Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Then Came Kindergarten!

When OLA entered Kindergarten the tarnishes started to become slightly more visible. But only in the learning category. Speech was still a problem at this point. His teacher said that she couldn't always understand him. He was referred to the school's speech therapist. But, like preschool she couldn't really find anything that stuck out. The two sounds she heard were still well within normal developmental time frames. He was also having a difficult time learning the names of the letters in the alphabet and their associated sounds. However, he could remember some sight words and he could memorize small spoken parts for class programs. Names of the days of the week and what order they come in are out of his reach. And so are the months of the year. Basics like penny and dime don't register either. And time - well forget it 30mins and 3 hours might as well be the same.  Number recognition isn't any better and shape recognition is inconsistent. At first parent teachers conference there was talk of his repeating kindergarten again. Has trouble working independently or completing some of the assigned tasks. The teacher at school was convinced that we were hovering too much and not letting him become responsible. Has difficulty with fine motor skills - can't color in the lines - writing is hard to read and cutting is also difficult.
At home he is becoming increasingly non - compliant and unresponsive to most forms of consequences. Time outs become battles. Will tell you no outright when ask to stop doing an activity that he is enjoying. If you try and redirect or issue a consequence then you have a crying , hitting, name calling, screaming tantrum that can last for a couple of hours. If you revoke a privilege he will ignore you completely and go ahead and do it anyway or if that's not possible he will turn into a destructive raging crazy person - who will break or rip anything within his reach.
He also doesn't seem to have any concept of right and wrong, good choice or bad, or what might be the resulting natural consequences for any given action. Nothing is ever his fault - it is always some one else's fault - because they did or didn't do something that he thinks they should. He can't remember rules and will even forget what he is going to say if you make him wait instead of letting him interrupt.
He can be volatile even when doing something enjoyable. One minute playing and laughing with his brother and the next hitting, kicking and biting - and a vast majority of the time his brother has done nothing to warrant the sudden outburst of rage.
At this point in his life - we were struggling to figure out what was happening with our child - why the Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde change in ability and temperament. No one seemed to know - and outside  our home the tatters still weren't visible enough for most others to see. We were praying for answer that as of yet were not forth coming. It would be almost another year before information would start us on the path to what we think is the answer to all this craziness.

Friday, March 11, 2011

As A Preschooler!

When Our Little Angel entered the years between ages 3 and 5 the tatters became a little more clear to us - although to the outside world he was still a cute, slightly mischievous little boy. But we began to notice that his language skills just were not quite as proficient as we thought they ought to be - all though at first we decided it was because Big Brother Angel was doing all the talking for him. However, we never had one of those moments when he all of a sudden just start rattling off whole sentences. But not only did he seem to have a smaller vocabulary than we thought he should, but about two thirds of the time what he was trying to say was unintelligible - even for mom who was with him 95% of the time. Other adults - including his preschool teacher could not understand him. He was eventually referred to a speech therapist - but she could not identify anything specific that was the problem. In fact on the three occasions that we saw her - OLA (our little angel) spoke fairly clear. But the problem persisted and he was referred to a speech therapist once again in Kindergarten - with the same result.
 Beyond the speech came the incredible melt downs/temper tantrums of epic proportions. Other parents kept telling me it was normal for kids this age to have temper tantrums. I kept asking if it was normal for them to last two hours at a time. But , alas, my concerns kept getting brushed aside by teachers and medical professionals - especially because they did not usually see this behavior. It had not yet made its way outside the walls of our families' home. But that was because I was quickly learning how to avoid taking OLA anywhere that I didn't feel like I needed to. 
Along with the melt downs came the kicking, hitting , biting, and crying - at this point usually aimed at BBA(big brother angel) and more often than not completely unprovoked. He was also very destructive to property not belonging to him - also usually BBA's.
 Then we noticed his difficulty with number recognition, counting, ABC's and their sounds, and names for the days of the week as well as the order they go in. Sometimes he seemed to know most of them but later it was like he had never learned them.
 About this time his refusal to comply with a no response increased - no was not ever intended to stop him from doing something he wanted - or so it seemed. He would not respond to verbal warnings when in dangerous situations' even if the warning was given over repeat  occurrences of the same behaviour. It didn't stop even at the loss of privileges/possessions. i.e. - losing his bike after riding into the road with out looking for cars or other dangers. And it didn't apply to sleds or skateboards if the bike was unavailable.
 Again we mentioned this to people such as teachers and medical professionals. But where told that he was just being a little boy, or he was just very strong willed, or my favorite , he was younger than most doctors wanted to evaluate for ADHD/ADD (or anything else for that matter), just be patient they said - he will most likely grow out of it.  No one mentioned FASD, and no one would tell us what to do if he didn't grow out of it. So we continued to wade quietly through the rising waves - sometimes adrift in a sea of preschooler caused storms.

Monday, March 7, 2011


    Last night I cried!  I finished the book "Braided Cord: Tough Times in and Out" by Liz Kulp.  Liz is a young lady in her mid-twenties who has FASD. The book made me sad. I cried for her and her parents. I cried for the children with FASD and their families. And I cried for myself, my family, and mostly for my little boy.
    I worry about how to teach him to be all that he can be. He is only seven - but seven with a twist. A twist that will never go away. I worry that he won't be successful. That his dreams will only be that DREAMS! Maybe, he won't get a chance to live them. I'm not even sure how to remap my own dreams for him. Yes, it's about moms too. Moms that I know have dreams for their kids - about being happy, having friends, school, community, and success.  But, most of all I worry that his unchecked impulses will hurt someone else and in so doing end all the dreams - either in jail or death. It's a scary thing to look at your seven year old and have these thoughts of his future.  Their is hope - I know - room to grow - a chance at success - but first you have to wade through the blackest nights.
    I wish I could change somethings for him. I doubt his birth mom knew what might lay in store for him when she drank. She may not even have known yet that she was pregnant. But like the small pebble dropped in the pond that creates a little ripple that grows and expands - we are reaping the mighty wave as the ripple meets the shore. 
     So we wade in - one battle at a time. Sometimes we win!  Other times we lose!! But if we are very blessed we will win the War! I only wish all women understood - It is never safe to drink when you are pregnant - it isn't just your life - but your babies too.  Those drinks can lead to a lifetime of struggles and worries for your unborn baby. My little tattered angle is a miracle - we love him. But, Oh how my heart aches for him. And some nights I cry!!!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

As an Infant...

When "Our Little Angel" was an infant the tatters were small and not openly noticeable - many of them could even be found in any other infant. Things like being born with an umbilical hernia, a heart murmur, and needing soy based formula. He was fussy and often hard to sooth - he would arch his back, wouldn't want to cuddle and would want to be held facing out. We thought he had colic. Many babies do!!
During the first year he also had pneumonia at three and five months, bronchitis at seven months, and influenza & bronchialitis at nine months, and another upper respiratory infection at eleven months. All infections required a nebulizer. To this day he still has issues when he gets an upper respiratory infection.