Monday, April 18, 2011

Then came first grade!?!

This school year OLA was off to first grade. The first two months seemed to fly by with only a few minor problems. He was in remedial reading and responding well. He wasn't fighting us on too many things - except doing his homework - but even that was hit and miss. He did burn through two boxes of 24 count crayons in those first two months and you could rarely find a sharpened pencil in his desk. But we had hit kind of a lull. His behavior at home was a little bit more intense - but nothing to write home about. But we knew it was only a matter of time until things bubbled over again.
Towards the end of September I was getting my daily fill of news via the Internet when I came across a story of a family in Illinois, who had to make the heart wrenching decision to sign away guardianship of their daughter.  As I watched there interview with a national news agency I was stunned to hear her describing my child in some of the behaviors of her daughter. My mind was reeling. Our son's birth mother hadn't drank - at least not according to the paperwork we had. Yet there was this seed of doubt - centered around a remembrance of a vague conversation that had taken place some six and a half years earlier -twenty-four hours after he was born.  Had she drank?
I began to look up information on FAS and FASD. What I found left me both stunned and saddened. The commonalities these sights listed described my son far better than anything else I had ever read about.  I called my husband and ask him if he could remember anything that was mentioned about the birth mother drinking. He too only had hazy recollections of that time. I asked him to look up information that day on FAS and FASD if he got some time at lunch or break.  When he walked in the door that night the first thing he said was "that's describes OLA". I nodded
For the first time in four and a half years we had something to go on. But little did we realize how much of a battle we would still face over the next eight months. ( The rest of that story in another post)

While we waited to fight our way through the medical field we also continued the battle at school.  By Christmas break things at school were starting to really take a down hill slide. We were fighting homework battles almost nightly.  Although most days we sent back the homework completed it looked like the dog really had gotten to it. The sheets were crumpled and torn. The handwriting at times was just barely legible. And holes and scribbles accompanied almost every sheet.
In late October I discovered his daily work piling up in his desk. None of it completed and some of it not even started. I wondered how long the teacher was going to wait to tell me he wasn't handing things in. What if I hadn't looked in his desk that day?? I started to look everyday. Rarely was his desk empty of unfinished work. I started to sit with him in the mornings to work on the uncompleted assignments. At first it was ten minutes then twenty, and often now it is forty-minutes or more. 
By December he was refusing to get out of bed  and I went from helping him dress to dressing him and dragging him to the breakfast table to eat. Arriving late was almost a daily occurrence. I knew we were getting dangerously close to  the dreaded district letter for number of tardies. But he didn't care. The only one stressing about being late in the mornings was me. At last I decided to talk with the principle. It was a good thing. She intervened in the district letter when it was sent and we set up a committee meeting for January after the break.
 At home his behaviors were escalating. He was now refusing most nights to bathe and brushing his teeth or hair was like beginning WWIII.  OLA became a "Klepto" of sorts for any object whose owner laid it down unattended.  Ownership seemed to eluded him. Then came the "stories".  Lies that most of the time were so transparent that you would of had to be naive to think they were the truth. Destruction of family members possessions also escalated. But he also became destructive of his own possessions. Something we really hadn't seen much of before. Six year old (thankfully) abusive language (stupid, fat, butt head etc.) increased markedly and was repeatedly directed at family members. At first mostly at Dad, then came Me and now BBA. He had few friends and no one really close. He was having more difficulty with social situations. His impulsive and hyper-active tendencies were increasing as well. And we were all reaping the repercussions of his almost daily temper tantrums and melt downs.  We were only half way through the school year. We knew we had to press harder for help. We were going to have to really learn to advocate. For him and for ourselves.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

So That's What They Call It!!!

I think I'm suffering from burnout?!

Found this on an adoption blog.

"Unmanaged stress leads to burnout. Burnout is a slow-growing condition that derives from stress and poor stress management. It occurs over months.

Burnout risk increases when people:
  • Are nurturing by nature and anticipate the needs of others  check
  • Have less support than they need check
  • Feel powerless check
  • Are workaholics
  • Are perfectionists check

Are you suffering from burnout?

Symptoms of burnout:

  • Tiredness check
  • Small health complaints
  • Too little or too much sleep check
  • Feeling sad, angry, irritable and depressed check
  • Appetite changes (I wish - sigh)
  • Lack of motivation and loss of interest in everyday activities which you once enjoyed check
  • Feelings of hopelessness or being trapped check
  • Feeling like running away" check and double check

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Survival Mode!!

Survival Mode!  That's what I told the teacher at Parent/Teachers' conferences last night.  She ask how I thought OLA was doing. I told her that I think he is struggling. Homework is a battle, reading is a battle, focusing in class is a battle, getting him up and going in the morning is a battle, getting him to want to go to school is a battle, bedtime is a battle, brushing teeth and bathing are battles, eating or stop eating (depending on the scenario is a battle), going to church is a battle, staying home from scouts when brother goes is a battle. Each day is a series of battles. Are we making any progress in the WAR!??? Honestly, there are days that I don't know??  His regular teacher and his reading teacher say that in class he is as good as gold (hurray, for one small miracle - at least for now). But, he struggling - we are all struggling. Sometimes this road seems oh, so very long and oh, so very, very lonely. Is there anyone out there who understands this battle.  He is back in reading intervention after one quarter of being on his own. He is also being signed up for one - on - one tutoring this summer.  The people who know of our battle try and understand - but they don't - not really. Although, they try - or at least some of them do!! I get so tired of watching people pass judgement on us as parents or on OLA. Why, oh Why did life pick this challenge for him!! 
As his mom my heart breaks - sometimes a hundred times a day! He tries so hard to get it right. But, often he does not.  And some days even my patience is tried to the braking point - I feel drowned by the waves of that ripple racing to the shore. I wonder - will there ever be success for my little boy? Will there be anymore to life than lots of heartbreak, missed opportunities and disappearing dreams.  And often I feel lost - oh, so lost! Where do I go to find him help? How do I help him? How do I help BBA? How do I keep our family from unravelling at the seams? How do I help others understand this disability that is often times invisible to the naked eye? How do I become an advocate for him and help him do the same? The emotions are raw and painful for I love him so. And I still have so many hopes and dreams for him! But, do I still dare to dream - today, but maybe not tomorrow - tomorrow, but maybe not today!!  And so the battle goes on. Maybe, someday, we will win the war! But for now it is back into the trenches. Blessed, to be able to fight another day - one battle, one wave, one heartache, at a time.