Thursday, 17 November 2016

Steps Forward....


It's been a few weeks since I wrote properly. I've been doing a lot of doing and doing much less reflecting of late. As usual I'm juggling way too many balls in the air and will be glad to put some down. We're still tying up lose ends after Pop's died and are currently in the process of selling their house. It's quite the task as there isn't a lot of clearing out to be done. I've been going through another low energy phase so I'm looking in the opposite direction than their house for a few weeks.   

The reason I'm low in energy ties in with a difficult phase with Katie. The start of term has been tough for her (and ergo us). The transition to Year 4 wasn't handled as well as I would have liked so anxiety and stress kicked in for Katie as she settled into the new school year. This fact has been pointed out to school. She's getting there now after some great steps forward with support from an Occupational Therapist and the Behavioural Optometrist which I've written about before in Understanding Katie. School have taken on board the suggestions from the OT and there has been a noticeable improvement in Katie's work. The simple addition of a sheet with the instructions on for the work has been brilliant and at the Parents Meeting tonight it was a positive discussion indeed.  It's still all very stressful in our household though.  Katie is teaching Pip all sorts of words we'd much rather him not know just yet and are getting fed up with being constantly told to "shut up" or being called "buttholes".  Levels of non-compliance are very high and this is one of the things that pushes my buttons the most. Asking someone 10 times to do something simple like say "put your shoes on" and getting a constant reply of "no" or my other favourite being totally ignored is hard work.  We have a rule of no technology until both children are dressed and teeth cleaned and that helps to a point but we are often late for school because Katie takes ages to put her shoes and coat on.  She can generally only remember one instruction at a time.  Pip is pretty organised and I can definitely tell the difference between parenting a relatively neuro-typical child to a non neuro-typical child.  Pip at 4 is capable of much more organisation than Katie is at 9. One of my strategies with him, even at this age, is to teach him to think for himself and not follow Katie.

As I often say "it would be funny if it was funny!"

As part of my ongoing mission to get all the help onboard for Katie as possible I recently met with CAMHS to see if they are able to work with us and also provide a full psychological profile for Katie. It won't be a surprise to many to know that they won't offer the Psych profile despite an intimation that they might and have "suggested" school ask the Educational Psychologist to provide this assessment. I've already asked school three times for this and it was irritating amusing that CAMHS wouldn't put this suggestion in writing in case it was "dictating them how to spend their budget". I do love a bit of joined up working! So I have asked school (again) today for an Ed Psych assessment. Katie's teacher has promised me she will be seeing the EP tomorrow and will raise the issue. It helps (I hope) that her teacher can see why I'm requesting the assessment and how it will benefit her as the teacher to have this knowledge.   

In addition to tackling school Katie and I met with her Paediatrician recently and asked if we could try Katie on atomoxetine (Strattera) at the suggestion of the OT (we're building up lots of initials in our life now). The Paediatrician was very helpful and prescribed the Strattera and Katie has just started her second week on the drug. She had a few worrying days of mood swings last week but seems more settled this week thankfully. It will be 4-6 weeks before we see a marked difference if this drug works. The aim is to help dampen down some of the external noise for Katie as her high levels of distraction and hyper-vigilance are preventing her brain from developing properly. I hate the idea of medicating her and agonised over the decision but, if this works and it can give her brain some quiet time to develop and feel less anxious, then I pray the pros will well and truly outweigh the cons in the longer term. 

I do feel like we're making steps in the right direction even though day to day life is very stressful. We're still a million miles further along though than we were last year and the year before when Katie was having mammoth violent meltdowns. We've tightened boundaries at home with instant technology removal for hitting and swearing and we've seen a massive reduction in swearing and a noticeable reduction in her hitting her brother. He does push his luck though so I try and be mindful of the pressure she is under. 

One problem causing Katie grief is friendships. This has been an ongoing issue since last term but is now with different girls. Many adoptive parents report concerns about friendships and for children with FASD this is heightened. My ears started burning with after-school grumbles about, quite frankly, some rather bitchy behaviour from some girls in her class, not letting Katie play with them etc etc. Year 4 girls are notorious for taking no prisoners as they find their way with developing "best friends" and excluding others. There is this going on in abundance at school and it seems however that it is not Katie who is the instigator or the only victim. This year, partly because I wasn't sure that Katie could handle it, but largely because of these issues I decided to cancel Katie's intended birthday party. There was no way she was inviting those girls into my house this year (and they were on her party list). I had a moment of thinking about killing with kindness but I didn't think Katie's party should be spoiled if they paired off at her party and didn't include her. Instead I took Katie and a friend (another one being targeted by the girls) out to lunch and to the movies. We had a lovely time, both girls were fantastic and really enjoyed themselves and I felt vindicated in my decision. There is a big dose of "girls will be girls" going on here and lots of learning required but it's all getting nasty silly so I had a chat with Katie's teacher tonight. I'm glad I did. She was gathering information about what she was seeing in class from the parents of the children involved. She was frustrated that the girls haven't been to see her themselves to tell her but she has been seeing the bitchy looks and gestures and has already moved one girl so she can't see another one in class. My biggest issue really is Katie not wanting to go to school because of this. It doesn't take much to upset the apple cart. We've talked about ways of responding and ignoring etc but I did feel,she need something to do to be able to get the upper hand so I taught her how to give the bird Ross from Friends style....



Well it had to be done didn't it? Her teacher thought it was amusing when I told her what I'd done.

So over to the school to see what happens next.......





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