Tuesday 25 February 2014

Food (not so) Glorious Food

A month or so after Missy came to us, her food anxiety reared its head.  Portion sizes, other people eating when she's not, obsession with sweet things and when her next meal is have all caused massive anxieties over the last year.  Generally her anxieties have lessened quite considerably which is great but the relationship between her and food is never going to be an easy one.

At a Christmas party with other adopted children, all the kids were served a plate full of party food that the parents had brought and had been shared equally among the children.  Of 20 or so children, 17 ate (apparently) happily, stopped when they were full, were more interested in the games but three, including Missy, stayed at the table until every single crumb had disappeared off their plates.  And then she had jelly and ice cream. And then she won a sweet in Pass the Parcel - as every other child had eaten theirs, I didn't feel it was fair to say no on this occasion.  

Throughout the day Missy will ask about the timing of the next meal or snack.  If we are going somewhere, she will want to know if we will be eating there.  She needs to know exactly what is going in her sandwich bag each day and watches over me whilst I prepare - I used to usher her out the kitchen but soon realised that this was something she needed to do.

We and the SWs can't be sure exactly where her food issues come from.  Unlike some children who go into care, she wasn't consistently deprived of food although we do know suspect that there were times when she went without or was fed at inappopriate times.  She tells me she was fed a lot of sweet stuff and we know that at contact her birth mother would bring a lot of sweet things and Missy would down the lot, probably to please BM.  So it's not the deprivation food that I think is ultimately Missy's issue and thus it was interesting to read this article this week about food issues.

I think Missy's associates food with love.  Being fed equals being loved.  She looks at food as comforter, a friend, an emotional link with her carer. There's also the link with shame.  I get it - I've put on a stone over the last 18 months through 'comfort eating'. Then I'll feel bad about my weight ..... and so eat more because I feel bad.  It's a circle that I can, if I put my mind to it, get out of.  But Missy can't do this, she needs our help to help her work through the deep rooted negative feelings she holds within.

Saturday 22 February 2014

Achieving in Artwork #2

As Missy's interests expand - she's made a leap forward in reading over the last month and loves reading her books to us - one pastime continues to be her favourite and that is artwork. If she isn't drawing, she's making something.

Often she will see something that I'm going to recycle; perhaps a cardboard box, a cardboard insert from a package, a ribbon or maybe a toilet roll, and instantly see a shape in it. But drawing and painting is still her favourite. Yesterday she drew around a shell to make leaves, cut them all out and stuck them onto a tree trunk she had made. She's going to cut out pics of our family and stick them on her leaves to make her family tree. All her own idea.

I recently found some artists watercolour paper in the loft that I bought years and years ago so I let her have a few pieces. She loved seeing how the watercolours worked on the paper and painted some lovely rainbows. However, one painting really stood out for me. It's a girl standing next to a bonfire on fireworks night. I asked why she was all in black. "Because it's night time and you can only just see her." She didn't know the word silhouette but that's what she meant to draw. Genius in my opinion. For a 6 year old I think that shows some depth.

This post links up with the Weekly Adoption Shout Out #WASO where this week's theme is 'The work of our child/children'.

Friday 7 February 2014

The Leaf

After school Missy has a drink and a snack whilst watching some TV and quite often I sit nearby with a cuppa. Sometimes she's quiet and at other times she witters constantly. Last Monday she was wittering away about this and that - "actually mummy I don't like this juice anymore can I have milk when is Dr Ranj on again Tommy hurt himself at school and teacher put a plaster on whats for tea can I have a leaf to stop me thinking about old mummy Peter Rabbit is my favourite when is it on can I take a game to Grandma's".  Hang on! Rewind! What was that about a leaf?

Missy had seen something on TV about a lucky leaf; I'm guessing a four leaf clover but I've looked through the CBeebies listing for that day and couldn't find anything.  She decided a leaf would help her stop having dreams about birth mum and help her have happy thoughts. She would put it under her pillow and could also take it to school. And could I make it please? Well I'm not really known for my craft skills but nevertheless Missy chose some felt, drew the shape of leaf she wanted and I set about making a little stuffed leaf for her.

I'm quite proud of my resulting leaf and Missy has had it with her ever since, particularly under her pillow at night.  I'm hoping the leaf will help comfort for her in the next few weeks as I suspect anxiety levels will be raised prior to the Celebration Hearing.  We haven't got a confirmed date yet but the Final Hearing is imminent and the SW will confirm a date then.  Missy doesn't know about the Hearings yet and we and her SW will have a conversation with her next week.  How she will react we just don't know.  It may be that the Celebration Day tells her that we really are forever and her anxiety levels reduce, or it may increase her current worries about never seeing her birth mum again before she dies.  We've had lot of tears about this in the last few weeks and we're not really sure what is best to say.  We try to help her understand why she is here with us and not birth mum but any suggestions regarding dying would be most welcome.

Tuesday 4 February 2014

Meeting with OT but no coffee allowed

We had a meeting this week with the Occupational Therapist, focusing on Sensory Integration Disorder.

Before matching, the SWs highlighted that there may be sensory issues for Missy and so because of Missy's needs, they arranged an initial assessment for me and Daddy to see the OT.  Prior to the appointment we had to complete a long questionnaire about Missy, detailing how she responded in certain situations - her survival strategies, her attachment behaviour, sensory and vestibular processing, touch, taste, proprioception and her auditory processing.

Her taste and sensory processing interests me a lot.  We saw vasts swings in behaviour when one of her pupils was hugely dilated due to eye drops.  As far as taste is concerned, she tried a bit of Daddy's home made curry last night that nearly blew my head off.  "Yeah, like it" she said, without so much as a blink. She loves strong flavours and has no problem with textures.  It's almost like her taste buds are under-developed?

So, we were greeted by the OT in the reception area and she asked if we would like a drink.  We both said we would like a coffee so off she went to the cafe just behind reception but came back empty handed.  Unfortunately, she was told we could not have coffee in the meeting room due to health and safety!  It was feared that someone might get burnt if one of us were to throw the coffee at her!!  FFS!  Health and safety gone completely bonkers.  I'm surprised they allowed furniture in the room in case one of us threw a chair! .

Bemusement passed and we got down to business. She asked us a lot more about Missy and how she reacts in certain situations.  I like answering these questions because it's like therapy for us and getting stuff off our chests.

The OT is going to have a good read through all her notes and then get back to us with some strategies.  Whilst the Theraplay focussed more on attachment, the OT is going to focus on calming.  No mention was made of an actual diagnosis of SID/SPD.  A couple of things that she did mention, and which actually Daddy and I know yet had stopped doing, was to treat Missy the age she is acting.  She may be 6 but at times she is still a toddler and we need to remember that and act accordingly, particularly when she's having a tantrum - she definitely sounds like a toddler wailing during a tantrum.  We need to be mindful of filling in the blanks that previously had been missed from Missy's life. The OT talked about a calm box which I've seen mentioned before on blogs yet never put one together myself so will get that sorted.  She talked about rough and tumble which Missy LOVES - something to do with her vestibular system and getting the right messages to the brain.  The OT was also pleased to her that I'm learning how to teach children meditation and have tried guided meditations on CD with some success.

So, we await her email and see what she suggests but all in all we came away from the meeting feeling very positive. Once again I remind myself how grateful we are to have access to these support services.

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