Tag Archives: behavioral therapy

Therapy Thursday

It’s adjustment disorder.

She has sensory processing disorder.

She is autistic.

She suffers from anxiety.

She has the emotional capability of an 18 month old.

This just tops the list of things we’ve been told about Molly. She has “failed” pretty much every standardized tests for diagnosing any of these conditions.

She can’t control herself when routines change. She’s rigid. She doesn’t communicate well. She can’t keep eye contact. She’s delayed developmentally.

She doesn’t like loud noises, clothes, food, has balance difficulty. She has sensory processing disorder.

She’s afraid of the dark. She’s afraid of public toilets. She carries on frantically when she doesn’t like something. She gets too nervous about being wrong. It’s anxiety.

The problem is that all of these symptoms overlap in the Venn diagram from hell. They are each part of sensory processing, autism, adjustment disorders and anxiety. So each profession we talk to grabs hold of the symptoms they specialize in and diagnose and suggest treatment for that. Each have compelling arguments why they are right and how their diagnosis would cause the other symptoms and then each are left with a bunch of ??? when Molly doesn’t quite fit their mold. And we are left trying to figure out what to do next.

We’ve had success with therapeutic riding, but not in some main areas.

We had success with behavioral therapy, but as soon as Molly figured out the ropes it was downhill from there.

Sticker charts are useless. She can’t be motivated. Some days to do anything.

Since this summer, we have been heading into the anxiety difficulty. It’s the last piece of the puzzle we really haven’t tackled. We tried once. We did the big name hospital, we weren’t happy. Honestly, it scared me off. It’s a lot of time, energy and resources to go to these appointments. We’ve been blessed with plenty of family and friends who are more than willing to help, but it’s still tiring and at some point leads me to a nervous breakdown after balancing schedules, appointments, work and babysitters. After the first failure we’ve been putting it off, but a recommendation from the school psychologist has me staring at a list of names again. Plain old names. All backgrounds fit what we need, no one seemingly better or worse than another. It’s another shot in the dark to find out what we need and who we need. I sat and stared at these names this morning, trying to pick up the phone to call them and find out if they take our insurance and if they have availability that matches our limited free time, but I didn’t call anyone. Instead I sat and cried. Feeling like I needed a therapist myself, or a personal assistant to make the call so I don’t have to deal with it. I considered hooking my box of wine up to an IV but it was 9 AM and I had a feeling that social workers or counselors don’t appreciate drunk phone calls that early in the morning.

Then Molly came home from school and I realized that I do have to deal with it. I have to deal with it because I have a daughter that has difficulty dealing with life.

At least my boxed wine is still on sale at the local liquor store.

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Starting Again

Today we started over again. 

We have been on and off the therapy bus several times. We’ve been through testing several times. I don’t know why I thought today would be different. Maybe it was because we were going to the big name institute that has credentials and multitude of services and reputation. Or maybe it was just because I’m in need of answers as we travel down this road again.

I didn’t get them today.

What we got was the same thing that therapy always starts out with. An interview. Questionnaires. History. Imagine telling a perfect stranger all of the worst possible character traits of you and your child, retelling your struggles and remaining neutral about them as if you were giving a list of what you had to eat that day, going over and over your child’s issues, and your less than perfect parenting moments. Now, imagine doing it for the third time. 

It’s hard to do. It’s exhausting. For some reason, I hadn’t planned to do it today. I don’t know why. Maybe I should have asked what the appointment would entail when I set up the evaluation. Maybe I should have looked more into what we were getting involved with. I was am so desperate for answers that I wanted one today. I wanted for us to go in and say “our problems are….” and have them ask a few questions and BAM! treatment plan, diagnosis, something. I wanted information. I wanted hope. What I have is two more appointments. Our observation appointment, which is basically what it sounds like, they observe you interacting with your child (not at all awkward or unnatural) then the “parents only” appointment where they tell you all the disturbing things about your child and how they plan to fix them. 

Two weeks. Two weeks until I need to mentally and emotionally prepare. 

I’ll need to get another box of wine. 

 

Teacher Susie

When Molly was 9 months I expressed some concern to our pediatrician that she didn’t respond to us when we talked to her. She seemed lost in her own world a lot. He asked if she responded to sounds, I said yes, he said he wasn’t concerned.

When Molly was 18 months I expressed concern that she seemed to be bothered by things such as her hair being too long, her sleeves being pushed up or wearing clothes. The pediatrician said she was starting to express her individuality.

When Molly was 2 1/2 and again at 3 I expressed concern that she was having a lot of behavioral issues, more than I deemed “normal”. I was told by our pediatrician that she was bored and not to worry, she wasn’t autistic.

We are no longer with this group of pediatricians.

In the fall that Molly started 2 year old preschool I was at my wits end. She was almost 2 1/2 and having tantrums at every little event. I read parenting books, articles and blogs. I read anything I could get my hands on and talked to other parents for advice, but nothing worked. I was failing as a parent, I was failing my child and I felt like I was failing my family. Depression doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt.

“Give you child choices, so they feel empowered” I would read. I would give Molly choices and she would pick something else, like ice cream for breakfast and then throw a 30 minute fit because I wouldn’t give it to her.

“Ignore the tantrum, it will go away”. After 45 minutes it gets easier to ignore because you start to become numb to the the screaming, but after about the 4th one in a day your nerves are shot and you end up giving them some attention during the tantrum. Now, I have failed, she has broken me.

“Don’t overuse negatives like No, Don’t, Stop, etc”. Even though we still try to do this, I can only say “we sit on the couch” so many times before I go insane.

Enter Teacher Susie.

Teacher Susie came to us through the Parents As Teachers Program in our local school district. (I highly recommend this program if it’s available in your school district). She would come week after week with her tote of fun stuff and play with the kids. I would discuss our behavioral issues and she would supply real life solutions, then she would see them fail and say “hmmm, we’ll find an answer”.

Oh, how our family loved her totes though. The kids would be diving into them before she even took her shoes off and for an hour everyone was happy. There were new toys, challenging toys, sensory toys, fun crafts, those totes were awesome. Then there were Teacher Susie’s folders and in those folders were my goodies. There was information on development, on behavior, and new solutions to our problems. Finally, our concerns were falling on open ears. Teacher Susie worked with us for almost a year and then came the day that she witnessed Molly in full Molly form and me on the verge of a nervous breakdown and it was finally said “I think you need professional help”.

I blinked away tears and said “yes, that’s why you are here”

Teacher Susie: “I think it’s time our behavioral counselor came to talk to you. I can only do so much and you guys need the help”

I honestly just sat there and cried. I left to go back to work and cried some more. I felt like I had been punched in the stomach but I knew she was right.

A week later Marie showed up. I had taken notes over the weekend (Molly made it quite easy) so I could have everything I wanted to say easily at my finger tips. Then she had Stampy and I fill out a questionnaire about Molly’s behavior. Apparently we filled it out pretty quickly and without much discussion with is rare.

When Marie returned with our results, she had met with Teacher Susie first who informed her that we would be relieved. Marie still showed up with a look on her face like she was going to tell us that someone died. “Normal” is considered a child’s age + or – 2 years, Molly came up with a behavioral and emotional development less than an 18 month old, she was 3 1/2. Not only that but scored in the 99th percentile and off the charts for most categories.

We weren’t insane and we weren’t failures, we had a child that had difficulties and now to start therapy and find out why.

A year later we have lots of answers and lots of smiles and little mental breakdowns and we have Teacher Susie to thank for that. Without her, I don’t know where we’d stand today. She has since left the Parents as Teachers Program and often I want to email her or send her a card but how do you thank someone that gave you so much. How do you thank someone that finally listened and stood with you and helped? No card or email or gift seems to do justice what she did for us. I don’t know if there is ever a way to truly have her understand our gratitude. Teacher Susie gave us our family and she gave us our little girl back and for that I am eternally grateful.