Here are some suggested organisations that offer expert advice on adoption.
Well, its all turned a bit dramatic again...(24 Posts)
Hello, long time no post but here I am asking for your sage advice again.
My DS, 7, was diagnosed with ambivalent/anxious attachment style last year. He now has a full time one to one TA at school, which has helped hugely at school and to a certain degree at home.
His most concerning symptom is aggressive meltdowns where he'll flip and start throwing things, spitting, kicking, biting, pinching, you name it until he can calm down. These have got less frequent and a little less out of control, but of course he is also getting bigger and less easy to contain/remove. They are not easy to head off as he can flip like a switch, but he has recently started being able to "come back from the brink" if someone catches him at the right time and reminds him that he has a choice.
Yesterday was particularly bad, had a total nightmare getting him into school and then in the evening the same at bedtime - transitions are particularly challenging for him.
Getting to the point, yesterday he threatened me with a knife, threatened to kill himself several times and wrapped a strap around his neck and talked about killing the rest of us. I'm not worried that he really wants to do these things, but I do worry about the thoughts that he's having and I'm bothered that he might decide to act something out as an experiment. He has been like this before, around this time last year.
When I got onto our post adoption service last year they referred us to a clinical psychologist which was great except that it turned out just to be Webster Stratton training, which I'd already done twice. I've recently asked for de-escalation and safe restraint training which was met with incredulity.
My question is, does anyone have experience of this type of behaviour have any top tips for managing it and does anyone think I ought to be onto CAMHS and if so, has anyone had any kind of therapy for their child that helped? I feel that if someone else was telling me this about their child I'd tell them to be shouting out for help, but having been here before I'm not sure realistically what kind of help might be available and more importantly, might be effective.
I found the experience with the psychologist last year hugely undermining and I don't want to put us all through similar if there is not much to be gained from doing so.
Thank you for taking the time to read that essay!
I'm not an adoptive parent but one of the kids I work with has similar issues and is adopted, though a couple of years older than your LO, and I know they've had some success using the Emotion Regulation, mindfulness and distress tolerance element of DBT - not sure how they accessed this - I'll try and find out for you but some of it.May help LO bring themselves back from the brink and help deal with some of the more upsetting behaviours involved. If I think of anything else I'll come back x
Thank you Anxious, I'd really appreciate that.
If your post-adoption support team can't offer you direct access to a clinical psychologist specialising in attachment, then yes, I think you should ask them to refer you to one. This could be CAMHS which might have the benefit of getting your DS a wider assessment, in case there is anything else going on besides attachment. Alternatively, you can request an assessment by post-adoption team, to get you support through the national adoption support fund. They will fund most things that are direct therapeutic support for the adopted child, and this would be a way to access expert therapy from people like Family Futures, or whoever has the right experience and skills. The first4adoption website shows you your rights for getting assessed and accessing support through the fund (apologies if you've been down this road before).
We have similiar extreme reactions to transitions, and I totally empathise re the home-school transition torture. Sometimes what helps us a bit at pick-up is NOT coming straight home. It seemed counter-intuitive because I tended to want to hustle us home so we'd be safely inside before the emotional nightmare started <weeps> but someone suggested creating a sort of decompression zone on the way home, ideally by stopping outdoors somewhere. It seems to work, more days than not. We stop at woods, or playground, or even just to run an errand where LO has a specific semi-independent job to do to help me (like help me sort the recycling into the big bins at the tip). I think it distracts LO just enough that they are able to let go of their high anxiety used to cope at school, and become their "home self" again. It's exhausting when I just want to get home, but a lot less exhausting than dealing with hours of screaming meltdown and then the droopy wobbly child afterwards.
Thank you very much Fresh, I'll have a look at all those ideas. Your decompression zone idea sounds good - in fact now I think about it, we were going to the park a bit in summer and of course we've not been doing so much now the weather is getting more wintry but maybe that's why this time of year is harder. May have to invest in thermals and waders all round. Am about to start making a trip outdoors a regular thing on a weekend too, in the hope that it might help my SAD suffering husband (puts head in hands at difficult life living with emotionally struggling people).
Sorry to hear of your home-school tortures, it sure isn't fun and SO humiliating with all the other people around.
School have been great, they are letting him go in a bit earlier to avoid the playground chaos by getting him to do a job or look at something, so thankfully he went straight in this morning and I had a bit of time and a game of tag with my long suffering DD.
Right I've now spoken to the LO' s mum, she accessed this via CAMHs via the GP and she really had to push for it as its normally used to treat people with BPD and they don't always like giving very young people it (she spent 3 years feeling very palmed off by excuses) but read up on it and if it sounds worthwhile at least you may have a starting point.
I showed her your post and she does something a bit similar to Fresh in that she started bringing her LO straight to the stables for half an hour with the horses as a way to unwind.
I obviously don't know your home setup etc but is your LO good with animals? If so could you try get some funding from post adoption support or similar?
Thank you so much Anxious, I really appreciate that. I'll have a look into it. My post adoption social worker was looking into something funded by the adoption support fund - unfortunately she hasn't been able to tell me what it is [hmmm] but it would involve some sort of assessment process. I've chased her up on it today, maybe it is something similar.
Will be trying some sort of excursion on the way home.
Thank you so much for asking her for me, that was very good of you.
You probably do this anyway but when something similar was a problem here I threw out all but one knife which is kept high up and out of sight, scissors are blunt enough to be a nuisance and DIY stuff is locked away. I keep no bleach, no drugs, no potential ligatures including dressing gown cords, belts, one pair of tights at a time, no heavy ornaments, windows and doors locked and keys with me. Whilst working out strategy it helped to make home as safe as possible. Made me feel better...
I am so sorry I have not had experience of this. Both my kids can be a bit aggressive, but nothing like you are describing. My dd is a birth child with some autistic tendencies and she has said she would like to be dead efore now, but I do not take this seriously, but I must admit that the things you describe sound in a different scary place. I do hope you will get the support you need. It's something very hard to shout about I know but with those who can offer help I would really make it clear what you are dealing with.
My son is adopted and is NT (well pretty much relatively NT although a bit emotional at times).
My dd is 11. My son is 5. So half way between your kids.
One thing just struck me, "He has been like this before, around this time last year. Do you think it is connected to changes in the new academic year/new class etc, or could it be related to the weather (lack of sunshine, seasonal disorder or whatever it is called) or could it be because of something that happened at this time of year?
It is just an idea but if you son has had some very traumatic experiences in life could some sort of trauma therapy help him. I must emphasise I know very little but I do wonder if someone may explore this or know more...
I recognise this is usually something for adults but the Wikipedia article mentions children. It also mentions CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy).
I guess I am just trying to think how things might help him if issues from the past are a part of the picture.
Piffyonarock I really think you will get the help you need.
Sorry, Piffyonarock that should readly I really hope you will get the help you need.
Sorry, it's late I am making so many mistakes... My dd is 11. My son is 5. So your son is half way between my kids.
My dd was much more aggressive at 7, I think, she has got better.
If you ever feel suicide may be a real risk there is a charity called Papyrus for young people, I do not know how young they usually deal with but it is a place to start (you may know it already). Just for advice or help.
I think my dd has just learnt to process her anger and emotions a bit better, for her it is very easy to get very upset about things and she seems to process things differently (she is very dyslexic). But as far as I know she has never experienced any trauma.
The difference for my son, maybe like your son, is it is quite difficult to know exactly what children from the care system have experienced. I know my son hates to be wet or cold and I wonder if he was left wet and cold at times.
Anyway, enough whittering from me, I really do hope you will get the help you need and deserve. Night night.
My DS was very like this at 6/7. If it gives you hope he is a lot better age 9 - still explosive and shouty but massively less violent. I am crossing fingers for the approach of teenage years!
We had a year of Theraplay which, while I was sceptical at the time, I think did help him.
Also, it isn't an adoption specific book but I found The Explosive Child by Ross Greene an incredibly useful book.
I bloody well wish someone had given us safe restraint training. If you know you can keep everyone safe if it kicks off, you feel so much more in control of a situation and that is vital in managing it effectively. Sally Donovan is very eloquent on the subject. I had to sign at one point to say school could safely restrain DS, but nobody thought I might need to be able to!
I think the Open Nest charity may have some means of accessing safe holding training, perhaps worth googling them.
Thank you so much for all your kind advice, you've given me lots of avenues to pursue, which is great and I was all out of ideas.
Sorry I've not been back on for a couple of days, things have been a bit rough. I seem to be coping fairly well, although I do keep crying in the car a bit - must be the only time I'm on my own!
We got "The Explosive Child" last year and do use collaborative problem solving with him to try and resolve some issues. I think he get sis to a certain point, and I think it will come in very handy with DS and DD as they get older and more independent. He's just so impulsive!
Hope you're all keeping well, glad its Friday!
No sage advice but I do have a bit of experience though slightly different circs, but some similar behaviours at times - you have probably already tried them but the below might be therapeutic - many are to do with physical activity as you said and in relation to what you said about investing in thermals, I would definitely recommend the warm snow boots if you don't have them along with the warm coats such as ski jackets and lined jeans (sorry if that sounds obvious just makes a huge difference for general happiness levels, although to be fair we are quite outdoorsy and everyone is different) and then:
- walking, at least a few miles, side by side if possible as this is gentle exercise and helps to reset the emotions and free the mind etc - if possible holding hands if this would be bonding, though dc may be too old, although maybe walk where there is traffic so that there is an excuse to hold hands. This would be in addition to the free runaround at the park, which can have its own stresses
- trampolining - apparently this is recommended by experts too as it helps the dc connect with themselves, and releases energy, or something etc
- riding as per pp - a mother I know took her traumatised child for a hack and the dc had impressive meltdowns bother during and afterwards, and semi-traumatised mother nearly didn't take dc again, but did, and indeed from that time on the regular hacks (every few weeks or so) were a source of a great deal of happiness and therapy for the child
And for the emotions:
- talking a lot about emotions so that the child becomes proficient in identifying them - sounds obvious I know and you are probably already on it - there are some lovely emotions songs aimed at kids on youtube - there are good cartoons about anger management for kids too, using words to calm down etc
- not sure where you stand on these therapies but reflexology and cranial osteopathy may be very helpful, even if purely as relaxing therapy, if you find the right therapist;
- a holiday somewhere sunny for you all would be rather nice, obviously! : )
In terms of parenting advice, again not sure if you have already found them but ahaparenting and lori petro (not sure of spelling?) are fans of helping the child help themselves etc. I couldn't vouch for the efficacy of the theories but they are calming to watch!
And all the Christmas stuff can be cheering : )
Hello, thank you for your kind thoughts Italian and your sage advice Combined, much appreciated.
Things have been difficult at home so sorry I've not been back on.
We made the school run Ok this morning, much relieved! Last weeks highlight was a forty minute struggle on the way to school in front of every other parent in the town (it seemed like it anyway) and a mega meltdown coming out of Beavers. Joy.
I've decided to give Beavers a break until the New Year and keep thing as calm as possible. DD will still go so I'll have a bot of 1 2 1 time with DS, so maybe that will be a good outdoor opportunity.
I chased up some therapy that had been mentioned by my Adoption Support Advisor and it sounds like the organisation might be able to offer something useful assuming we get funding via our LA. There was the possibility of an appt today, but it doesn't look like the LA got back to them in time as it didn't go ahead.
Had a weird e-mail from her today though, was obviously covering her back as she's copied loads of people in. She suggested clear boundaries, consistency and routines. She also asked me to confirm re the knife incident, seemed a bit odd - was half expecting SS to be at at my door. So I e-mailed back, but nothing else said since. She mentioned my reluctance to be assessed again but still gave no indication of what it would entail.
DH still v down, but has started using his SAD lamp.
Hello again, sorry to hear things are still rough. I am getting a lot if help at the minute from Amber Elliot's book "why can't my child behave?" - the emphasis is on the word "can't" in the title. I was reading the chapter on rage/meltdowns today and it gave me a lot to think about. May be worth getting a copy? You might be able to use the postal library Adoption UK runs, or order from local library. It has short practical exercises for parents/carers and I am doing one where she gets you to try and separate the intense rage from the child themselves, so much so that you create a character and a name for the rage, and treat it separately from your child. There are two incredibly powerful letters copied in the book - one where the adopter writes to the rage "why are you still here, look at the damage you're causing my child and me, etc..." And then one where the adopter writes back as if they are the rage "Don't you know for years I was the only support your child had, the only one who kept him alive? I'm not going anywhere yet, I'm not sure we can trust you..." I'm paraphrasing, obviously, but I really find the book insightful. If only I had the energy to put it into practice!
Hi Fresh, that sounds a good book. Funnily enough he has started talking about the red beast that lives in his tummy and it turned out to be a book that school have just got called The Red Beast which does as you say, names the rage as a separate entity.
Things are still awful. I've kept him home today, he should have been on a school trip but he just wasn't up to it - major meltdown. Going to keep him off tomorrow too, will try back on Thurs as DH will be home so can collect if needs be. Jus been meltdown after meltdown the part few days. Done such a lot of crying, feel like world's crappest mum,
I've e-mailed an essay to the GP and will try to get an emergency appt for him tomorrow with a view to getting a CAMHS referral.
Am making an action plan for next autumn to see if I can pre-empt some of the pressures that send him over the edge at this time of year.
I couldn't even make their tea last night, praise be for my lovely sister who has swooped to the rescue twice in 24 hours. I'm trying to be pleased with myself as I have made tomorrow nights ready and plated up, so that's one thing less to worry about.
Oh Lord, hope the quieter days at home start to have a calming impact for all of you soon! I'm glad family are helping, you have more than enough to be coping with. There's something in one of the Sally Donovan books that says when things are kicking off, she pares everything down to minimum: they live on beans or eggs, kitchen gets cleared by one bin bag swipe and dumped once a day if possible, and if everyone wears PJs for days, well then they do, because sometimes it takes ALL your energy just to stick close to your kids through their spiral and that is more important.
I bet a lot of people on this board will be able to also tell you that Christmas can be massively stressful and hard. For my LO, I can see that the "excitement and build-up" basically translates for them as "danger, danger, danger" and it's a nightmare. They cannot differentiate the sense of expectation from what they are more used to: a sense of anticipating fear, that triggers some epic behaviour because that's their only panicked coping strategy. I cannot WAIT for term to be over, with all the sodding Christmas plays and Santa hats and effing "naughty or nice" (do NOT get me started on how wrong that is for a child with an over-developed sense of shame...grrrr).
Hope your GP comes through for you, and that your day is much, much better than you're expecting
Thank you Fresh. GP says she'll make the referral, no indication how urgent, but hopefully she'll read my e-mail too (she'd not seen it when we went in).
We've had one minor blow up this morning when all the laundry got chucked down the stairs, but they are watching a film now, so all is peaceful for a bit :-)
I might have to read Sally Donovan - the pairing everything down is the logical thing to do, but it upsets me as it seems so not normal - but waht's normal? This is now part of my action plan so I'll have to suck it up and see the bigger picture! I made their teas last night for tonight, all plated up just need heating up, so that's something in the right direction.
It breaks my heart this time of year - we love Christmas but the pressure of keeping everything together is unbearable. DS is so wired, but I don't want DD to miss out on all the joy. Or him. And there's no avoiding it anyway. I've told school Im not bothered if he's in the carol concert next week, its been a source of major stress and I don't think it matters if he doesn't do it if he doesn't want to.
Thanks for letting me offload here, makes such a difference.
From a school point of view, if they need to keep him (and others) safe in a physical way, it might be a good idea for them to use your DS's pupil premium (if he attracts it) to buy in suitable de-escalation/physical intervention training such as TeamTeach.
This should be done for the whole school if possible, rather than just one or two members of staff.
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