I had mentioned in this post that I was going to write about a report that was done by an OT at the crisis home. I'm finally ready.
Now, the main reason I can give this lady some slack, is that she was not able to interview us, so it is harder to get the full view of the situation. But even considering this, she has several false things in the report. When we did the intake at the crisis home, we brought a stack of paperwork, and were interviewed. I have looked through the paperwork we gave, and am not sure where this info is coming from.
One really interesting mistake, is that the report says "In addition, she has a past diagnosis of Alcohol Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND) prior to her diagnosis of FAS." Interesting, since Akila has never been diagnosed with FAS. But OK, maybe a staff told her that. She also states that there are conflicting reports as to whether her siblings are biological siblings or not. Again, maybe the staff were confused on this one. No big deal. She also stated that "reports indicate that Akila had prenatal exposure to cocaiine and alcohol." It was heroine, but doesn't really matter I guess.
As I read further in the report, what bothered me were several subtle phrases that basically put the blame on us as parents. There is a phrase that says, "The kind, firm consistency seems to be effective in order to handle her acting out behaviors". This statement follows an area talking about how her aggressive behaviors have diminished. OK, great advise. If only we would be more kind, firm and consistent, all our issues would diminish. Thanks. I've got to write that one down on the fridge so I remind myself of it hourly. Kind, firm and consistent.
It was also reported to the OT, that "Akila has overtly sexual behaviors and has reportedly sought out adult sexual sites on the Internet." This is true, we made sure the staff knew about this so when they brought Akila to the library for outings, they would then monitor her computer use. The next phrase, is yet another subtle message; "It is not clear where her initial exposure to this occurred". Later on in the report, she states again that Akila "has a history of sexual behaviors far younger than that which is expected and it is unclear how she was exposed or learned of such behaviors." Then, "It is highly recommended that access be limited to any inappropriate Internet sites as this puts her and others at risk." Oh, that's what we should do, "limit her access to these sites." Good to know. That isn't why we told the staff to control this one, and to watch her like a hawk at the library (since public libraries don't have controls on the computer as it abuses our free speach- barf!). Kind, firm and consistent- I must keep reminding myself. I also like the "limit" her access, instead of "deny" it, or something like that. Limited exposure to that inappropriate stuff is OK, right?
I am sure that this OT did not mean anything by these few phrases that I felt annoyed by. The problem, is that we as parents of FASD kids hear these things over and over and over by a variety of professionals. Sometimes more subtle, and often not at all subtle. I know these professionals don't necessarily mean it in the way that it comes off, but I am sure that some of them do. I think that this OT should have gone the extra step and called us, especially to clarify some of the things that she knew were conflicting. However, I still think she would have had some of these subtle messages.
When I did the training earlier this week with the counseling center staff, one of the things I listed as a stressor for marriages, is the blame and judgement factor that we as parents always feel. It is often a very deflating feeling to consistently get this message. You can't help but sometimes really start to question what you are doing, and if you should be doing this at all.
Somebody put a comment at the end of the post I mentioned earlier in the first sentence. In that earlier post, I wrote about how the OT report annoyed. Here is what an anonymous commenter posted, "Pride sucks. Get over it Barb, and receive the points of views. In order to see a gem shine, it has to go through the process. " While I understand what he/she is saying, I don't think that they understand what my point is.
Yes, pride does suck. But my point is that I have my head between my legs right now. We are so at a loss for how to parent Akila, how to deal with her aggressiveness, how to deal with her anger, that we have agreed to have her in a crisis home. We are basically saying that we are in over our heads and need help. That is why I requested an OT evaluation. I don't know what to do, and I am asking for help. Not sure there is a lot of pride in that.
I will totally take some of her points from this OT report to heart, and move on with some of her recommendations. What my main point here is that the professionals need to be careful in their language choices, in the subtle messages that are hidden behind some of their words, so they can empower us parents instead of make us feel more guilty than we already do. What I guess I am saying, is that the professionals need to be kind, firm and consistent.