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

Friday, December 4, 2009

Family Therapy Session #1

Yesterday was family therapy sessoin #1 with Sissy at the RTC. I drove a total of six hours so I could spend 45 minutes in talk therapy with a 9 year old RADish.

I am now quite annoyed. Annoyed enough to scream my head off and run around with my clothes torn off as though I were the RADish.

Let me first point out the highlights, then I'll mench.
#1 - tudusmom was so fabulous to meet with me before therapy. (((HUGS))) to tudusmom. Wishing I could drive back tomorrow for the dinner.

#2 - I listened to all three CDs of Nancy Thomas on the drive (thanks Lisa) and learned some really great RAD therapy ideas to try out on Sissy during our free time after therapy.

#3 - my preplanned RAD therapy time with Sissy was successful. Here's what we did in our hour after our completely fruitless and utterly useless talk therapy session:

a) follow the leader - this is an adaptation of the original game children play based on Nancy Thomas's comments that RADishes should either walk behind or beside the mom but never be allowed to walk ahead of her. The rules are I was the leader and I'd call out "behind!" and Sissy would have to walk behind me and do exactly as I did. Then I'd randomly call out "beside!" and she'd have to hurry to my side and continue to do exatly as I did. If she got ahead of me, bumped into me because she wasn't paying attention or didn't follow exactly as I did, she had to shout out, "you're the leader! you're the leader! you're the leader!" Of course, I made it more fun/challenging by walking in funny ways, waving my arms strangely, hopping, skipping, jumping, making whooping noises, you name it. She only had to shout "you're the leader" one time and she seemed to really like the game.

b) rocking chair chatter - the front porch of the admissions building is enormous with scads of old fashioned oversized rockers. We sat side-by-side and rocked forward/backward three times in tandem then stopped cold and Sissy had to make eye contact and tell me something good about herself or about her time at the RTI since our last visit. She had to be precise about her language, no "i like lunchtime" comments. Failure to rock three times in tandem or to prepare a thoughtful statement meant more silent rocking (LIMBIC SYSTEM!!!!). It didnt' take long before Sissy got the rhythm of the game and began to talk about useful things.

both Follow the Leader and Rocking Chair Chatter are my own fabrications but they are excellent at helping concentration, limbic system, sensory, frontal lobe processing

c) hugging game - Nancy talks about the 12 hugs rule for RADishes and parents of RADishes but she is also very clear about not allowing the RADish to seek out the affection because those will be inappropriatly gained moments of touch that don't help heal. Previously I gave Sissy a photo book but I intentionally did not fill it. The promise was that with each subsequent visit, she's get more photos (forcing her to think about my return every time she looked at the empty photo pages). Of course, I kept my promise and this time brought pictures of common things - the house, her bedroom, the van, the kitchen, etc. (forcing her to think about family and what she did not have access to - the photo of her room really gave her pause. GOOD!) But I didn't just hand them over. The rules of the game are that I have to hug her and she has to hug back appropriately before I gave her the photo. Incorrect hugging procedure required us to start over. All told, we managed to nail down more than our 12 hugs for the 9 pictures I brought and by hug 12 or so, she was beginning to anticipate the touch, wait for my initiation, soften to it AND relax in it. I highly recommend it!

d) snuggle time - another of Nancy Thomas' ideas. Nancy talks about the sweetness of mother's milk and how she uses the caramels under the RADish's tongue while she cradles and snuggles. The caramels encourage the sucking (LIMBIC SYSTEM!!!) and it's a sensory bonding moment that encourages eye contact. I gave it a slight twist anticipating Sissy's rejection of the idea. The rules were we could not talk at all and she had to try to suck longer then the christmas song I hummed to her. I chose the humming because that's me - it's what I did for my other two when they were babies and I was feeding them or helping them sleep. Of course, I made sure I hummed very, very slowly and still gave her 7 out 9 opportunities to win. This was GOLD! PURE GOLD I tell you. As we snuggled and she sucked I thought to myself this is what I missed with her! I am actually recapturing what I wanted to do with her when we first got custody! and it was very, very encouraging. When we were through, Sissy's body was completely relaxed, her bottom lip was blistered from all the sucking as an infant's would be, her breathing was rhythmic and she nearly fell asleep! She has NEVER been that vulnerable with me! Plus, she asked if we could do it again next time. :) :) :) I highly recommend snuggle time. A must for all RAD moms and their RADishes, regardless of age.

OK, now the menching.
#1 - talk therapy?!? OMG. I just wanted to kick the therapist. We role played the "I feel ... when you... I wish you could ..." phrasing. *roll eyes* Right. Giving a RADish that much leverage is a safe idea. NOT! We were to practice negotiation. Is she kidding me?!?! then we had to draw pictures of our future family. Sissy copied mine, verbatim. In fact, she parrotted EVERYTHING the therapist or I said. Seriously. I was nonplussed. Wanted to fake wretch. Then, THEN, the therapist asked me to please consider using their bathing rule since I mentioned it as a trigger for Sissy at home. I just glared at her then said, "Sissy got a fungal infection on her butt last year because I allowed her too much freedom during her bathing. I have not allowed unsupervised bathing since. The 5s rule you have here will not work. She will still not bathe her genitals because that is a trigger for her." Sure enough, Sissy admitted it later after I said, "Sissy, do you know how I know you are lying to the staff about bathing your bottom?" And she said, "Because I stink." Oh, our RADishes are so, so smart. Too bad the therapist is a dilly!

#2 - OMG! Sissy is in a room with a 5 year old!! I told them at admissions that our therapist and psychiatrist told me Sissy could not be alone with her 5 year old sister because Sissy was hurting her and they put her in a room with a 5 year old!!! I told the therapist that neither girl will heal - Sissy will continue to pattern and the other child will suffer. The therapist says they are monitoring the kids 24/7 and that nothing has happened and then added that it could become part of Sissy's therapy plan. I said, "Good, let me know how you make it part of her therapy and I'll agree. Until then, I stand on my original statement, Sissy should not be in a room with a 5 year old." Then to make my point very clear, I called today and left a message saying, "let me know what your plan is regarding Sissy's room placement and the 5 year old." SERIOUSLY!?!?!

#3 - I have yet to meet the psychiatrist!!!! or talk to him!!!! or hear his plan for Sissy's treatment!!!!! UGH!

#4 - I told the therapist that other than Sissy's bathing issue, she is still lying to us. Because the staff keeps telling me they're not seeing the behaviors I'm talking about - that Sissy is being a model patient. No, she's not. She's doing just enough to not get caught. Her own admission - she's not acting out because she doesn't want them to see her behaviors. She said this to the therapist. The therapist says, "when you go back home, what's going to keep you from returning to those behaviors?" And Sissy says, "I just won't" Seriously, I just wanted to throw up.

#5 - the finale, the therapist asks me what I'm doing at home to get better. She asks this in front of Sissy. Of course Sissy LOVED that question and waited with baited breath to hear the answer. So I looked Sissy dead in the eye and said, "I've made lots of friends with other RAD moms, I'm reading four different books, starting a local RAD support group with our RAD therapist in town, listening to RAD teaching CDs, preparing our home to receive Sissy, attending my own personal counseling sessions and recovering from the last seven months of Sissy's challenges..."then I turned to look at the therapist, "... which may or may not include getting therapy for the traumatized children at home, in particular the 5 year old that has suffered the most becasue of the harm Sissy did to her. What books have YOU read about RADs? Can I recommend a few? I can write down the RAD therapy things I'll be doing with Sissy after this session if you'd like me to go over them with you so you can see what we'll be doing."

yeah. I was pissed. My voicemail message to the therapist today also included this little tidbit "6 hours is a long time to be on the road for 45 minutes of talk therapy in which Sissy is just going to parrot everything you or I do or say. What is your plan for our future sessions, I hope they will be more dynamic and hands on otherwise that 6 hour drive won't be worth my effort."


Essie the Accidental Mommy said...

ROCK ON with yourself! WOW- I am so impressed!

Ummm, right, she is not going to show her behaviors at the rtc because she has RAD and that is what RAD ISSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS! Sigh.

J. said...

wow good for you, bed for the therapist, I hate crappy therapists! have a good weekend.

waldenbunch said...

You are so far beyond where we were when our oldest was in the RTC. You are right on and doing some amazing things. You go, girl!

Lisa said...

Great job! Loving the tools. We do the rocking, follow the leader stuff around here too along with mini tramp. Love our mini tramp.

Unfortunately most RTC's don't get it and I don't think ever will. At least it's a break for y'all.