Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Day 23: Suggestions Needed

I have been talking to Lynda a bit about my seven year old daughter, Amber. The comments were getting a bit long, so I figured I would make a post out of it.

I don't know any other way to start this post than to say that Amber has issues. Lots of them. I love her to death, of course, but the girl has problems. It started out as behavioral problems when she was just 1 1/2 years old. At home she would behave fine, but at daycare she would exploit any opportunity she had for trouble. We had many parent/teacher meetings, and Amber improved, but the problem was still there.

One day, when Amber was 3, the school had scheduled another meeting. I showed up, only to be bombarded by EIGHT people -- 2 daycare staff, the director, 2 psychologists, and I don't remember who the other 3 were, I just know they weren't from the daycare. I felt ambushed. Why didn't they just tell me? I've been to all the other meetings, why shouldn't I know about this? To top it all off, a few minutes after discussion began, one of the people there asked, "And where's the mother in all this? Does she just not care?" Talk about blood boiling!!! Someone in the room politely mentioned that "her mother" was sitting right there. Open mouth, insert foot -- the lady apologized and didn't say another word the entire meeting. The only thing that came out of that meeting was that perhaps Amber should be drugged. Drugged! At 3 years old! ... That's why nothing ever came out of that situation.

Fast forward 4 years. I work very closely with Amber's teachers, and the behaivoral problems are pretty much gone. These have been replaced by socialization and emotional problems. Amber simply cannot interact with other children. Her idea of playing is telling everyone EXACTLY what they have to do. "Put this here -- no, that goes there. No, we shouldn't be a kitten. Let's be cats. No, YOU be the mom, I'll be the kid ..." Thus it's no surprise she doesn't really have friends.

Along with not getting along with anyone, she flies off the handle emotionally if anything does not go her way. And this isn't because she's used to getting her way. No, she doesn't get her way many times a day when she's at home. So, she just flies off the handle numerous times an evening. And she cries, and cries, and cries.

I don't know what to do. I give her affection, lots of it, but Amber doesn't respond well to that. She's never been very affectionate at all. I tell her I love her, I praise her accomplishments. I try to ask her how she feels and what's making her upset, but nothing pans out. I try to help her learn how to play by interacting with her and her sister. Her sister, by the way, is the complete opposite. She loves everyone and everyone loves her and she gets along splendidly with everyone but her sister (not for lack of trying). If it were both of them, I'd think that I was doing something terribly wrong. But it's just Amber.

This past week I have seriously considered a child psychologist of some sort. There are a couple problems with that: (1) I'm afraid they'll want to drug her, and I don't think that's appropriate for this situation (2)Money. My copay for a psychologist is $50 a visit (yes I looked this up because I'm seriously considering it). That's a lot, especially if she's seeing this person multiple times a month.

I could write a ton more about this situation, but at the moment I don't have time to. I didn't even explain the problem very well, did I? Oh well. Suggestions are still welcome. Has anyone been there, done that?


maggie said...

Hugs, Brandie! I'm no expert, but it really and truly does sound like you should see a professional for help. People can give you ideas and advice, but it sounds like you've already tried most of those avenues. I'd try to poke around in your community for a doctor that doesn't automatically medicate - look online to see what you can find. There are such doctors out there, and I do bet you will feel better if you can find someone qualified enough to tell you what's really going on and how to help. It can be especially difficult for a sibling with "issues" to have such a well-adjusted other sibling, so if there is any shot at getting some of the issues sorted out now instead of later, I think you'd be doing your daughter a very huge favor. Just my two cents. Meanwhile, more hugs, and good for you not clocking the person who would automatically assume that the mom, you, didn't care, when it is so obvious that you do.

owned by dogs said...

Thanks for your post today. I actually work with high behavioral and developmentally disabled kids. Consistency and set expectations, along with the right medical advice are really the best route. I wish you all the best with your daughter and would love to chat about it.

I did add you to my links. THANKS FOR THE SUPPORT!

lynda w said...

Do you notice her need to control situations in other areas that aren't social? Does she need things to be done a certain way each time she does them?

Is she doing well acedemically?

Just some questions that popped into my head as I was reading.

Have you talked to Amber's doctor about your concerns? So many times pediatricians are quick to brush off a parent's concerns, but stick to your guns because they may be able to recommend you to a child behavioral psychologist that fits your wants and needs. If your doctor has other patients that see a psychologist, he/she may see a trend in which ones prescribe medication more than others.

Another resource is to see if there is a support group in your area for parents of children that have special needs. I'm not saying Amber is one of those children, but those parents hold a wealth of information and will freely tell you there opinions on different doctors. If you know a parent that has a child with autism or asberger's or ADHD, ask them if they are familiar with any of the behavioral psychologists in your area. Then ask them your questions.

Another source of help you may not be aware of is Amber's school. Different states have different laws and procedures, but all states have to follow the no child left behind law. Ask your school's principal to meet with you to discuss what the school can do for Amber.

Our school has a Special Education department that covers our school district and a couple of others nearby. They are the ones that do the various kind of testing to see if they can determine a problem. Tell your school principal you would like to see if Amber qualifies for an IEP (Individualized Education Plan). They'll evaluate her in whatever areas you and her teacher feel necessary. If she qualifies for help in any area, the school has to, by law, provide this help.

We've been through all of these steps over the last 4 1/2 years with Ryan. It's amazing what you learn as you go along. We're currently waiting on evaluations on Ryan to be done so that we can determine if any changes can be made to his IEP to get him additional help. This testing should also show us if there is a learing disability or if it's his hearing loss that is holding him back. Then we will know how to deal with it.

That's the first step - figuring out what it is so that you can get to work on making it better!

Good luck. Amber is lucky to have you. My heart goes out to both of you. Just don't let anyone tell you something you know in your heart is not true. I'd say fight for her, but you already are.

Mz Diva said...

My heart goes out to you and to your daughter. I agree with Lynda that the school may need to assist you in paying for the help your daughter needs, but I would look for a doctor that has the same philosophy as you do now. I think Owned by Dogs said it best, consistancy and set expectations are imparative for most kids, but if they have no clue how to follow the rules, they may need to be taught. There are places that specialize in that sort of thing and it sounds like she knows some really good information since she works in this field.
As a kid who was medicated myself for many years due to learning and behaviorial disorders, I have some strong opinions on this issue. Sometimes kids grow out of stuff and sometimes they absolutly need medication to help them learn the skills so they can become productive members of society. I was pumped full of speed for six years...its a wonder I turned out to be a drug addict at 12? Did I need to be medicated? Posssibly...but parents did not have the knowledge of behaviorial interventions that they have today when I was in school. I would exaust every avenue before using drugs to treat any child but would use them if necessary. I had a student who had bi-polar disorder with mild schophrenia. She really needed medications to function. She is doing really well and comes back to visit me often. Before medication, she was suicidal and unable to function in society let alone school.
Keep posting. We are here for you.

lynda w said...

Are you doing ok, Brandie?