27 November 2008
Julia's behavior reflected how different this day was from our normal round. She was quiet a few times, laying down on our bed and just being quiet. She followed Michael around, wanting to do what he did. He found his frustration level when she started demanding he say and do what she wanted. Julia did not always listen, I think the crowd, the noise that we all made was too much for her. Overstimulation to say the least, but we all were. She played her computer game -- Pajama Sam -- on my laptop with Michael and me. We got to the end of the game for the first time with Michael's help.
All in all, it was a good day for her. I am seeing more shifting to independence, more remembering, and the persistent yearning for relationship.
I took no pictures at all today. Just living was enough. But tomorrow . . . .
24 November 2008
We got our first real snow on Sunday night. We woke up to a white fairy world. Julia was captured by it, she doesn't really remember last year and our snowy days. Once again, this is all new but she is excited by the prospect of it. She doesn't like the cold, does not want to wear her heavy winter jacket or snow pants, but the white outlines on the trees lure her into loving the outside.
Julia went to school on Monday and then early, early on Tuesday morning we left for Maryland and Thanksgiving. We were supposed to make it in a day -- driving, crazy -- but got caught in very western Maryland in a snow storm. We wound up at a hotel in Frostberg.
We arrived at Lisa's around noon today. Julia couldn't wait to see Michael and has been monopolizing him the entire day. She allowed me to put braids in her hair which is a first.
Cheshire is taking the train down tomorrow, and then we have her for 4 day! (pictured borrowed from:
Tomorrow, we cook and talk and eat. And I am very thankful to have so many loved ones around us.
22 November 2008
1. We went to our first Suzuki concert last night. About 12 families including parents, siblings and a few grandparents piled into small livingroom to listen to a dozen kids play violin from book one. Julia was not playing yet but we were invited to the concert and it was time to start training Julia to sit through concerts. Julia had a bit of trouble when we first entered - it was crowded and noisy and incredibly distracting. Once the kids began to play she settled down and watched all but two of the kids play. It was great to hear the scratchy tunes the I remember so well from Cheshire's childhood. I can't wait for Julia to really start playing, not that we will rush her at all. When she is ready, Lindsay will start on the songs. Still, it was exciting to hear other kids play and it was good to see Julia sit through most of the concert.
2. Today, we had a day mostly at home getting ready to travel. David took down a game that someone had given us at our shower -- caribou -- because Julia wanted to play with it. I had left it on the shelf all this time because I did not think she could play it. Well, today she could and she did. It is a simple matching game and she played just the simplest version, but she took turns with Daddy and later played it by herself. I need to find a good and fun game for Christmas!
3. Eh, so I have no idea what number 3 was.
Well, it is.
Our therapist, Marilyn, asked some questions that our last (and regular family therapist) therapist didn't get to in 4 meetings. Trying to find out more about Julia's past, she asked about others who came home from the same orphanage. She when through the RAD check list, and we immediately talked about daily cuddling and bottle feeding if Julia wanted it. I think we are on the same page. She asked if anyone had mentioned attachment disorder, and my question to her is who is suppose to notice it. I mean, besides the parents. We have had wonderful experiences with speech and OT therapies, a good Wiseman assessment, decent medical care, assessments when Julia first came home by the IU international adoption clinic, hearing tests, and more, BUT no one has mentioned have an assessment or talking to a specialist about attachment. This convinced me for a long time that Julia would not have this challenge. This drives me crazy. I am pretty much a research geek but even I stopped reading about attachment for a good long while. I only started reading again because I read that the ABA training used for autism could be harmful for a child who was not sufficiently attached . I am not saying that some/any/all of Julia's challenges are due to an attachment but some may be and we need to work on them before we begin any ABA training.
Julia had a good work week this week, but a spotty behavior week. She is hitting, kicking and pulling hair. I suggested (at the parent-teacher meeting) more transition activities to try to short cut these behaviors which Christy said they will try.
I was in the classroom yesterday, and even when she appears not to be listening, Julia have an eye and ear on what is going on. She had problems listening to the story read as a start of writers' workshop. She didn't want to sit on the carpet and started by laying down and squirming. Ginny, the SEA, tried to get her to sit up, babying her some, but in the end just demanding that she sit. Julia would have none of it. Ginny kept her in the room until Christy that part of the story she was going to read. By this time, Julia was disturbing the class, Ginny took her out of the class to sit on the stairs. When this didn't work to calm Julia down, they went to the OT space (and I am not sure where this is) and did some physical work – trampoline, carrying boxes. After this, Julia came in and started the work that was the workshop. Julia took the piece of paper divided into three columns. The assignment is to draw and write about the beginning and middle of the story as it was read, and then, predict the end. Julia drew “Blabber Mouse” in the first column and wrote, “The mouse talked a lot” using creative spelling (which seems to mean that almost anything the child puts down is allowed. Julia wrote mouse as “mos” and talked as “takd”). In the second column, Julia drew the teacher from the story and wrote, “The teacher said quiet.” In the third column Julia drew another picture of Blabber Mouse with his hands in front of his mouth, and wrote, “Mouse is now quiet.” Not a bad recap of the story and prediction for the end, especially considering how little it appeared that Julia was listening and paying attention to what directions were given.
19 November 2008
Julia was also very concerned that Christy, her teacher, was angry because of Julia's bad behavior. This is great! Here she is recognizing emotion in others that are not part of our household and maybe she may want to please Christy sooner or later. We are moving along!
The messy face pictures are the official beginning of baking season at our house. I usually bake for Thanksgiving and for Christmas. For Thanksgiving, I bring a few kinds of biscotti to Maryland and last year, for Christmas I send biscotti, pumpkin bread, and poppyseed cake to those who we will not see for the holidays. I enjoy both the baking and the sending, the knowing that I am doing something that others will enjoy.
Julia loves helping and she is getting better at it. She can use the sifter, hold the mixer, and break eggs. I am hoping that we can get into measuring this year as well. The best part for her, of course, is the licking of the mixers' paddles. I remember doing the same thing as a kid. Just before I took the second picture, I asked her to open her eyes. I really didn't expect her to do it.
And now, some new pictures all drawn within the last week. Julia's people are taking on substance. There are fewer stick figures and some are even happy or excited. The first picture is a star girl who is dancing.
I love this little guy even though my picture is a bit blurry. I don't remember what Julia said this was but I love the big eyes and curls.
Finally, this is an angry fox. She drew on arms after I took the picture but then erased it too fast for me to gt another shot. When I asked why he was angry, Julia told me that the fox couldn't "do chasing."
16 November 2008
Tell me, where is the road
I can call my own,
That I left, that I lost
So long ago?
All these years I have wandered,
Oh when will I know
There’s a way, there’s a road
That will lead me home?
After wind, after rain,
When the dark is done,
As I wake from a dream
In the gold of day,
Through the air there’s a calling
From far away,
There’s a voice I can hear
That will lead me home.
Rise up, follow me,
Come away, is the call,
With the love in your heart
As the only song;
There is no such beauty
As where you belong;
Rise up, follow me,
I will lead you home.
Each time we rehursed the song and we got to "There is no such beauty as where you belong," it touched my heart. Home, like loved ones, comes when it does. Teachers are like that too, coming when we are ready but coming on a schedule apart from our ego desires. And home is more than buildings and renovations, home is place but more, it is hearts present and caring, devoted and free. I dare say that we have found that. There is still the question of right livelihood that weighs on me, on the us that is family, but beloved ones, place, and community are the anchor. I hold firm the the rest will come.
15 November 2008
Watching Julia at Saturday swimming – and oh, her need to control. God, it would be so lovely if it was cause be an attachment disorder. No matter how hard the work is, if it could be remedied, if we could heal her in that way, if she could learn secure attachment and let the control go, she could learn so much. The patience, the deep, deep patience of the people who help her swim have managed to teach her something. What could she learn if she was not fighting them.
It passes in my mind, what if what I am seeing as a need for control was really a demanding of attention. A casual observer could see that . First, I have to be grateful that her teachers of all sorts are willing to see it as something else. Second, a child like Julia seeking attention would make sense. A child without attention for so long, a child who was neglected for years, now has the ability to demand such attention. I guess, believing as I do in her intelligence, I have to expect that some of her behavior may be attributed to attention seeking.
14 November 2008
Yesterday, I did the deed. I called the insurance guy (the person who has just a tiny bit of authority over who we can see under our plan) and told him I was dissatisfied with our therapist and I wanted to have a "real" attachment therapist. He went through the list of providers he could approve. The list has just three on it including our current provider and I had talked to all three of them before deciding who to go with. One of the other two said she did not do attachment work and the other said she was interested in do it. I told my guy this and added that I needed someone who had experience doing attachment, not just an interest. He asked if I had a provider in mind and I gave him the name. He verified that she was not in our network (which I knew already) and that it would be unlikely that that his supervisor would approve her. Yada, Yada, Yada. He asked his supervisor, and we were given a verbal denial over the phone. We wait for the written denial and I will start the appeal.
Meanwhile, I called the therapist I want to have and through three phone calls we have an appointment next week for an out-of-pocket session that we can use to see if we are good for each other, and I can see what she does so that I can be convincing if I have to argue before a panel. She also has a few clients who have already fought this fight and she will put me in touch with mom who just won her appeal. I have not won the war but I now have a battle plan.
We had a parent/teacher conference yesterday morning. Julia is moving along and is doing things that I wondered if she would ever do last year. She is spelling, creatively, she is reading some sight words, she is doing simple math, and she may finish all of the Kindergarten work this year. I was pleased with what Christy said and what she plans and how she took my suggestions. We do have such a good team working. Most important, is that Julia is making progress. It is her own rate and I can smile to think that what other rate would Julia care to travel at. Still, she has never lost ground and has not stood still.
Julia and I had the rest of the day together. We came home after the conference and it was cold and rainy and not at all a day to be out. Julia asked for a chocolate milk bottle. We snuggled on the courch and she drank her bottle. She hasn't asked for a bottle much at all -- once about two weeks ago and yesterday, but before that it must be months. We did some of our home work and then ran errands in the car. We sang the songs from Lion King and Julia was very cooperative through shopping for groceries, finding socks and tights for her, and visiting the rehab clinic to pick up some forms.
I worked in the class this morning. I made a new friend in a little girl names Naline. She is Asian and very interested in the fact that I am not and Julia is. I told her about adoption. She told me that her Daddy and Mommy looked like her. It was all very sweet.
I helped during Writers Workshop again. The teacher read two thirds of a story and then asked the kids to imagine an ending. The kids got a piece of paper divided in three columns and they were instructed to write and draw in each column -- beginning, middle, and their proposed end of the story. I worked with a table full of boys who worked diligently but who all decided to do the same ending. Mostly laziness and not a lack of imagination. They would rather get done with their work quickly and have time to play the games that they prefer.
Watching Julia during this time, I can see her behavior falling into categories. It is interesting that I can see this now. For such a long time, Julia's behavior and reactions melted into each other all too often. So this morning, Julia tried to control the situation for as long as she could. She went into the classroom and did not get on the rug as she was told. Instead, she invetigated everything she could touch and did not listen when she was asked to sit down. She ignored directions and pleas. She was brought to the rug and sat down, and refused to listen until the book that was being read caught her insterest.
I see her fight for control at home as well -- she refused to give me a kiss goodnight tonight. She was not angry with me but just refrains from giving me what she wants. She asks me if I am serious, or frustrated, or angry, and then if I am one of those, she gets angry and grabs at me, or twists my hand or tells me how she will hurt me. I think that these behaviors are related to Julia's attachment and it is these behaviors that I hope we can work on with our therapist.
The other behavior that I observed this morning was Julia's distractability and her ability to do her work with support. In my mind, both the idstractability and her ability to do her work is related to her development, and seemingly distinct from her need of control. If she is able to reliquish her need for control, she will be able to throw her energy into what she is doing. If she did this, I could imagine that she could work and play with her full self. And then what would we see?
I added to this entry over the day and it is evening now. Dinner is finished and David is doing the dishes. Julia is listening to music in the kitchen, drawing, dancing, singing. She loves it all so much. There are few words for such enthusiasm. It does my heart good to dance and sing with her, to let her spirit soar.
12 November 2008
We have seen a therapist a few times now. His credentials are not attachment therapy but he is covered by our HMO group, he has worked with adopted kids though mostly domestic, and he has worked with kids on the autistic spectrum (which our daughter may be on. That is, she has the diagnosis but as I watch her grow and change I believe that much of her problem is attachment related). So, our doc has seen us 4 times, every other week or so at his preference. He seems to be continually gathering information, having us talk about Julia's challenges and what we are doing about them. I am concerned that this is taking so long to get started. I need advice now. Do you think I am being impatient? OR is this the way this kind of therapy is done?
And was answered almost immediately:
I'd get on the phone and talk to the www.attachment.org clinic in Colorado.
You should be actively doing therapy, cuddle time, reading time, having her share her feelings, practicing obeying you, repeating what you have asked her etc.
He should be suggesting specific kinds of active intervention at home for her and you, something new to do each week.
You should been seeing significant changes or have had a significant experience with your therapist within the first few sessions. If not I'd question whether this guy can really help you.
Yes you need advice NOW you are not impatient, you need ANSWERS!
A child with AD is extremely stressful and challenging. Just venting about her doesn't work.. it doesn't change her or your experience. It might relieve some stress or anger but goes nowhere otherwise. You need concrete things you can do..... I have talked to so many families who have thrown money at therapists that just wasted their time and didn't really help them at all!
To be honest I have never found much help with traditional therapist because UNLESS they are SPECIFICALLY trained for attachment issues. Why? because they try to use traditional talk methods, sand tray therapy or play therapy, theses kids just bluff their way through. IT doesn't work... IF you read Nancy's book (When love is not enough) it tells you exactly WHAT TO EXPECT from your child's attachment therapist.
HE should always see her with you in the room and work toward you having a relationship with her, not him.
Does that help any? They thought our son had Asperger's a form of autism. Guess what with in a few weeks of attachment therapy this kid proved the school district wrong...with in 5 months and therapy camp we had an entirely different child. The AD therapist said he had RAD from the first session. Was he ever right.. Now nearly a year later he is a healthy , attached, in a regular classroom, functioning normally and above grade intelligence. HE is an entirely different and we saw changes immediately!!!
Where do you live?
Now to the phone.
10 November 2008
We had our first OT in a month -- we finished our alotted number of therapy sessions allowed by our insurance. Annie changed our music for Julia's listening therapy and we talked about more physical ways of dealing with Julia's anger during transitions. I have a parent-teacher meeting on Thursday. I will ask Christy about implementing some physical transition tools.
I admit that I worry all the time about Julia's differences, especially when I am away from her or comparing her to other kids, but when it is just us, just David, Julia and I, I see she is perfect just as she is. I am grateful for this knowledge.
I am exhausted this morning.
Last Friday, I went into Julia's classroom to help with some administrative stuff and to be another grownup as the kids did writing workshop. Christy, the teacher, begins the workshop by reading a story. I am guessing that there is some style theme -- last week's was see-saw writing, as in, I wear shorts in summer, but I wear pants in winter, or, Birds have mommies but trees don't have mommies. The kids then are given a number of exercises and the most advanced amonng them are expected to do all of the exercises. Last Friday, there were two assignments: the first was to complete two sides of a paper. The first side had the question, "Do _______ have a family?", and the second side said, "Yes, _____ have a family just like us." The child had to draw and write the name of an animal and follow through with the second side where the animal's name was written again and the whole family was drawn. This was one complete side of the see saw.
The second activity was to take a little "book" (simple quarter sheet books with paper covers, stapled together) and write a see saw story. My group of three kids got through the first exercise and some of the completed the second. I had one eye on Julia and she was able to get through the first exercise but not the second. And she still need the one-on-one prompting to get her through the assignment. Now, to be honest, even my group benefited greatly from the one-on-one. I think that only one of them would have finished both exercises if I had not be prompting them.
We have teacher conferences this week, and I will be very relieved to sit down with Christy and find out where Julia is. She is moving ahead -- we work on spelling all the time at her prompting -- but is it enough? And will she catch up? Yes, I am obsessed with her catching up and being normal. Maybe crazy as it seems, I will not give up on that idea. Maybe someone needs to knock me on the side of the head but I still believe in her intelligence and her imagination.
But I do see that she does not act like the other kids.
After writing workshop, the class went outside for recess with another class. The two classes stood together on the outline of a circle and sang silly songs that their teachers took turns leading. In one sense, this is the kind of activity that Julia should excell in but she was unable to stand in that circle -- this is the same basic behavior that made me give up on choir. Although Julia loves to sing, she seems unable to stay in an loosely assigned place and pay attention. Will she learn that? She was not disruptive during the singing, just not attending.
More wondering later. I have assignments of my own today.
06 November 2008
I'm about to head to Grant Park to talk to everyone gathered there, but I wanted to write to you first. We just made history. And I don't want you to forget how we did it. You made history every single day during this campaign -- every day you knocked on doors, made a donation, or talked to your family, friends, and neighbors about why you believe it's time for change. I want to thank all of you who gave your time, talent, and passion to this campaign. We have a lot of work to do to get our country back on track, and I'll be in touch soon about what comes next. But I want to be very clear about one thing... All of this happened because of you.
04 November 2008
01 November 2008
Yesterday, Julia and I started the day with some house work. I put up her white board again. It's not like I had put it in some dark corner somewhere and forbid her to use it, but she didn't like using it propped against the wall in the dining room or any where else for that matter. While I was hanging it, she stood close by, like a puppy waiting for food, like a protective parent on their child's fist day of school. She did not let me straighten it with a level and it is hung slightly crooked (which drives me insane). I will fix it when she is at school. She started drawing and has been at it almost nonstop when we are in the house. I managed to get only a few pictures of her latest creations. She erases too fast for me!
I am continually amazed by her creative urge, her need to make those pictures or work with her clay or, for that matter, play make believe with her little animals and people. She drew an elevator for some character to take. She drew a door with a line in the middle, a circle above it and two circles on the side. She explained it perfectly to me. In a way, this is not an amazing drawing at all but it was dead on. She had noticed an essence of something that had been in her life for a while now but had not made it into her consciousness. The elevator was not the purpose of the drawing (of course!) but it was part of the action of the picture.
Yesterday, waiting to get my finger checked the week after surgery (finger is fine. Benign tumor growing from the muscle. They will take out stitches in another week), we looked at an edition of Sports Illustrated – no, there was nothing more interesting unless Surgery Today and other medical mags tickled your fancy. There were some great foot ball and baseball pictures and Julia got a chance to ask me about them. No, we never talk about sports and her questions were very revealing.
“Why are those guys knocking over that guy? Mommy, bad behavior!”
“Well, no, honey . . . . .”
“Mommy, that guy trying to hit?”
“Well, no, honey . . . . “
It went on like that in the same vein. The couple sitting opposite us was smiling.
We also went to a short concert at church yesterday – a kids theater group sang Broadway and Disney songs that were slightly related to Halloween. If it appears that we do lots of concerts, we do try to and the reason is two-fold. Althought we may never take Julia to a sporting event, I fervently believe that a well rounded person knows about theater, dance, and music. At Julia's age, Cheshire was going to the opera and able to sit through harp recitals. I know it is going to take awhile before Julia can do this but going to every free, short, and casual event that I can find is a start. And second, we love performance. If possible, I want us to share it with Julia. This is very selfish – I'd rather pay for a ticket for her than a babysitter to keep her home.
I am writing at swimming lesson, and Julia seems more subdued today. I have to wonder whether she feels alright or if she is really listening. Halloween candy is probably taking a toll. She had more of it last night than I feel comfortable with, and Daddy let her start her morning with some Starbursts. I know it is just once and year and thank goodness for that!
Umm . . . She is listening much more to direct commands, like take off your belt or grab the barbell.
Another thing that has been emerging is Julia's ability to repeat the directions that I've given to her. Now I forget why I was trying to do this, increase focus or test whether she is really taking in what I am saying or see if she is remembering what is said to her. Anyway, I've been doing it for a few months and only in the last few weeks has she been able to repeat anything back to me. This week I've noticed that she can repeat most of to all of what I've told her. Pretty cool!
Choir is singing in the old meeting house auditorium this weekend. We are singing In Paradisum by Gabriel Fauré and an Agneus Dei by ___. I have missed two rehearsals because of David traveling and my finger surgery, but I know the pieces relatively well enough to sing. I have been struggling with all of the conflicts between choir and teaching RE but the choir is big enough to be flexible and I will just do what I can. Next year, it will be choir all the way but for this year and for tomorrow, when the choir is singing in church, I will sing the 9 o'clock service and teach for Julia's class at 11.
Making sure the bag is deep and strong.