Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Well Meaning but, they do not Get It

As I expected and hope Makala's days in the day treatment program are numbered. She has reached level 4 which means she needs to meet her "percentages" for 75 days. She always does well in a structured program when she is the "good" child in the group. Of course, she will do well in this program.

Today we were talking about what is happening at school, and it still cracks me up sometimes when "people" think they understand.

Part of a day treatment program includes "therapy" which Makala has had so much of that she knows every answer. We were talking about what she is working on during her one-on-one therapy sessions. As usual, Makala is working on:

"What to do when she is Angry"

I think Makala has been working on this list for at least 4 years now. It's the one she knows the therapist enjoy and then helps her write lists, draw pictures and try to remember the skills.

We have had about 5-6 different "Anger coping skills" Charts, lists, collages, posters -- you name it! Makala has learned that this "problem" eats up a lot of time during therapy and the therapists enjoy it.

All of the charts, lists and posters have the same things listed.
When I am Angry I can:

  • Listen to Music

  • Take a Walk

  • Dance

  • Get a Drink of Water

  • Swing

  • Walk Away

Seems like a real nice list. Until you pay attention to exactly "WHAT" makes Makala Angry and then... the charts, lists, posters and therapy misses a very important point:

All of the choices on the lists and charts are inappropriate behaviors for the situations that make Makala angry with ADULTS. In Fact, doing any of these things because she is Angry about being asked to set the dinner table--would only result in some kind of consequence she really wouldn't like!

I doubt that it would be very effective for her to manage her anger with her teacher if she just walked outside and took a walk or played on the swings.

It's hard to convince people, especially those with all the training, that children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder -- FASD tend to see things very literally and live in the moment. The list of skills is fantastic for children who may be holding on to anger for a long time or needing skills to cope with pro-longed stressful situations.

But, my little girl needs skills for "the moment" and doesn't quite get the fact that it is NOT okay to start dancing when she is angry with her mother...or teacher. It is Not Okay to listen to music when your teacher has made you angry and it would be a really bad idea to take a walk because you are angry it's time to go in the house for the night!

Therapy is great, but the fact is FASD is brain damage and all the therapy in the world will not help a child learn WHEN to use these Anger Coping Skills or what to do when the Anger is in the moment with someone who has authority. Therapy is not going to give Makala any "abstract thinking" to her Anger is Anger and the list is THE LIST.

It's my job to go over and over the subject with her and work on making the REAL lists and charts--the ones that help her learn what to do with Anger in every different situation. How to identify anger, how to express anger, and how to respond to authority when she is angry.

1 comment:

  1. It is not an easy journey. I hope you find help more appropriate to the needs of your family.


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