Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Illogical Thinking

So Al has a low IQ (below 70) and FASD with some pretty severe ADHD thrown in there.  He does not have the ability to process information and come to logical conclusions.  I doubt his prefrontal lobes have much development.  I read the brain continues to develop until nearly 30, so he does have some time to grow.

We are Al's legal guardians and control his money.  We give him spending money as needed, but it is closely monitored for his own protection.  He would give away everything he has with his happy go lucky personality.  That serves him well most of the time.

Recently, Al had the opportunity to work for a friend.  He works very hard and is a valued member to this small business.  The rule has always been to give us the money he makes, then we give him cash as needed.
Al decided to keep the money he made and pretend to lose it.  For weeks, he had no idea what happened to his money.

Then miraculously, he gave us the money.  What happened?  Well, Al thought if he could keep it without spending it, then we would be proud of him.  He would have shown that he is responsible with his money.

Illogical thinking at its best.

This is how Al is most of the time.  It is really hard to parent an adult child with such illogical thinking.  So now, this friend can only pay us, so that we know Al has been fairly compensated for his work and has not "lost" his money.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Boundary Issues

My adoptive children all have boundary issues.

Zoe struggles with this.  Al struggles with this.  Neither of them can seem to have similar aged peer friendships.  Their friends tend to be many years younger.

This creates significant issues when dating type relationships occur.  We have had a hard and fast rule for many years that you cannot date anyone younger than 18 once you hit your 18th birthday.  Both Zoe and Al have lied consistently about their girlfriends and boyfriends since becoming 18.

Zoe once had a dating relationship with a young man that was over 18.

That's it.  One time one of them chose someone over 18 to date.

It is a never ending battle.  Not sure if they will ever understand this.  I get that it's because of their lack of appropriate brain development from their FASDs.  Their chronological ages do not match their developmental ages.  But our society will not be okay if their dating relationship becomes a sexual one with an under aged person.  That's why we have this rule.

Do they get it?  Sometimes.  Can they live it?  No.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Quiet of the Night

It's dark.  Everyone is home.

I hear the sound of a television.  I hear the voices of Al and Ruben  playing video games.

Little Pro just kissed me good night as she carried her kitty to bed.  Riddy Lin has much to pick up, as she regularly drops everything behind her all evening long.  She has consumed a bag of vanilla wafers, huge glass of milk, and many, many pizza rolls in her nightly carbo loading ritual.

Zoe just checked with me for the ninth time about a basketball game time.  She cannot remember that I know the time.  I don't know for sure what team to watch - 9A or 9B.

Ruben had a tantrum tonight trying to figure out who ate his leftover pizza.  A tantrum and a 200+ pound man does not look pretty.  Thirty minutes later he apologized for his behavior with a large smile.

The rest of the household prepares for their tomorrow at work, school, or play.  May your night be a restful one.  My yesterday was too full of drama to process today.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Schizophrenia Medications

Celebrities lived in Dolly's closet.   Parades occurred regularly on the street in front of her house.

Dolly's anxiety controlled her every move.  Medication followed diagnosis of schizophrenia.  The doctor prescribed an anti-psychotic to alleviate many of her symptoms.  She began to relax.  The anxiety that sent her under the table or into a corner for most of her day ended.

At the same time, Dolly began to gain weight.  Dolly's birth family was thin to average size in weight.  They were not happy with the weight gain that some of Dolly's medications made happen.  Although Dolly now could enjoy life, the family did not like her increasing size.  Soon, her parents insisted that the medication that most controlled her symptoms be discontinued.  Dolly's anxiety increased and the old symptoms returned.

I tell this story because many psychotropic medications have the side effect of weight gain.  It is truly a trade-off.  Is quality of life more important than an overweight or obese individual?  Most of the times in my experience quality of life reigns.  The disabling condition can be modified by effective medication.  The resulting weight gain from some of these powerful medications is not too much of a problem to discontinue their use.

The study of the mind and science has increased dramatically in the past decade.  People now see mental health diagnoses more and more like any other disease.  The example has been used ad naseum that a diabetic would not be refused their insulin, so why would a schizophrenic be refused their anti-psychotic?  In years to come, I hope that research finds medications that do not have severe side effects, so that both quality of life and quality of health can be maintained.

Dolly is doing well right now.  Not sure what medications she takes.  Sometimes compromise must happen.  Quality of life is difficult to achieve when suffering from mental health issues for so many reasons, just one of them being the side effects of the anti-psychotics.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Do neurotypical children exist in foster care?

It is incredibly rare for a neurotypical child to be in foster care.  Lots of studies and statistics exist to explain the type of child in foster care.  These comments are merely based on the 15 or so that come into our home yearly.

We parented neurotypical birth children. They learned from their mistakes.  Natural consequences mattered.  Miss the bus and walk home meant they chose to not miss the bus anymore.

Then the journey of foster care and adoption began.  These children cannot be parented effectively with a behavioral program that depends on consequences whether natural or parentally chosen.  Their brains' wiring does not allow learning in typical ways.  The trauma and exposure to drugs and alcohol both prenatally and after makes neurotypical parenting ineffective.

This took MANY YEARS to learn.  The first of our foster children were guinea pigs unfortunately.  It seemed that with repeated exposure to rules and stability they would learn.  They did not.  Their trauma was too great.  Organic brain damage rocked their worlds.  We were oblivious.

Slowly, we began to learn that time was the great healer.  Our children learned through repeated experiences.

Calling it play therapy usually means talk therapy. Talk therapy continues useless for the most part.  I learn from the therapists, but the kids/adults need neurofeedback, EMDR or DBT.  Those can change brain waves effectively.  Social services wastes millions on treatments that absolutely do little to help our children. Medications can help to stabilize as they heal. Often the medications can be eliminated with healing.

Children in foster care are not neurotypical.  The trainings preparing foster parents need to change and adapt. Currently, trainers continue to espouse a type of healing my children will never achieve.  Their ability to function on a typical level is a different sort of typical.  We forget that their unique abilities are not typical.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Introducing Al

Al came here as a young elementary aged child.  Most see him as the happy go lucky individual with no cares.  The reality is that Al is consumed with anxiety.  He has more services than any of our children due to developmental disabilities.  He is a young adult living in the mind of a 12 year old boy.

Of course, such a disability creates a myriad of difficulties.  Al is a caring, kind and everybody's best friend.  He is also very vulnerable to anyone and everyone for so many different reasons.  On one hand, Al is our easiest son.  On the other hand, he's our most immature.

Al was born addicted to cocaine and alcohol.  He talked at the age of 6.  His body suffers from a multitude of medical problems from asthma to minor heart problems.  Al's strengths come from him arriving in our home as a younger child and his genetics.  He has had the time to learn to work hard, treat people fairly, and just be nice.

Our world makes life very hard for Al.  He has no understanding of the Internet and cell phones.  If Al had been born during the agricultural years of our country, he would succeed.  But technology in all forms will lead him down the path of destruction.  Societal norms escape him.  He cannot tell if a girl is 14 or a woman at 30.  His perception of the world causes daily difficulties.  The rules of the work place elude him even with a job coach.

Our current issue revolves around another son in the home who seems to have taken advantage of Al.  Truly, it is a pretty minor issue in our world.  Yet, it makes us take another step of protection.  No longer will a neighbor-friend be allowed to pay cash to Al and the other son, Miah.  They will have to give the money to us to make sure Al gets his fare share.  Al is a very hard worker, and we're sure he earned every penny.  But he cannot produce any of the money for our safe keeping.  He honestly does not know where it is.  He says Miah was to keep it for him, but.....

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Ringing in 2012

Morning has quietly dawned  and 2012 is here.

The adult children that chose to go out last night were politely told to not come home until today. Each stayed at a friend's and did not get out on the roads too much.  I think this is the safest option.  None of them are wild and crazy party animals.  They will be safe.  All were told that there are many free sober rides to be had. One took a driver for their group.

As I scanned the morning news, I did see of a young person shot in a city where one of our oldest lives.  Fear grips me for a moment as I check to make sure it is not one of "ours."  It is not.

Lexy reports a party at her home.  Wonder if they behaved?  Lexy reports never drinking, yet the bottles are half full on her living room chest.  Her garbage usually has empty alcohol bottles as well.  Lexy is the product of a mom who drank during pregnancy.  We have preached much about no grands with FASDs.

It is rare that our placements do not have FASD.  All of our adopted children have FASD diagnoses.  Their deficits are hard to guess with such an invisible disability.  All are disabled in different ways due to the pre-natal alcohol exposure.  Lexy was also born positive to cocaine.  Not enough has been studied to show the long-term effects of the co-morbidity of alcohol and drug exposure pre-natally.  I know from living with these children for decades that they are never predictable.  The most stable will fall victim to scams and unscrupulous people.

I fear for them daily in so many ways.  Yet, I do not allow myself to life in fear.  I would have been dead many years ago if worry consumed me.

May 2012 bring more help for those in the foster care system.  My hope is that the system can change in ways that help our children become responsible citizens in ways that just aren't happening.