Sunday, September 12, 2010

Welcome to the Club

To my friends with special needs kids -- Here is a blog entry that will probably leave you speechless, and maybe like me, in tears. Does it speak to your heart too?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Saving Vanessa

This story breaks my heart. I've been down this same road. It still hurts so, so bad.

As for me and mine, I'll be back soon for a personal update from the trenches. Life has been one out of control roller coaster. Mama needed a break from both living it and writing about it. KWIM?

Friday, April 9, 2010

My God...

Mom and grandma send adoptive son, 7, back to Russia...alone.

Adopted Russian boy, 7, returned by US mother on one-way flight to Moscow... alone: Artem Saveliev

They should both be prosecuted.

Another scandal over adopted Russian child in US

9.04.2010, 15:36

Another scandalous case, concerning a child who was adopted by an American citizen, has triggered a new wave of anger in Russia. A 8-year-old boy, Artyom Savelyev, who does not speak Russian, has arrived in Russia from the USA alone with a note, saying that his adoptive mother had disowned him.

This outrageous case is not the first one in a long chain of abusive acts against Russian children, who were adopted by foreigners. But the Russian Ombudsman Pavel Astakhov, who is currently finding out the details of this barbarous case, says he does not remember that such an act of cynicism - meaning that a little child was sent back alone across the ocean - has ever occurred before:

"The boy had with him only a covering letter, saying the adoptive mother was giving up her the adoption rights because she did not want to destroy herself, her family and her relationships, as she says".

Artyom's adoptive mother was a single woman, Torry Ann Hansen from the State of Tennessee. Both diplomats and journalists are trying to contact her now, aiming to find out what were the motives of her deed. As is known, the boy has arrived in Russia on a United Company flight. Protecting its passengers' interests, the company is providing no information about those who were on board, but says that all the procedures necessary for children traveling alone, or Unaccompanied Minor Service, were observed. A person, Artyom Savelyev was not acquainted with, met him in Moscow. He was found through the Internet, and he received 200 dollars for bringing the boy to the Russian Ministry of Education and Science.

In an interview for the Voice of Russia psychologist - Academician Sergei Klyuchnikov from the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences - explains the possible motives for the action that was committed by the adoptive mother of Artyom Savelyev:

"Probably, the child proved to be a problematic one. I do not rule out that our services did not tell her frankly that the child had some problems, but she herself should have shown her will, attention and interest, and to weigh her own strength. The fact that the child was sent back demonstrates that a person - in this case, Torry Ann Hansen - has taken such a serious act as an adoption as an ordinary purchase and returned the boy, as if he were simply goods she did not like".

Artyom Savelyev lived in the USA under the name of Justin Hansen for 6 months. Earlier he was an inmate in an orphanage in Partizansk in the Maritime Territory in Russia. And most likely, he will have to return there. So much the better, because cruelties of adults to children are never justified.

According to the Russian Ministry of Education and Science, 16 Russian children have died over the past 17 years through the fault of foreign adoptive parents. Ombudsman Pavel Astakhov and the deputies of the United Russia faction defend the toughening of the foreign adoption procedure. Likewise, a number of experts insist on the strengthening of control of Russian children, adopted by foreigners. Regrettably, for the time being such a practice does not exist in Russia. We receive nice accounts with spectacular photos of happy children. And then we learn that the children were beaten and humiliated or that they were treated like animals there.

Time will be needed for both Russia and America to study all the particulars of the difficult case of Artyom Savelyev as people in the USA are also angered with the behaviour of the adoptive mother of the young boy.

Source: Voice of Russia.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The unlucky Baker's Dozen eggs

Our Easter bunny always hides a dozen plastic eggs in our front yard. (easier to make sure all are accounted for). Some are stuffed with candy, and some with money. This morning Dallas only found 11 eggs, since the Easter Bunny apparently had had too many glasses of wine and couldn't remember where she planted all the eggs the night before. Bad bunny!

Our son looked and looked - and we helped him - and he was getting extremely upset - nearing meltdown stage - that he couldn't find #12 but wouldn't give up looking. So being the quick-thinking mom and dad we are, we ducked in the house and grabbed a spare plastic egg that we thankfully had leftover. I asked my hubby for some change or a dollar bill to slip inside, but he only had big bills, and NO change. So he quickly dug in his wallet and handed me the smallest bill he had - a $5 bill to stuff inside. 8-/ Yeah, the Tooth Fairy has gone down that road too... but I digress...

My hubby walked back out with the egg hidden in his pocket, and quietly planted the egg in an easy to find spot, and it was found. It was dubbed the "Golden Egg" and all was right with the world... at least until later on today, when Dallas found egg #13...

Then all hell broke loose, but I'll save the rest of the story and our Easter Day Disaster update for another day. I'm just too tired to rehash it all right now. So much to catch up on here over the last month anyway, but suffice to say things have been extremely difficult lately. Today did end calmly and peacefully however, and with a hug, a kiss and big bouquet of flowers for Mom from my little guy, which my son insisted he had to buy for me when he and his dad went to the store. My son knows when he's gone over the line, and he's feels real remorse when he does. For that, and for these gestures of love, I am very thankful.

Happy Easter everyone!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What a difference a year makes!

The following is a desperate please for help I posted on a "Parents of Bipolar Children message board last May, almost one year ago. Reading it again was nearly a trigger for all the hopelessness and FEAR I felt back then. This was our life, pre-proper psychiatric care, and pre-bipolar medication, and after 3 years of therapy, behavioral modification, research, advocacy and and intervention. How can anyone, after reading this, and knowing we are successfully medicating our child for bipolar disorder, say it is no longer a valid diagnosis in children? Or a temper tantrum disorder. It is so, so much more:

I am mom to a 6 (almost 7) year old boy who has been dx with ADHD, anxiety and PTSD. He was adopted from foster care at age 4. He's the light of our lives, and a beautiful, charming bright child who has bonded well, despite his neglected, chaotic and abusive past. It has been a long, difficult struggle to help him though. Yesterday he became so violent that we had to call 911. That was the breaking point for us. We have to do something to help him as our family can not survive like this. He has ALL the flags for bipolar, except for mutilation, fire-starting and animal cruelty. We learned that there is a biological family history of generational violence, bipolar, depression and generational alcoholism on both sides. His "old school" psych has refused, for reasons beyond my comprehension, to evaluate, consider or treat him for BP, but is treating for ADHD (SA Ritalin) and sleep disturbances (Clonidine). He recently prescribed tricylic antidepressants as well because son had been threatening suicide (during a depressed cycle), but after much personal research (and our suspicions of BPD) we chose not to give him those for fear of psychotic/suicidal reaction. One of the main warnings of that drug was not to give to patients if there is even a possibility of BPD. It's the one medication decision WE made that goes against the pdoc. We are presently acquiring new insurance so that we can switch psychs and hopefully get a better evaluation.

I read The Bipolar Child searching for answers on my own, and it was as if a light switch had been turned on. THAT was MY CHILD.

I am not able to work as I never know if he's going to get to school on time (or even get out of bed!) or need to come home, or sleep at night, and we have lots of therapy appts, I have to help him with homework which takes hours at times, and generally, raising him has consumed my entire life. My son needs constant supervision because of his impulsive and dangerous behaviors, but we also walk on eggshells at times to not "trigger" him. Often, no matter what we do, he's spinning out of control and verbally and physically assaulting mostly ME, his mother. He rules the house when he's "spinning". Literally spinning. In a rage, he destroys property and has tried to hurt himself by banging his head, throwing his body against the walls and kitchen counters and hitting his own self. When he's depressed, he threatens suicide and says he has no friends and is stupid and withdraws. He does fin in school. The minute I pick him up from school and he feels "safe", often he starts begging for food or candy and being aggressive and oppositional. Most outsiders and friends don't see this side of him. He begs us to hit him. There are other times when it does feel normal and we can do normal family things (always keeping in mind at any moment we may have to try and head of a meltdown or rage, or leave an activity all together), but as time goes on, that "normal" is less and less and his behaviors are more severe and frightening. He has threatened to stab me and cut my head off while in a rage. His pupils are so dialated that his blue eyes are almost black and he seems "not there". He is very remorseful when an episode is over. Sometimes, he doesn't even recall all that he's done. He describes how he feels when he's cycling as his brain "is a computer and it has to much stuff spinning around in it". His life is miserable and we don't know how to help him.

This can't be just ADHD. He has a wonderful therapist, but there is only so much she can do. I just wondered if anyone else had this kind of struggle getting proper help and dx for their child so young?

Sad, scared, tired, beat up, mommy...
May 7, 2009 at 9:59am

Reversing a Decade of Progress

In a wonderfully written and well-thought out article, award-winning author, journalist, and online friend, John McManamy grades the new DSM-V proposals regarding Childhood Bipolar. Very well done, Mr. McManamy. Very well done. If only they'd listen to the voice of reason...

Sunday, February 28, 2010

My Beautiful Boy at

'We've Got Issues': The Myth Of The Overmedicated Child

"We tend to believe that, today, we have moved beyond the age-old prejudices against people with mental illness. But, in fact, that prejudice is alive and well in our time and has a new and socially acceptable face: it expresses itself in the eye-rolling laments about "pushy parents" and "drugged-up kids." ~ J. Warner

This is brilliant! New York Times blogger Judith Warner examines the popular argument that Americans are over-medicating their children, and her hopes that her book will begin to change the way society begins to view families and children whose lives are impacted by mental illness and neurological disorders.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Adding another med...

Well, cysts were indeed found, and a dx of multi-nodular goiter was confirmed. After two different case conferences between specialists and radiologists (and a wait period of almost three weeks that made me a crazy woman wondering if we had a biopsy in the near future) the doctors decided to try Dallas on medication. He's now taking 50 mcg. of Synthroid daily, to see of it will help shrink the enlarged thyroid and reduce the cysts. Hoping and praying that this works for him. The side benefit may be that it helps with his mood and body temperature dysregulation issues.

So far, so good, and no side effects that we can tell. He will be go back in in 8 weeks for another ultrasound and another thyroid blood panel to see if he's made any progress with the medication.

Off topic, but Dallas also earned his 2nd stripe in karate last week, and got all 100s on his math and 2 language tests, making great progress in OT and PT, and his behavior has been manageable. :-)

Go Dallas!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

You say temper, I say rage.

Take the opportunity to have some input into the New DSM-5 development:

Here is my letter:

To whom it concerns,

My sincere hope is that this label does not preclude a separate entry for Childhood Onset Bipolar Disorder, if that child also experiences cycles of mania and depression that presents with suicidal ideation, and cycles from one extreme mood to another, much like an adult. My second hope is that if this label is indeed adopted in lieu of Bipolar Disorder, the description, Temper Dysregulation Disorder with Dysphoria, will be changed to something that reflects an actual mental health disorder akin to bipolar disorder - such as Mood Dysregulation Disorder with Dysphoria, rather than labeled as something that confers a parenting issue/behavioral problem. Terming the intense, often psychotic rage that a child displays in an almost seizure-like manner, a "temper", invalidates any real mental health disorder, and instead confers a discipline problem, or parenting issue, which is clearly not the case. For far too long, society has turned a disapproving eye toward the parents of those unfortunate children who have uncontrollable mood disorders, and put the onus on the parents as somehow responsible for the child's condition, rather than understanding the child suffers from a debilitating brain disorder, not unlike adults with bipolar disorder.

Please consider a more appropriate name for what we now unofficially call "childhood bipolar disorder" if DSM -5 is not planning to recognize it as an actual disorder similar or equal to adult bipolar disorder. If adult medication, prescribed off label, improves the symptoms for children as it does for adults and creates stability of mood, one could reasonably assume the child has bipolar, or some juvenile form of the same. Unless DSM is planning to rename adult bipolar disorder also as Temper Dysregulation Disorder with Dysphoria, it is inappropriate to make a distinction between a brain disorder that children and adults both suffer, but only one group can claim as a "real" chemical imbalance in the brain, and the other rely on adjustments to parenting techniques. There are instances of young children -- as young as 8 years old - un-medicated, or mis-medicated - committing acts of suicide. That is clearly not temper-driven behavior.

With all due respect to the professionals involved in revising the manual, please understand, especially from a parent as well as a teacher's perspective, the use of the word "temper" downplays the serious affect of this childhood disorder we can only now label a mood disorder, or cautiously, childhood bipolar disorder.


Dawn Scott
Mother to a 7 year old child dx as Bipolar I, and now stable on adult bipolar medication.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

"Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"

I've used that description at least a hundred times, to describe the behavior that comes with childhood bipolar cycling. It's exactly what it's like.

A really good article and video on Childhood Bipolar Disorder and one single-parent family's struggle with the disease. I wish I could give Linda Heckman a great big hug. I can't imagine walking this road alone with one child with bipolar disorder, let alone two...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Good, the Bad, and the Scary.

Well, life has been busy and chaotic the last 6 weeks or so, and that's my excuse for not updating my blog... and I'm sticking to that excuse.

Where to begin? Dallas started karate class about 4 weeks ago, and it so happens that the twice-weekly classes are back-to-back with his therapy appointments right after school, so he's been a busy, busy kid. And not one complaint. He's even taken to doing as much of his weekly homework packet that he can in one day, so that he's freed himself up for his activities.

He already earned his first orange stripe and is well on his way to his second, and only 4 weeks in. I am really, really proud of him. And he's pretty pleased with himself too.

He also received his 2nd quarter report card and came home with STRAIGHT As again! Even in citizenship. We are over the moon! He's doing very well in school, and everything is finally coming together for him. He's still struggling with reading - and may always - but he's hanging in there and doing his very best and it shows. He actually loves school now. What a change from this time last year!!

He's had a few setbacks behaviorally (coincided with the full moon too ... no surprise there!!) but the cycle ended really quickly and did not escalate to the levels we have previously seen. Two days of rapid-cycling behavior, 2 rages, and one day afterwards of depression and lethargy. Not too bad looking back, but still hard at the time on all of us...especially HIM. He hates being this way. The meds continue to work for him. It's not perfect, but it's more than we had ever hoped for, and miles from the dark place where we thought he'd need to be hospitalized. So far from that. He's more an more like a "typical" little boy with some attitude at times.

As of today he's doing fantastic. He even overloaded on Valentine's candy and sweets today and still... great. He's been extra cuddly and loving lately as well. I soak all that love right up whenever I can get it. It was a good Valentine's day. :-)

Now for the worrisome end of things: Dallas saw a pediatric endocrinologist on the 5th of February for a sizable swelling in his neck and for concerning thyroid blood levels. More extensive thyroid blood panel was done that day, and a thorough exam and consultation. We waited 9 months for this appointment, so we were grateful to finally get in, and the doctor was wonderful. The wait to be seen was 9 months after referral. His pedi had said to expect a year's wait, as there are only two pediatric endocrinologists in this entire region. The best of the best doctors too, I'm sure, but still crazy. It turns out the endocrinologist is being very aggressive and ordered a thyroid ultrasound. We were told following that may likely be a radioactive iodine scan and/or needle biopsy. The dx was goiter- unspecified, and the endo took one look at his neck and said that was all enlarged thyroid. I know that thyroid cancer in young children is rare, but I am scared. We have no biological history to go on, and he has all the red flags. Yep... I Googled like an idiot.

His numbers on previous thyroid lab tests his pedi and pdoc ordered were elevated, but not alarmingly, so he was probably pushed to the back of the list as not urgent. Now that he's been physically seen and examined by a specialist (and not just lab tests results on paper), they're stepping testing up more quickly. That makes me happy and scared at the same time. If we have to do the needle biopsy, which is likely, I have no IDEA how to explain this to my extremely needle phobic son...

The endo also asked if he was being seen by a neurologist as well as his pedi and pdoc. He seemed to think that with all of Dallas' issues and unknown history, it would be beneficial. We've had both his pedi and pdoc (and therapist) say that they didn't think it was necessary, but now I question whether we should have pursued that anyway. Or if we still should.

One thing at a time I guess.

Interestingly, the endo did not seem to feel that any thyroid dysfunction he may have is likely causing his behavioral issues or presenting as bipolar or anxiety. He says it may be making some of those symptoms more acute, but not causing them. He did say that some meds can cause thyroid regulation issues however. I was kind of hoping we could throw out the whole nasty bipolar I dx and all the meds and hell that comes with it, and instead give him some thyroid pills.

One of my friends whose husband is hypothyroid and who has done a ton of research, today mentioned how I've told her how much Dallas craves salt. I mean REALLY craves salt and salty foods (addicted to Ramen and Beef Jerky, licks salt shakers, tries to salt already salted foods, etc...) and mentioned that maybe he has some genetically-caused iodine deficiency. That question was never asked in consultation, so I hope maybe she's onto something and lab tests will show this is an easy fix w/ iodine supplements maybe...?

We had the ultrasound done on Friday the 11th of February.

There is "something" there, even to my uneducated eye. The sonographer consulted with the radiologist after the scan, asked us to stay in the waiting room, and called us back in for a re-scan with the pediatric radiologist present. He told her where to scan and take images, and kept saying "right there", "that one", etc... as the lumps and darker spots were showing up on both sides. No one could tell me anything positive or negative. We will have to wait for the endocrinologist to give us the results, and tell us if we have to do a biopsy. I'm more than a bit freaked out.

Hoping for answers soon...

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

INTUNIV is working!

Dallas is now on his 16th day of UNTUNIV (8th day of his therapeutic 2mg dose) and doing extremely well. There are still some periods of tiredness that his pdoc is pretty certain he'll adjust to in the next week or so and it has lessened some more each day, but other than that, he's doing better than he ever has! No opposition, no meltdowns, no impulsitity, no reactivity and LOTS of loving, cuddling, lots of "Mom, I love you to infinity-infinity-heaven-infinity" behaviors and overall emotional stability. He told me today that he loves school (??!) and he is just happy as a little clam all day long and wakes up pleasant and happy and goes to bed just the same. There are no huge power/parental struggles anymore, and he's back to being the kid. His appetite has been great, he's following directions and cooperating, homework was a breeze, no signs of agression, anxiety, stress, depression or mania. Upon being questioned, he told his OT that the medicine makes him "feel great", and "all the things swirling in my head have stopped". He made it through his first Christmas season ever like a normal kid and no rages, anxiety, meltdowns or unhappiness.. Such a contrast to just 3 weeks ago! For now, Dallas is the kid I always knew was "in there".

I have nothing but great things to say about this medication, other than I wish it was little less expensive. :-)