exam completed before now.

If you do have to send Kitty to regular school, perhaps you can create a sticker chart sort of thing so that she can visually see how often she has meltdowns or calls you ... If she goes a day without calling you and at home not having a meltdown (the definition is the hard part), then she gets a smiley face. If she has 4 smiley faces in a 5-day week, she will go back to school the next week... Something like that.

I like this idea. Not so much for Kitty - she's determined not to show any meltdowns right now, because she knows the consequences so she's moving into a dissociative/"honeymoon" state - but a mood chart that she's not aware of so I can document this.

By the way, I'm really freaking out about the "flipping a switch" stuff. We had a tough therapy session yesterday, in which she was angry, crying, shut down... and about 5 minutes before we left she flipped the switch and became compliant and distant. In the car I was asking her about what happens when she flips the switch and discovered that she remembers NOTHING about what happened in therapy except that she "cried a little" - she didn't even remember what about.

She may be wanting to avoid the special school because of stories her brother has told her or some incorrect assumption. Try to tease out of her the what-is-negative about the special school (vs what is positive about regular school.)

I know exactly why she doesn't want to go to the special school. She tells me often and loudly:

  • Kitty wants to be with her friends. Especially the seniors who will be going off to college at the end of the year. She's afraid if she's not with them, they will forget her (abandonment issues).

  • The new school only has about 12 kids, many of which Kitty knows as kids with major issues (of course) that she doesn't like. She will have "no one to flirt with."

  • Kitty is assuming the kids at the special school are all like Bear (like she still sees Bear - angry, out of control, scary, threatening...).

  • Kitty doesn't deal well with people who misbehave. It causes her great stress to witness others doing things they shouldn't and she feels the need to fix/ rescue them and/or bear silent, impotent witness to their indiscretions. The kids at the special school all have "issues" and misbehave (of course so do the people she gravitates toward at the regular school and there are much fewer supports there).

  • There is only one other girl. A family friend who is in Bear's grade (which means they won't have classes together). Kitty gets along with this girl, but they don't have the stressful, teasing, gossipy relationship that Kitty prefers (and I'm sure are part of the problem).

  • Kitty doesn't want to be different. She lives in the land of denial. Obviously going to the special school makes it harder to pretend she's just like everyone else.

  • Going to the school means she's "bad, wrong, not a good person, stupid... and going to turn out like her brother." It triggers her abandonment issues because she's afraid we'll get rid of her and no one will like/ love her anymore if they find out she's flawed.

  • She believes if she wants something badly enough then she can make it happen. If she ends up at the special school anyway then she doesn't have control/ special powers.

  • If she goes, it will be my (Mom) fault and she will "have to" hate me for it, and hating your Mommy is scary.

  • There's probably a little, "What if they like Bear better than me since he's been there for so long." or "What if everyone thinks I'm 'bad' like Bear and is mean to me."

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Therapeutic School


Last school year ended with Kitty in the psych hosptal twice. When she came back to school she was only able to attend for a couple of hours a day before she broke down and begged to come home. I'd been telling the school that she'd been stressed and anxious to an extreme since school started, but no one would listen until she went to the psych hospital the 1st time (when the police took her instead of charging her with domestic violence). Kitty falls through cracks at school because she internalizes everything and appears quiet, hard working, and helpful. She would come home every day and have meltdown after meltdown, but that wasn't their problem.

At the end of last year I took advantage of Kitty's inability to continue to hide her issues at school and had her assessed for the therapeutic program for emotionally disturbed kids that Bear attends. No one gave me the results of the assessment, but it was implied by the principal of the special school that she would be going. We've been prepping her for the possiblity all Summer (hoping to help her accept it). She adamantly HATES the idea (the school is VERY small and she wants to be with her "friends"). I think it's the only way I'm going to be able to go back to work and she's going to survive the school year.

So here’s part of my dilemma, I don’t see any big emotional changes for Kitty since last school year. Don’t get me wrong, I know that she’s more emotionally stable now then she was 3 months ago, she’s even occasionally able to use a calming technique when she’s starting to get upset (although once she's upset she's not able to access this), BUT she’s also not not having to deal with the stress of school yet, and that, added to where she’s at now (emotional outbursts almost daily, immature, defiant, occasionally dissociative…). .. well, it just tears me up inside to hear her pleading that she’ll be “good,” won’t have any meltdowns, can “handle” it now… and I KNOW she wants it so badly that she believes it, but it doesn’t change the fact that I don’t think she CAN handle it, and it’s not good for ANY of us to have to deal with the emotional strain. We’re barely coping now with the meltdowns and emotional fragility.

I know its going to be a BIG fight with the school to get Kitty in the special school. I also KNOW that when I push for the special school (which I feel is the least restrictive environment of our very limited choices) during the IEP meeting that Kitty is going to blame me and hate me for this. She’s already made many emotional threats and pleas (she was angry at me and totally distraught in therapy on Tuesday, but when we left, she flipped a switch and was “totally fine.” She stalked the backyard for an hour, but then asked to go to her little brother’s football information meeting just so she could be with me. Gotta admit the flipping freaks me out more than the meltdowns.)

I've asked everyone we're working with to give us a recommendation or put SOMEthing in writing to bring to the school for the IEP meeting for two reasons. One, I'm hoping that if it's in writing then I don't have to be the bad guy in front of Kitty. Two, since it's Thursday, and school starts Tuesday, then IF we get an IEP meeting before school starts then it will be too short of notice for anyone to come. So far all I've gotten is CYA (cover your... butt) excuses. We're in the process of changing psychiatrists and the old pdoc has washed her hands of us. We don't even meet the new pdoc until Thursday (2 days after school starts). {Did I mention Kitty's not on ADHD meds until we see the new pdoc?!} I was hoping to have the updated neuropsych report as backup, but it looks like it will be another 4-6 weeks at the earliest before we can get that done.

Tuesday I went to the school to pick up the girls' textbooks. Kitty is only enrolled in 4 classes - one of which is PE (she should have 8 classes). I hunted down the IEP meeting coordinator, who’s known us since middle school. I had all 4 kids with me (including a pouting Bear). When I asked when an IEP meeting was going to be scheduled (school started in less than a week!) she said, maybe Friday, maybe Monday… maybe after school started. I was shocked, and reminded her that we didn’t even know what school Kitty would be attending.

The Coordinator said she assumed Kitty would be at the regular school. Kitty instantly got all excited and stated several times she didn’t want to go to the special school. The Coordinator also stated that even if an IEP meeting was held after school started, then Kitty could just attend regular school until then. At that point I warned her Kitty would not be starting school without an IEP meeting, because I feel it would be cruel for her to go to school for a few days then have to transfer. The Coordinator restated that she didn’t have any reason to believe Kitty wouldn’t be at regular school (making Kitty ecstatic).

I mentioned that an assessment had been done, but that we still hadn’t heard the results. Of course the person doing the assessment and the principal of the special school were not available. The Coordinator again restated that she didn’t think Kitty needed to be at the special school, and then turned to Kitty and reminded her that kids in regular school need to be at school for a full day. Kitty of course sincerely promised that she was going to be at school (wish she really did have the control).

The Coordinator called me at 7:30pm tonight (Thursday). We talked about the recomendations Kitty's skills trainer, and Kitty's old FIE (school psych eval from 2009) had made for Kitty - small class sizes and emotional support from one person (preferable a behavior specialist who has worked with Kitty's skills trainer on the calming techniques Kitty's been working on). The Coordinator said she'd have Kitty's school case manager call me to talk about the assessment (which the case manager had seen at some point).

The Coordinator assured me the school will "throw together a schedule," and start my daughter back to regular school, and they'd see what they could do about additional supports, and have an IEP meeting "sometime in the next 2 weeks."

I'm furious! Any advice?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

We just see a sliver!

I heard this story today and I love it!

The Woodcutter’s Wisdom by Max Lucado -
* * *
(Paraphrased) How a white stallion had rode into the paddocks of an old man and all the villagers had congratulated him on such good fortune. And the old man had only offered this: “Is it a curse or a blessing? All we can see is a sliver. Who can see what will come next?”

When the white horse ran off, the townsfolk were convinced the white stallion had been a curse. The old man lived surrendered and satisfied in the will of God alone: “I cannot see as He sees.

And when the horse returned with a dozen more horses, the townsfolk declared it a blessing, yet the old man said only, “It is as He wills and I give thanks for His will.”

Then the man’s only son broke his leg when thrown from the white stallion. The town folk all bemoaned the bad fortune of that white stallion. And the old man had only offered, “We’ll see. We’ll see. It is as He wills and I give thanks for His will.”

When a draft for a war took all the young men off to battle but the son with the broken leg, the villagers all proclaimed the good fortune of that white horse. And the old man said but this, “We see only a sliver of the sum. We cannot see how the bad might be good. God is sovereign and He is good and He sees and work all things together for good.”

The old man was right. We only have a fragment. Life’s mishaps and horrors are only a page out of a grand book. We must be slow about drawing conclusions. We must reserve judgement on life’s storms until we know the whole story.

I don’t know where the woodcutter learned his patience. Perhaps from another woodcutter in Galilee. For it was the Carpenter who said it best:
Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about
itself.” (
Matthew 6:34)

He should know. He is the author of our story. And he has already written the final chapter.

I was reminded of what we call "Godincidences." -Events that seem fairly random and maybe even tragic at the time, but later we realize they are for the best. Our kids' story was a series of Godincidences (from adopting kids older than our bio children, the first adoption agency turning us down, and the children we'd been planning to adopt removed from the photo listings just days before...) that led to us adopting 2 special needs kids that we seem uniquely qualified to handle.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Bear's letters

Bear's handwriting was much more legible than Kitty's, but much less easy to read than Bob's and Ponito's. Bear and Bob wrote letters to Grandma too, but they were basically the same as the ones to me so I didn't include them.

Yes, he will be graduating from high school this year. NO, I do not think the school system is educating him appropriately. School starts in 2 weeks so we will be having an IEP meeting sometime soon. I'm thinking of bringing in samples of his writing and my entering 7th graders' writing and asking them what they intend to do about it.

Bear: Age 18, Senior in high school

Dear: Mom,

Im sorry for braking your trust
Im also sorry for not being a + roule modle for my siblens. I did some thing I knew ws wrong I brack your home roules and the law witch Im sorry for doing. I have said this befor so it proble don't mean alot to you but Im sorry for What I did and Wont do it agin and I will try to be a better roule modle to my sibleings and hep them grow. I'm also going to try to get to now Kitty {spelled her name wrong!} more but Im goingto need Help with this and the reason I think Im going to need help 'cause Im not good at showing my feeling as you know.

So if there's any thing I can do to make this up to you Please tell me Iwill see to it get done.

Love Ber {yes, he spelled his own nickname wrong!}


Dear: Kitty {spelled it right this time!}

Im sorry for not getteing to know you. The reasson I think I can't close to you is Im afraid if I do I might losse you agin & I'm not able to losse you agin cause you are what I have left that means the most to me. I want to let you know I really do care about you but don't know to show you because Iv known you your hold life witch makes you mean more to me. So Just know I do LOVE you alot, want to be here for you, And don't be afrad if you want talk cause I will listen to you if that what you want or evan help you with stuff

LOVE Bear {spelled it right this time!}

Monday, August 8, 2011

Warning: Tear jerker!

The following are the kids' letters. For the first two, any spelling errors are typos on my part except for one "her" instead of "here" at the bottom of Ponito's letter. They were written neatly and legibly.

Ponito: Age 12, starting 7th grade

Dear Mom,

I'm sorry for however amount I hurt you.

All during the soon to be creepy parts {of the movie- he could tell by the music which parts were "creepy"} I left to go do something else. I feel really bad for what I did. The reason I watched the movie was because I got bored and didn't realize it was PG-13 till the end and by then I was already into the movie.

I'm sorry and I promise never to do it again.

I will do all of my responsibilities when I have to do them.

If you don't believe me I don't care if you keep an eye on me and know exactly where I am at all times.

The way I'm going to make it up to you is I'm (When I'm here) going to help you make dinner every time I'm her for 2 weeks


Bob: Age 15, starting 10th grade

Dear Mom,
I am sorry I broke your trust. I get that you thought I could be trusted in not watching an inappropriate movie or with telling Grandma others shouldn't be watching it. I guess the reason I watched it was I was bored, I had wanted to see it anyway and I knew that you didn't want us to see it, but I wanted to see that movie so badly. And I didn't want Grandma to know that it was PG-13 because then I couldn't watch it. I think our relationship is based on trust, and by breaking your trust I damaged our relationship. i don't want to break our relationship because I don't think I could live without you. {*sob*} I realize you're having a hard time putting up with all of us kids most days, and it probably doesn't help that some of us are contributing to issues of others. I can probably guess why you would be mad, and stressed, and feel we broke your trust. I don't know what I could do for restitution, maybe you could help me think of something. I'm really sorry for what I did. I want to promise it won't happen again but truth is it probably will. I guess all that's left is to ask for your forgiveness. So....

will you forgive me?

{After we talked about restitution and she "read" the resititution page, she added this:}

I will make Dinner for 2 weeks.


Kitty: Age 16, starting 10th grade (this was scrawled almost completely illegibly):

Dear Bear,

You make me feel bad when you do stuff with the other kids and not me. I makes me fill like you hate me. Like when my birthday cames around you never take or buy me any thegs And you take Bob {asked me how to spell} to the moivees almost every Birthday {asked me how to spell} and you play with Ponito {spelled wrong, and FYI he does NOT have a tough name!} oyitae time. And I don't hate you but when you gat {can't read this word} werv your are all sewty whech means you smll and that why I don't want to sit by you in the care {I believe this means, I don't really hate you - which is what she'd recently chosen to tell Bear instead of why she actually didn't want him sitting next to her in the car- which is that he's all sweaty when he gets in the car after work and stinks. She thought THAT would be rude.}

your sister Kitty

So Here are some way you can make me feel Better

han out like sibling and you can help me {can't read} when I ask.

and maybe we can play on computer together and we can play a Boring game {LOL -this is what they think we are saying when we say board game}.


Bear's isn't done yet. He turned it in, but I handed it back because it wasn't complete.

32 Rules for Grandma to know

Grandma had requested a list of rules that the kids are supposed to follow, but don't always tell her about like Be in bed by 9pm (which I'm pretty sure didn't make it on their list!). Here's what the kids came up with:

Specific to Bob:
1. I can't watch Pg-13 movies without permission.
2. No adult books - unless Classic.
Specific to Kitty:
1. Can't nap
2. can't get unapproved books from library
Specific to Bear:
1. No use of Nicotne (nicotine)
2. No Parenting (bossing around siblings like he's the parent)
Specific to Ponito:
1. Can't ride bike to park (without adult supervision)
2. Can't go to _______'s house till permitted (this is the neighbor at whose house Ponito was watching rated M for Mature video games).

This was supposed to be 32 things so that combined with their personal 2 it came to a total of 40, but the kids chose to cheat and add them together. They felt I should be grateful that they added a couple extra. I have to say I'm disappointed in the kids' effort at this, but anyway here's the list:

  1. Family Guy (It's a TV show they're not allowed to watch)

  2. Transformers (movie " ")

  3. American Dad (I guess it's a TV show?)

  4. Pop-tarts (I don't allow them because they're sugary, fatty and have little redeeming food value!)

  5. Facebook

  6. PG-13 movies

  7. R movies

  8. T (rated T for Teen) games

  9. M games

  10. caffeinated drinks

  11. no electronics until 1pm

  12. no opposite gender friends upstairs

  13. door open when more than one person in room

  14. no friends over when Grandma is babysitting at our house

  15. no TV-14 (it's a television rating like PG-13)

  16. Teen Nick (it's a channel)

  17. Cartoon Network (also a channel -has SpongeBob on it - nuff said)

  18. ABC Family (channel that advertises a lot of inappropriate shows)

  19. energy drinks

  20. coffee/ tea

  21. playing on Internet

  22. high sugar food

  23. white flour food

  24. shopping w/o adult

  25. wandering church (instead of being in Sunday School or church)

  26. food upstairs

So here's what I would add:
27. Phone calls shouldn't be more than 10 minutes
28. No parenting/ bossing around/intimidating/ patronizing/ deliberately antagonizing siblings (or adults!)
29. Hands to yourself
30. If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all
31. Grandma is the boss when parents aren't home - treat her with respect!
32. If parent is working from home, Grandma is still the boss - leave Dad out of it!
33. Always make sure an adult knows where you're going, how to contact you, and when you're coming home (this doesn't mean whispering it while they're sleeping) - and you better be SURE you have permission to go.
34. Make sure Grandma knows before she gives you permission to do something that it's against family rules
35. No electronics before 1pm AND all the family chores are done AND your personal chores are done.
36. No whining and/or begging for food, stuff or privileges from Grandma - she is not your personal Santa Claus, chauffeur or chef!

108 alternatives to boredom

Here's the list of 100 alternatives to do when they're bored (instead of watch an inappropriate movie) that the kids came up with together as part of their FAIR Club assignment:

Specific to Bob:
1. art kit (she bought for $10 at Big L*ts)
2. Summer homework

Specific to Kitty:

1. Walk in the backyard (waay too hot to do this one right now)
2. Stretches (she learned these from her skills trainer. She's supposed to do them daily).

Specific to Ponito:

1. soccer
2. practice flute

Specific to Bear:

1. skate
2. play guitar

The criteria was it couldn't cost anything/ or at least not much and they had to be able to do it at home/Grandma's house. They were also very aware that if they say they're "bored" then I have the right to choose any of these for them to do! *evil laugh*
Yes, I called them on the fact that some of these are really the same thing:

  1. Garden

  2. bake

  3. sew

  4. read a book

  5. make a fort

  6. paint

  7. color a picture

  8. swing

  9. play with the dogs

  10. take a nap

  11. exercise

  12. finger paint

  13. slide down the stairs (on a mat, lid, mattress...)

  14. learn how to play a musical instrument

  15. play a board game

  16. watch a movie

  17. play on the computer

  18. call a friend

  19. take a walk

  20. ride a bike

  21. write a story

  22. go outside

  23. draw

  24. dress up

  25. write/direct a play

  26. sock puppets

  27. gymnastics

  28. make jewelry

  29. puzzles

  30. play with playdoh

  31. journal

  32. pool table

  33. play with cats

  34. jump on mini tramp

  35. PS2

  36. mess with mom (when I protested this they added, "nicely")

  37. tickle fight

  38. pillow fight

  39. pick a flower or 2

  40. make a smoothie

  41. make some Popsicles

  42. write a song

  43. write a poem

  44. look for buried treasure (yes, I warned them I better not find holes all over the yard!)

  45. homework

  46. make jello

  47. seed spitting contest (bought a watermelon for this one)

  48. paper airplanes

  49. make a movie

  50. community service - neighbors

  51. take pictures

  52. use pots as a drum set

  53. plant a tree

  54. plant fruit

  55. find the abominable snowmanlearn 10 foreign words

  56. hang out with friends

  57. go to duck pond

  58. volunteer

  59. learn to scuba dive/scuba dive (some know how, some don't - Hubby is a scuba instructor)

  60. take a shower

  61. paint fingernails

  62. make weird concoctions

  63. play in the rain

  64. clean

  65. redecorate room

  66. play in room

  67. try on clothes/ see what fits

  68. have a fashion show

  69. make a lemonade stand

  70. pen pal

  71. time capsule

  72. make a wish list

  73. have a water fight (under front trees - where all our grass is dead -we're under drought water restriction so this isn't going to happen)

  74. plan a Letter Party (these are fun! Everything starts with one letter. Ex. Pizza (Pepperoni and Plain cheese) Picnic in our PJs watching a pirate movie.)

  75. have a garage sale

  76. make a boat (I think they were talking about for having bathtub races)

  77. organize garage

  78. paper boat races

  79. make a kite

  80. kite races

  81. plan a murder/ solve

  82. puppet show (technically a variation/repeat!)

  83. go to park

  84. play a sport

  85. go swimming

  86. pretend to be an airplane

  87. make a comic book

  88. climb a tree

  89. play darts

  90. make a cardboard box house (or make a blanket or sofa cushion fort)

  91. play with chalk

  92. origami

  93. try to make a bomb (later added: water or origami)

  94. Papier Mâché

  95. hide-n-seek

  96. duck, duck, goose

  97. teach dogs a new trick

  98. plant grass (cause ours is all dead and the neighborhood association is writing nasty letters)

  99. drop paint on paper

  100. jello mosaic

Some other posts with ideas:
Attachment Challenge - Things you can do with your bored child

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Restitution Examples

Restitution Examples
OK, you’ve made a mistake. How are you going to fix it?

Restitution - is “accomplished by correcting negative effects of misbehavior." In other words, what can you do to make up for what you did wrong that hurt, upset, inconvenienced someone else, and/or damaged your relationship/ trust. This does not mean you broke a rule. It could have been an accident or a misunderstanding… you still need to fix it.

Restitution can mean paying for, repairing, or replacing a broken or stolen object in order to restore things to how they were prior to the misdeed, and possibly one step beyond:
Examples –
You borrow your sister’s CD and it gets broken. You might buy her a new one, a nicer version, or maybe even 2 CDs.
In a rage, you throw something and it knocks over a favorite picture of Dad’s. You might pay Dad back out of allowance for the broken frame. You also need to replace the damaged artwork – either by making something new for Dad or buying something out of allowance. (If Mom takes you shopping, you need to think about ways to pay her back too, for going to the extra effort.)

Actions taken to repair a broken relationship or trust are also restitutions. 

Apologies, when freely offered in a way that shows that you truly regret and feel sorry about what happened, can be a form of restitution. Sincere requests for forgiveness show that you recognize how your own actions affect others' feelings toward you.
The teacher (T) matter-of-factly handles the situation when George (G) slaps Kevin's hand and causes him to drop his wet clay object on T’s sweater. After attending to the hitting issues, T says:
T: Do you know what happened? You knocked his artwork down which might have broken it, and it got it all over my sweater. I didn't like that you got it all over my sweater. So, could you please do something to get this off of my sweater?
G. Yeah.
T: Okay, what can you do?
G: Wipe it off.
T: Okay, thank you very much.
G: Can you get that game off the shelf for me?
T: Remember, G, you’re getting something to wipe off my sweater 'cause it's really yucky.
G: (Gets paper towel and wipes sweater. It comes off easily.)
T: Thank you.

This example uses young children. An older child is expected to do more than just clean up the mess. They are expected to apologize and try to restore things to how they were before the incident. 

If something is broken, an older child is expected to pay back twice as much as the original item was worth. For a situation involving something priceless (like tearing someone’s artwork or hurting someone’s feelings) – the “more” is definitely expected.

It's important to remember that while our children may be physically older, developmentally/ emotionally/ socially, they might be much younger and therefore not able to understand consequences as well. We can still use this as a teaching opportunity. [Therapeutic Parenting Based on Emotional/Social Developmental Age]

Positive Practice
After you make restitution, you may want to take an additional step, sometimes called "overcorrection" or "positive practice." This is practicing the positive behavior that you should use instead of the misbehavior in the future. Your parents may require you to practice the positive behavior in an exaggerated fashion, to make the point more strongly about what is expected in the future.
Ex: an older child calls his younger brother names - to make restitution, the older child might apologize to his younger brother both verbally and in writing.
Ex of “more”: For positive practice, the older brother could SINCERELY add praise, compliment, mention something likable or add a positive adjective with the younger brother's correct first name for the next 3 weeks whenever he speaks to or refers to his younger brother in conversation (It’s time for dinner, Helpful Ponito. Did I ever tell you how much I like your table manners?”

Restitution can take the form of making both you and the hurt person feel better. – 

The other person may be feeling pain as a result of your actions, but you both need relationship healing. You now have the opportunity to say, “I was wrong, please forgive me,” and then feel forgiven. You need to pick up the books that were thrown in anger or comfort a sibling that was offended and then feel the relationship restored.

Even if it was an accident, you should be involved with cleanup, repair, and restitution, especially if carelessness was involved.

So how do you figure out what to offer for restitution?
The easiest way to figure out what someone might want is to know their love language. People feel loved in different ways, and if you’re not speaking their love language they may not “understand” and believe you. Think about your love language. Do you know what it is? Sometimes it’s easier to figure out what it isn’t. If someone speaks to you in another “language” does it mean as much to you?

Five Love Languages

  1. Words of Affirmation – This is about words both verbal and written! Saying “I love you,” praising and complimenting the person you love (specifically and with details). It can be spoken or with letters or little notes. Warning: Words really hurt a person for whom this is their love language. Criticism, yelling, being mean or rude really affect them. (Hint: This is Mom and Grandma’s love language).

  2. Quality Time – spending time with the person! Hanging out and doing stuff together, especially things that a person likes to do and you don’t. Warning: Isolating and always wanting to do your own thing can really hurt your relationship. (Hint: This is Dad’s love language).

  3. Physical Touch – hugs, back rubs, holding hands, tickle fights, wrestling… for this person, it’s all about loving touches. Warning: Withholding touch, or touching in ways that hurt. Also, be aware of the other person’s “bubble.” Touch requires a level of trust or even the gentlest of touches can feel threatening.

  4. Acts of Service – Doing thoughtful things for someone else. Maybe making them a special treat, doing a chore for them… things that you weren’t required or asked to do. Warning: It doesn’t mean as much if the person has to tell you to do it, or you do a poor job. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right!

  5. Gifts – Everyone loves gifts, especially if the giver obviously put a lot of thought into what you want, but the person who speaks this love language really values the gift because it reminds them of the giver. They usually take really good care of the item and it symbolizes their relationship. Warning: A gift card or something you just grabbed because it was in your price range just isn’t going to say the same thing. Even socks can be a good gift if they’re something the person really needs; they’re in their favorite colors or they show in some way that the giver really bothered to get to know what the receiver likes and wants.

Examples of restitution (see if you can guess which love language each of these is!)

  1. Doing the chores of, helping out, or offer to organize something for someone who you’ve taken time from.

  2. Looking into the eyes of the person you’ve upset or distanced and rubbing lotion into their hands, feet or shoulders.

  3. Giving them hugs or holding them if they’re upset or crying.

  4. Making them something special or cooking for them.

  5. Helping them find or replace something lost (especially if you lost it).

  6. Doing things with them that they like to do – spend time together.

  7. Helping someone get things done so they won’t be late in the future if your behavior made them late.

  8. Write little notes to a person you’ve upset about why you like them or hide small gifts where they can find them.

  9. Give them something special like a drawing or a toy.

  10. Loan them things they like of yours.

  11. Ask them how you can make this up to them! Put yourself in their shoes and try to figure out what they might want!

Things I’ve Learned...By Donna Gavin

  • Being kind is more important than being right.             

  • To ignore the facts doesn’t change the facts.

  • Life is tough, but I’m tougher.

  • “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage the change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”– KNOW THE DIFFERENCE!

  • Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.

  • I can’t choose how I feel, but I can choose what I do about it.

  • One should keep his words both soft and tender, because tomorrow he may have to eat them.

  • We don’t learn by the things we do right. We learn from our mistakes.

"The 5 Step Apology"

1. I'm sorry____________(Specifically address the person, ie: Mom or Dad)
2. For: _______________(Must say what she is sorry for)
3. My words or actions made you feel:______________________(she must connect that when she says for example "I hate you!", that it makes us feel unloved)
4. To make it up to you, I will:_______________________(she needs to tell us what she will do to make the apology sincere).
5. Is that acceptable to you? (This last step gives us the opportunity to coach Alyssa in the different magnitude of offenses. For example, an "I hate you!" could be made up for with a hug and a kiss, a broken vase might be made up for with chores, etc.) 

FAIR Club writing assignments - inappropriate movie

Recently Bear rented the PG-13 movie, I Am Number 4 (which had NOT been approved by parent) and Bear, Ponito and Bob watched it at Grandma’s house while Kitty was at a b-day party (this was deliberate because they knew Kitty should not be watching the movie and would most likely tattle). Kitty came home and watched the ending. She asked to watch the beginning, but Grandma realized she wasn’t supposed to watch it.

Kitty tattled because she was angry they got to see the movie without her. Bear and Bob don’t see why they shouldn’t be allowed to watch it. Ponito was a little disturbed by it (it was very violent and bloody) and left the room several times. Kitty was triggered, but it’s hard to say how much was from the movie, and how much was the feeling excluded (abandonment/ unloved issues).

Kitty had nightmares (mostly about being excluded) for days after the movie, and it brought up a lot of the issues between her and Bear. Specifically, she feels Bear hates her because he takes Bob to the movies and plays with Ponito (and buys them stuff), but not her - I tried to explain that Bear takes Bob to the movies because he has money around Bob's b-day since it's in the Summer, and he does it so he has an excuse to get to go to the movies with his friends, and that he plays with Ponito because they like to do the same things. I didn't add that Kitty is NOT easy to get along with, and Bear knows very well that she gets triggered by his presence so he avoids her, but I will in the next Sibling family therapy session (Friday).

Kitty's FAIR Club Writing Assignment:

1. Working with your siblings come up with a list of 32 things that you are not allowed to do/watch/ read for Grandma – add 2 things that only apply to you.

2. Working with your siblings, make a list of 100 things to do when you’re bored – be creative!

3. Read the Rebuilding Trust Guidelines.

4. Answer the Trigger Questions page (use complete sentences).

5. Talk with Mom about the Trigger Questions page when you’re done.

Ponito - repeat offender of watching media he knew was against the rules. 12 year old Ponito didn't know before the movie started that it was inappropriate (although he figured it out pretty quickly). Honestly he probably wouldn't be in the FAIR Club if he hadn't gotten in trouble so many times in the last few weeks for sneaking around playing inappropriate video games (rated T and M).

Ponito's FAIR Club Writing Assignment:

1. Working with your siblings come up with a list of 32 things that you are not allowed to do/watch/ read for grandma – add 2 things that only apply to you.

2. Working with your siblings, make a list of 100 things to do when you’re bored – be creative!

3. Read the Rebuilding Trust Guidelines.

4. Write a letter to Mom about breaking her trust lately by watching things that you know are inappropriate.

Bob - Bob knowingly allowed the younger kids to watch inappropriate movie, although she tried to keep Kitty from seeing it (“Contributing to the delinquency of a minor”). Although she denies she heard it, she did not answer Grandma or volunteer the information that the movie was inappropriate ( lying by omission).

Bob's FAIR Club Writing Assignment:

1. Working with your siblings come up with a list of 32 things that you are not allowed to do/watch/ read for grandma – add 2 things that only apply to you.

2. Working with your siblings, make a list of 100 things to do when you’re bored – be creative!

3. Help Mom create everyone’s FAIR Club assignments. What do they need to learn from this experience?

4. Read the Rebuilding Trust Guidelines.

5. Write a letter of apology to Grandma for not letting her know the movie was inappropriate.

6. Write another letter to Mom about breaking her trust. You are a role model to your siblings, keep that in mind when writing apologies and when offering restitution. How can you make it right?!

Bear - Bear was of course the renter of the DVD and technically an adult now, was "Contributing to the delinquency of a minor."

Bear's FAIR Club Writing Assignment:

You are now legally an adult. Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor (providing inappropriate movies to children) is a Class A misdemeanor.
The punishment for a Class A misdemeanor is:
(a) a fine not to exceed $4,000;
(b) confinement in jail for a term not to exceed one year; or
(c) both such fine and confinement.
Obviously this is not a court of law and we will not be pressing charges; however, we want you to learn from this so you will not repeat this serious breach of trust. So therefore your consequence is:
1. The court would assess fines based on damages. We’ve decided that damages includes the cost of one session of Kitty’s therapy ($75) to help her deal with the damage this has done to your relationship with her. {this will end up taking more than one session, but hopefully will have some positive effects}
2. We feel you need extra supervision until you can rebuild trust so you are grounded for 2 weeks – during which time you will need to do Trust Building Exercises (see attached).
3. Working with your siblings, come up with a list of 32 things that you are not allowed to do/watch/ read for grandma – add 2 things that only apply to you.
4. Working with your siblings, make a list of 100 things to do when you’re bored – be creative!
5. Read the Rebuilding Trust Guidelines.
6. Write a letter of apology to Grandma for breaking her trust by not letting her know the movie was inappropriate.
You are not the parent. You made a choice for your siblings that wasn’t yours to make. It’s not possible to “undo” what the kids have seen and are now dealing with, but you still need to try to make things right.
7. Write a letter to Mom about breaking her trust and exposing her children to movies she feels are inappropriate for them – especially without her parental guidance (knowing what they are watching and helping them deal with it if it gets to be something they can’t handle).
You are a role model to your siblings, and they look up to you. Keep that in mind when writing apologies and when offering restitution. How can you make it right?!
8. Write a letter to Kitty to start building trust with her and see if you can establish a positive relationship with her. She feels that you exclude her because you “hate her.” She believes you like Bob and Ponito more because you buy things for them and do things with them. It would be a good idea to discuss this in therapy on Friday. Please try to keep in mind that you have broken trust with Kitty so many times it will be hard for her to talk about this and to believe you if you say you want to apologize and try to make it right.
9. It is up to you if you want to write a letter to Bob and/or Ponito.

32 Rules for Grandma
108 Things to Do When You're Bored

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Rebuilding Trust

This is something I designed for the kids to use when writing their letters of apology for the FAIR Club assignment (which I'm still working on!).

Rebuilding Trust

Apologies and forgiveness are important because endless conflicts generate such deep and intense emotions. Even after the fighting stops, people still feel the pain, hurt, anger, fear, and hatred that produced the conflict and its horrors in the first place. Without apology and forgiveness, little progress beyond a ceasefire can be made.

To forgive does not mean you have to forget. In fact the opposite is true. We have to remember the past to keep it from happening again.

Immediately after breaking trust, you should act quickly to heal the relationship. This tells the victim that you are aware of the break in trust and care about your relationship. This also means the victim doesn’t have to deal with both suffering the consequences of the violation and having to confront you with the consequences of your behavior.

Apology - An apology has to be heartfelt and reflect true remorse for past actions.
Remorse – to feel guilt, shame, sorrow, and regret over one’s actions.
Regret –to feel badly about the choice you made and be disappointed in yourself.

A good apology should include:
1. Apologize for how you hurt the other person (victim). Be specific.
2. Give a thorough report of what happened. Take responsibility for your actions, and express remorse for the harm that the victim endured because of the event (even any parts that were not your intention or not directly due to your actions).
3. Also, be sure to carefully explain why you made the choices you made and what events led to the violation, so the victim can understand the events that led you to your decisions. This will help them see the reasons behind your actions and give them a better understanding of your beliefs and values that are likely to shape your actions in the future. It will also help them believe that you are not likely to repeat the action that hurt them. Your remorse indicates to the victim that you have also suffered as a result of your actions, and the victim may be less likely to seek revenge and or make the situation worse.
4. Be sincere. The victim is paying close attention to your motives and intentions, so you need to sincerely work hard to repair the harm from the event. Make every effort to show through your words and actions that you genuinely desire to earn the victim's trust again.
5. Make being trustworthy your daily goal – If there are few if any past trust violations, the chances for trust repair are better than in relationships with a history of trust violations or few trust-confirming events. Make it a priority to honor trust on a daily basis in order to make it easier for trust repair if needed again.
6. Restate and agree on expectations for the future, and be trustworthy in the future. You are likely to be on "probation" for a period, as the victim tests to see if you actually resume trustworthy behavior. Keep this in mind and take positive steps to by telling the victim exactly what they can expect from you. Then commit to following these standards in the future.
7. Reaffirm commitment to the relationship. Remind the victim of your shared goals and interests, as well as how much you value your relationship. Express your emotional attachment to the other party, and strive to demonstrate that the relationship is a top priority. You can re-gain your integrity and trustworthiness as you make obvious choices that show you care about the relationship more than your own self-interest.
8. Provide restitution/ penance(make it up to the person). Include in your verbal/ written apology the concrete actions you will do to show your good-faith effort to make up to the victim for the harmful effects of the violation. What the victim wants more than your kind words is something tangible (they can see, feel or touch), since they lost out on what they were counting on.