Aug 01

Disassociation/Distraction

(c) David Morris, flickr

(c) David Morris, Flickr user

A couple of years ago I started another blog about my life with a child with FASD but I eventually abandoned it to get a little more focused on other things, including this blog, more books, and becoming a trainer and parent coach, specializing in FASD and other Neurobehavioral disorders. This blog post was from 3 years ago when my son was 9. What’s funny is that nothing has changed. NOTHING. I’m not sure what particular part of the brain is involved in being self-aware, but it still hasn’t activated. We could have had this conversation yesterday – about camp, homeschool playgroup, or anywhere else he came into contact with another human being.  ~Adrienne

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This morning my dearest darling boy said two things to me about the kids at his new school, which specializes in kids with special needs:

“There’s this girl at my school who makes noise all day. She saysUuuunnnhhh, Uuuunnnhhh, Uuuunnnhhh all day long.”

Oh brother, I thought. He really doesn’t get it, does he?

I said: “You make noises all day long. Maybe not at school, but at home. IsUuuunnnhhh, Uuuunnnhhh,Uuuunnnhhh any different than screaming SHOT THROUGH THE HEART/YOU’RE TO BLAME/YOU GIVE LOVE/A BAD NAME over and over and over and over again? All day long?”

“I don’t do that,” my baby said.

“Yes, you do,” I said. “You also do this:Whooooop! Whooooop! Whooooop! Whooooop! a lot.”

“I don’t do that.”

“Yes, you really do.” Continue reading

Aug 06

Why People Drive You Crazy

Especially those crazy-makers we call our kids!

Have you ever wondered why some people can’t get anything done and others can’t relax?

Why your kids react so differently to the same parenting methods?

Why some babies are calm and others hard to console?

Why your behavior changes around certain people?

Why getting along can be so difficult?

Why People Drive You Crazy: Part One: A Fresh Look at Temperament is the book for you. Karyn Van Der Zwet spent the last seven years poring over psychology, anthropology, physical health, and neurology trying to find out what provides each one of us with a sense of well-being. The answers she found dismantled many commonly held beliefs we rely on to parent our children and relate to each other.

Karyn distills this information into short and insightful sections in her newly released book, the first in a series. She explains temperament, personality, and different reactions to stress. The bulk of the book has to do with understanding and succeeding in our relationships with different temperament types.  Throughout the book she uses her own categories for four main temperaments: Owl, Hare, Butterfly, and Tortoise. I tend to shy away from such divisions, but I notice these names are easily remembered and quite useful. I’m mostly Owlish. Now I know why I clam up around Butterfly types and become frustrated by bossy Hares. More importantly, I see situations that I normally blame on myself differently and, thanks to hundreds of hints Karyn shares, have more constructive ways to deal with them.

This no-nonsense book is platitude-free and packed with practical tips. I think it’s particularly useful for parents. It’s not an overreach to say this is the sort of book that helps us make childhood better for our children. As Karyn notes in the first section,

Sometimes, people drive us crazy because their temperaments are different from our own. It is common to attribute certain behaviors to flaws in character, which are actually normal and uncontrollable biological reactions based in temperament. Sometimes we see behaviors in another, which reflect our own internal state or temperament. If we learned these behaviors were unacceptable or undesirable then, too, we may find the other person irritating…

Temperament is not destiny. If parents manage their children’s temperament well, the more extreme aspects can be modified and the children can, eventually, learn to manage their temperament for themselves.

The Kindle version is only 99 cents. For one week only, get 15 percent off the paperback price of $7.40 using this code created for Easy To Love readers: S2LW47CN

Mar 26

To Play Date or Not to Play Date?

While cleaning my son Tristan’s room I found a piece of scrap paper with his distinct pencil scrawl.

Things I hate:

1. When my brother talks during my computer turn.

2. Parsnips.

3. Play dates.

I knew my son was annoyed when other children came over, but I had no idea his disdain was such that it necessitated the making of a written list.

My 8-year-old twin boys are managing their sensory processing disorder (SPD) very well these days, but its presence still infiltrates every fiber of our lives. Will is more of an extrovert; he loves play dates and pesters me to schedule more of them, while Tristan can barely get through one every couple weeks without melting down or shouting at his guest as if they were an intruder.

Play dates have always been an issue for us. Both prefer to play at other people’s houses, with different toys and new experience, and they usually behave better out than on their home turf. But we don’t get invited to other’s homes as often as our neurotypical friends, and when we do, we’re not always invited back a second time. Thankfully, my boys haven’t noticed yet. The lack of play dates on our social calendar has puzzled me. I want confirmation from other parents. Is it their behavior (or mine :))? Is it because the chemistry isn’t right between the kids? Is it because you’re perplexed by my son’s SPD and/or anxiety? I try not to take it personally, but inside it hurts a little when I see regular play date photos on Facebook and we’re not in their loop.

Instead of talking about feeling left out, I tell my boys, “If you want to be invited to someone else’s house for a play date, the first step is to invite them over to yours.” But I’m struggling to balance Will’s desire for a daily play date with Tristan’s complete contempt for them.

I can see both perspectives. Will makes friends easily, is flexible, and generally resolves issues without much fuss. Play dates are fun for him. Tristan, an introverted book worm, doesn’t seem to need friends, and is bothered by guests who touch and move his toys, play noisily, and make a mess that he has to clean up afterward. For him, there is no upside. Despite Tristan’s dislike, I viewed play dates as good practice for him, forcing him to manage his feelings through challenging social situations with his peers. But in public school, he gets that practice all day long.

I want to accept that Tristan doesn’t need friends, that he might be a content loner as an adult. But as an introverted scientist and writer who, even in her 40’s, is still yearning for deeper, meaningful friendships, I also want Tristan to have the skills to make and enjoy friends, even if he chooses not to use those tools as an adult.

Inside I know that we’ll all be fine, no matter how many or few play dates we have. But so far, none of us is completely satisfied with our journey through the complex world of the elementary school play date. I can’t even let myself think about how this will morph as we head into middle and high school. Have play dates been an issue for your family? I’d love to hear your hopes, fears, and suggestions, so please post them here, and thanks in advance for being a supportive member of this ETL community.

Sep 22

Social Skills

In the olden days, girls attended finishing school to get, well, finished, I guess. I imagine their parents couldn’t get them completely done on their own. Boys were excluded from charm school, and hopefully just inherited it from their stately ancestors. But then, they weren’t dealing with AD/HD in those days.
And so we have the predicament of social skills and the AD/HD child, one does not respond correctly to body language and verbal cues like other kids.  

So added to his/her inattentiveness, impulsivity, and hyperactivity, social skills deficits are thrown in the mix. Problems that can be very demoralizing in relationships with peers, teachers and family members. It’s important for AD/HD kids to have friends. Easy to say, hard to maintain. Impulsivity, sensitivity and poor anger management make it difficult to make and keep friends. High levels of sensitivity make AD/HD kids easy targets for bullies.

Continue reading