A few months ago, we met a wonderful therapist who has a practice not far from us. I’ll call her, Jan. Jan specializes in kids with traumatic backgrounds and attachment disorders. You may recall a post some time ago explaining our struggles with Ashebir.
When Ash came home with us he was almost four. We were his fourth ‘home’ and that took a toll on his heart. For maybe the last year, Amy and I couldn't decide I Ash was making emotionally and cognitively… After a few very difficult days with him, we agreed to pursue professional help (well, actually I finally came to grips with the fact that I couldn't “fix him” on my own)… Anyway, our Jan has been extremely helpful. It seems that Ash is making progress, but Amy and I agree that what’s been most helpful for us, is that we’ve learned how to respond to him in a more appropriate way.
I used to think that if I just love him and provided proper discipline - in the same way as we have done with our other three - he would just “get better”. For a long time, I was reluctant to get outside help I thought that somehow that was admitting defeat. I didn’t ever want to have to depend on a “professional” to help me parent my kids. That thought was arrogant.
After a few sessions without Ash, Jan helped Amy and I walk through a few “attachment sequences” with Ash. With Jan’s coaching, we are learning to help him process and respond appropriately to life.
The insight from Jan and the book by Dan Hughes that she’s had us read has been incredibly helpful. Now, when we’re home and some interaction causes him to “flip out” and become totally “dis-regulated” we've learned to help calm him and most importantly increase his sense of safety and security.
During these outbursts, he can be a danger to himself or to one of his siblings. I sit with him in my lap and just hold him so he doesn’t hurt himself or anyone else. I have to admit, I was skeptical… however, now when Ash calms down he almost always, turns around in my lap and gives me a hug. The other day, he flew off the handle so I sat with him, talked to him in a quiet and soothing way while he tried to resist… but several minutes later he was calm. The hard thing about this right now, is that he’s not as receptive to Amy’s pursuit of him. She’s making progress with him but, it’s hard at times.
Until recently, I just didn’t understand the critical nature of attachment to a child’s emotional and spiritual well being. Now I do, and I’m so thankful for the help that we’re getting. It might be slow, but it’s progress.