4 reasons why the foster system is STILL failing

fostersystemstillfailing
Society is failing foster children in so many ways. There are numerous reasons, but for today I will only touch on four. I’m discouraged that in 2014 children in the United States still languish in foster care. This is greatly due to society in general, it shows in the comments made about children who need families: “I could never do that.” “It would be too difficult to do foster care.” “This foster child doesn’t fit our family.” “Why are you choosing to bring a foster child into your home?”

It’s also due to social services need to be politically correct, to look as if they’re doing everything the community expects. In our progressive society, people want to see children reunited with biological families. I absolutely agree with reuniting children with their birth families whenever possible, but NOT at the expense of children’s lives, which I will be discussing below.

The Department of Human Services also has a budget to adhere to. This can play a part in how they treat the foster children, which I will expound upon in a relevant situation below.

(When I talk about foster children, I am referring to children in foster care, whose parent’s rights have not been terminated, as well as children in foster care whose parent’s rights were terminated and are now available for adoption.)

So, why is the foster system STILL failing?

1. Davion Only hasn’t been adopted yet, he’s not even living with a prospective adoptive family.

When Davion’s story circled, over ten thousand people stepped up to help him, many expressing interest in adopting him. Those of us involved in the foster/adoption circle know that in most instances adoptions don’t go from beginning to closed within six months time, especially if a family hasn’t been licensed as a foster home. However, as his mentor, Richard Prince, told Lane DeGregory of the Tampa Bay Times, “Something doesn’t seem right…[Davion’s] changed schools and foster homes, and he’s not allowed to tell me certain things.”

My problem with this case and countless others begins at his first placement. In her article, Gregory says, “[Davion] languished in that first foster home for seven years before anyone put him in the Heart Gallery...for the next eight years he bounced between treatment centers and group homes.” (The Heart Gallery is a public venue that shares descriptions and photos of children who are available for adoption.)

I ask, where is Florida’s Expedited Permanency Plan*? Why was Davion left languishing in foster homes that didn’t adopt him, treatment centers, and group homes?

Before the holidays a story later circled about Davion finding a prospective adoptive family. It turns out this wasn’t true. Connie Going, the Eckerd (foster agency) adoption specialist says, “He just went to live in a foster home instead of the group home. They put him in a home where they knew he wasn’t going to be adopted.”

 

2. States push for reunification without regard to child welfare.

The title of the Tampa Bay Times article says enough, 477 child deaths: How Florida preserved families, but lost kids. The stories of how those children died are chilling nightmares, the worst things you can think of happened to these 477+. I add the + because according to Child Help, “50% to 60% of child fatalities due to maltreatment are not recorded as such on death certificates.

About ten years ago the DCF in Florida decided to change child welfare. According to Carol Miller and Audra Burch, “DCF made the decision…to reduce by as much as half the number of children taken into state care, adopting a philosophy known as family preservation. They also simultaneously slashed services, monitoring, and protections for the increased number of children left with their violent, neglectful, mentally ill or drug-addicted parents.”

James Harn, a child abuse investigator for the Sheriff’s office, says, “They wanted to keep families together, but at what cost?”

In just one case DCF was called twenty-six times regarding a boy named Caleb Cronk. The twenty-seventh call was to report his death. There are so many tragedies in Florida, ones that could’ve been prevented.

Since the release of this article and others, Florida rushed to fix the problems they caused due to budgets cuts and poor implementation. Articles have since been released saying, DCF working to help families, save children, Florida senate moves forward with child welfare law overhaul. My fear is that much of it comes down to money, for example, this article: Senate advances child welfare overhaul, but funding remains uncertain.

You can read more about Florida’s failed system: Innocence Lost: A Miami-Harold I-Team Investigation

These children are our children; we all

3. Budgets come before children

When we began doing foster care, we were kind of impressed with the way our county’s system ran. We weren’t completely happy, but I felt our county was one for others to look to. Bio parents had far too many rights, versus the rights of the children, but that’s the way it is in all states. Over all, in the end we knew we were in a county that, for the most part, cared about children.

However, as we neared the end, meaning our sons biological parent’s rights were being terminated, a shift was beginning to take place. Policies were beginning to change and the case workers who seemed to care about the kids either changed positions in the Department or left. Toward the end of our time doing foster care we had a new worker (ours and our sons) every month. This may be common in other states/counties, but not ours.

When a system is in place where case workers are not forced to question their judgement, it’s a good system. When a system is in place where case workers are forced to go against their better judgement, high turnover takes place due to excessive stress loads and the system begins to fail, foster parents quit, children are at risk.

When social workers don’t care, children are placed in dangerous situations because foster parents aren’t vetted and children are reunified based on their recommendation when they shouldn’t be.

What I found was the “Heads” in Denver weren’t happy with our county’s Termination of Parental Rights (TPR) rates (meaning too many parental rights were being terminated), which was leading to adoptions. The “Heads” sent workers from our county over to Colorado Springs to learn how they do things and to copy their paradigm (less TPR’s – less adoptions).

Were they doing this to preserve biological families? Like I said, parents have hefty rights no matter what state you’re in. Our county had set criteria in order for children to be reunited and the bio parents had sufficient supports to meet that criteria.

Does this mean they were looking out for the child’s best interest? Or, were they looking out for the pocketbook? Because families who adopt from foster care receive a monthly stipend for each child adopted until that child reaches age eighteen. When a child is reunited, the Department of Child Services doesn’t have to pay anything.

4. Departments lack accountability & communication with foster parents

My friend, Cori*, is a foster parent in Texas. I’ve been shocked by her experience as a foster parent. Here’s what’s happening in the good ole’ state of Texas:

  • In the county where my friend is doing foster care, there is a 13% chance the child will become available for adoption. Where do the other 87% go? Are they reunited? Are those biological parents ready for reunification?
  • Cori and her husband are amazing foster parents, like they should get an award, they’re that good and they care that much. Their foster daughter had a diaper rash they were concerned about, it was there when she came to them. They’d been to the doctor, used creams, were using high quality diapers and unscented wipes, the rash would get a little better and then come back with fury. The bio parents were feeding the child junk food at visits, and on the rare occasion they changed her, they used scented wipes and cheap diapers, which exacerbated the problem. Most of the time when Cori picks the girl up, she hasn’t been changed during the two-hour visit.
    But guess what? Not a shocker to many foster parents, the bios complained about the rash (the only thing to even complain about). The judge immediately court ordered this amazing foster family to get a second opinion from a doctor. They had an appointment the following day.
    Is the system supporting the families who are doing well in caring for the children or treating them as the abusers?
  • The child’s lawyer is supposed to do a home visit every month. The kids have been in Cori’s care for seven months and she’s visited three times.
  • The kids worker never responds to emails and blows off important issues brought up by Cori. When the kids were placed in Cori’s care, they were behind on all their shots, Cori asked weekly and then almost daily for their shot records and never received them. Ever. One of the kids missed out on some immunizations because she was too old by the time the hospital tracked down her records from Medicaid.
  • The bio parents didn’t show up for visits between October 13 and the end of February. In that time, DFPS did nothing to move toward TPR.
  • In Texas, if a parent tests positive for drugs before a visit, they can still see their child.
  • Although it’s the lawyers job to listen to the opinions of CASAs and case workers, their foster children’s lawyer said she doesn’t care what the CASA or DFPS has to say.
  • The children’s visits with their biological parents are supervised by a different case worker EVERY time. The visit supervisors are supposed to write reports on each visit. These reports are then submitted to the judge who includes the reports in his/her decisions. How can the supervisors keep conclusive records when a new worker oversees them every time? They wouldn’t know what normal behavior is, if the child’s acting out, or anything else.

————-

After posting this I found an article about Oregon’s foster care: Report: Too Many Oregon Children in Long-Term Foster Care  The article, Chris Thomas says, “Just last month, Oregon began a new approach to reducing long-term foster care by giving specific cases more individual attention.”
This is completely unacceptable.

_________

From all of these stories we can see that children are not the priority. The system is still failing in 2014 when it shouldn’t be.

*Names have been changed to protect privacy.

*Expedited Permanency Plan – A standard that children should have a permanent home, whether it be reunification with the biological family or adoption, within a set amount of time (some counties require it within one year for children under age six).

You can receive all posts written on Lovin’ Adoptin’ by subscribing in the upper right corner. You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter for more helpful information and links.

April – National Child Abuse Prevention Month

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Below is a infographic you can share with others via Facebook, Twitter, or any way you choose.

childabusestatistics

 

Below is the video ReMoved (only 12 minutes long). It’s a must watch for everyone really, not just foster parents, those interested in adoption, and child advocates.

I love what Lori McClurg said, “These children are our children; we all share in the responsibility to help improve their life outcomes.” She’s right, everyone needs to step up and do something for these kids who’ve been dealt such a blow in life. Not everyone is able to become a foster parent, but you can be a mentor, a tutor, or support foster and adoptive parents.

“Sometimes someone hurts you so bad, it stops hurting at all. until something makes you feel again, and then it all comes back; every word, every hurt, every moment.” – ReMoved short film

“I am unseen, unheard, unwanted. That is what I am, if even I am anything.” – ReMoved

“It seemed like it was night time and nightmares, and never morning.” – ReMoved

“Push hard enough, and soon they all prove empty.” (regarding foster parents) – ReMoved

“The past, my history, my story, is not my fault.” – ReMoved

“I am lovable, I am worthy of care.” – ReMoved

*********

To receive all posts made to Lovin’ Adoptin you can subscribe in the upper right corner. You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter to receive more helpful information and links.

more perspectives on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) – Autism

moreperspectivesonABA
In my post My Thoughts on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), I said I would share more opinions on ABA from professionals, a very successful mother of an Autistic boy, and adults on the spectrum. So here’s the follow-up post I promised, albeit late because of a sickness that I can’t seem to overcome.

In that post I shared that I had a gut feeling about ABA. I didn’t want my son in thirty to forty hours of therapy per week. I was very uncomfortable with someone forcing him to do therapies where I knew he would be pushed to his extremes and would cry and scream for hours. (You can also refer to the post Does Your Child Like Their Therapist, it was written for the parents of an adopted or foster child, but there are many key elements an Autism parent can take away.)

I wasn’t okay with therapists who wouldn’t allow me to sit in on their sessions with my son either. Nor was I okay with my son sitting across the table from a therapist, repeating the same tasks hundreds of times . Mainly because he wouldn’t be able to maintain that type of intense focus.

I knew in my heart what I felt,

but there was always this external pressure because it seemed that all other Autism parents loved ABA. But, information began pouring in that pointed to the contrary. There were others who held the same opinions my husband and I did (yes, thankfully he felt the same way). Maybe traditional ABA wasn’t the best way.

First came our in-home Developmental Specialist, Lia*, who’s been working with our son, Jeremiah, for two-and-a-half years. Lia’s not fond of ABA in the traditional sense, but will modify it drastically to fit the child, situation, and family. (You can read about one of the solutions she created for us in the first link in this post.) She was the first one who made me feel like we were going in the right direction. By the way, the specific conversation of ABA didn’t come up until about six months ago. I had formed my own ideas long before her and I discussed it.

Second came Michael Emmons*, who we are so fortunate to have been put in contact with. He is a Professor of Special Education at a University, has over thirty years of experience in special education, and specializes in inclusive education, positive behavioral support, language, literacy, and communication. Emmons has observed Jeremiah on a few occasions, and we recently had the opportunity to sit down with him and chat.

One of my questions for Emmons was, “What do you think of ABA therapy?”

From the moment he began speaking, I knew we were riding the same wave. Know the feeling? Emmons said he’s seen children harmed by ABA. I knew my son had lost skills because of ABA, but children had been harmed? I sat in awe, listening to Emmons and his knowledge on the subject.

Then he expounded. He once went into a situation where a girl on the spectrum had put three therapists in the hospital. Emmons was brought in and he stopped the ABA, he had her learning through her environment. Within a couple weeks, she was smiling, happy, and talking. Sadly, after Emmons left, the therapists went back to doing ABA with this young girl.

After talking with Emmons, my spirit was buoyed. I was so grateful to know my opinions on ABA were validated, none the less by a professional who’d been engrained with ABA in school.
focusonthepositivethingsyourchilddoes

Then I came across an interview Steve Paikin from The Agenda did with Kristine Barnett. Kristine’s son, Jacob, has Autism. He’s fifteen-years-old, in college, and poised to become a future Nobel Prize winner for his work in Theoretical Physics (I wasn’t even sure I knew how to spell the word “theoretical,” let alone study it!). But that’s not the most important point of Jacob and Kristine’s story.

When Jacob was two, Kristine was told he would probably never speak due to his severe Autism. Jacob was going through the traditional therapies for Autism, and Kristine noticed how all the neurotypical kids she worked with were having fun, but Jacob wasn’t.

She says, “It seems like all we were doing was focusing on what Jacob couldn’t do.”

When Jacob turned three, his teacher/therapist told Kristine to give up any hope of him ever communicating. At that point, Kristine decided to disregard traditional therapies and focus on what Jacob could do.

Here is her interview with Steve Paikin on The Agenda:

<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/Gxan95vKOrE” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>

Kristine has also written The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing, Genius, and Autism.

Before I continue, I would love for you to read No You Don’t by Sparrow Rose Jones. It’s about how making a child comply (the goal of many ABA therapies) can create major problems, especially when that child is nonverbal.

Remember that I didn’t search for any of these opinions on ABA, they all fell in my lap. If we want to look to prove just about anything, all we have to do is look hard enough, search long enough. In the midst of those three confirmations came statements from adults on the spectrum about ABA. One man had the opinion that ABA is why so many people with Autism develop Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

So, in the planning of this post I asked, “What are your thoughts on ABA?” in a social media group consisting of adults on the spectrum, professionals, and parents of people on the spectrum. The responses blew my mind. I came to the deep realization that us parents of kids on the spectrum really need to listen to those who’ve gone before our children (and I don’t just mean Temple Grandin).

I’m only listing a small handful of the great insight that was shared by those who want to bring awareness and acceptance about Autism to the world.

ABA is like anything else…how it is executed goes a long way in whether it is successful.” – Rick Spencer

“I wish ABAs got more training in sensory issues.” – A. Creigh Farinas

ABA is nothing more than child abuse. If these same techniques were used against a normal child, all HELL would be raised.” (Referring to ABA in it’s true, pure form.) – Jeff Sexton (Autistic)

“As a teacher, I have been horrified by things that were done to children in my classrooms in the name of ABA. It came across as incredibly disrespectful of the human being in question.” – Joanie Calem

“I think the fact that the ABA community and the autistic adult community don’t tend to talk to each other is a HUGE part of the problem.” – A. Creigh Farinas

“The ideals taught are to teach a child to communicate the NORMAL way, to express themselves the NORMAL way, to function the NORMAL way…Typical children conform…ASD children adapt.” – Nancy Getty (Autistic)

“There is also a high price that autistic children can pay when ABA is practiced in such a way that compliance itself is a goal – abuse, physical/sexual/emotional.” – Patricia Gabe (She’s the one who referred to the post above by Sparrow Jones.)

“Applying therapies and asking someone to conform to a standard in a one size fits all attitude can strip a person of their natural strengths.” – Nancy Getty

********

Emma’s Hope Book adds a great perspective on ABA therapy as well.
Another post that is worth considering: Would You Accept This Behavior Toward a Non-Autistic Child?

*Names have been changed to protect privacy.

*My opinions above refer to “traditional” ABA therapy. I believe ABA can be drastically modified to help individuals on the spectrum. You can view my links to read more about those conclusions.
———–
You can receive each post made to Lovin’ Adoptin’ by subscribing in the upper right corner. You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter for more helpful information and links.

radio interview – Adoption Perspectives

Hello all! Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve popped my head in. Reason being (okay there are lots of reasons, but aren’t there always?) I’ve been SICK! Really down in the dumps, hit by a mega-ton bulldozer, sick. Plus the kiddos had one more week of spring break than I thought, meaning they had TWO weeks off, not the usual one week. And yeah, I’m STILL sick. So, to sum it up, this is why the promised post on ABA (Autism) didn’t make it. I’m so bummed because yesterday was World Autism Awareness Day, and I would have loved to write about Autism and share some wonderful insight from others. Crossing my fingers for next week. Until then…
radio show

I have some GREAT news to share amidst all this chaos though. Last Tuesday, before I contracted the flu of the century, I did a radio interview with Rebecca at Adoption Perspectives called Why Grandma and Grandpa’s parenting techniques Don’t Work with Adopted Kids! It was prerecorded, but won’t be edited. Yikes. In the interview we discuss adoption, children who have attachment issues, how raising a hurting child looks different than raising a child whose experienced love from the beginning, and why time-in is better than time-out. You might enjoy hearing her perspective and experiences she’s had with her children whom she adopted as infants.

The show will air on April 5, 2014, you can view it here or listen live in the Denver area on April 5th @ 11:00am on 670 KLTT AM.

Adoption Perspectives is supported by Parker Adventist Hospital. “Parker Adventist Hospital is the only hospital in the nation with a comprehensive adoption program.” ~ Rebecca Vahle – You can also find the Adoption Perspectives Radio Show on Facebook by clicking here.
I was honored to be invited to speak on the radio show which showcases so many great voices in the adoption support arena.

*******
You can receive every post made to Lovin’ Adoptin’ by subscribing in the upper right corner. You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter to receive more helpful information and links pertaining to both adoption and Autism. Please feel free to share with anyone who might be interested.

my thoughts on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) – Autism

my thoughts on ABA
*The opinions expressed in this post are solely mine and based on our experience.

When the words “Your child has Autism” are spoken, most parents begin searching for ways to help their child. The psychologist offers advice, doctors suggest medication and therapy, friends refer to characters in movies or geniuses, other Autism parents recommend solutions that worked for their child. But one of the most common therapies you’ll hear about is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).

Autism parents invest tens of thousands of dollars per year on ABA, and many children spend thirty to forty hours per week in this intense therapy.

When I learned what true ABA is, I wasn’t a fan. Many therapists sit children down in a chair across the table and work intensely with the child. They will also focus on one skill such as putting a shirt on dozens of times in one session. This may work for some kids, but what about the ones who are constantly on the move, e.g. my son, Jeremiah? Jeremiah has learned to sit for longer periods of time, using fidgets* and routine, but working on something he’s not interested in (there aren’t many things at this time) would prove futile.

Some therapists use a reward system to get the child to perform, they may say, “After you put the puzzle together you may play with bubbles.” Jeremiah wouldn’t have been able to follow a similar direction until very recently. Even at this time he’s not quite there. Directions that are part of his daily routine are more at his ability level right now.

For example, because we’re working on “First/Then”* concepts at home and at school, he’s grasping what it means. I can take his doodle pad (which he loves and always has with him), and say, “Eat your snack first, then you can have your doodle pad.” But, to have him engage in an activity he doesn’t like, most anything besides puzzles, work boxes, peg boards, or coloring, you would have a meltdown with a crying, screaming child.

Frankly, I don’t want my child crying and screaming because someone wants him to learn his colors, look through a book, or get himself dressed. We push through on certain hygienic rituals like brushing teeth and taking a shower whether he’s crying or not, some things have to be done. The world can thank us later.

But, him crying and screaming because someone is making him learn to put his pants on or be involved in a group activity is not what I want for my child. I agree with constantly working with a child (with plenty of uninterrupted free play in between), we do this. We could work on education more, such as talking about colors and the like, however, we work on letters, shapes, and numbers on his doodle pad that he always has in hand.

Every time we get him dressed we walk through with words what he needs to do (in the beginning we used a lot of hand over hand teaching and less words), “Shirt over your head, arms in,” “Put your pants on, lift your leg, put your leg in.” It’s taken a while, but he is now helping to pull his pants on and has been taking them off for quite some time. :)

This is Jeremiah’s childhood and I want him to enjoy it like any other kid. I don’t want him miserable, working on the same skills over and over, hour after hour. Many ABA therapists will repeat the same skill over fifteen times in one session and I believe I’m being conservative with that number.

all children deserve a childhood

A family member recently asked me if ABA can work for some and not for others. Sure. ABA can produce skills, but in our case it hasn’t. We’ve used a modified form of ABA, but more on that in a bit. The true, follow the guidelines ABA has actually caused our son to lose skills. I’m sure many parents who stand behind ABA are shocked to hear this. You could say it was because of regression that he stopped using these skills, but he lost two, and they’ve never resurfaced.

When Jeremiah entered preschool he was using the sign language for “more” and saying, “maw” in the correct context. We shared this with his teachers, aides, and therapists, and most of them fostered his skill in the right way.

However, the speech pathologist did not.

Every time she worked with him, which was one day per week, she would do so at snack time. She would withhold his gold-fish crackers from him, and require him to use the sign for “more” and hand him ONE fish if he did. She would repeat this twenty or more times every time she worked with him. Because gold-fish crackers were highly motivating for him, that’s all she focused on.

Do you know what her tenacity resulted in? Jeremiah stopped signing and saying the word “more.” Completely stopped.

As for the modified ABA I mentioned, our amazing Behavior Specialist is the one who’s helped us with the adaptation. She’s not a fan of ABA in it’s true form either, but she will modify it for a child.

Here’s an example of modified ABA in a natural setting. We worked on something that Jeremiah was doing that we wanted stopped; he was hitting the t.v. during movies (sometimes because of excitement, other times seemingly just because). Lia* suggested we pause the movie each time Jeremiah got too close to the t.v. At first we pushed “pause,” walked up to him and gently moved him back the distance we wanted him from the t.v., and calmly said, “Scoot back,” as we moved him. Once he was a certain distance from the television, we pushed “play” and praised him, “Thank you for scooting back.”

As he learned what pausing the movie meant, we didn’t need to say anything (only praised when he did what was expected) because he moved back on his own. Lia also reiterated how important it is to…

focus more on his positive behaviors

…like praising when he does move away from the t.v. [ABA isn’t wrong, but I do think it’s taken too far], and when done in such a way, it’s taking childhood away from so many children.

The article, Would You Accept This Behavior Towards a Non-Autistic Child takes a look at how we treat those on the Spectrum. I highly suggest reading it and taking a look at how your child is treated at school, in your home, and in therapy. Ask yourself that question:

Would you accept this behavior towards a non-autistic child?

Next week I’ll be sharing some professionals thoughts on ABA as well as perspectives from adults on the spectrum and a mom who’s had a magnitude of success with her son (he’s fifteen, in college, and on track for a Nobel Prize) and hundreds of other kids with Autism whom she’s helped share their voice.

*Jeremiah is 4 1/2 and nonverbal.

*Fidgets - sensory type tools used to calm a person. http://www.developmental-delay.com defines fidgets as tools that have
“-Interesting tactile composition such as squeezable or spiky massagers
-Heaviness or pliability of the product
-Movement opportunities it provides our hands (can the child squeeze it?)
-Does Not make any noise, so it not a distraction to others
-Several different ones that are small enough to put in pockets”

 

*First/Then is simply having the child do an activity, and afterwards they get to do something they want to do. It can also be used to notify a child of an upcoming event. “First we are getting our pajamas on, then we will read a book.” Or if your child needs to leave an activity to do something they dislike, you can say, “First we’re going to wash hands, then you can play with the iPad.” Once learned, this phrase makes transitions easier, and works best if used in all their environments.

*Names changed to protect privacy.
————-

You can receive each post made to Lovin’ Adoptin’ by subscribing in the upper right corner. You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter for more helpful information and links.

6 things you shouldn’t say to, or in front of your child

thingsnottosay
Sometimes it’s common sense and sometimes it’s not. Despite that common sense we’ve all supposedly been given, I’ve heard some terrible things said in front of, and to, children. Guidance has also been disposed by some professionals that can be detrimental to a child’s healing (I mean completely stop it right in its tracks). Some of the points on this list may seem obvious to you, but I encourage you to read through them, because even parents with the best intentions can say things that are hurtful to a child. This can especially happen when a hurting child is acting out because of what’s going on inside of them. So, here they are:

  1. Don’t talk about how difficult your child is.
    By making statements like, “Ezra is so naughty, you wouldn’t believe what he did today,” “Sarene is such a pistol, she knocked the lamp over again,” “Jared won’t stop hitting, he’s a brat at school.” These statements can make a child feel like they can’t do anything good, especially if 70% of their behavior is negative, it can shine like a negativity rainbow around them. Your child already feels like they can’t do anything right, children will blame themselves for being removed from their birth family, for being in an orphanage, for moving from one foster home to another. They may even feel worthless, so talking about what they aren’t doing right doesn’t help.When your child has negative behavior decide whether there will be a consequence, and leave the behavior there (meaning don’t carry it through to that night or the following days).
    *The reason I say “decide” if there will be a consequence is because there are certain behaviors that shouldn’t have consequences: stashing/hoarding food, sneaking food, getting up in the middle of the night or not staying in bed, wetting the bed, and pottying their pants to name a few. These can all be indicative of an underlying problem, and frankly so are all behaviors.
    Try to find out what is triggering your child, what is causing the problem, try to help them through it, and don’t jump to discipline first.
  2. Abstain from discussing the money you’re getting or not getting for foster care.
    This one seems obvious to me, but obviously it’s not obvious to others, because I’ve heard it, or I wouldn’t list it. Parents forget their children can hear them, even if they’re chatting on the phone or talking to a friend while the kids play. Once, while standing in front of the Department of Human Services a foster mom talked with someone while her foster kids ran around her playing. She said, “I won’t adopt them (the kids who were with her!) unless they increase my stipend. This child needs_____ and that child needs_____ and they won’t increase my stipend to pay for it.”
    If you want to talk about what the state is or isn’t paying you, it’s your right, but discussing it in front of your kids can be hugely problematic. They’ll feel they’re only wanted if you get enough money for them. And, honestly, no matter how little a state pays foster parents, it doesn’t mean children aren’t worth being cared for.
  3. Avoid talking about how easy your life was before them. “Before you came, it was so peaceful here.” “There was no fighting until you came along.” “I’m always exhausted now.”  – Statements like this will make a child feel unwanted and that they cause all the problems. When it’s true that it looks like the hurting child causes an immense amount of strife, we must remember it’s their past causing all the turmoil within them and rising to the surface. – Help yourself and find peaceful moments in your day to have to yourself.
    hurtingpeoplehurtothers
  4. Refrain from telling them: “If you can’t follow the rules, you can’t live here,” or “I guess you don’t want to live here since you can’t follow the rules.”
    Interestingly (I actually have another word for it) this is advice given by some therapists. This gives the impression that a child or teen is judged solely based on their negative behavior. And sorry, but if the only behaviors a child’s been taught are negative, they will have less then desirable behaviors.
    Kids are also going to test you to see if you will stick with them through the bad. They’re going to prove to themselves no one will love them if they do wrong. In my opinion leaving the home is not an option. When you say they can’t live in your home if ____, it gives them an option. An option to miss out on love, possibly for the rest of their life.
  5. Don’t place blame on children by saying things like: “You’re ruining everything.”
    Blame can also come across very strongly through actions and attitudes toward kids. I’ve seen this happen so often, and sometimes it’s perpetrated by therapists. They blame the child, saying, “See what you’re doing to your parents.” When it’s not a contemplated action against them, but rather a protective instinct because adults aren’t safe and are untrustworthy. A hurting child cannot heal themselves. Put blame anywhere else, but on a child. Do you blame your child for anything? Loss of anything, changing anything?
  6. Avoid talking about what the social workers are saying.
    When doing foster care you are surrounded by social workers, they come in and out of your house, you talk to them on the phone, you email, you see them in court and at visits, and there can be a lot to discuss with your spouse, friends and family. But telling your kiddos what was said, or saying it when they can overhear you, can cause major behaviors among other problems. However, if discussions are serious about your foster child being reunited with their family then you need to share this with your child to prepare them.

Remember children are much smarter than many people give them credit for. Although it may seem like they aren’t listening, they are. While they’re playing, watching a movie, or sitting in the backseat, they’re listening.

Also, there are times when our own words, attitudes, and actions cause negative behaviors in our kids. I created this list so you can look at what you’re saying, or when you’re saying it, so you can avoid breakdowns and help your kids heal.

So you know, I’m far from perfect myself. I’ve said some things I regret. We can’t erase the past, but we can apologize and we all have a chance to change what we say from here forward.

———–

You can receive every post made to Lovin’ Adoptin’ by subscribing in the upper right corner, and you can follow me on Facebook and Twitter for more helpful information and links to other sources.

your child can hear you

your child can hear you
I recently watched a video on Autism, and in that video moms are shown with their children, meltdowns are taking place, some kids are hitting their parents, you hear the babbling of nonverbal children (all trying to make their voice heard), kids that are too big to be carried clinging to mom, vying for her attention.

It’s real, and sometimes it’s the exact life I live. However, many of the moms in that video don’t realize their children can hear what they’re saying about them, nor do I feel they see the qualities their children possess. I don’t feel they’re trying to hear wheat their child is saying when they make a noise, hit them, or fall on the floor in a meltdown.

For this post I will focus on the first point. Our children hear what we say. Even when it looks impossible, like our child doesn’t understand the world around them, they CAN hear us.

I was surprised by what the mothers in the video were saying in front of their kids. At the same time, some of it sounded familiar because I’ve been there, saying very similar things. I still find myself making comments that I shouldn’t.

The moms in the video were saying:

  • This is so exhausting. (Referring to taking care of the child.)
  • She wants all of my attention.
  • He’s so difficult.
  • She’s like a baby.
  • He can’t be left alone for a minute.

My son, Jeremiah, is nonverbal and it took me a while (too long) to come to the realization that my son understood far more than what I thought he did. When I saw Jeremiah smiling in response to us talking about what he’d done, I started to recognize what he understood. Then he began to laugh at funny things he was doing, or funny things we said and it continued from there, me realizing what this kiddo understood, and how much I didn’t. Some of you are shaking your heads, saying, “Duh.”

When your child doesn’t obey simple (or so they seem to us) requests, it can lead you to believe they don’t understand anything you’re saying,

and that just isn’t true.

We also need to treat those with special needs with respect. Maybe you would say those things about a typically functioning child, but many wouldn’t. Stress makes us do things we normally wouldn’t.

It’s also really important to recognize that meltdowns are a child’s way of communicating, so are most other behaviors. And one woman, when describing her hand movements (stimming), said it was the song of her heart. She was communicating through her hands. When individuals are nonverbal everything is tucked inside, maybe it sounds obvious now, but I feel the fact is easily forgotten.

Let’s remember to be careful how we talk to, and about our child when they can hear us. Here’s another good post to help remind us how we should treat our kids, and how we should expect others to treat them: Would You Accept This Behavior Toward a Non-Autistic Child?

I also highly recommend everyone read the book, Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper. It gives us a glimpse into the life of someone who is nonverbal, but has much to say. It’s an easy and quick read, but so much can be gained from reading about Melody’s world.
————

You can receive every post made to Lovin’ Adoptin’ by subscribing in the upper right corner, you can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter for more helpful information and links.