May 17 – Funny Ana!

Ana comes home from school everyday with a sheet that says what she did that day and how her behavior was. Well, since her behavior has not been very good lately her teacher has chosen to leave that part of the sheet blank and just walk her out to me – personally – to share the day’s trials and tribulations.

Ana is responsible for filling out everything but the behavior section of the sheet. Since her teacher is no longer filling out the bottom portion Ana circles what she did that day and puts it directly in her folder to take home.

The other day, a particularly bad day for Ana, her teacher noticed Ana writing something on the sheet of paper so after Ana put her paper in the folder her teacher took a look to see what it said.

After bringing Ana out to the car and going over her antics for the day she said, “Make sure and read what Ana wrote on her daily sheet.”

Very curious to see what Ana wrote since she NEVER writes anything voluntarily besides her name, I pulled her daily sheet out. There at the bottom very neatly written was “Ana good.”

Nice try, Ana.



February 16 – The week in review

Ana, Hannah and Drew on vacation last year

Ana, Hannah and Drew on vacation last year

This has (thankfully)  been a very uneventful week with Ana. There were a lot of noises and the transition from school to home was rough (not sure why) but overall it’s been good.

Ana had one typical, text-book, RAD moment this week. We, as in my husband and I, have been struggling with her yucky noises and not reacting to them, so we enacted a new rule – yucky noises are allowed outside and in Ana’s room only. This is for everyone’s sanity! She is allowed to make quiet noises in the rest of the house but if she starts with the obnoxious noises we tell her she’s welcome to make all the yucky noises she wants, but she needs to move downstairs (to her room).  No anger. No frustration. We even smile when we say it.

This has really thrown her for a loop since SO MANY battles have focused on her noises. I was waiting for the boundary testing to begin, and begin it did this week. As usual, Ana waited till I was super, über busy to push. I was frying bacon, holding a fussy baby, comforting a crying toddler and refereeing Hannah and Drew and Ana started her noises. I nicely told her to go down to her room. She said no. So, still being nice, I escorted her down to her room. Before I even got back to the bacon, she was back upstairs, yucky noises in tow.

I took her back downstairs, less friendly this time. She followed me back up.

I told her she could not come back up until her noises were out of her, and I’d let her know when that was. So she stood on the top step and yelled.

At this point I knew she had won. I had two choices. I could ignore the noises because I was busy (the win goes to Ana) or I could spend my time chasing her down the stairs every other minute (win for Ana because she had my attention). I could not think of any other way to remedy the situation.

I admit, I gave up. I put her downstairs and ignored her.

Since then I’ve done a lot of reflecting and found my flaw in that situation. I should never have allowed myself to get in a situation where I could not drop what I was doing and attend to Ana. I got off my plan.

We now have one of Ana’s classroom assistants who is coming to help me a few hours each week. I need to allow her to help me more so that I can focus on Ana when the need arises. It is hard, though, to rely on anyone, and my kids aren’t used to it.

On a good note, Ana did something totally NOT RAD like this week as well. She was in a fit on the way home from school, kicking and screaming in the van and accidentally kicked Hannah, who in turn could have won an Oscar with the performance she put on.

Ana really felt bad. Sincerely, totally, 100% felt bad that she hurt her sister. She hugged her and calmed down. I was so proud of her!

There is hope, after all.

January 12 – The best laid plans of mice and men…

"To a Mouse" by Robert Burns

“To a Mouse” by Robert Burns

Our church offers a children’s program, AWANA, on Sunday nights and Ana truly enjoys attending. However, her behavior keeps her from participating in most of it. For the past year a volunteer with the church’s special needs program has been her aide and all has gone mostly well. Unfortunately, the aide’s son has his own special needs and she can no longer leave him alone to help Ana, putting us back at square one.

I will interject that the AWANA curriculum is great for typically developing (TD) kids, but not so hot when one puts on their special ed glasses. Each evening is broken down into three activities (each lasting about twenty minutes): lesson, games, Bible verse memorization and recitation. Kids are in classes based on grade and by gender in the upper elementary grades.

AWANA always begins with everyone (three years old through fifth grade) together in a large room. In our church that is usually about 75 kids. They hear announcements, sing a few songs, learn a silly dance, award winners (for verse memorization) are announced and then they are dismissed to rotate through the three areas.

The time frame for the entire night is one hour and 45 minutes.

Problems Ana encounters:

1) There are WAAAAAAY too many transitions for such a short amount of time. We’re talking five transitions!
2) The games are in a gym with about thirty to forty 8-11 year olds (sensory overload big time) and are not disability friendly so Ana can’t play. She has to sit to the side and watch while being bombarded with kids screaming and running in a small gym with no windows.
3) The curriculum is very abstract and assumes that kids have been immersed in Scripture since birth. Not only does this exclude kids new to church, but it also excludes kids with learning differences or delays.
4) There is a LOT of unstructured time. This does not work so well with a lot of kids – not just Ana.
5) The more Ana acts like a goof the more kids stare at her. The volunteers are not trained in special ed and have no idea how to handle social situations with a special needs kid.

Now that you understand the limitations to AWANA, I’ll admit that it is a great way for churches to reach elementary age kids and engage them in fun Christian studies.

As long as you’re TD.

So, knowing the reality of AWANA and wanting Ana to be successful I spent all Sunday afternoon adapting her lesson, putting her Bible memory verse on the iPad and working up a successful behavior management plan. She has a new assistant working with her (from her school so she is not NEW new) and I wanted everything to be in place so that Ana could have a great night.

We pumped her up about how awesome she was going to do. She was excited because she was going to totally nail her Bible verse. She even chose her reward for good behavior.

Then we left the house.

It started falling apart in the car. For whatever reason Ana started talking about going to Daddy’s house. I tried to shut her down but to no avail. Next came the screaming. I told her if she was going to be loud she couldn’t stay at AWANA. That did nothing but further tick her off.

I couldn’t turn around and go home because Drew was in the car and I had to drop him off. When we got to church I told her she had one more chance to stay at AWANA. That was met with screaming, kicking, and threats to hurt her siblings. It got so bad I had to restrain her in front of all of her peers and she still managed to get in a good head-butt.

To say the least we went home.

I dropped her off with my husband to deal with her. I HAD to take a break. She continued the fit.

When I came home later with Drew after AWANA I was met at the door by Ana who told me her step-dad hit her in the head. Not like a little hit, but banged her head against the desk. Obviously, I asked him what happened.

He explained that she was mid-fit and while trying to restrain her (because she was trying to kick a hole in the wall) she threw her body back and hit her head on the bed frame.

That is Ana. She always blames others for the consequences of her choices. We are crossing our fingers, saying prayers and hoping and wishing that CPS doesn’t come knocking because of these type accusations. Thankfully, everyone at school knows Ana and knows to take what she says with a LARGE grain of salt.

As for AWANA, we will try again next week.

November 28 – Happy Turkey Day!

What a nice playroom!

What a nice playroom!

Today was Thanksgiving. We survived and Ana did pretty well. Of course I should say my bar is set pretty low; it’s a good holiday if we stay away from the ER and the police aren’t involved.

Ana started the day good but her agitation grew with the hours. She really wanted to go to her father’s house or her grandparents. We have explained to her all week that she will not be spending Thanksgiving at either house, but once she gets something in her mind it doesn’t matter what we tell her. I’ve heard this is quite common with RAD.

We had our big dinner at lunchtime (just the immediate family) and Ana started to throw her plate, for no apparent reason,  so she was nicely asked to leave the table and go to her room to calm down. She did. After lunch was finished and cleared away she decided she wanted some lunch. But she didn’t want Thanksgiving – she wanted Korean. This is something else I’ve heard is common with RAD – wanting things that are impossible to get.

To say the least she did not get Korean. She settled for some turkey and dressing followed by chocolate pie.

The rest of the afternoon her agitation grew with a few outbursts. She did spend a lot of time in her room.  We have started to wean her off spending time in her bedroom because she simply festers in there. It’s like she has a running internal dialogue about her dad and us not letting her see him and the longer she is left alone to stew the more worked up she gets. But we figured since it was a holiday, we’d take a chance and let her spend time alone so the rest of the family could enjoy the day.

By bedtime she was ready to blow. I asked her if she needed a sleepy pill (that is what we call her emergency sedative) and she said yes. That is a step forward. Usually she insists she doesn’t need it. For the last week I’ve been trying to get her to correctly identify her emotions and take ownership of them. Baby steps – I’ll take that!

November 26 – Jealousy issues

potty training

potty training

Today was pretty good for Ana. Her agitation was markedly decreased when I picked her up at school. She did get upset at home because I was helping her sister make a movie. She was jealous of my time but there wasn’t much I could do about it. She did earn bringing logs to the porch as a consequence for throwing a fi but she did it without much fuss (mainly b/c I helped her).

At bedtime she was making lots of yucky noises (still because I was helping her sister) and I told her she had to go to bed if that was what she was going to do. She protested a lot and promised she’d be quiet. I told her I’d give her one more chance but if she made her yucky noises she was going to bed – no questions. She said she understood. Less than three minutes later she went to the bathroom and started screaming. When I told her that was her last chance and it was bed time she didn’t argue. She took ownership!! This is a huge milestone for us!

Once in bed she made a little noise but was not destructive or self-injuring.