Friday, November 25, 2011

EMDR Miracle?

My 9 year old is doing VERY well right now, and it's as if he's turned a major corner in healing. He participated in EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing)
therapy several weeks back. Prior to this he was raging maybe 3 or 4 times a day, constantly dysregulated, angry and violent. Full on fight or flight mode. Mostly fight.

He had gotten so out of control, that his psychiatrist handed me a brochure at his last doctor visit, and told me to go home and talk to my husband about it, and seriously consider it as the last resort option to help our son, as medication and therapy was failing. "It" was a Residential Treatment Center three hours drive away. I was stunned that that is what we had come to as a solution. Especially after a weeks hospitalization in August. He had been given one session of EMDR in the hospital, but it was conducted under less than stable circumstances and we saw no real benefit at the time. We decided to give it another try with his private therapist and an EMDR professional about a month ago. The single session lasted about 20 minutes. For several nights after EMDR, he had vivid and often frightening trauma nightmares, then it ceased entirely. We were told to expect this as his trauma was "purged" from the frontal lobe where it had taken up residence.

Suddenly, within days, we saw new behaviors that we'd never seen.... cuddling, lots of "I love yous", laughing, excitement and joy, wanting to hold hands and be CLOSE -- touching, intertwined fingers. And most significant, he crawled into bed with me while I was asleep one morning, and I woke up to him propped on his side looking at me sleep. The look in his eyes can only be described as "in love". When I asked him what he was looking at , he replied "You" "I'm looking at you cause I love you".

The change in him has been so significant, that even his teachers called me in for a conference to talk about the very obvious change in him at school as well. All three teachers noticed individually (and together in conferencing about it before calling me in) that he seems like a different child. They note they all three finally see EMOTION in him -- be it sad, happy, puzzled, upset, etc. rather than the flat affect they were accustomed to seeing. That it's as though a veil has been removed and he can "feel". I am noticing the same things at home too. Not just with less explosive behavior, but with attachment and bonding, eye contact, compliance, joy in simple things, and even empathy. He's been SNUGGLING with me and wanting to be touched. There have been several instances where we've had to set boundaries and tell him "no" - a no that normally would evoke a rage or meltdown or bargaining or all three... and 90% of the time he's accepted a "no" and the other 10% he was angry (door slamming/yelling) but it resulted in him going to his room and crying rather than exploding and being destructive or violent. Instead of being angry and exploding, he's getting his feelings hurt and being disappointed! Like a regular kid! It's been AMAZING. Hoping it holds out! THIS is the son that I know lurks underneath all the hurt. God, please let this be our miracle!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

RAD in the news

A fabulous article on RAD - reactive attachment disorder. We need more articles like this to bring awareness to our communities about the effects of abuse, neglect and trauma on our children. Children are NOT as resilient as we've always been led to believe. It's time everyone realized that.

Here's a movie that is still in production called The Boarder. I think this will be eye-opening for many.


Saturday, October 15, 2011

"Love, literally, grows the brain."

Why my child struggles so hard despite all the love and support he now has, and why it is so important to intervene EARLY in child neglect and abuse situations. Even emotional neglect can cause permanent brain damage. "Love, literally, grows the brain." If you suspect child abuse or neglect, be a child's hero. Please.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Please Hear What I'm Not Saying

Please Hear What I'm Not Saying

Don't be fooled by me.
Don't be fooled by the face I wear
for I wear a mask, a thousand masks,
masks that I'm afraid to take off,
and none of them is me.

Pretending is an art that's second nature with me,
but don't be fooled,
for God's sake don't be fooled.
I give you the impression that I'm secure,
that all is sunny and unruffled with me, within as well
as without,
that confidence is my name and coolness my game,
that the water's calm and I'm in command
and that I need no one,
but don't believe me.
My surface may seem smooth but my surface is my mask,
ever-varying and ever-concealing.
Beneath lies no complacence.
Beneath lies confusion, and fear, and aloneness.
But I hide this. I don't want anybody to know it.
I panic at the thought of my weakness exposed.
That's why I frantically create a mask to hide behind,
a nonchalant sophisticated facade,
to help me pretend,
to shield me from the glance that knows.

But such a glance is precisely my salvation, my only hope,
and I know it.
That is, if it's followed by acceptance,
if it's followed by love.
It's the only thing that can liberate me from myself,
from my own self-built prison walls,
from the barriers I so painstakingly erect.
It's the only thing that will assure me
of what I can't assure myself,
that I'm really worth something.
But I don't tell you this. I don't dare to, I'm afraid to.
I'm afraid your glance will not be followed by acceptance,
will not be followed by love.
I'm afraid you'll think less of me,
that you'll laugh, and your laugh would kill me.
I'm afraid that deep-down I'm nothing
and that you will see this and reject me.

So I play my game, my desperate pretending game,
with a facade of assurance without
and a trembling child within.
So begins the glittering but empty parade of masks,
and my life becomes a front.
I idly chatter to you in the suave tones of surface talk.
I tell you everything that's really nothing,
and nothing of what's everything,
of what's crying within me.
So when I'm going through my routine
do not be fooled by what I'm saying.
Please listen carefully and try to hear what I'm not saying,
what I'd like to be able to say,
what for survival I need to say,
but what I can't say.

I don't like hiding.
I don't like playing superficial phony games.
I want to stop playing them.
I want to be genuine and spontaneous and me
but you've got to help me.
You've got to hold out your hand
even when that's the last thing I seem to want.
Only you can wipe away from my eyes
the blank stare of the breathing dead.
Only you can call me into aliveness.
Each time you're kind, and gentle, and encouraging,
each time you try to understand because you really care,
my heart begins to grow wings--
very small wings,
very feeble wings,
but wings!

With your power to touch me into feeling
you can breathe life into me.
I want you to know that.
I want you to know how important you are to me,
how you can be a creator--an honest-to-God creator--
of the person that is me
if you choose to.
You alone can break down the wall behind which I tremble,
you alone can remove my mask,
you alone can release me from my shadow-world of panic,
from my lonely prison,
if you choose to.
Please choose to.

Do not pass me by.
It will not be easy for you.
A long conviction of worthlessness builds strong walls.
The nearer you approach to me
the blinder I may strike back.
It's irrational, but despite what the books say about man
often I am irrational.
I fight against the very thing I cry out for.
But I am told that love is stronger than strong walls
and in this lies my hope.
Please try to beat down those walls
with firm hands but with gentle hands
for a child is very sensitive.

Who am I, you may wonder?
I am someone you know very well.
For I am every man you meet
and I am every woman you meet.

Charles C. Finn
September 1966

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Picking up The Pieces

Our family has been through some pretty difficult challenges this past week, and I figured that now was a good time to jump back in here and get back to my blog that I've abandoned for nearly a year. Who knows what new roads are ahead for us, but I feel the need to bring our latest challenge here and preserve it - so that hopefully one day we can look back and say that THAT was what life was like... THAT was what we overcame... and so that other families facing autism puzzle piecesimilar challenges will know that they are not alone. They will know not to give up hope.. even when things are at their very worst.

We had to do the unthinkable last week - we committed our 9 year old child to a mental health hospital. We left him at the children's hospital psych ward last Monday night, and turned his care over to strangers and let go of every bit of parental authority and control we had.. It's a well respected facility, but still, this broke our hearts to be forced to do this. He really got out of control so much so that he became a danger to himself and to us. He asked us to take him, so he recognized that he needed help. He said - during a lucid moment on the way to the hospital - that he is afraid that he can't control himself. Then he sobbed all the way to the hospital - but quietly so we wouldn't hear him. He looked so sad, small and scared as we told him goodnight that first night, and knowing he'd not be coming home with us, but he tried to be brave. It was devastating.

We visited him every day, and slowly he replaced the broken, depressed little boy, with one who was happy and more confident and in control. We visited him every day for dinner time, and we also had 2 family counseling sessions while he was there. Dallas now has 2 shiny new diagnoses: PPD NOS and reactive attachment disorder (RAD). The previous DX of bipolar I has been changed to mood disorder NOS, and they now added a new med - Celexa, and discontinued the Topamax. They believe that side effects of the Topamax he was on were causing some behavior disturbances. He was in the safest place to try this, so we agreed. The therapist also used EMDR therapy to try and get him to work though some of the grief and trauma issues. I am glad he was in the hospital for that. It was a very emotional and painful process for him.

They also worked on behavior goals, anger management, nutrition and self care skills. All in all, it was a very painful, but at the same time, a positive experience for all of us. But most especially Dallas. We are extremely proud of him. He faced a lot of his demons head on - alone - and he met the challenge. He finally came home today and we are so happy to have our son back.

This road to healing is not going to be a stroll down Easy street, but now we have more tools to rise to the challenge. I am so very proud of my son.


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?