Help please - 8 yr old bipolar

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by wen, Nov 20, 2009.

  1. wen

    wen New Member

    My husband and I became guardians of a little girl about 2 years ago. She was a distant relative of his, and they decided to drop her off one weekend. DCFS was involved with the child, because she was being abused every way possible. The biological mother had to choose between the daughter and the people abusing the little girl. The mother chose to stay with her drug-addict friends instead of the daughter.

    "Ann" was born addicted to drugs, was abused in every way possible since birth, was kept in a crib until she was 5, neglected, etc...

    Ann has been diagnosed with Bipolar, Psychosis, ODD, Depression, Halucinations, Hyper-Sexual, Personality Disorder, and Attachment Disorder (I am sorry for any misspellings.) We have tried everything to let this little girl know she is loved and special.

    She has been hospitalized in behavioral health centers 8+ times in the past year. We are trying everything we can, and getting as much help as possible.

    We keep trying to teach her how to make right choices. We have tried reward systems, and she acts worse. She does not like good things. If we take her to a fun place, she will be horrible the next week to two weeks by destroying things, hurting animals, molesting kids on the bus, stealing things, threatening us and herself.

    We try to punish by taking away things, and she does not care. We do not know how to punish someone that does not care about consequences. She does not have any remorse for any bad behaviors at all. I asked one of her many therapists if there was a way to teach remorse, and they said no. :(

    We have to live a very sheltered life, because of her issues. We never know what she will say or do out in public. We went to the mall, and she started screaming at the top of her lungs that the people on the escalator were going to kill her. (There were not any people on it.) I just held her hand and told her she was safe and I would protect her. I acted like I did not see the many looks.

    She does some things that we just can't seem to help her with. She eats pooh - her own and animals. She is drawn to kids that are smaller than her, and will touch them in inappropriate ways. She constantly looks at and grabs at others' private parts. She has hurt 2 animals by putting her fingers in their bottoms and eating their pooh.

    Any advice or suggestions? We are trying so hard to give her a good life.
  2. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    Not to be harsh, but this child is so far off the usual mental illness scale that it is plain scary!

    If you have adopted her or are legally fostering her; you need to disrupt this placement.

    Sorry to be a doomsday prophesizer, but I honestly think this child is too badly damaged to ever live in a home environment.
  3. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    {{{Wen}}} welcome to our little corner of cyber-space, I'm sorry you had to find us. I'm curious as to what sort of supports and therapy Ann is receiving other than acute hospitalizations? Is she on any medications? How is she doing academically?

    While I do agree that Ann is severely ill, I wouldn't jump to disruption of her home life as GoingNorth has suggested just yet. BUT your family is going to need major interventions to survive. You also need to have professional help in developing a likely prognosis for Ann's functioning as an adult so that you can plan accordingly.

    You are on a long and difficult road but we will be here to offer support and guidance as we're able.
  4. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    I would look into Complex PTSD. Here is some info: Trauma White Paper.pdf

    Which I got from this website:

    There is also the National Child Traumatic Stress Network:

    You will need intensive supports and someone who specializes in dealing with complex trauma, likely a team of mental health professionals.

    We're always here to offer guidance, a shoulder, a place to vent.

  5. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I agree you need intensive supports. This poor child has been through so much that your attempts to expose her to a more normal life are just too confusing to her.

    I don't think punishment is working, either. andwhen something isn't working, you stop doing it.

    Think about things as she sees them - in her past, her abused past, when nice things happened to her they may have been a prelude to something really nasty. For example, someone wanting to abuse her might have fed her ice cream or been kind to her, then used this to get her somewhere where she wouldn't be able to control things. So you do nice things to her, take her on outings etc, and she at some level is waiting for the other shoe to drop. She is being deliberately horrible in an attempt to disrupt the inevitable abuse that in her experience, always follows. And hey, what is happening now? No abuse! So in her mind, her technique is worknig! ONly what is then happening, is she is punished. Now she can't show she cares, because if she does ten you will do it more because torture is working. So she has to remain unreactive.

    So by taking her somewhere nice (then her acting out) then you punishing her, the abuse (in her mind) is continuing.

    That's why you need outside help. Because so much damage has been done, that she simply can't know how to react normally, to her every life experience has been distorted and used to set her up for more abuse. It's all she knows, it's all she has been trained to do.

    I hope they threw the book at bio-mum, I hope she doesn't have any other children in her care.

    Meanwhile - I think you need professional help and to re-think how you interact withher, based on what you can work out is going on in her head. In some ways it's the same approach needed fror a child with severe autism - you work out where the child is, then meet the child there to gently lead them back (as they can handle it). it can be a slow process and in her case it is a minefield as well.

    Keep in touch, let us know how you're getting on.

    Also, a lot of us have come over here from a post on General, alerting us to your situation. So feel free to post over there as well.

  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Wen, if she was exposed to alochol and drugs in utero she could very well have fetal alcohol spectrum, which is actually organic brain damage. Has she ever seen a specialist in this area? It's kind of important with drug affected adopted kids. But unless you have younger children whom she can abuse (which she could very well do if she was abused herself), I see no reason to disrupt the adoption if you want to keep helping her.

    Being in a crib for five years is devestating. I think you have to accept that she is going to be different and need help possibly all of her life. I would give her a complete neuropsychologist evaluation, however she has so many issues, some physical in nature.

    Do the best you can and if you think of her as a miracle that she has survived this at all, you may get a different perspective. By no means give up, but don't expect her to be a "typical" kid. And do take her to a NeruoPsych. I've adopted six kids. One was too sick to live at home and was abusive to my other kids...he could not stay. For now, for YOUR child, keep looking to see if she has challenges due to his mother's drug and alcohol abuse during her pregnancy. See if there is some sort of clinic specializing in drug affected kids in your nearest big city.

    Besides possibly being drug affected I agree that she sounds like she also may have PTSD and maybe she inherited some other mental illnesses. She is going to be a handful. Your journey will be a challenge all the way.

    Kudos to you and hub for taking her in and making her your special girl!!!
  7. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    Wen, I am so sorry! You have your hands overflowing and Ann is very lucky to have you.

    I think about how we are always looking for ways to make our kids "Happy". The good things like taking them to fun places and showing them the world. We try to reach their emotions.

    Ann does not understand the "happy" emotions. She never learned them as a child so does not know how to behave when she feels "happy". It is a different feeling and it may scare her. She will need to find her happiness in the small ways until she can handle it. The fun places are overwhelming. And as Marge indicated, could bring memories of horrors to follow.

    Your involvment in making her life better will be very hard and endless but you know through your love for her and your hope for her that it will be rewarding if even just in the attempts you make.

    I think my suggestion would be to wait some time before trying to make her "happy". What other kids find amazing and filled with joy she is just not yet ready for. Let her find her own "happy" through the safety of each day and the guidance you provide in dealing with innappropriate behaviors. Remember, she has never known any other way of "living" so she does act out when overwhelmed and even just everyday because that is what she was taught in those awful years of abuse. That was ingrained in her. She lived in terror of never knowing what was coming next except that it would be something horrible.

    I don't have answers to help get through this. My input would be to provide a strict structure to every day. Set up a strict schedule for what she does each hour of each day. Fine tune the morning and bedtime routines. She will feel some safety in knowing what to expect and that it will never bring that abuse again. in my opinion, because of her intense abuse, it will take years and years and years if ever for her to actually really feel at peace and safe.

    Continue getting every bit of counseling and testing that you can. Push your doctors for answers and definitions. O.K., you gave her this diagnosis, what do I do with it?

    Stick in there. Plan for the best and prepare for the worst. Continue to be her advocate and always do what is in her best interest. There are no guarantees of outcomes - however, there are success stories out there if even in small degrees. Her success may most likely not be the same success as another her age. Her success may be getting through one day without a meltdown.

    Meltdown is what the public views as a temper tantrum but we know it is really overload.

    Find your blessings in the smallest of details and share them with us - we will understand as most around you will not.

    We are also great for lending a shoulder to cry on or vent. Again, we will understand as most around you will not.

  8. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Poor kid, how very horrible and scary the world must seem to her. It was a stroke of luck for her that her evil mother brought her to you.

    Do you have other children, or are you planning to? Sadly Ann will need to be in a home with no other children. It will not be safe to have other children in a home with her. PLEASE, if you want to have other children at some point, disrupt this now and let her find a "forever" placement if possible. It does NOT mean you don't love and care for her. It does NOT mean you are bad people, or mean. It just means that you need things that she cannot handle and she needs things that you cannot provide.

    Please know that raising her will be a torturous, long, exhausting, road full of horrors you cannot imagine and joy in the smallest and strangest of things. This board will be one of the very few places where you may find others who are happy for you for these small things.

    Chances are she has some problems inflicted by fetal alcohol exposure. In some ways alcohol is worse than any other drug on a fetus. In a fetus alcohol causes organic brain damage, sort of like swiss cheese holes in the brain. The child will repeat the same things over and over with no memory at all of ever doing it. If it upset her the first time it will upset her the 90th. If she is scolded, or burns her fingers on a hot dish, she may never remember or learn not to touch or whatever.

    The other drugs will have done their own things also.

    Each of her diagnosis has its own problems and good points. There is no way to tell what, if anything, will get through to her. You simply cannot punish her. It won't work. She may not ever remember it. If only the abuse could be caught in that, or in the memory losses from the fetal alcohol. But it doesn't work that way. The abuse and horrors may always be in the forefront of her mind. She may even forget that you saved her and accuse you of things, or your husband of them.

    I would want to make sure you have Occupational Therapy on board. They may have ways to help. Also a neuropsychologist and specialists in fetal alcohol and developmental pediatrics. Not sure if she is old enough and/or capable of handling EMDR therapy, but it is worth asking about.

    Have the levels of iron, various vitamins, etc... been checked? I am sure bloodwork is not at all fun, but the pooh eating can be a sign of lack of certain vitamins. Or it could be that it wa all she had to eat for many years. Either way, you will have to be constantly monitoring her. 24 hour monitoring, every minute of every day she should have an aide. Someone who can try to keep her from doing these things.

    Her actions against the animals and other children are most disturbing. They are signs that she may be beyond help. Right now she is dangerous to other children and animals. As she grows she will likely be dangerous to you and your husband, and many others.

    Do you have any long term hospitalization options? Other long term care options? Maybe, with 24 hour intervention in a psychiatric hospital she might get to a point she is afe around other people. I would, at this point, start looking for that. It might give you and your husband some time to think about if you are ready and capable and willing to do this.

    Raising her will mean lost jobs because you got called away or had to miss work for an appointment or crisis. Years of having everything sharp locked away. Sleeping behind a locked door with an alarm on her window and door in case she gets up in the night. Of having to be on alert 24 hours a day.

    I know this is a lot of negative stuff. I HATE that it needed to be said. you simply must be aware of this so that you can make a choice about this. The divorce rate among couples who take this kind of challenge on is staggeringly high. There are very strong possibilities that she will try seriously to hurt you and your husband, or even try to kill you. She will act out more to you than to anyone else. She will be testing to see if you will walk away.

    It may be more than you could handle. I know I could not handle it. I really hope that whatever you do, you are happy. I hope she can get help and have a good life.

    I do hope you stick around here. It is an awesome group that will do all we can to help. Sending you lots of hugs.
  9. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    SS, thanks for chiming in on this one. With your personal experience and personal style of communication, you were able to provide a much better response than I did.

    Sadly, the pets must be re-homed ASAP. in my opinion it is a matter of time before either she seriously injures one, or one of them injures her.

    As Susie basically said, you are going to have to turn your home into a sort of Maximum security lockdown in terms of safety.

    I agree also that Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE) could be an issue. Not all kids with this have the characteristic facial features and the brain damage can still be pretty profound.
  10. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Andy reminded me of another point I meant to make - you've Sensory Integration Disorder (SID) that when in public and she throws a tantrum, you get dirty looks - you are going to have to learn to ignore them and to not let them get to you.

    We went through similar self-consciousness about public reactions. difficult child 3 was a beautiful-looking child, he would actually attract attention because he was such a strikingly gorgeous baby. But the tantrums and screaming brought a different kind of attetion. For difficult child 3 it was also seemingly senseless phobias. In his case, he was terrified of public toilets because of the blower hand dryers. He would scream and hold on to the doors, like a wild animal. And yes, people gave us dirty looks. Or what we interpreted as dirty looks. But we had bigger problems, we had a kid who was terrified to go into the public toilet but who had a full bladder that was also making him frantic. People just couldn't understand and had different words of advice, all generally unhelpful. We just had to find our own way. In our case, we were able to work him towards going into public toilets by taking him to the disabled toilets (the ones with a separate entrance). We got criticised a few times but we simply said, "He is autistic. Therefore he is disabled. He cannot use a normal toilet. Not all disabilities are visible." Besides, I was disabled and could justify using the disabled toilet.

    What we had to do was get him to stand outside while we opened the door and looked inside. If there was a hand blower, we let him watch while we switched it off at the wall. We also made sure that there was nobody else in there, and then we encouraged him to go inside. THis didn't alwayshappen to begin with but we had to be patient and not force him. We'd been down the road of forcing him, it didn't work. I would strongly urge you to not force ann at any time, either - it would be too closely connected with abuse. Oh dear, there are so many things she's endured which will be almost impossible to avoid some aspect of.

    With difficult child 3, gradual exposure to a public toilet made safe for him, was the way it worked. each time he was able to use the toilet and there was no problem, helped him learn in a positive way that he could use a public toilet and be safe. Finally the day came when he could be in the same room as a hand dryer switched on, and let someone use it without him screaming. Finally he began to use the hand dryer himself.

    The thing is - he needed to be in control. That is something I've noticed seems to be especially important to autistic kids, because with autism the world can seem very much out of their control and the more they can control things, the better they feel and the better they cope. The unpredictable noises, sights, smells, events etc is what can upset an autistic kid. If tye have some warning of what is to coome especially if they can control when it comes, they cope better. It also helps them to begin to understand cause and effect.

    difficult child 3's phobia of hand dryers began very suddenly. With hindsight I can see how quickly he could learn, that was a big problem if he had a scary experience.
    He was 3 years old, we were getting his hearing checked out so we were in a crowded public clinic. Lots of people, a bit noisy. A new place. He asked to go to the toilet (as best as he could) and I led him to the toilets. But the toilet was small and cramped, there was a woman in there drying her hands, the hand dryer was right next to the door and just as we opened the door, the hand dryer went on very suddenly. It startled difficult child 3 and he began to scream. No way would he go inside. At about that point we were called to go in to the assessment room but afterwards difficult child 3 asked to go to the toilet again. But as we approached the closed door he began to scream again - even though there was no noise, he remembered. Then the hand dryer cut in again, we could hear it through the door. Because the clinic was crowded and also the toilet was small, there was a constant queue for the services and the dryer was constantly being set off. We had to take difficult child 3 home (40 minutes' drive) to get some relief for his bladder. But this was to set the pattern - he refused to use public toilets for the next few years.

    You don't know exactly how much Ann is afraid of or what is triggering her panic attacks. But a word of recommendation from me, from my experience with difficult child 3 - don't use punishments. Her fears are real and based on past experience. It will take a lot of de-conditioning (gentle, loving) to help her overcome those fears. It will take patience from you as well s understanding. A lot of lateral thinking too, as oyu try to find ways around the problem.
    Example: as a kid, I used Occupational Therapist (OT) be scared of escalators. The reason was, back when I was a kid, they were a lot steeper without that initial flat area at the beginning. I was little and would find myself afraid of falling when I stepped on to an escalator. My mother eventually allowed me to leave her to use the escalator while I found the elevator and used that instead. She was very brave to allow me, younger than 4 years old, to do this alone in a city store.

    difficult child 3 was the opposite - terrified of elevators. We don't know why. He still doesn't like them much and will use stairs instead if they are an option. We couldn't let him go by himself because his autism made him too vulnerable, so we had to find other ways to get ourselves around the stores. ON those occasions where we had no choice but to use the elevators, we let him push the buttons. We also had to put up with those times when other people got cranky with us for not scolding him for his tantrums or panic attacks.

    That is the thing to remember - a lot of te tantrum is coming form panic and terror. Even if there is no apparent threat, the terror is genuine nad needs to be respected as such. Continue to reassure but also don't force her to do what she can't tolerate. The best way to handle this long-term is to challenge the fear as much as she can tolrate, and no further. Backing off completely from fear triggers is unhealthy because she will increasingly be limited in what she will allow herself to be exposed to. In that direction lies agoraphobia. You need to find that balance of gentle exposure at a tolerable level, so over time she can take a little bit more ech time. Reward her (as much as she can tolerate) with praise and encouragement.

    This is not going to be easy, not in any way. This little girl is locked away somewhere inside her head, at a very young age, maybe only a few months old. As you observe her you will probably get your own estimagte of how old is that damaged little girl inside - listen to how she cries, for example, how she behaves, what physical body position she adopts. The coprophagy you describe (poo eating) is very infantile; but it comes from something more in her past.

    But try to not live in isolation so much. Ignore other people. Or if you feel you need to, wear a sign on your back that says, "She can't help it. Don't criticise until you've walked a mile in my shoes."
    Or maybe just imagine you're wearing that sign. If someone approaches you to talk to you, have a thumbnail explanation pre-prepared. "This child has been badly hurt, we're trying to help her."

    If you let your fears of what other people think, to affect how you live your life, you will not be able to do as much as you want to do either for yourselves or for her.

  11. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I agree with rehoming the pets if she is cruel to them. If she is on the fetal alochol spectrum she may not even understand how to treat an animal and that's unfair to the animal. We adopted an eleven year old young psychopath (I don't think this is your daughter's problem...I think her problems are way beyond just psychological...I believe they are multi-faceted and partly due to brain damage from the drugs/alcohol). However my psychopathic son KILLED two of our dogs. He acted so sweet to us and put on such a good act we thought that some racist neighbors killed the first dog (our companion of six years). We bought another sweet puppy and when SHE died...we knew. I didn't bring this up to make you sad. I just want you to realize that the pets deserve a safe home. Pets are probably one thing you may have to sacrifice while parenting this very complicated young lady. I do not think any behavioral stuff will work with her because in my opinion she likely has brain damage too and there is no way to put behavior plans that work into place if she has alcohol damage.

    In time, you may have to consider a home where she can get 24/7 care and parent her from afar. We have a few posters who have done that. But please, please, please get a complete neuropsychologist evaluation first and try to find a clinic for drug/alcoholic exposed children to have her assessed. We did this for my son after we adopted him. He was born with crack in his system. These kids are not the same as kids who were born into loving homes but are just wired differently. You need to wean out the psychiatric from the physical and it's confusing even to good doctors.

    You are a kind and loving individual. No matter what is wrong with her, she has you...and that will help her.
  12. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    Hi wen & welcome.

    My tweedles were abused in everyway possible (even in foster care) when they came to us at the age of 6. The moment they walked into our door the chaos started & has continued.

    I say that AND I will say there have been slow improvements - baby steps. I'm seeing in a very BIG way the attachment disorder in all the things you described. All the disturbing disgusting things your difficult child is using to keep you away - to push you away so she will not get close or let herself love you. She's learned basic caregivers hurt children & cannot trust them.

    You've been given soooo very much info here that I'd like to offer just a couple of things that we had to do with my tweedles:

    1. Get the medications to where they need to be or you won't be able to work on the severe emotional issues your difficult child is dealing with.

    2. Get some serious mom/dad interventions in place. You & your husband will need time/space from your difficult child or you will lose yourselves in this illness. Are you being offered any in home services? I'd expect you'd be at the top of the list.

    3. Start with very small nurturing. I actually, at the age of 7, allowed the tweedles to have nooks; I'd would rock them each & every night to sleep. They had bottles, as necessary. This is extreme reparenting. I found an exceptional attachment/adoption specialist.

    4. You will need a team - a village to help you raise this child. Both kt & wm have a team of 13 each to help me raise them. That's 26 people & after 9 years we are seeing some amazing growth. It was the first 3 years or so when we tried to go it on our own that husband & I felt we were failing as a family.

    Okay, I gave you 4 things to consider. Come to this board often & post often. Your difficult child is a, what I call "hurt" child & needs all the interventions she can get.
  13. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Wen, I came over to welcome you and offer support also. I have never raised a child with severe mental health issues but I have raised a couple of boys who are grandsons and therefore understand..a bit..stepping up for family. Obviously they have issues or I wouldn't be a CD family member!

    Do you and your husband have other children? Hope to have other children? Have pets? Hope to have pets?

    Those questions immediately popped in my head. in my humble opinion it is imperative that
    as a couple you think about your hopes and dreams for the next twenty years before you chart the next course of action with your 8 year old. If you are prepared to focus your future on this little girl only then I agree that you need to advocate for and locate intensive help for her and for you and husband. If you anticipate having a family of your own (or expanding your family) I would strongly suggest that you consider letting this child go into therapeutic care now so that she will have ten years of support with people
    who are trained to provide it. I see it as a big choice.

    There are some CD family members (some have posted on your thread)
    who have dedicated their lives to raising very dysfunctional children. Most
    of them would admit that they began believing that consistent kind and loving care would make the children all better. Many of them have had
    frequent moments when they longed for normalcy and wondered if their children would not have been better served elsewhere.

    If you and your husband are questioning your choice do not feel badly. You had nothing but the purest of motives and you have given your all. If she has needs that can not be met in your home, it is ok to seek a placement that
    may be better for her in the long run. Hugs. DDD
  14. rlsnights

    rlsnights New Member


    Many more qualified than I have offered advice. I agree with the practical advice you've been given.

    I am glad that others have offered what is almost certainly a realistic description of your family's future existence and the danger this child may represent to you over the next 10 years of her life. Sadly, I think their descriptions are very accurate.

    None of us would think the less of you if you and your husband choose to find a therapeutic out-of-home placement for her. We would understand. And it may be that it is what is ultimately BEST for Ann to find such a placement for her. It's hard to say for sure.

    I'll add some ideas or things you may want to consider:

    1) Rigid daily structure - second that suggestion. You will feel like you are trapped but she is likely to feel as safe as she is able to feel - eventually.

    2) Advance warning of any changes to schedule such as doctor visits may help reduce the extreme behaviors. You may want to make her a picture book with pictures of places you might take her and go over it with her in advance. Then when you have to go there, you get out the book and talk about going there. Rehearsal by visiting without doing anything more than traveling there, entering, looking around and then leaving may be helpful or not.

    3) Her perception of reality and yours are totally different. She cannot see the world as you do and may never come close to sharing your sensory experiences let alone understanding of the world. I'm not in the least surprised that she was totally freaked to the point of hallucinations on the escalator at the mall. Being in an open space with strange noises and images, reflections off shop windows, bombarded by colors, smells, shapes that she can't easily filter out or make sense of, and on top of that moving through space in a totally unnatural way on a strange machine - major overwhelm. Like some small children are terrified of clowns, she is terrified of most of the things you take for granted.

    4) I would consider creating a retreat for her to go to when she needs it. You will have to use trial and error to figure out what is soothing to her. Start by observing her behavior in different parts of your home. This may give you some clues. She may need a dark place (like a cave) or she may need one filled with light or one that has only soft, indirect light. You may want to pad the walls and floor in some way. Or it may be that hard, firm surfaces are what she needs.

    She may need someplace like a closet that she can close the door to feel safe or this may have the exact opposite effect depending on her past experiences. A card table set up in a corner with fabric draped over it may be a good alternative - give her someplace small to hide in but not threatening to her in any obvious way. Color may be an important factor - again it's hard to know.

    Sound and scent can also have an enormous impact on a child like this. Observation and experimentation will help you sort this out too.

    5) Buy 15+ identical small soft blankets to put in her retreat one at a time. If you've noticed that a particular texture of fabric attracts her (waffle weave was my son's favorite but his sister loved flannel, other children like satin) try to get ones that have that texture. That will give you plenty so that you can exchange them out when they are dirty. This may be several times a day - that's why I suggest so many. And, like the rigid routine, have exactly the same color, shape, size and texture of blanket will be soothing to her and make it much easier for you to coax her into taking a clean one so you can take a dirty one away.

    It should be something that she can s u c k on if she wants - this is a baby's first primal soothing mechanism and I'll bet that she may need/want to do this. But she may have been punished for it so I wouldn't push it - just provide something that can be washed at least daily that could help her with this need.

    6) The need to soothe herself might be part of why she's putting things in her mouth but I would be more inclined to say that she is severely delayed and continuing to behave as a very, very young child would do - putting things in her mouth is part of her exploration of the world. But she may have great difficulty, due to brain damage, in learning from her experiences so she repeatedly puts things in her mouth that may hurt her or taste bad. Your job is to take anything out of your home or her environment that can hurt her if she puts it in her mouth.

    7) It may be helpful to you to think of her as a child who is blind. You would not expect such a child to know what something was without touching it. You would expect such a child to be disoriented and fearful/anxious in a new environment like the mall or an elevator. You wouldn't expect such a child to accurately interpret visual information or use it to guide her behavior.

    8) No punishment is appropriate with a child like this, in my humble opinion. She is simply unable to connect the punishment with the mistake she made. If she is unable to discern when her behavior is dangerous to animals or other children, then she must be prevented from having access to animals and other children without constant one-on-one supervision.

    Strength for the journey -

    Last edited: Nov 21, 2009
  15. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I think everyone gave good advice, but most missed the fact that this child probably is affected by alcohol and drugs as well as just being attachment disordered or having autistic traits or BiPolar (BP) traints (which she has all of these traits). However, part of her behavior is probably because of brain damage in utero. I don't know for sure, but just wanted to remind the original poster that t his abuse started before she was born. And there are likely physical as well as emotional reasons for her behavior.

    That's why I stressed going to a clinic that understands and specializes in drug/alcohol exposed children. Nothing will help the child who is on the fetal alcohol spectrum other than 24/7 care even into adulthood. We had to check this out for our own son since his b-mom was a huge drug addict. It is a part of this that just can't be overlooked.

    If she has alcohol affects, she won't understand right from wrong. You don't need to "look" typically Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) to have the spectrum, and it's equally as devestating whether you have the features or don't have them.

    After that is ruled out, if it is, then it's time to move on to other stuff. In my opinion, it's best to look into the physical issues first and then see if interventions will do any good or if it's best to think about long term care right off the bat. I've known people who have raised fetal alcohol kids to adulthood and, no matter how hard they have tried, the brain damage does not improve and the children do not improve. medications don't change anything when a child can't reason. Fetal effect kids dont' even remember things from one day to the other. You can tell them the same thing 100 times and they still forget. In this way, they resemble Alzheimers patients...and are just as needy.

    So...................that's where I'd go first, and I'll leave it at that. The others have given great advice. Take care!
  16. wen

    wen New Member

    First of all, I would like to express my gratitude to all the responses. I am so thankful for each one of your responses and caring words.

    In response to one of the questions, we do have 2 children living in the home (9 & 12). My 9-yr-old son is small for his age; therefore Ann considers him a target. We do our best to not let any situations arise.

    Today, we had an unfortunate issue. First, before saying this, I would like to say that I make HUGE efforts to include her, but keep the other 2 safe. In a public place, Ann grabbed my son's privates. It left him feeling hurt, vulnerable, uneasy, and very upset. My heart breaks for him.

    Previously this year, Ann had a psychiatric evaluation. The results came back recently, and the therapists are suggesting that she be institutionalized. I think at this point, that may be our best bet. We could still visit and have family time on weekends, holidays, etc.

    My husband, however, is torn because he feels that Ann would not get hugs everyday, and that sense of "family". I have to step up and protect my son. How do I convince my husband that this is the best for everyone involved, including Ann???
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2009
  17. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    Sadly, your husband is going to have to weigh the safety and happiness of the family unit against Ann's needs.

    His other children have the absolute right (as do you) to feel safe in your own home.

    Ann's grabbing your son is a form of sexual assault, and you son is reacting to it as if it was.

    Another thing to consider is CPS involvement. If other caregivers (docs, etc) feel she is a danger to others, they are mandatory reporters and can bring CPS into the scene.

    CPS can, in some cases help, but in a case like this may choose to take the other children into care so that they will be "safe".
  18. rlsnights

    rlsnights New Member

    Perhaps you might invite your husband to post here or to read the responses you got.

    It's very hard to come to grips with a future so different from the one most people expect in life. The safety issues you face now are minor compared to what you will face when she reaches puberty. Accepting that she is probably never going to be able to live safely in your home (given your description of her behaviors and history) and may not ever acknowledge the love, caring and time you devote to her care will not be easy.

    It is very painful to realize that a baby, a precious human being, has been so badly damaged that their ability to function in any meaningful way in human relationships has been nearly destroyed. It is even more painful I think to be the adult who must pick up the pieces of that shattered life and do their best to provide appropriate care for that child.

    He is to be honored for his unwillingness to take such a step lightly, to continue to care for a child who is so difficult and who has such a limited ability to respond positively to caring gestures.

    If your family is not already seeing a compassionate and skilled therapist now is the time for you to find such a person. You and your husband need a person you trust to help you make impossible choices. It is hard to take steps that may seem like a further betrayal of a child who has suffered so badly at the hands of adults who were supposed to care for her. Your husband needs time and help to get through his grief and he needs your support to do so. I don't mean that you should not be honest about your feelings and concerns, just that having a therapist to facilitate could be very helpful to you both.

    And an experienced therapist will also be able to help assess the safety issues Ann presents and push your husband if he/she feels that there is significant risk to family members. Or even give him the choice between moving her out of the home or having the therapist report the situation to Child Protective Services if she is sufficiently concerned.

    If she should seriously injure someone in your family or even kill someone (a very real possibility with a child who was born with brain damage and experienced severe abuse for many years) it would leave all of you in an untenable situation. In that circumstance, it would be clear that keeping her "at home" had not been in her best interests. As others have said, placing her in an appropriate therapeutic setting may be necessary in order for maximize her opportunities to heal in safety.

    My only advice to you besides finding a therapist to help you is that you must try to find a way to work with your husband and not let this come between you. Pushing him hard to "abandon" this child, even though it may not in fact be abandonment, may succeed in the short run. In the long run it could undermine the trust upon which your relationship must be built if he is not ready to accept the need for a different placement.

    This may be a recurrent issue over the next several years if he is her legal guardian. While you may find a good placement right off, it is possible that it will take more than one try. And as she grows older she may need something different and will have to be moved. He may be faced with the need to seek conservatorship when she approaches majority.

    So you must face the reality that you are all in this for the long haul unless he chooses to give up her guardianship to the state.
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2009
  19. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Hi Wen, welcome to our forum. I'm glad that you found us.

    My heart so aches for these little ones who have been abused to such a degree. It's hard to imagine wounds so deep.:(

    I understand your husband's desire to give this child a family setting but the reality is that it will come at great costs to you and your children. One other option to look into besides institutionalization is a long-term therapeutic foster home setting. I believe one of timer lady's children (now a teen) has been in one and has been faring pretty well. It would remove the very real potential danger to your children, plus still offer some sense of family.
  20. wen

    wen New Member

    What a horrible night... I sat down with my hubby and read through every response. I poured out my feelings with many tears. I explained that we could make it mandatory to send her a letter everyday from all of us, so she would be excited to hear from us on a daily basis. I said that it may "click" with her that we are a good thing in her life.

    I am the one that cares for Ann from morning to night. He does not see all of this, and really only hears about the severe behaviors. Prior to one of her hospitalizations, she grabbed a steak knife and was going to kill me. I called my hubby, and he just told me to take it from her. She was fighting not letting me take it from her. He still to this day thinks that it was no big deal to take the knife from her that day, due to her being smaller than me.

    I also explained last night that we have a duty to make "home" a safe place for everyone living here. Then, I said something that maybe I should not have, but it's how I feel. I said that I will have to choose the kids if they are not safe, and we will have to do what it takes to be safe.

    Sorry for the negativity... I am tired and I feel very alone in all this. I just want what's best for everyone.

    My husband has made me her care taker, and I have given all I can and then some. I have a heavy heart, and I am so torn. Right now, the only option looks like divorce, and I really do not want to do that. But, in order to keep myself and children safe, I feel that is my only choice right now.

    I am very thankful I found this site. Thank you for all of your kindness.