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Any adopters had to handle additional unrelated traumatic incident?

(13 Posts)
Kewcumber Tue 21-Jul-15 20:28:54

We're struggling a bit with a (relatively) more minor trauma than DS's adoption.

There was a dreadful accident on DS's school trip about 10 days ago (tree fell on one of the children) and the child is still in a coma in hospital. Our thoughts are all obviously with the family involved - I can't imagine the pain they're going through so I find it hard to say to anyone in RL that DS is struggling in the aftermath as it seems so insignificant compared to their suffering and I'm sure would sound a bit odd and attention seeky

He wasn't especially friendly with this particular child but does have a mild hospital phobia so is often anxious when people have to go into hospital.

He hasn't slept through the night since the incident, is having "dreams" though I suspect they're waking worries about people breaking in to kill him. He's got very clingy and won't be in a room without me. He is struggling to understand the idea that this thing happened when the poor child had done nothing wrong. "He didn't do anything wrong" "It wasn't his fault" was a recurring theme for the first few days. Now its "I love you sooooo much" repetitively.

Of course I'm happy with him getting in bed with me in the middle of the night - let him cling etc I'm not sure what I'm asking really - has anyone dealt with this and were there lasting effects?

I managed to talk to his psychologist for 5 minutes who recommended that if I thought it was still a problem after 1-2 months I should ask for a referral but its more a case of it triggering his previous issues (health anxiety and separation anxiety) which to be honest I pretty much coped with unsupported on the whole (as you do) so I doubt it'll be deemed bad enough for a referral.

What am I asking - I have not a clue confused

UnderTheNameOfSanders Tue 21-Jul-15 20:43:05

I haven't a clue, but how awful for the child and family, and everyone indirectly involved like your son.

Hels20 Tue 21-Jul-15 20:51:17

Good grief. Have no idea. Did he witness it? Have the school drafted in some counselling? (Might seem over the top but I am not so sure.)

Regardless of whether he is adopted this is dreadful. Adoption compounds things.

My cousin at 15 was involved in a mini-bus crash which killed a third of her class. She never got over it. 20 years later I still see the effect. I would actually be asking school to get some trauma counsellors in. Even for a day or so. (I know money is tight but I really think it is important though my family history is obviously colouring my view.)

Poor mini-Kew. Poor family.

Kewcumber Tue 21-Jul-15 21:51:06

The school have had psychologists in for few days counseling teachers and giving them advice and seeing individual children. He doesn't really fit within the normal trauma counseling mould.

He kind of saw it - heard the tree falling turned to look. The teachers were brilliant and moved the children away very quickly. So not as bad as being in a major crash I don't think. I think it has just triggered pretty much all his insecurities. Thankfully we aren't having an ocd episode so not at its worst.

For once I decided that getting away from school might be just want he needs.

Devora Tue 21-Jul-15 22:05:02

A couple of months ago we had an incident with the neighbours (which incidentally had nothing to do with us - somebody else's dispute - we just got caught in the crossfire) which culminated in the police visiting twice. dd2 was very very upset - though the incident itself wasn't that big a deal (calling the police was a massive overreaction IMO) it clearly disrupted her hard-won sense of safety in her own home. Weeks on, we are still feeling the effects - and the school is so concerned it has now suggested an EdPsych assessment.

I heard of the incident you're talking about, Kew. Horrible - and yes, I believe that your child and mine are very sensitised to this kind of incident and it is only too easy to re-traumatise them.

fasparent Tue 21-Jul-15 22:32:53

Have DD and DS one has significant disability's , other Trauma problems apportions blame , though quite innocent of any blame , but witnessed often says "Why didn't it happen too me ? , always triggered by flashback's , TV Programs, the news anything, don't think we will ever resolve this, just lot's of love understanding and building self esteem.

Tangerineandturquoise Wed 22-Jul-15 09:47:44

Go back to basics is what we have been advised for when our son found something traumatic. Keep everything locked down and do as much funneling as you can with him. I know this is hard because it is the holidays and you are working so school and clubs are all out of routine- but can you keep evenings as calm as possible?
It is a traumatic incident without other issues- but his anxiety levels are naturally higher than most of the other children in the class, so even if it affected them all to the same degree the peak of his stress will be higher if that makes sense?
We were recommended a book by CAMHs called trauma proofing your kids-
Two exercises that we often find useful are
To focus on the body feelings that he has-ask him how he feels physically or draw around him or get him to draw a figure on paper- on it he can put a code of colours to show feelings and sensations and then you can talk through how he has coloured the figure blue sad pink nervous dots happy etc
Drawing on two pieces of paper worries and fears and opposites- so what is scaring him- or the scene, and then something that makes him happy on the next piece of paper Then talk about the feelings and sensations each picture brings and then cover the scary picture with the happy one

There is a link to the book here I have found when looking for the Magic In Me tree exercise

Kewcumber Wed 22-Jul-15 10:12:26

Oh God tangerine that would be such good advice if it worked for DS! UNfortunately he is totally unable to identify how he feels and is massively in denail (generally not about this incident) about anything which makes him feel scared. The Psychologist had a merry old time with him I can tell you - she came to the conclusion that he has a combination of lacking memory when he gets stressed (apparently anxiety in children inhibits the memory process) and denial because he can't cope with how he feels. She is certain that it comes from high levels of stress in his first year and learnt to switch off as a protective mechanism.

It makes any "therapy" very hard fro him to engage with and the EP said there really wasn't a lot of point until he has improved in this area. She does seem to think it will improve slowly and was helpful in using his ability to identify and articulate his thinking process (which apparently is unusual in a 9 year old).

But he insists he isn;t sad about the event and is fine - despite evidence to the contrary. So yes really its the funnelling thing really.

Luckily the clubs he's going to are all ones he's done before so knows the locations and structure and if necessary I will take a bit more time off. I'll take a look at the link.

Kewcumber Wed 22-Jul-15 10:14:47

Just looked at the tree thing - DS is too cool to pretend he's a tree (being 15 in his head) but the drawing thing you suggested might work.

Kewcumber Wed 22-Jul-15 10:18:27

During his CBT he had to fill in a body sensations tracker with colours and intensity rating (number of hearts) aimed at children, had to fill it in at home and at school when he felt angry, happy sad etc in a variety of situations. They all looked pretty much the same. I was at two opposite events and when I looked at his assessment I certainly couldn;t tell which was which - one he had scored a try in rugby and one he'd done something wring and was angrily kicking cones around the field!

He does feel the emotion but subsequently seems unable to accept/process any of the negative ones.

Tangerineandturquoise Wed 22-Jul-15 10:34:14

Does he dissociate when it comes to the negative feelings?
That was why we were told to do the body map focusing on physical feelings rather than emotions
The tree exercise he got through the first part under duress (which is probably not what they had in mind) but the theoretical idea was to really put him in touch with his body- because as an infant he spent a lot of time scared and under stimulated so unable to move. Apparently the physical and the emotional merge.
His Psychologist was talking about a girl who every time she was in what would be a scary situation she felt her back being freezing cold. It turned out that when she was a baby/toddler if she annoyed her birth parents they would shove her in the freezer- which was cold.

What about if getting body feelings in before feeling feelings- would he cope with things like a zip wire? The drop sensation to awaken the dead zone that he might have developed? The empty feeling.

Have you ever tried something like Go Ape or Walk On The Wild Side?

Tangerineandturquoise Wed 22-Jul-15 10:35:08

DS does lots of drawing though so probably why it might work better for him.

Kewcumber Wed 22-Jul-15 18:38:54

would he cope with things like a zip wire? The drop sensation to awaken the dead zone that he might have developed? The empty feeling.

Oh Lordy that would be a train wreck! DS is absolutely terrified of that swoopy/dropping feeling - like screaming in fear for your life kind of scared. He has always been scared of falling - would cling to your neck being carried downstairs always from age 1. I am 95% convinced that he was dropped at one point as such a fear in so young a child seems odd without something to cause it.

I don;t think its an empty feeling as such - he definitely feels the feelings (x100!) he is just in denial consciously or unconsciously about them when we try to talk about it.

Its an inability to engage with his feelings afterwards that make everything difficult hard to process.

The psychologist tried various exercises to get him to recognise his body sensations when he was stressed - try running until his heart was thumping etc - he can understand it intellectually he just can;t identify with it. She has come to the conclusion that its part of his executive processing problems and that it may well improve as his executive processing improves slowly.

I'm thinking of asking the school to revisit play therapy when we go back.

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