Chill out time.

  

We are currently waiting on a diagnosis of Sensory Processing Disorder for our eldest: while we wait for SW, PASW, CAMHS etc to sort themselves out and work out who will assess and potentially treat my boy I turned to the wonderful world of Twitter for advice.

As usual the amazing people on there came up with loads of suggestions which make so much sense.

After some research and a bit of a dive into Pinterest I decided to try a sensory box. I created a sensory box for home and 2 pencil cases (1 for nursery bag and 1 for my handbag). I didn’t really know what to expect or what I was doing. I tried to include things he could scratch and fiddle with in a focused way, things I knew would hold his attention, they are a random mix of things if you look at the picture above. The box for home include a sensory ball and sunglasses among other things. We named them the “chill out box/bag”.

I have started by offering the bag / box when I feel he he is becoming hyper-vigilant or hyper-stimulated. The first time I used it was when he was playing with Grandpa and I could see he was over-stimulated, I offered the box and gave him a space away from us but where he could see us and turned the sand timer to 10 minutes. I was amazed. He sat with his glasses on and scratched and fiddled away for the 10 minutes. Afterwards he told me “it was amazing” he seemed brighter and came back into the lounge a calm relaxed boy who was able to carry on playing with his Grandpa (I’d had words with my father-in-law about not doing rough play or tickling).

I was shocked, this was our little boy who previously would be unable to stop and would likely escalate to violence and screaming, we had averted the crisis and he came out of it really happy.

He has asked for the box / bag several times and has always been keen to have it when we have offered it. It came in very handy when we were away with family last weekend. Obviously it doesn’t solve all our problems and we still get seemingly random acts of violence, but it helps him regulate and prevent the escalation we were becoming used to.

As usual we’re not sure what we’re dong and making it up as we go along with a little help from our Twitter friends!

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Foster sibling relationships.

  

Tom has 2 half brothers, however he will say he has several more, he includes the children of his foster carer and the other children in the foster home as his brothers (4 under 10- the woman is amazing to have had 6 children under 10 at the same time). We are fortunate in that we have a very good relationship with the foster family and have met up a few times in local parks, always to the benefit of our boys. It is worth noting our SW and the department in general have a very negative view of this foster family and discouraged contact (more on that in a bit).

Tom loves his “other brothers”. The foster carer’s own children are 8 & 10 and he looks up to them and respects them, they taught him how to kick a ball, run, play on the trampoline etc. they were a massive part of over half his life so far.

The 2 other boys (also brothers) in foster care for the last 8/9 months are of a similar age to Tom. They are being adopted separately, the elder hopefully going to his new family in the next few weeks. It was the elder’s birthday last week and we were invited to his party. For us this was hard as we knew this was potentially the last time Tom would see his “brother”, this little boy a few months older than him who shared so much with him, Tom had no idea. 

The party was amazing and fortunately the elder’s new family were also there (his is a special guardianship order), it was so lovely to meet them as we have also come to care for this child having seen him grow in the 7 months we’ve known him.

There were also quite a few other people who knew Tom well at the party and it was so encouraging to hear how positive they were about him. Both boys coped with the party amazingly well and really enjoyed seeing old friends again.

What has really struck us in our contact with the boys’ foster family is that the relationship between foster siblings is largely ignored by social services. We feel our boys have benefited from seeing the other 4 boys on the 3 occasions greatly. Tom regularly asks if the boys are ok and if they come up he always refers to them as his brothers. 

I don’t think it’s helpful that these relationships are ignored, there may not be a sharing of blood but there is a sharing of experience and after all adoption is not about blood relationships!

We intend to see the boys foster family 3 / 4 times a year as long as it is of benefit to ALL the children involved. Now we envisage this may decrease / change over time as it’s not so easy to meet up in the park or neutral ground, but we want there to be a sharing of information between the adults so when the children ask about their “other brothers” we don’t just make something up.

I do know that it is not always appropriate to continue contact and sometimes it can be to the children’s detriment but because that can be the case doesn’t mean the relationship should always be ignored.

Going back to an earlier point about social services view of the boys foster carer, they told us she was difficult to get along with and awkward with them. This could not be further from the truth in our experience, she has been happy to give advice when needed and her primary thought in everything she does is for the benefit of our boys. I think they found her difficult as she fought for the children she cared for and never let things slide if she wasn’t happy with them, that is the sort of person I want caring for my children! On that note I think I’ll text her and remind her how wonderful she is and how much we value her.

What’s in a name?

  

Tom is fascinated by peoples’ names, whenever we watch CBeebies Bedtime Stories I have to make sure I know the name of the person telling the story as he will always ask. He sees names as an important part of identity, interestingly all soft toys are called by their creature name, above is Doggy, we gave him to Tom with our photo book we gave him before intros.

Tom has become upset on several occasions when he has been unable to remember his siblings’ names, we try to engage in meaningful conversation about them but we are still waiting for his life story book! (7 months since placement).

Today we were on our way to see a close friend of mine, we’ve seen her alone before with the boys and today we were meeting her with her children. Now I hadn’t thought much about this, we had told Tom the day before but this morning started our usual more detailed prep of what we’re doing today. It was at this point I realised a problem, her youngest has the same name as the boys’ other brother, the one Tom was very close to and loves dearly, the one he is confused about not being with. We put so much effort into planning and structure it hadn’t occurred to me about the names (it’s not a common name). 

We spent some time discussing the name and how this is a different boy not his brother, he sat and listened, asked questions, then we asked him if he was ok with the meet up up, he was calm and said “I think I’ll be fine”.

To his credit after some hesitation when we introduced them he was amazing, we had a fantastic morning.

To me a name is a name, I don’t give them much thought. To Tom they are so important, he wants to know everyone’s name and remembers everyone’s name and attaches an emotion to certain names (positive and negative). I expected today to be difficult because of a name but my precious boy showed me how far he had come in trusting us.

Tom introduces himself as Tom X, part of ‘Team X’. He loves his new surname and says it with pride, he loves hearing about names, to him there is a lot in a name.

How I feel loved in a home where the ‘L’ word is too scary.

  

In our home love is a scary thing. We tell our boys every night before they go to bed that we love them, we don’t often get a response. If we mention love during the day we can sometimes be met with screams. (See my previous post about the trampoline). However I have come to learn that our boys do love us in their own way even if they can’t say it. (James can’t even say mummy so if he came out with “I love you” I would probably faint!).

Here are 10 ways I know my boys (mostly Tom) have accepted me and love me:

1. Tom gives me a kiss on the forehead when I put him to bed.

2. James gives me his bear (the love of his life) for me to kiss when I put him to bed.

3. Tom says “you’re my friend mummy / daddy”. This is a big deal for him.

4. We share a bowl of grapes together, trying to take it in turns.

5. Tom gets excited when going shopping with daddy as he likes to choose me flowers then carry them home.

6. On a Saturday the boys try to be quiet to enable me to have a cup of tea in bed, this is not always successful but they both give me a huge hug when I see them after.

7. This week Tom admitted he missed us when at nursery.

8. Some mornings when daddy is at work, Tom will climb into bed with me and ask to make a little den together under the covers while holding me tight.

9. Both boys join in our “love hugs”. This is where all four of us have a hug together, each of us with a child on our hips so we’re close to the same head height, it is amazing every time.

10. Both boys hold onto me while we dance around the living room with massive smiles on their faces.

It’s all a work in progress and there have been a few occasions where Tom has told us he loves us but it is still such a scary thing for him to say, however trying to break it down and look at his actions and reactions we know he feels something strong for us and even if it’s hard to admit he wants to be part of this family.