On a good day, parenting will test the integrity of your character. On a bad day, parenting will test your will to live. Parenting children with trauma histories will cause you to test the integrity of everything and everyone you thought you knew, for the rest of your life.
~J. Skrobisz

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Holiday without Sissy

We had a relaxing day, enjoying the weather and the three hour drive to Warner Robins, although we were a little sad that we couldn't also find the time to drive north to the RTC to visit Sissy.

Only one of the Dad's family members inquired about Sissy's whereabouts. The dad and I fortuitously discussed and rehearsed what we would say when asked because we didn't really feel like explaining it to everyone. Our rehearsed speech went off without a hitch, "Well, you know Sissy and Aspie Boy have special needs. Sissy is spending the holiday at a therapy center."

It pays to plan ahead but that means you have to THINK ahead first. Sometimes we forget the think-ahead part and we have to plan on our toes which doesn't always work. Being a RAD mom is exhausting for no other reason than all the thinking, planning, discussion and damage control!

Tonight was our night to talk to Sissy by telephone, we get three nights a week for 10 minutes. We are pretty amazed that she has managed to do it since she has always been extremely terrified of the apparatus, despite our many role-playing sessions. (To all the people that tell us our RADishes are "normal" I'd like to ask them if they've ever role-played phone calls with THEIR "normal" kids)

Today she got to go on an outing to see a movie so she has "green level" status for good behavior. She had a traditional holiday meal and as per our request, was prepared to tell us the name of her roommates. When we talked to her on Tuesday, her characteristic reply to the inquiry of the names of the other immediate people in her life was, "I don't know." So we challenged her to learn and remember her roommates' names for our phone call tonight.

Of course, there is always much to be thankful for but above all, I'm thankful that Sissy is at the RTC.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Aspie Boy lets us know how it is

Yesterday Aspie Boy woke up and skipped into the kitchen, announced,"I'm glad Sissy is gone." and skipped away before I could think of a response. Ok I thought, I'm glad he's letting us know how he feels but how do I help him?

This morning he was singing at breakfast a song he made up that had five words in it, "I'm glad Sissy is gone!" over and over to his not-so-melodious tune.

hmm I thought again. We might need to really explore this

Of course, it doesn't help him much that school is out, messing up his rigid routine so he's been stimming and pacing alot. The school starts out every day with compressions and I'm doing my best to get him similar sensory input but it's always second rate. Then we really messed with his world by starting out the holiday week with Sissy being removed from the home. Now admittedly, he is glad to have her gone but routine is like gold to Aspie kids, even if routine includes damaging behaviors from older RAD siblings.

The Dad and I discussed having a visit with Sissy on Saturday since we won't see her tomorrow. I hedged, both Aspie Boy and Wonder Girl have made it clear to us in their own way that they are relieved she's gone. A visit this soon into her placement might really upset things. Aspie Boy is known to make us "pay" for stuff for two days or more afterward. I told the Dad my concerns and he agreed to consider it further before we all piled into the van on Saturday. We've learned the hard way that you can't play the game unless you're fully suited up and ready to rock and roll. No way was I getting into a van and visiting Sissy without first feeling out the other two siblings for the potential reaction.

Wonder Girl was over hearing my conversation so that when I hung up the phone, she was in my face, "You put me on the list?! For WHAT?" this from a 5 year old, mind you "I don't want any therapy!"

"Ok, ok, just hold on a second there missy," I laughed. "I put you on the list to visit Sissy. Would you like that?"

Wonder Girl glowered and her hands went on her hips. She was really thinking hard. So I gave her an out. "You can say, 'no'"

"No, then."

"Ok. That's fine."

"But wait. Maybe I do. What's it like there? You're not going to leave ME alone, are you?"

"No, silly! We just want to see her, spend time with her, maybe you can see where she eats."

"Oh. OK. I guess. But i'm not getting any therapy!"

I tickled her a little and pretended to do holding therapy with her and she rolled her eyes and shouted out, "MO-OOOMMMMM! Geez, I'm fine, I'm FINE! Ok?" but she was laughing the whole time.

So I asked Aspie Boy if he wanted to visit Sissy next. He responded with a stoic, "yes." Then he disappeared into his room, I presumed to don his shoes since we were planning an errand run.

10 minutes later, Aspie Boy still hadn't emerged from his room, shoes still not on and Wonder Girl went in to see what he was doing. That's when all hell broke loose.

45 minutes later, Aspie Boy was just about out of steam. He was mad, let me tell you! I got socked in the face, my hair pulled, kicked, spat at, you name it. He was furious! I kept asking what it was that made him mad. "You know!" was all he could muster.

But it's not lost on me that at the mere mention of visiting Sissy, Aspie Boy went straight into a fit. Hmmm. I don't think Wonder Girl and Aspie Boy are ready to see her and if we choose to bring them anyway, then we had best be prepared for the murderous onslaught of their raging aftermath.

It just gets harder every day, doesn't it? And I thought bringing Sissy to the RTC would help. lol Jokes on me, I guess!

Thankfully, Aspie Boy has hippotherapy today. Some routine and therapy should help me...er, I mean, HIM. :)

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Blogspot help please and a Conversation with Wonder Girl

I'm well versed in LiveJournal and Facebook but this Blogspot? not so much.

How do I get comments to my posts sent to my email inbox?
How do I reply to comments left on my posts?

For several months now, Wonder Girl has fallen asleep in our room, on our bed. Then we carry her to her room at night before we go to sleep. There were three reasons for this.
#1 - Sissy screamed every.single.night at bedtime and Wonder Girl didn't need to deal with that.
#2 - we don't have an extra room in our house so the girls couldn't have their own room*
#3 - Sissy was hurting Wonder Girl when we weren't looking, putting Wonder Girl into her own bed after Sissy went to sleep and waking them both up in the morning was our best option.

But now that Sissy is at the RTC and hopefully learning new bedtime habits and respect for others, we see a need to retrain Wonder Girl. This evening she and I discussed it after the aggravated Dad begged that we just let Wonder Girl sleep in our room anyway.

"Wonder Girl, do you remember the reasons you started sleeping in our room?"

"Yes. Sissy screams EVERY NIGHT! UGH!!!"

"Yes, that's true. But now that Sissy is getting help, when she comes home, she will probably be better about bedtime. Do you know what that means for you?"

"Yes. I won't have to hear her anymore!"

"Yes, but it also means you have to learn to sleep in your room too."


"What about a compromise? Every other night you can sleep on my bed, OK? And if that goes well, then we can work towards you sleeping in your room for two nights and then one night in my room? How does that sound?"

"It's a pattern, Mom!"

"So we have a deal?"


I can't count how many times I'd approach problem solving with Sissy the same way and how many times the outcome was Sissy screaming at the top of her lungs for an hour or more. It was strange for me to have a normal dialogue with Wonder Girl, reach an agreement to a problem we had and for her to be happy about it. I could feel my hackles rising and my nerves preparing for the anticipated screaming even though I knew in my mind that Wonder Girl doesn't have Sissy's issues.

Boy, it's going to be hard for me to retrain myself too!

*We only learned a few weeks ago in RAD therapy that RAD kids need their own rooms with an alarm on a door. This is one of the many reasons we weren't prepared for RAD therapy. The children only have privacy curtains for doors because the rages always included slammed, locked doors that got barricaded followed by an hour or more of unscrewing door knobs and pushing the door open. Thus the doors were removed. When Wonder Girl told us Sissy was hurting her, we put a baby monitor in the girls' room so we would always know what Sissy was doing while in there. Not perfect, but the best we had.

Monday, November 23, 2009

RTC Day one

We brought Sissy to the RTC today. When the nurse asked her what she hoped to accomplish while at the facility, she said she wanted to "speak better". When the psychiatrist asked her what she hoped to accomplish, she said nothing. When the threapist aske her what she hoped to accomplish she hestiated and then said, "help my inner spirit body" which nearly made the Dad and I laugh, but we held it together.

Here's to RAD kids saying crazy, unexpected things when they are searching for what they think grownups what to hear them say.

We were very pleased with the facility and staff. Of course, our happiness means nothing if Sissy doesn't pony up and do the hard work required for her to accomplish the goals of her prescribed therapy plan. I talked to my RAD mom friend and she said that her daughter, now age 19, is finally showing remorse.

I didn't cry when I left Sissy at the RTC but I will definitely cry the day Sissy demonstrates full understanding of how her choices affect others. THAT will be an amazing day, worthy of lots of tears, hugs and "pizzazz" as Nancy Thomas would say.

Until that hopeful, much anticipated moment in Sissy's life, the rest of our clan recouperates from the past seven months of her rage, violence and suicidal ideations. It's hard to help people understand the reverse abuse RAD family members endure. It's difficult to explain what it's like to watch a child force vomit in response to toothbrushing and then explain that you were unsympathetic, even frustrated instead of nurturing and caring because your child has mastered gagging and wretching on command. Said Aspie Boy when we told him that Sissy would be gone for awhile, "good, she won't be screaming every night at bedtime, I can finally sleep." Said Wonder Girl, "Will she eat?" because of course, RAD kids think that mealtime will NEVER, EVER happen and that they will waste away waiting the intense, horrible, inhumane 4 hours between meals.

Thank God for RAD moms, we keep each other sane in the absolute insanity RAD creates in our lives.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Peace in Puzzles

It's a curious thing, blogging. Broadcasting the parts of your life that you are willing to share with countless strangers, globally, requires some pizazz, the ability to phrase things adequately and some boldness. Certainly, you can't be a private person that gets her feathers ruffled easily by comments from readers that don't see your point of view and aren't afraid of saying so. Likewise, you have to keep your readers interested while protecting the feelings and identities of the loved ones you discuss in the blog. It could be argued that blogging is a precarious occupation that has the potential to precipitate enormous chaos in your life. But we do it anyway because for those of us that are diehard bloggers, we know that putting what we think, say and do on the page and connecting with other bloggers that think, say and do as we do, is kin to a narcotic addiction.

The Pizzazz
"Peace in Puzzles" means...?
The blog title started with the iconic Autism image of puzzle pieces. Our son is on the autism spectrum and is he ever a puzzle! Following the free associatiative thought process, it is easy to make the connection that our daughter's mental health issues make her a puzzle to sort out as well. Since both of them present with enormous, daily challenges for our family, it often disrupts the peace in our home. And who doesn't like homophones? piece was easily swapped for peace. Voila! Peace in Puzzles

The Phrasing
Here's the deal. I have another blog in which I freely discuss everything I think and feel, with reckless abandon. But that blog is for a select audience. I know that what I say there could be hurtful to some of the people in my life. This blog will be different in that aspect. I will not disucss with abandon, rather I will be painting an informative portrait of events that occur in our family's life. No fabrications, just an article-style format.

The Boldness
Just like the next person, my feathers can be ruffled but when I know what needs to be done or that my decisions are good ones, I won't be moved. I like to hear and discuss other points of view but ultimately, I know that I'm making the best choices for me and my family.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

RAD blogging

I'm not new to blogging. I've kept a personal blog for six years or more. My personal blog,http://integritysinger.livejournal.com, is about me. This blog will be about our family's journey as we help our daughter recover from RADs.

Sissy will be 10 on the last day of the year. She came home nine years ago after 11 months of challenges in her first mom's care. Her RAD diagnosis came shortly afterward but it wasn't until years of other therapies, medications and doctors that we were finally directed to pursue RAD therapy as our last chance at helping Sissy recover and become functional.

But we were not prepared for the ramifications of the therapy and it only escalated Sissy's rage to the point of suicidal ideations. 9 years of difficult parenting and 5 weeks of RAD therapy, Sissy will be taking some time to stabilize at a residential treatment center while the rest of the Smith clan regroups, recovers from the malestrom and adequately prepares to reembrace Sissy in our home.

We are also proud adoptive parents of Sissy's biological siblings, Aspie Boy, turning 9 a week after Sissy's birthday, and Wonder Girl, age 5.