Friday, May 30, 2008

Adopted Teen with history of Mental Illness

MSNBC News is reporting on their Site in an article posted at Noon today defense attorney, Paul Pfingst representing Heather D'Aoust the 14 year old San Diego girl who killed her mother in an attack with a hammer last Sunday was adopted and has a history of mental illness.

"I think there will be another opportunity for the district attorney to reexamine whether this young girl of 14 years with psychological roblems should spend the rest of her life in prison," Pfingst said.

The prosecuting attorney in the case, DeputyDistrict Attorney Kristen Spieler, said the case deserves to be in adult court.

As I wrote in my last Blog on this subject Mother Killed with a Hammer by her 14 year old Daughter, it will be interesting to learn about several things in this case. For all of the families parenting children with mental health issues and psychological problems some parents know these words mean a lot more then the few letters they take to write.

It is politically correct to use nice words like "History of Mental Illness" and "Psychological Problems" Anyone parenting a child or teenager with any of these politically correct "PRE-Labels" knows that under these nice terms average people have never had to use these words daily. Some of us know under these nice terms may be a laundry-list of ABC's and everything is relative to the actual story.

I want to know more, and find out some details, such as what the history has been, how old Heather was when she was placed for adoption and what the details of her History of Mental Illness and Psychological Problems really have been. I think the average person hears these terms and thinks the girl may have been moody or suffered some depression... Which very well may be true. However, I personally have a gut feeling that these are the same "Code-Words" I have needed to learn how to use--and they stand for a whole lot.

I want to know what mental health services Heather has needed, and what her diagnosis have been?... I want to know if this family has found as little help as many--most--of us have found for some of our children who have a history of mental illness and psychological problems.

This story to me is about the Failure of our system today--not only for children with mental illness and psychological problems but, for the parents trying to do the very best they can in a world that defines unreal events with nice politically correct terms.

We would not want the REALNESS of parenting under these circumstances to ever violate the privacy of our children, so--we all use these nice terms. At least until we find ourselves looking at 14 year old little girls facing life in prison for some of the very real things some of us know could be true.

Not only has the mental health system, the public school system and child protective services failed to offer any aide to children and families living with mental illness and psychological problems but, society wants to think it is all about a neat label and bottle of pills. Or that for whatever reason the parents failed. The truth is that No One can listen to the reality and often what people do know or see is not as simple as these short little words might make someone think.

People really do need to start discussing the fact, that right now parents are being offered very few effective interventions and services to help children with these needs. My experience has been one "Service Plan" after another each with lots of promises up front, and little results in the end. Services offered for fixed periods of time, with multiple goals this way when it ends and I ask about why something wasn't delivered--someone can point out the other things that had been.

Ironically, in many cases I have been unable to pick the "things we need" and seek them from the provider who offers what our family needs most as a real goal in service delivery--because in many situations only one service plan may be in place at a time and every provider offers different services. That is when parents are told, well they would be a great place to go for services when we finish this plan.

Which leads to starting the new service plan and then hearing, "Your other plan should have provided that." And, a new list of way too many goals--most of which are the same as the last list was....

In the end--parents are the ones home with the child on Sunday mornings...


Thursday, May 29, 2008

Mother Killed with a Hammer by her 14 year old Daughter

Mother dies day after attack

Woman described as devoted to daughter
By David
Hasemyer and Steve Liewer
May 27, 2008

SCRIPPS RANCH – Rebecca “Becky” D'Aoust appeared to
be a devoted
mother to her youngest daughter.

Rebecca D'Aoust
D'Aoust would hurry
to the girl's basketball practice straight from work, and
even though she
might be late, she made sure to be there, a coach said
come in dressed very nice, in her work clothes,”
said Linda Jones, a coach
for a Scripps Ranch basketball team that D'Aoust's
daughter played on. “So
you could see how she wanted to be there for her
D'Aoust died
yesterday, a day after she was hit in the head with
a hammer or some other
blunt object in her home.
Her 14-year-old daughter is
being held in
Juvenile Hall on suspicion of murder.

The San Diego authorities will not comment or confirm the statements from neighbors and community members who have told reporters that the daughter is an adopted child with a history of emotional problems and mental illness.

The 14 year old daughter is being charged as an adult in this case.

It will be very interesting to me to see this case unfold and if the reports are true or not. As I have often written my discussion about Makala's issues are Not a matter of privacy in our community. It has not been difficult for our neighbors or anyone else who sees our daughter to figure out there are some real issues we face on a daily basis.

If the reports that Rebecca's daughter is an adopted child are in fact true, I will also be interested in learning what kind of services and interventions have been offered and used by the family. Did they face the same kind of garbage we have with our daughter? Did the mother ever express concern for her safety as I have? Did this little girl ever attack her mother in the past, when she was younger and smaller and easier for the parent to defend themselves?

...and people wonder why some Mom's feel the need to let the world know about the efforts they make and the fears they have in the back of their minds... I have on more than one occasion suggested that I wanted it to be known in the even that I am murdered during one of these RAGES that I have always done my best for my child, and I love her with all of my heart... I have asked for all levels of intervention and expressed fear for my own LIFE. I have already been hurt more than once in very serious ways that have required surgery... My nose has been broken when I was kicked in the face... My child has broken glass and come after me with large pieces...she has jumped me from behind and assaulted me on more than one occasion.

Yet parents in my situation are told to use the Mental Health system. We tell our stories to people who are supposed to help Us deal with things that may be beyond our control and it seems that in some cases we may end up dead for that fact we love a child.

Parenticide is rare--and even more so with a female child, however when a parent has spent 5 years looking high and low for anyone who believes them and doesn't assume it is some kind of lacking as a parent side a mother has to wonder--should I get a tasser or can of mace? After all no one seems to be able to comprehend how it feels to fear 120 pound 5 foot tall 10 year old with RAGE you would need to witness in order to believe......

* Update

Early this morning I posted a Blog: What Happened?

My husband is so smart, as soon as I informed him last night that I wasn't able to get into my Comcast email he went to his computer to see what I had told him I was seeing when I went to to log in...

The first thing my Amazing Computer Geeks husband said, "Looks like a DNS Whack or Denial of Services attack" He speculated further and suggested that it appeared someone had managed to figure out a Redirect.

When I called Last night and again this morning I told both customer support people that my husband had said what he thought it was--they didn't respond to hearing what was said at all.... Just suggested that I have a back-up email address.... right.

The email is Back Up... This morning I was able to reach a Screen that appeared to be my Log-In and entered my name and my password... when I pushed enter--I got a blank screen.

My husband just came home for lunch and tells me that all the GEEK News things all agree that last night had been seized by someone who had redirected our log in screens. The general Geek Position has been that this didn't likely cause a disclosure of our accounts as the difference between a HACK and a WHACK is that a Hack is when someone manages to get into the account and servers the site is running on and a WHACK is when the damages is done from Outside the server and no direct access to the servers takes place. A Whack is from Outside and a Hack is getting into.

The Geeks believe that their could be some risk if anyone made it to a log-in looking page and entered their user name and passwords thinking things were back up... It is possible that the Whackers managed to redirect us to a page that they did have control over, and those of us who entered information might now be at risk of these Whackers accessing our accounts.

I have changed my password and would suggest anyone who did make it to a log in screen in between 10:00 P.M. and Noon (as far as I can tell) Pacific time do the same. If you attempted to log into your Comcast Email account and entered a password but, failed to log in then go change your password right NOW...

It will be interesting if I can find any information From Comcast about what actually did happen published any place? However, knowing how business run and knowing how smart Geeks are I have decided to believe the GEEKS after all they are the ones who make all of this stuff work for us, and businesses just want our money.

Actually, I would suggest that everyone take a moment and Change your passwords... because the truth is often hard to get from major business with reputations to protect.

Marty Get's His IEP without A Fight!

From the moment that we became parents of special needs children, we have been on the front-line advocating for the needs of our children. Makala was 5 years old when we met her, and Marty was only 1 year old. She came into our lives with little background history and no record of her early development and he came to us as a blooming toddler appearing to walk on time, and reach the majority of normal milestones.

When he was two-years old he was not speaking a single word. We contacted the school district asking for early interventions services, had his needs evaluated and participated in Speech, Occupational Therapy, and child development classes as an identified special needs child. The process was simple, the tests conclusive and the services beneficial.

This trend has always followed him, as we had the opportunity to have his special needs identified early. There has never been an issue about his need for one test or another. Referrals for doctor appointments, special testing and services all offered without the battle so many parents face.

The fact that he was born in a hospital, and born drug addicted could never be disputed. We have documentation of every thing that has ever happened to him. I am able to pull out any document needed in order to attain the next level of service or referral for evaluation. It's funny that my child with the Lessor and More Common issues seems to have his every need recognized and honored, yet--the Lack of any record of Makala's life before the age of 4 years old has been nothing except a barrier to her needs being considered?

We know he has some learning issues and we see them at home as well. We see that he has delays with Receptive and Expression language skills, and seems unable to understand the difference between letters and numbers. His evaluations indicate that he is in the 4th percentile of children his age. Meaning that 96 percent of children are doing better then he is.

The red-carpet was rolled out every step of his life for each need he has. He is a pleasant and nice little boy who cares about other people, doesn't have behavior issues and wants to learn. Everyone on earth loves Marty he is just that kind of kid--the one you want to sit and talk with, play games and offer candy to because he is just so cute.

Makala has these same issues, we tried to get her help when she was in kindergarten. We were always told, "Lets Wait and See" but, her behaviors always got her into so much trouble she ended up in treatment centers because the schools refused to deal with her behaviors--many of which are simply the result of frustration in dealing with Brain Damage. Even as I write she is attending a Day Treatment program where she is only one of two girls Kindergarten to 12th grade. Everyday someone at her school is taken away in a police car and her lessons are all about how it isn't nice to flip your middle finger up, or call someone the F-word.

Her personality is not the kind most people tolerate for very long. Once someone spends a few weeks with her they want to ran the other way... Instead of wanting to help this little girl everyone wants to pass-the-buck and have it be a different program stuck dealing with her needs. The attitude seems to be that if she would just behave herself she wouldn't have a problem...

I guess the Moral of this blog is that a child's personality does in fact have an impact on the kinds of services they recieve. What Happened?

Good Morning any Comcast Email Users -- Have you tried checking your email during that last 8 hours and counting?

At about 10:00 P.M. Pacific Time time last night when I tried checking my email I saw a link to Network Solutions with some kind of gibberish and foreign language message. After several attempts to access anything from the Dot Net site I eventually resorted to calling the 1-800-COMCAST telephone number where some customer NON-Services representative dropped her telephone in the middle of my sentence and I overheard laughing and chatter in the background. Once she managed to pick me back up with giggles--she than allowed me to ramble on and on before providing me with an answer of,

"Yeah we can't even get into our own email. We don't know what is going on and maybe you can check back in an hour or tomorrow."

My husband suggested that there may be some kind of Hack or Denial of Service going on with Comcast... Ordinarily websites doing maintenance or making some major change wouldn't re-direct the site to some Network Solutions page but, to one of their own Message Pages and it seems rather strange that Comcast would send us all over to such an odd and unrelated page.

This morning I write after seeing some New Page, displayed for Comcast, with no massage whatsoever letting account holders know things are not working. The Log-In screen comes up, allows Username and passwords, and then goes to an ERROR page after hanging up for sometime. All the other links on the page fail to bring anything other then another error page.

So, Again I attempt to call 1-800-COMCAST and find out if I missed some message about email being down for At least 8-hours and counting. After holding for a good 10 minutes another Customer Non-Services representative answered with, "We don't have any idea when things will be back up, and we suggest people have a "back-up" email account.

I have SEVERAL back-up email accounts but that doesn't do a user much good when they have no information to alert them that they may need to use a backup email account. All I know is that in most situations I am only offered ONE EMIAL address for my Internet activities and when I ordered my Airline tickets I was NOT offered the chance to enter TWO different contact email addresses--In fact, I don't believe in any of my Online activities I have ever seen the option to enter: YOUR EMAIL Addresses and YOUR BACKUP Email Address just in case your service is Offline for 8 hours or more....

Thank Comcast for blowing smoke up my crack--and deciding to answer customer questions with NON Answers. It would be much more professional if you actually told everyone you have no idea what is going on and think perhaps there may have been some huge breech in your system...

I have used Comcast for Many Years and Always found my service dependable and reliable. I understand that in the world of cyberspace these things do happen. What I don't appreciate is Stonewalling--and stupid answers to real questions. If providing a Back Up email address was considered an Normal part of email account services every single contact web business service would Ask people to provide two email accounts just for these "normal" situations.

However, suggestion to YOUR customers that they have somehow been foolish to NOT have a back-up email account is pretty pointless when it is NOT standard Internet practice Nor did anyone have any notice that we needed to go to the 100's of accounts we use and change our email accounts to our Primary Email and look for the place to enter the Back-Up email account...

It's just too bad that the thousands of users calling trying to figure out whats going are sitting on hold forever--only to be told they should have done something that isn't STANDARD or even an option in most cases.... So Comcast Just what benefit do you believe My at least 10 different Back Up email account really do for me if everyone is sending email to my Comcast account?

If might be more professional if you just told everyone You got Hacked and Hopefully everything in our accounts isn't in the hands of some kind of criminal. Remember, that when we do banking, or register to use services on the Internet all of our passwords, private information and accounting details generally include some sort of email with a good share of these details published and there for these Hackers to use....

Now--I will go listen to the News and see how widespread this little Problem Comcast doesn't know what is--might be?


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Authentically Me

After the recent accusations that blogging somehow violates my family privacy I have pondered the idea of "who cares?" Really! My so-called private life is really rather minimal and could be defined as only those things that take place behind the bedroom or bathroom door. It surely never bothers me to be seen at the shopping center by someone who Might actually know who I am... It doesn't bother me to lead or attend a local support group meeting... where I do not sign in as "HappyMomAnna" or under one of my pen-names. I am ME there... Authentically ME everywhere I go with my physically body.

Actually, I have always been me. And have already demonstrated that My Public and active life in the community -- where people actually know me -- did NOT in anyway damage my two grown children. In fact, I would say the fact they grew up with Me as their mother has taught them that Being Real is what matters more then Anything. I have many friends with children the same ages as my adult children who are big fat loser kids still living at home, not finished with college and not living any kind of real life at all.

My 23 year old Graduated from the University of Oregon with HONORS and spoke at the ceremony with her degree in Psychology and is starting her Masters Program in Marriage and Family Therapy. They are each individual es and both completely the opposite from each other in every possible way. I raise Authentic and self thinking children who Know the WORLD WATCHES them... That they are actually responsible for what they say, what they write and how they live their own lives.

Some might say their mothers "Publicness" did nothing but help them understand that it really all does matter and there isn't any such thing as "privacy" except in the bathroom and no one really cares about that. My Adult children NEVER snuck out at night, used drugs, got in trouble for anything. The lived in a life were there wasn't much need for "privacy" because there really wasn't anything to HIDE.

To me an Authentic life means that it is the same in public as it is in private aside from some personal activities shared between two people. And even that isn't much if the two people are not Authentic with themselves and each other.

My children know that there really are not huge secrets in this world. People see what they do even if I don't write about it. The fact it wasn't written didn't mean it didn't happen. My children also know that what they Write or say may come back to hurt them. They know that Fowl Language is offensive to most people and they know that Intelligent People have a bigger vocabulary then words that start with the letter "F". I made sure to help them learn as many Adjectives as they might need to express themselves with more talent then an uneducated person who seem to cling to offensive NON-Words which are overused by ignorant people who seem to think they add to the emotion of something spoken or read. My children learn by ME and my public life that those "pee-pee" words lack every form of class.

I also find it rather funny that somehow I should shield myself from being known on the Internet as WHO I actually am--when my husbands name is plastered all over the Internet--by the Federal Government... Because of who he is and what he does. No one seems to make a point of that breech of privacy...

The truth is Privacy only matters if you live in a cave. Authentic people with good communication skills and plenty of adjectives to express themselves and nothing to hide don't really give much care to privacy, My name is listed in the phone directory, people actually do knock on my door and actually know who I am. Wow!

So, I have no idea why this whole Internet privacy anonymous world is considered so important when I walk around WHO I am everyday. What I write about my children is witnessed, documented and part of the story of their Authentic lives. If my child "Hates" me when she reads what I have written--she would have found another reason to hate me anyway. Since, I don't teach my children to HIDE and be fake in the world. Some people out there might have been better off if their mother had written about them--before the news did when they ended up in jail or writing the F-word all over thinking it wasn't offensive. Even behind the wall of the Internet you can tell when someone cares about the Public face they show even if it is masked by a computer keyboard.

So other than my writing pen names I am under contract to use with publishers--I am very tired of this double life! I don't live behind a computer keyboard and as I walk in life my REAL Name is the name people at support group, the schools, my neighbors and pretty much anyone in my real life knows me as. It seems funny to think that being someone else on the Internet is so important...After all I live with People Near Me! and They KNOW my Name! And well--people on the Internet are no more likely to come hurt me then anyone else who actually might see I am a person...

If My Husband can be listed by his full and legal name, hundreds of times by the US Patent Office because he has written something like 300 Patents (which take about 5 or more years to actually be issued and recorded) then Who Cares if anyone knows who I am... I am the wife of an amazing Genius who writes Patents. Just do a search Andrew Rodney Ferlitsch and see how private our lives really are....

so, who cares about protecting privacy--our lives are far too rich to sacrifice who we are for a screen name anon life so we can spit out four letter words and act as if someone might pay us to write or show us respect just because we hide behind a screen name and think that means Privacy...

Monday, May 26, 2008

What Happened to just Being a Kid?

Everyone is asleep after a long weekend--which turned out to be rainy unlike last weekend when we had record high heat and Makala got her first ever (that I know of) sunburn!

It was actually a pretty nice weekend and well needed. Makala is still dealing with the transition to the day treatment school. By the time she settles in it will be summer and another transition. It is difficult for people who do not love her, or live with her to understand how hard it is for her to adjust to ANY change of routine, school, or even time the sunsets. Children today seem to be treated as if life starts and stops -- shifts and changes on a whim.

I remember being 10 years old and I don't recall that children in my day, were expected to shift so much in life. The rules at school were much the same as the rules in my home were. Children had common experiences we all watched the same programs on television without deviations because they were the only shows to watch. We all played Yahtzee and Scrabble not what ever it is on the Nintendo or other systems. We played outside unsupervised--yet managed to survive and learned social skills by dealing with all the other children in the neighborhood.

At supper time mothers stood in the yard and hollered, "Johnny, come home it's time to eat!" I remember this because my mother not being one to ever yell purchased a whistle instead to gather her three children from a long day of play. I have not heard the sound of a mother calling her child home for supper in 20 years!

It's so sad that society won't allow children to run and play and group up, socialize without the constant interventions of a parent. I think I learned 80% of my personal social behaviors, boundaries and consequences by interacting with the children in my neighborhood. Patty and I used to walk to school (almost a mile I clocked it last year when visiting) our day started as best-friends and our day often ended with some kind of fight on the way home. Once in awhile a real hair-pulling scratching kind of fight. Some how our mother's just accepted it as normal.

I often wonder what has happened that children can't just run and play anymore? Have we allowed the terrorism of kidnappers and pedophiles to take away a normal childhood? When I drive around I hardly see a child out playing--I never see children walking anyplace and I wonder where they all are?

Makala and Marty play outside--a lot. Perhaps because we have not purchased an electronic babysitter? Actually, these kids belong in the 1970's! When I stop to think of some of the most difficult boundaries we must enforce it often strikes me that I expect my children to live a childhood I don't know if I could have lived myself. I rather doubt my parents could have kept me so tight and isolated.

I was only 9 years old when I was walking to the high school to swim. I was in love with "Terry" the lifeguard who showed me how to back dive off the board. I remember running home one day and begging for $9.00 to join the swim team and $14.00 for the team swim suite. I don't think my parents even talked to the coach or came to see where I was for all of those hours. I remember being 12 years old and taking John my 6 year old brother on the city bus ALONE! I remember one time we just rode the bus to see where it went, and once we took the bus all the way to Los Angeles by ourselves. Parents would be thrown in jail for letting their children do this today!

Why has the world closed up so tight? Not only in the fact that children can't go outside and play without a helmet, knee pads, G.P.S. and a can of mace--but, also in the way people interact with each other. When I was a child if I threw a fit at the store my father would have spanked my bottom right there in the isle...and if the fit had been annoying enough there would have been a line of parents waiting to swat my bottom right behind my father. Well, that is an aggregation but not a big one.

Tolerance and acceptance of the rights of others--has turned into "Don't Say Anything to Anyone Else about Anything" People see a naughty child at the store and rather than support the parents they watch to make sure the parent isn't going to say or do anything that might be "wrong". A child can be in the middle of a huge tantrum in line at the check-out, and 100 people in the store... they all act as if they see or hear nothing. They don't dare say a word to the child for fear the parent will sue or slug them...they don't say a word to the parents because well--it isn't any of their business.

When did that happen?

Teachers offer Axioms, and present 10 year old's with writing projects to support their OWN point of views... and then stand up and "defend' their position. This might be a great project if the Axiom offered wasn't "Killing is Wrong" That's all 10 year old... you write an essay about "Killing is Wrong" or right and then debate it. Hummm, I am thinking there must have been at least a thousand other axioms to offer children in the 4th grade... but, this is the one offered to 45 students. It gets worse however, as the way these little children were expected to defend their position was to be brought together and told to go to one side of the room if you believe "Killing is Wrong" and to the other side of the room if you don't believe "Killing is wrong" and then stand up and defend your position.

The assignment was even more disgusting to me, when the teacher told me that "They were to allow the children to express their OWN viewpoint without any Guidance or direction from the teachers and Naturally the Teachers were not to share their point of view of steer the project!


I asked this Question on Yahoo Answers "Should 10yrs old Be Deciding if "Killing" is Okay?" The teachers email and all the details are in the question and thankfully I wasn't the only person who thought this was a bit too much for 10 year olds.

What happened to everyone actually caring about children? My assignments at that age were to learn about the Wright Brothers, or Study the Weather. I remember our big "touchy-feely" projects being something like going outside and finding a spot--then sitting on the grass and listening to any sound we could hear... A bird, a car, a child playing. But--never a discussion about "Is Killing Wrong?" We were just KIDS and we were not expected to think about things like Killing... Even though every night when we went home the evening news ran the list of names of Drafted Boys who died in Vietnam... 58,000 died in that war and we saw it every night but as a child we were permitted to NOT understand the War around us. We were just allowed to play and be children.

I think all this tolerance and lack of One common society has NOT made life better for children. I was a Minority in my class from Kindergarten until 3rd grade and had No Idea any of us were different from each other. It didn't matter to me that I was a blond haired, green eyed, freckle faced little girl with only two other children in my class filled with Hispanic and other cultures of children who did not look like me. I only even noticed a few years ago when I was looking at class pictures and thought how I stuck-out in a glowing sort of way.

I just didn't notice as a child and it didn't matter because as far as I could tell none of the other children noticed either. We were just children. I had no clue that anyone around me might not believe in the same God I do, or that they might have a completely different religion. To me everyone was just who they were and most of us followed the same "social code" we were never much concerned about the fact that we didn't all have the same beliefs, skin or really anything.

Now, I listen to children who announce the fact they are this or that...believe this or that.... and tolerance to me has become a double-edged sword. Saturday we had a friend over and he brought his 9 year old son. Makala, Marty and his son were playing in the yard and I was listening. I heard the 9 year old boy tell my daughter that "He believes you can't eat meat and if she had a problem with it he would have his dad sue our pants off because she was discriminating."

When I went to see what was going on, it turned out my daughter had offered him a piece of Beef Jerky and she didn't understand what she had done to cause this kid to over react. He could have just said, "No Thank You" But, instead for God Only knows what reason--it was some kind of tolerance issues... My daughter somehow disrespected someone by offering them some food. I don't recall the Jewish children I knew being all worked up over the fact we had hot-dogs with pork in them. The Jewish children just didn't eat it because they had been taught by their parents. It was not seen as Intolerant for a Christian child to eat hot-dogs with pork nor was it seen as intolerant for the Jewish child to simply say, "No Thanks"

Now you offer a vegetarian child a piece of beef-jerky and he threatens to have his dad sue because you were intolerant. I wonder what these children are being taught at home? Where would a kid even get the idea to sue because someone didn't even really know what a vegetarian was?

....some days, I don't feel like an acre is big enough to hide from the crazy world. Other days I feel like an "old" person sitting their saying, "Back in my day...." I feel like there is a difference between how I feel about "back in my day" and how the old people I heard talk that way felt... When I was a child and an older person shared a story from their childhood--it almost always reflected on How Lucky I was not to have to walk 5 miles in the snow to school everyday. I was lucky to have a bus, or even shoes...

My DAY was Better then the old people who ranted to me. Always better. Now, it just doesn't seem like the stories I tell my children indicate much is better today...Oh we have on demand movies, video games, and everyone can do, feel and be whatever they want....but, our children can't be kids anymore and I can only imagine what they will tell their children and grandchildren about their childhood?

I wish that my kids could have the fun of the summer of 1973 where there wasn't much to worry about until mom called us home for supper and the play ended for another day.


Are You too Busy to Remember?

The history of Memorial Day

  • Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic.

  • The first Memorial Day was observed on 30 May 1868, with the placement of flowers on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.

  • New Your was the first state to officially recognize the holiday in 1873.

  • All of the Northern States recognized Memorial Day by 1890 with the South refusing to acknowledge the day.

  • The south chose to honor their dead on several different dates $until after World War I

  • Following World War 1 Memorial day changed the focus from honoring just the lives lost fighting in the Civil War. After WW1 Memorial Day honored all Americans who died fighting in any war.

  • Due to the desire to make Memorial Day a Federal 3-day holiday weekend in 1971 Congress passed the "National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90 - 363)" changing the holiday to the last Monday in May.

  • Even today several southern states still consider separate dates to honor the Confederate war dead:
    • Texas - January 19.

    • Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi - April 26

    • South Carolina - May 10

    • Louisiana and Tennessee - and June 3 which was Jefferson Davis' birthday.

I remember Memorial Day before 1971 as a day we paused and honored the lives lost to give us freedom. I remember Memorial day Parades, and events where veterans talked about and shared stories of the Men who died for My Freedom.

Since the change of observance of Memorial day has become another 3-day weekend people have forgotten the meaning observances have diminished over the years. Some Americans have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day and actually believe this is a day to remember any person who has died.

Many of our cemeteries and the graves of the fallen are ignored and neglected. It's difficult to find another person who actually knows or remembers the proper flag etiquette for the observance of Memorial Day. Some towns and cities still hold Memorial Day parades, but many which did in the past haven't held a parade in decades. Some towns and cities that tried to continue with the parades have stopped because too many Americans would rather go camping or shopping and people didn't show up.

There are but, a few exceptions to the lose of meaning of this day and few traditional observances:

  • In the late 1950's on the Thursday before Memorial Day, the 1,200 soldiers of the 3d U.S. Infantry place small American flags at each of the more than 260,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery. They then patrol 24 hours a day during the weekend to ensure that each flag remains standing.

  • The Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts of St Louis began placing flags on the 150,000 graves at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery as an annual Good Turn, a practice that continues to this day, in 1951.

  • 1998, on the Saturday before the observed day for Memorial Day, the Boys Scouts and Girl Scouts place a candle at each of approximately 15,300 grave sites of soldiers buried at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park on Marye's Heights (the Luminaria Program). And,

  • In 2004, Washington D.C. held its first Memorial Day parade in over 60 years.

In December 200, congress passed the, "National Moment of Remembrance" resolution in an effort to bring meaning back to Memorial Day. This resolution asks that at 3 p.m. local time, all Americans "Voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to 'Taps."

Many of us believe that what may be needed to return the solemn, and even sacred, spirit back to Memorial Day is to restore the traditional day of observance As May 30th. I believe, as many others do, when Congress made the day into another 3-day holiday weekend, it made it too easy for
Americans to be distracted from the spirit and meaning of the day. As the VFW stated in its 2002 Memorial Day address:
"Changing the date merely to create three-day weekends has undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed greatly to the general public's nonchalant observance of Memorial Day."

On January 19, 1999 Senator Inouye introduced bill S 189 to the Senate which proposes to restore the traditional day of observance of Memorial Day back to May 30th instead of "the last Monday in May". On April 19, 1999 Representative Gibbons introduced the bill to the House (H.R. 1474). The bills were referred the Committee on the Judiciary and the Committee on Government Reform. Sadly, there has been no further developments on the bill.

If you would like to see a return to the meaning of Memorial Day Please write your Representative and your Senators, and ask them to support these bills.

Or visit the Help Restore the Traditional Day of Observance page for more information on this issue, and for more ways you can help.


Child Identification matters even more for Adopted Children

No parent wants to experience the pain or trauma of a missing child, however it can happen to any family at anytime. We all hear about the need to have a child identification kit, pictures, fingerprints and all the other info ready and handy to provide to the authorities in the even our child cannot be found.

As parents, this obligation is kind of like changing the heater filter's--we know we should--but, often put things off for another day.

Adoptive Parents really need to think about the implications of an adopted child missing... We do not have the same DNA as our adopted children and we can't we used as a source to identify our child should DNA be the only means to identify a child.

Adoptive Parents need to make a child identification kit as a priority and we need to be sure we keep DNA identification materials as part of our child's identification kits. Our children don't look like us, we need to keep updated photo's and records should one of our children be missing.

As adoptive parents please take the time this week, before we start the Summer, and make a child identification kit including items that might provide DNA in the event it is the only form of identification for an adopted child.


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Summer Family Camping Safety

Memorial Day weekend typically marks the start of the American Summer. Soon the children will be finished with another grade and families will enjoy the long days and vacations. I would imagine with the price of gas being as high as it is--many families will opt to vacation close to home.

Long day trips to places nearby that have been overlooked, as well as the good old camping trips. Safety takes on a whole different meaning when we take our families out in the woods and sleep in tents!

If it's been awhile since you slept under the stars it might be a good time for some reminders about planning for a safe weekend camping.

  • Be sure to let someone know what your plans are, where you are going and when you expect to return.

  • Always bring along a well stocked First Aid Kit, and hopefully a Certified First Aid trained member of the family.

  • Remember that Cell Phone service may or may work where you decide to camp. If something happens be sure to plan for the worst and keep some additional supplies in your vehicle
  • Update your children's Identification information, and be sure to leave the a copy with a family member, and take a copy on your camp out.

  • Along with all the food, gear, tents and sleeping bags don't forget a Surefire new flashlight

There is nothing more then the fun and bonding then the memories that come with family vacations! I plan to use my 20 years of Girl Scouts, and insurance background to write several family safety blogs this summer and My Next Blog will talk about the Child Identification Kits so be sure to check back soon!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Memorial Day Thoughts

I usually like to wait until after this weekend to start my summer. The way to emotional side of me has always wanted to considered this weekend as one of the "High" holidays. For me taking time to remember those who have died to protect my rights has always seemed sacred.

The first parade I remember was Memorial Day, and I was overwhelmed with honor--I still am...

Freedom Is Not Free

I watched the flag pass by one day.
It fluttered in the breeze.
A young Marine saluted it,
And then he stood at ease.
I looked at him in uniform
So young, so tall, so proud,
He'd stand out in a crowd.
I thought how many men like him
had fallen through the years.
How many had died on foreign soil?
How many mothers' tears?
How many pilots' planes shot down?
How many died at sea?
How many foxholes were soldiers' graves?
No, freedom is not free.

I heard the sound of Taps one night,
when everything was still
I listened to the bugler play
And felt a sudden chill.
I wondered just how many times
That Taps had meant "Amen"
When a flag had draped a coffin
Of brother or a friend.
I thought of all the children,
Of mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands
with interrupted lives.

I thought about a graveyard
At the bottom of the sea
Of unmarked graves in Arlington...
No, freedom is not free.

Author Unknown

Introducing Snap Shots from

I just installed a nice little tool on this site called Snap Shots that enhances links with visual previews of the destination site, interactive excerpts of Wikipedia articles, MySpace profiles, IMDb profiles and Amazon products, display inline videos, RSS, MP3s, photos, stock charts and more.

Sometimes Snap Shots bring you the information you need, without your having to leave the site, while other times it lets you "look ahead," before deciding if you want to follow a link or not.

Should you decide this is not for you, just click the Options icon in the upper right corner of the Snap Shot and opt-out.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Washington Statewide Action for Family Empowerment: Seeks Parent Coordinator

It is amazing what a parent learns during the process of parenting a special needs child. Who better to take a position as Parent Coordinator for SAFE (Statewide Action for Family Empowerment) then a parent who has been working with the system.

As an advocate for Special Needs children in my state of Washington I have become involved in a number of helpful resources as well as added to the lists of several organizations that either support special needs children and their parents or advocate for changes in our current system.

Today I received a statewide bulletin outlining a part time Parent Coordinator position the Entire Job Posting my be Found on the AdoptiveParentsNetwork WASHINGTON STATE Forum

If I were not so busy doing my actual job of Advocating for the needs of my children, I would just love to apply for this position. Hopefully, some of my Washington Readers will see this post and take advantage of an opportunity to help make a difference for our children.

Statewide Action for Family Empowerment (SAFE) Washington Communication Notice

Item: Now Hiring-Permanent Part-time Statewide Parent Coordinator

SAFE WA is recruiting for the position of Permanent Part-time Parent Coordinator.

Point of Contact:
Patty King-Executive Director
1-866-300-1998 (toll free)

Position Title: Statewide Parent Coordinator

The Statewide Action for Family Empowerment of Washington (SAFE WA) is a family and youth ran non-profit organization. SAFE WA was formed to fill statewide advocacy, training and technical assistance needs for families of children/youth and professionals interested in strengths-based, family centered community services.

SAFE WA is a committed partner to system transformation and providing family voice to design and run the systems that serve them.

SAFE WA network member organizations provide direct support to families and youth. These supports include but are not limited to emotional support, mentoring, assistance with system navigation, attending meetings and court proceedings with families, training, and information. SAFE WA provides supports such technical assistance, training, mentoring parent leaders, and problem solving to its network members. SAFE WA also assists member organizations in sustaining and expanding their local networks through mentoring, networking opportunities and financial support for training.

SAFE WA’s vision statement is, “United Voices.” The mission statement reads, “The Statewide Action for Family Empowerment of Washington is the united voice of families who have minor children with complex needs that agrees to work together to recruit families, mentoring them and encouraging collaboration and organizing networks that will support and advocate for stronger, healthier families.”

• Strengthening, supporting, and sustaining the SAFE WA Network.
• Expand SAFE WA Network
• Enhance recruitment, training, and retention of SAFE WA Network organizations
• Support and facilitate the work of SAFE WA which is dedicated to improving services to families.
• Advocate for system change that is advantageous for families and youth.

The Parent Coordinator is responsible to provide technical assistance and support to our network members, partners and the service delivery system and to mentor the diverse range of families whose children struggle with mental, emotional and behavioral challenges. To look for and respond to opportunities to increase parent to parent support and family voice in system transformation initiatives in the state of Washington while supporting our mission and charter. Duties include, but may not be limited to:

1. Demonstrated success in developing & supporting innovative collaborative projects/new initiatives.
2. Minimum of three years experience in working for a family organization or working in an integrated parent peer support role within a facility.
3. Proficiency with MS Office software Word, Excel, power point & publisher at an intermediate level.
4. Must provide own office space and office equipment.
5. Ability to manage multiple tasks and meet deadlines.
6. Ability to master and track many details while remaining organized.
7. Ability to exercise independent judgment within a team environment.
8. Ability to work with individuals and groups in a collaborative style with respect for diversity.
9. Ability to communicate effectively orally and in writing.
10. Valid Washington driver’s license, proof of current automobile insurance.
11. Be available some evenings and weekends with the ability to travel statewide and nationally.

PREFERED QUALIFICATIONS (in addition to minimum qualifications)
1. A parent/caregiver of a child who struggles with mental, emotional and behavioral challenges.
2. Three years experience administration or project management in a family organization or working in an integrated parent peer support role within a facility.
3. Related experience included statewide exposure

Electronic submission (preferable method) instructions:
Email to
Add cc to
Subject line should say “Parent Coordinator Position”

Or mail to:
PMB 161
17404 Meridian Ave E Suite F
Puyallup, WA 98375

Statewide Action for Family Empowerment

For more details and the full posting be sure to visit the AdoptiveParentsNetwork WASHINGTON STATE Forum

"Time" Is the Foundation of New Memories

From the moment we started our journey as adoptive parents and especially as the adoptive parents of an older child--of a sibling set--with special needs, I recognized the most important dynamic of our future would be "TIME."

I realized very early that it was going to take me time to learn the unique qualities of both children. Time would be needed for all of us to "fall into" normal day in and day out lives. I know that it was going to take time for healing, development and attachment.

It helped me to keep things in perspective and allow the most important element to come to our lives. That was the element of time. With each day that passes we have had the opportunity to create a new memory. Not just a new memory for our child--but, a shared new memory as a family. The simple act of living life and sharing common memories can build the bond of trust, love and attachment.

Time is more valuable then anyone really gives credit. But, along with time as adults the world seems to pass by so fast we often overlook the little moments in the lives of our children--where we have opportunity to help "Write a Memory" in their minds and hearts. With children who have suffered broken bonds, along with a list of other issues to overcome in their lives adoptive parents can use time to help build memories that will make a difference.

Adoptive parents need to recognize that every moment is a new memory for our children. When we are parenting a child with special needs every moment matters a thousand times more. Regardless of the actual diagnosis our children have, the primary issues many adoptive parents deal with has to do with behavior management.

When we are trained, supported and living the daily life of behavior management for a child it's easy to fall into the "Control Freak" mode. Actually, it's a difficult balance because children with behavior issues NEED a parent who is able to provide consistant, day in and day out boundaries and supports. Parents can begin to feel a little like a prison guard--depending on the child's actual behaviors.

Our children need us to be in control and many children with emotional, psychological, mental, or medical disabilities have behaviors that require constant attention and control. Some will test every limit and cross any boundary. Parents may wonder how long this will go on, how many times will the same behavior play out?

The key is however, that with most of the issues our children are dealing with they also have a need for Repetition... Parents need to recognize that some of our children do not know how to have their basic needs met, they don't know how to get our attention. They many need to see us respond the same way, over and over.

If a child learns that eventually mom will break down and lose it. Mom will yell, cry or fly into a fit then the child will have a memory that Mom will go there. Until mom goes there the child knows that things can deteriorate. When mom is out of control the child is in control. It doesn't matter how much effort it takes the child feels something when they are in control.

The key is to use time to PROVE as a parent that we will NOT get out of control. When the behaviors occur--we write a memory and remain consistant, loving and in control. We might have to do this a thousand times for the same behavior but, eventually our child and our family will have MORE memories of a healthy and supportive home with parents who remain in control at all times.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Steven Curtis Chapman's Daughter Maria Killed by Accident

Any parent's worst nightmare is the loss of their child, but last night it happened to fellow adoptive family of Country Christian singer Steven Curtis Chapman.

Adoptive parents of three little girls adopted from China this morning the youngest age 5 was accidentally killed in the family driveway by her brother who did not see her when backing out the family SUV.

What a horrible tragedy for any family to face.

Today the official Steven Curtis Chapman website posted this blog entry:

This Video has been posted in memory of Maria:


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Mom Blog Network™

Things on the Internet are starting to change a little! Actually the changes are pretty big and have a lot to do with how the Information is going to be delivered. I am just enough a geek that I can actually understand a good deal of what my real geek husband and son say--and I kind of like the geeky changes happening!

Part of my vision for the Adoptive Parents Network is now going to be very easy due to some of the changes in how the Internet will be used are starting to happen. Anyone interested in being a part of the next phase of the Internet should start taking the steps now and plugging into the social groups you find interesting.

As one of the first Professional Bloggers I see where the work for a website idea is now going out the window! With the changes ahead it seems that we are about to see it be possible for a person to be a freelance blogger... I can't wait to write more about this.

Right now, I want to talk about the Mom Blog Network which looks like one of the places that a writing or blogging kind of mother might be able to network... If you don't have a Blog yet you really do need to start one--and write in it. You never know when your words might be considered valuable.

Launched in 2007, Mom Blog Network™ is the world's first site developed exclusively to showcase the ever-growing community of mom bloggers. It's a place for readers to discover new blogs and share content with each other. Whether it's a well-established blogger or a mom just getting started behind the keyboard, Mom Blog Network serves the community by helping to uncover the best new content as voted on by users.

I have added Mom Blog Network to this Blog and plan to add it to A Mother's Guide to Sanity as well as the Adoptive Parents Network as I continue getting everything done!

If you like My Blog Please give Me a Vote! Here is a link to My Profile

....and if you are a Blogger be sure to join as we will be adding the Mom Blog Network to the Adoptive Parents Network!

Mom Blog Network invites all mom bloggers who are interested in promoting their sites through syndication, offering an easy way to reach a wider audience and drive more traffic for members.


A Peek of Summer

Our weather has been so strange this year... First a tornado in January--where we don't have Tornado's! And then the longest coldest snowy winter. Last week we have a Peek at summer with a mini-heat wave and then today we have had the greatest rain fall--all at once since mid April?

All the normal flowers are late... and may not be pretty this year. Rose Festival is just around the corner and My Roses look BAD! The first blooms have not even formed yet... How SAD!

Makala who NEVER ever sunburns got Hit bad on Saturday! We even used 60 sunscreen and she burned bad enough to blister a small are on her shoulder. Thank goodness I know this is the first time ever for her. I am so doomed for skin cancer I hardly dare start the horrible discovery process...

All of this crazy weather is hard for Kids to understand. Friday they were running around in swimsuits playing on the slip-n-slide and today it RAINS! Hard! Makala was ready for the carefree days of August and wanted to act like there was no tomorrow--or should I say No School Tomorrow... Oh Joy--do I look forward to THIS Summer!

Marty has become such an easy kid now that he is actually getting older but, he shows all the "youngest" child signs of being the one who is our rebellious kid! On one hand I so enjoy the fact he is talking and thinking is such interesting ways--but, I also just shudder to think about some of the things he says... He has that "one on earth" side of his personality that is a big-red flag!

It was so funny last night the children wanted to enjoy the Last moments of Sunshine and we could all feel a storm moving in--so the went out to roller-blade after bath time... No harm so I permitted it on a school night which is not normal and they enjoyed having fun. But, as is always the case all good things come to an end... Not for Makala she always needs just a little more no matter what she is given she need to push it far enough that she has to hear the word "NO" at least 3 times!

I gave the children a lot of warnings just so their fun would not die in an instant and end with a rage of any kind. I was being Very Nice about it. So when I finally gave the last call inside of Sweet Makala actually said, "Marty lets go this way!"

The way she pointed was not the direction indicating going inside!

I said, "Not and didn't I give you a lot of warning, Why would you tell your brother to skate that direction when going inside is this direction?"

In standard form My Sweetest little girl repeated her NORMAL answer, "I DID NOT!"

....and I just cracked up because it really is starting to be funny sometimes and right then it really was so funny--and she cracked up too...

I just told she needed to stop thinking that everyone doesn't see how she tries to pull these "acting" things... We all know what she is doing...and it is funny sometimes...

She went inside with no more issues...and I complemented her on the fact she did...with a smile and another complement about how talented she could be if she took some more acting classes and learned how to read a little better....

Friday, May 16, 2008

Trying Differently Rather Than Harder

I will never forget the moment or the words I read when it became clear to me that my beautiful adopted little girl may have been suffering from Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) but also knew in my heart there was more to the story. Half way into the Day Treatment program I received some support literature from the Oregon Post Adoption Resource Center including a small 60 some odd page booklet written by Diane Malbin. Her words and the detail she wrote about Hit the Nail on the head!

The booklet I received "Trying Differently Rather Than Harder" completely changed the lives of our family! We had been trying very hard to deal with RAD behaviors when all along we were dealing with far more then RAD in fact it was clear our little girl is Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND). Within a few short months we were able to have an appropriate diagnosis and start looking for ways to try differently.

The result of our stepping back and being able to evaluate the variety of behaviors and look for different ways to handle them--because, they may appear to be one thing when they are simply the result of brain damage has changed our entire home environment.

When I first became aware that our little girl not only has RAD but, she also has brain damage that affects her ability to process--and her short term memory--I started to notice the differences in the RAD behaviors and those situations that were because my little girl just wasn't able to process--or that today was one of those days she would be "off".

It's been nearly two years since this amazing discovery and while we see amazing improvements in the attachment area--we also can identify RAD behaviors rather quickly now and we can address the RAD behaviors for what they are. But, at the same time we are now more aware of the indicators that our daughter is not acting out in a RAD way--but, rather dealing with her ability to cope with neurological damage.

As a result everyone in the family is trying things differently and learning to help one another with the small things as well as find ways to make life a little less stressful for our daughter.

Diane Malbin's work has truly made Trying Differently part of our lives.

In addition to the great booklet I read Danie Created: FASCETS

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Consultation, Education and Training Services, Inc.
Providing An Alternative Paradigm for Understanding Behaviors

FASCETS is a private, non-profit 501(c)3 organization Established October 1997

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Day Treatment Post Honeymoon

It's been nearly six weeks since Makala started at the new school--in the district next door. I have had good communication with her teacher and yesterday had a meeting with the therapist at the school. There are of course, Bus issues. Which is not a surprise to us considering the fact that the Bus has always been a place Makala had boundary issues.

The teacher and therapist want to work on the boundary issues as a main focus. Primarily social boundaries. This has always been the key problem for Makala. She wants to be 28 years old, she is emotionally 5 years old and lives in the body of a 16 year old--but, she is supposed to only be 10!

Last week the children left our yard again. Well, actually they had asked if they could go across the road and see if the neighbor girl could play. I said they could go invite her over. Anyway, too much time passed and I put my shoes on to go find them. I noticed the neighbor girl had just arrived with her mother and they were unloading the car. So I started to look down the dead-end road...

Another neighbor drove up and saw me, he said the kids were at his house--playing with his 16 year old son.... that he can't help it my daughter has a crush on him! The father went on to say the he was there with his girl friend...

Boy Crazy! And I do know how that feels first hand actually. Some of the poor boys I was crazy about had a hard time dealing with me--I know that. I just didn't have the disability that my little girl has on top of being boy crazy! All we need to do is help her "Get" to the point she is mature enough and understands social boundaries well enough that she can take care of herself and make decisions based on thinking not reacting. There is a big difference to me when my daughter's make choice I don't agree with and when my daughters make choices because they don't fully understand the implications.

I just want to see Makala reach a maturity that she is responding and making her own decisions based on information and maturity... rather then impulse. Or worse -- a need to be validated. This I think is something that only maturity can bring and I pray she develops the skills to make her own decisions rather then just acting out life.

At home we have bee dealing with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) behaviors again... I have been dealing with it partly in a sense of amusement. She has outgrown some of her skills in tantrum throwing I suppose because once a person gets so big--it kinda hurts to be physical about things.

I have also been watching from a different perspective because I have recognized that in order for her to Move Forward and add some new level of skill to her life she typically has to go backward and add the new skill at different developmental stages... Baby Makala who talks and moves like a little 2 year old... then 4 year old Makala who is sneaky and just wants what she wants--and she is so cute no one tells her no... then Makala the beautiful girl who is trying to hard to live in a world that moves very fast for her...

We have been seeing a lot of Baby Makala over the past few weeks which I have decided is a positive thing in the overall picture. We have also learned that these are the "Repeat" times and part of the reason we see this cycle for her--is that she does need to "Repeat" what she learns over and over. It seems the way she is able to incorporate new information is to "Repeat" at some of the key developmental stages.

Now that I understand What this is all about for Her--I can actually help her "Repeat" at the stages she needs to--and guide her to more healthy ways of being able to do so. It has made things much easier for us to deal with as it is happening and now that we are understanding this the melt-downs are much less sever and last a shorter time.

Anyway, I just updated the calender and noticed that I don't have an appointment or major obligation for the rest of May! I honestly should schedule about 20 different things--but, have decided it isn't that important and I want to get things around the house in order--since summer and all that fun is brewing.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

When Opportunity for Natural Consequences Occurs

There are times with our children (healthy or special needs) when we see behaviors we would like to find a way to correct, but due to obligations or circumstances instead we hear ourselves doing the "Mom Lecture" all the way to the event, activity, family gathering, or whatever it is.

Last night might have been one of those times, as Makala and I needed to go to this weeks Job's Daughter meeting. An important one this week as on our way we were going to stop at Sam's house and pick up her Petition to join, and permission slip for Grand Bethel... Makala knew we had some important obligations and there was no way her mother was going to slack off and not follow through...

Since joining age has been lowered from 12 years old to 10 years old--I can see how "sometimes" a 10 year old would feel a little overwhelmed with meetings that end with Cake and don't get over until after 9:00 P.M. What a privilege for a child of only 10!

After Makala got home from school I reminded her about our meeting and asked her to find her white tights, and slippers while I took a shower and got myself ready. When I came out the tights and slippers were still un-ound... Naturally, I had the "mom-tissy" about her needing to listen to me and first do the things I ask, so that I can move to the next thing on my list of things to do. The longer it takes her to follow my instructions--the less we can get done.

That of course led to her wanting to know "What she was missing?"

Sometimes I could just kick-myself for using implications with my words--I know she doesn't get it.!

Anyway, we moved on and went to the store to grab something easy for dinner, and then picked Marty up from reading club... Finally, when we got home I told Makala that since we were going to be out late at the Job's Daughter meeting, and it was her bath night she needed to go up and take her bath and when she was done it would be time to get ready.

I heard the bath water running.

I also heard talking in her bedroom--out the window to Marty so I yelled upstairs, "Makala where are you? Makala? Makala?" Then I heard the bathroom door open (water running in the background) and she asked, "What?" I asked if she was taking a bath and she said she was....

Another 5 minutes pass and daddy comes home, so I go to meet him at the front door--when I look upstairs--just in time to see the 100% dry fully dressed child leave her brothers room?
The bath water was still running--she was fully dressed and clearly not taking a bath...

So, I called her on it and asked what the Heck?

She didn't have a story--not one that I could understand. So, that's the moment I decided that last night's Job's Daughter meeting was NOT more Important then Natural Consequences... Not at all! I let her know that because it seemed she could not do as asked, and went to such extremes to make me think she had--that she would not be going to Job's Daughters--she fussed a bit and than said--"Okay-Okay, I will take my bath!"

I let her know that she should still take her bath but that she was Not going to Job's Daughters. But, she honestly believed my obligations for this meeting were far to big to be missed (and they were). She rushed with the appearance of compliance into the bathroom as I had asked her at least 20 minutes earlier to do... And she ***Thought*** she would come out, get dressed and go to the meeting which would end after 9:00 P.M. with Cake!


I gave daddy her medication, the instructions for dinner that was almost finished cooking--and got in my car and left before Makala got out of her bath! After all MY obligations for the meeting WERE important--however her obligations were NOT--or at least not enough that she could pull all these little stunts before going...

I went shopping at the Good Will for a bunch of fancy dresses to use at Grand Bethel--Met up with Polly and got the Petition--and permission slips then ran them over to the meeting about 15 minutes before it started. Turned it all in and then took the Long Way Home.

When I got back I just smiled and let Makala know I had taken care of My Obligations and that hopefully the next time I give her an instruction before we do something for her--that she just needs to mind my words otherwise she might miss out on something. I just don't have time for silly games.... and left it at that!

Really it could have been one of those nights when she got away with amazing stunts knowing I had few options... But, it didn't turn out that way.

This was all RAD stuff--funny how a mother can start to see the difference between the RAD stuff and the FASD stuff after 5 and 1/2 years of mothering her child!

The FASD issues would have shown in a "disconnected" way. She would have not thought about turning on the bath water and working out a plan to mislead me into believing her. FASD would have shown by the fact that she would not have "registered" the request that she take a bath in the first place. Or it would have shown by the fact that she was not processing the issue that we were getting ready to go to a meeting. FASD would have shown by her being distracted from my request or being slow about taking each step forward.

What I saw last night was Pure RAD... No two ways about that. The RAD child is the one who would work extra hard to pull off a shame and make mom think she has gone crazy. The RAD child would make it appear that she had taken the bath--and then claimed she had washed her hair and that mom was crazy to think otherwise--and mom had problems if she claimed she could smell stinky hair! Mom is nuts because Makala had too taken a bath!

RAD child thinks of the manipulative ways to cause RAD Mom to have a tissy fit--or act completely crazy over something like the fact that Makala's Hair was stinky even though everyone heard that she had taken a bath or shower... GEE!

So--there is just one example of learning about our child with RAD and FASD... While the symptoms might appear to be similar when a mother actually starts to identify the differences and how they manifest--then it is much easier to apply consequences. Had I been able to tell that the ordeal yesterday was about processing or following multi-part instructions and that Makala was just getting Stuck well--the consequences would Not have been the same at all. We would have managed to take one step at a time and make it to the meeting. In fact, that was my original plan as it always is with each step of the day.

When RAD pops up things are very different and it's nice to know that I am now able to see the difference sometimes!

Friday, May 09, 2008

Nine Magic Keys to parenting children with FASD

On the FAS Alaska Fetal Alcohol Consultation and Training Services Website I discovered a very simple and clear outline for teachers to use when working with children who have Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) and in most cases any child with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). Written by Deb Evensen and Jan Lutke "The 8 Magic Keys: Developing Successful Interventions for Students with FAS" was one of the key resources I provided to the special education department for my daughter during her Individual Education Plan (IEP).

I have found that not only do teachers need something this simple and easy to read but, in order for these 8-Keys to work at school parents need to be thinking about these 8-keys as well. Home is the platform for our children and what they learn at home is the foundation. Please read: "The 8 Magic Keys: Developing Successful Interventions for Students with FAS" and then consider how these approaches might also help at home.

  • 1. Concrete--Children with FASD do much better when parents speak to them in concrete terms. Using words with double meanings, idioms, analogies or other abstract words. Many of our children have a social-emotional understanding far below their actual age, in fact some advice recommended is to expect 1/2 their chronological age, when considering their emotional level. As the article this blog is based on says, "It helps to "think younger" when providing assistance, giving instructions, etc."

  • 2. Consistency--Children with FASD often have difficulty trying to generalize experiences from one situation to another. The ideal environment for a child with FASD is one with few changes. Not only is it helpful to establish a consistent environment but, it is also important to establish consistent language. Words used with our children should be connected to a specific meaning. Key words key phases used with oral directions don't require our child to need time to process the meaning.

  • 3. Repetition--One major Hallmark for children with FASD includes chronic short term memory problems. Due to their disability they often forget even the things they would like to remember as often as new information they have been learning and not and yet retained for a period of time. Our children may need to be re-taught and re-taught, or hear the same words and information over and over in order for something to be stored to their long term memory.

  • 4. Routine--Children with FASD seem to thrive with stable and consistant routines because knowing what to expect "next" helps to decrease anxiety. When a child with FASD is not coping with anxiety they are physically more able to learn. Our children will also need less time to process transitions if the transitions are part of the routine.

  • 5. Simplicity--"Keep it Short and Sweet (KISS method)". Children with FASD can become easily over over-stimulated, some Pet Scans show that in order to accomplish the same tasks as an ordinary child our children require the use of areas scattered all over their brains. Where a normal health child might need to access one specific area of their brain to accomplish the same task the FASD child may need to fire up several areas of their brains. All of this extra brain power demand can lead to a "shutdown". When our child shuts down they can no longer assimilate any more information. Simple environment, simple language and simply repetitions is the core foundation for a child with FASD to thrive.

  • 6. Specific--People with FASD have difficulty with abstract thinking, generalizations, and are typically not able to "fill in the blanks." When parents say exactly what they mean using concrete language and words with specific meanings it makes it more possible to communicate with the person. We may need to tell our child step-by-step what to do and how to do it. We may need to re-do this and use the same words over and over, step-by-step in order for our child to retain the specific directions. Taking the time to do this with a child who has FASD in a major responsibility for parents an may help our child learn to develop appropriate habit patterns.

  • 7. Structure--I like the way the authors of the report this blog is based on said it, "Structure is the "glue" that makes the world make sense for a student with FAS." When this glue is absent everything can fall apart. When children with FASD experience success because they understood and did well because an environment with structure has been provided this success can develop into a permanent foundation.

  • 8. Supervision--Children with FASD face many struggles and cognitive challenges during their day to day lives which often results in a "naivete" about daily life situations. FASD children require constant, direct, supervision. Especially in social situations or those involving other children.

  • 9. Love--The original article this blog is based on didn't mention Love because it is written to educators. For parents of children with FASD Love is the 9th Magic Key. When we learn to accept the issues our child is dealing with and the fact that this is a life-time disability, caused by brain damage and it is not their faults... we can often go through the difficult times with less anxiety ourselves. When we understand that a child with FASD has the basic needs outlined in this blog and the article I referenced, then we can feel more at peace and under control when things are rough.

Parenting a child with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) is as Diane Malbin calls it, "Trying Differently Rather Than Harder."

Thursday, May 08, 2008

"Did you hear me when I....?" Parenting Kids with ARND

When we were working hard with some of the Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) Attachment Therapy (AT) things the goal was often to teach our child she needed to respond to us, as the RAD Cult claimed "Fast and Snappy". The problem is that if a RAD child is also a child with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) or Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorders (ARND) fast and snappy may be an unrealistic expectation.

In fact, it was in part because of our efforts as parents to work on the AT that brought out what appeared to be more intense RAD symptoms when in fact once we learned more about FASD and ARND we also discovered that Fast and Snappy won't work for a child with brain damage--and expecting it to work may actually cause secondary conditions. The hard part is the fact that many of the secondary conditions just look like more RAD.

While reading as much as I could about FASD and ARND I realized one important fact about my own child... I realized that she literally was not able to react Fast and Snappy and expecting her to do so only brought out the "Fight or Flight" feelings.

Children with FASD and with ARND in particular often lack short-term memory recall and one of the huge hallmarks is delayed "Processing"

The idea that a child with difficulty processing and a lack of short-term memory could hear a command and respond fast and snappy is UNREALISTIC. As a parent doing our best to work with AT and help our child overcome RAD we were viewing her response to our expectation as continued RAD type behaviors.

However, once we recognized that her inability to respond when we made a request had far less to do with RAD and much more to do with FASD and ARND we were able to change our approach.

We have learned our daughter may appear to hear what we say, and we understand that just because she can hear our voices and may even tell us that she had--does not always mean she processed what we said or will remember it in 5 minutes. In the past we may have responded with authority and started the "get to it" attitude or reprimanded her for not minding our words. Often feeling she was in trouble for something she didn't process--or can't actually remember would lead to the rages or the defiant behaviors.

If you think about it then it's easier to understand. The child hears a command, repeats it and then needs the additional processing time required in order to respond. Expecting fast and snappy did Not allow any time to process new information and the next thing the child knows they are in some kind of "trouble". On top of it all the fact the child had no time to process--means the odds are the original information isn't even in short term memory and if it is an upset parent demanding compliance fast and snappy makes it impossible to retrieve.

Once we learned to reconsider how our child's disability played into the RAD symptoms and the fact that fast and snappy has nothing to do with RAD in our child's case things have changed for everyone.

As parents we make a lot of statements such as:

"In an hour we are going to need to leave for the store."

Generally we will ask a few minutes later, "Hey kiddo, did you hear me when I said we will need to leave for the store at 1:00 p.m.?

During the next hour we may offer a few more prompts such as:

"do you have your shoes for the trip to the store we will be leaving in a half hour?"


"did you want to bring your allowance to buy something when we go to the store in 15 minutes?"

The simple act of changing our expectations and finding ways to help our daughter process what is going on as well as keep things in her short-term memory have literally been one of the single most helpful steps we have taken in order to help our child cope with the issues she has.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

FASD Fact of the Day: Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders 101

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) is an umbrella term that includes several specific diagnoses of children affected by prenatal exposure to alcohol. Terminology describing the diagnoses associated with prenatal alcohol exposure has changed over the years. Previous terms have included Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE) and Minimal Brain Dysfunction (MBD). The new term FASD emphasizes the wide continuum of clinical effects that can occur when a woman drinks alcohol during pregnancy. Included within Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders are Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), Alcohol Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND), and Alcohol Related Birth Defects (ARBD).

  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)
    Children whose mothers drink alcohol during pregnancy can suffer a wide range of physical, mental, behavioral, and learning disabilities that fall into the broad continuum of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is one of these disorders. Children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) have specific facial features, growth abnormalities and changes in the central nervous system.

  • Alcohol Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND)
    Children with Alcohol Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND) were exposed to alcohol prenatally. They are similar to children with FAS in regard to central nervous system and growth abnormalities, but they do not show all of the characteristic facial features required for a diagnosis of FAS.

  • Facial Features
    Children with FAS demonstrate all three of the characteristic facial features, while children with ARND may have one or two:

    • Thin upper lip

    • Flattened elongated philtrum (groove or crease running from the bottom of the nose to the top of the lip)

    • Short palpebral fissures (small eye openings)

    In addition, children with FASD may have other features such as:

    • Epicanthal folds (extra skin folds coming down around the inner angle of the eye)

    • Small mouth with a narrow high arched palate

    • Small teeth with poor enamel

    • Small chin

    • Low set or malformed ears

    These changes can vary in severity, but usually persist over the life of the child. Most people will not recognize any differences when they see the child, but someone with experience in working with children prenatally exposed to alcohol will be able to detect the changes.

    Children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders also may have a variety of malformations of major organs including:

    • The heart, kidneys, eyes, and ears

    • Vision problems, with a good number of people having an eye that turns in or a lazy eye.

    • Predisposition to ear infections and a high rate of hearing loss (eighth nerve deafness)

  • Growth Abnormalities
    Children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome demonstrate poor growth in height or weight at some point during their lives. Babies born to mothers who use alcohol have a lower than average birth weight. As children with FAS grow, they tend to continue to be small for their age. Children with ARND may or may not demonstrate growth abnormalities.

  • Central Nervous System Changes
    Children with FASD have significant structural and functional changes in their brains resulting in varying degrees. FASD can cause:

    • Microcephaly (small head size)

    • Lower IQ

    • Behavioral problems

    • Emotional problems and learning problems

    Areas of the brain that are particularly susceptible to the effects of alcohol include those responsible for:

    • Executive functioning

    • Emotional and behavioral regulation, and

    • Cognitive functioning

    Damage to the brain associated with the alcohol exposure can result in a variety of dysfunctions including:

    • Difficulty applying learning to new situations

    • Poor problem solving skills

    • Difficulty understanding and following directions

    • Difficulty with transitions

    • Trouble interpreting social cues

    • Problems regulating responses to sensation

    • Poor motor planning and

    • Issues with attention and hyperactivity (ADHD)

    Many behaviors seen in children with FASD are the result of brain damage and not willful misconduct. Examples include:

    • The child who repeatedly forgets his homework

    • Cannot stand in line and wait his turn, or

    • Has difficulty following the rules of a baseball game

    When the relationship between these behaviors and the neurological deficits resulting from FASD is not recognized, the children often begin to feel incompetent and their caregivers may become frustrated, thinking that the child is “defiant” or “unmotivated”. Once families begin to understand the source of the behaviors and use strategies to help the children, improvements in all areas can be achieved.

    Children with FASD experience a range of primary difficulties associated with prenatal alcohol exposure, including:

    • Cognitive and executive dysfunction

    • Attentional and regulatory difficulties, and

    • Problems with mood and behavior

    Research has demonstrated that throughout adolescence and adulthood individuals diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Alcohol Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder are at increased risk for the development of an array of “secondary disabilities” associated with the primary effects of prenatal alcohol exposure including:

    • Mental health problems

    • Disrupted school experiences

    • Trouble with the law

    • Confinement

    • Inappropriate sexual behavior and

    • Alcohol and drug problems

  • Alcohol Related Birth Defects (ARBD)
    Children with ARBD were exposed to alcohol prenatally and have associated physical findings but no central nervous system dysfunction. Children with ARBD can have malformations of major organs such as the heart, kidneys, eyes and ears, and other issues such as vision problems, a predisposition to ear infections, a higher than average rate of hearing loss and poor enamel coating of the teeth.

Out Like A Light

I was up before the sun this morning my natural time-clock always seems to get out of alignment in the spring--or at least during the spring in the Pacific Northwest! We had a few nice days of sunshine and now--it is gray and rainy again. This is the time of the year where I would gladly Walk to San Diego!

Marty has the day off from school today since all the older kids have another half day for some strange reason. It's a good thing today because the poor kid has outgrown his clothes again. Yesterday I found him laying on the floor trying to pull up his pants...they were so short they wouldn't go over his knees. We went through his drawers and even his underpants have gotten too small! So we will go shopping just mom and Marty and get that problem fixed!

It's amazing to me because this little guy started out under the 10% growth for height and weight and every doctor appointment since he has managed to gain some percentage on the charts. I sure can't wait until his next appointment!

Late this afternoon Makala has a Dr Joe appointment. I dread that completely as it will be right during rush hour--and I have to take both kids with me... At least I can feel a little better being stuck in the car since it is going to be one of those gray days.

I notice that some person around the world from me seems to be obsessed with checking my blog everyday--like I have nothing better to think about then someone on the Internet--or even someone not needing me all day long. Gee Jane who calls herself Adopted--if you spent so much time thinking about how you could just put your childhood behind you--if you spent so much time getting over the fact that sometime birth mother do just want to Never think of this choice again Maybe you could think of something besides the Blog of some Adoptive Mother on the other side of the world.

It just breaks my heart to know that Yet another parent is going to sit there and stew in their own self misery as their children grow up. I don't maybe I just got over my own childhood--and my own personal pain and misery because I am a Mom? I just don't have that much time to wallow around in the things from my past that hurt me. I always figure Why Lose Another Day suffering over something I just have no control over?

But, apparently I have no right to even think that I might understand.

I guess, I can just say that I have been-there and done that for too long. When I think back on the 14 years of pain and suffering that Tom (my ex) lived through... and the way it affected him as a husband and father it just seems like such a waste of life to me. So much time lost in all the issues that he seemed to think only he could possibly ever understand. Watching him decide that alcohol was a good way to numb his pain... and when He Hurt his whole family suffered. It is hard to be a happy family when one of the parents can't get over something they had and have no control over.

Wa Wa...

As if only an adopted person has the right to ruin their whole lives--and take joy away from the family and children they created. The sad part is that I watched Tom do this to his own children this "I have pain" so I don't have to be normal--and you don't understand because you were not adopted (poor me).

Yep--so one parent made a choice and that choice means that another parent has the right to "Be-Less" just because no one can ever understand!

It's sad because Tom's isolated pain that no one else could ever understand sure did cause his own children problems. His own kids have to deal with his choice too. And his choice was to use the fact he was adopted to not become a real person, or a loving parent.

He is the one who now has a hurt relationship with his children. And the SAD part is that his children don't get to spend their adult lives telling people they don't understand because they were not adopted. No--Tom's kids get to say, "My father is an Ass and spent his whole adult life suffering because he was adopted and we didn't understand... But, then when they spend any time sharing stories with other people it all turns out the same... You either get Crap for parents or Not.

My kids get to go out and suffer misery but, they don't get to tell others that it is because they were adopted. Nope. It is because they had an adopted parent who wanted to use that as his reason to be less then a man--and much less then a father. His children are old enough now to get the fact that Anyone can Decide to make their lives crazy and it doesn't need to be validated over some minority issue like adoption.

My kids know other kids who grew up with a parent that wasn't healthy. A parent who drank too much--or spent far too much time "being adopted" while they should have been being a happy parent. Wait--no they didn't they just know a lot of other kids their age who had a parent who spent way too much time living their own lives to bother and enjoy seeing their own child grow up. In fact, if the truth were actually known--my kids know a lot of kids who had Crap for a parent and well, they only know one who sits and stews in the fact it was all about adoption.

And---not only that My Kids know a lot of other kids who had a parent that was adopted their own cousins had two adopted parents...and My Kids know that adoption isn't the end of the world and doesn't give their parents the right to let their children grow up messed up just because they can't get over being adopted...

oh, well at least the children don't sit around making this a reason to be less...and hopefully one day their father will get over it and start to live his own life. Although after seeing him the last time I am pretty sure he is going to let this eat him up until he dies... too many years boozing it away--so much hate and angry is marks his face...

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