Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Akila update

I sure have been on an extended vacation, haven't I?  I think that I am trying to pretend that I have a "normal" life, whatever that is.  I have truly been enjoying this summer and the bit of respite that we have while Akila is in the RTC.

We have been seening her once a month.  Last week, we had our first overnight visit.  She came home for two nights.  The first evening, was great.  The second evening, was a little rough, but nowhere near the intensity that she usually attains.  But if there was one or two more nights, it would have gotten very rough.  As it was, she was cursing, calling names, stomping on my feet and throwing things at me.  One more night and she probably would have gotten more violent.

She continues to love it at the RTC, I mean she really loves it.  On the morning I was to bring her to meet the van for the ride back to Wisconsin, she was not scheduled to leave until noon.  She was ready to go at 9:30 and was mad that she had to wait.  I was really trying during this visit to not have it crammed full of activities and to have it focus on her.  All the previous visits have, which has been great.  But I wanted to see how she could handle just being home, and not have constant stimulation and attention.  It was as I expected.

Don't get me wrong, it was awesome to see her, I truly miss her as does the entire family.  It is just that I think that the RTC is thinking since she is doing so well, she is ready to return.  Well, I can guarantee you, nothing has changed.  She has had plenty of verbal aggression and major attitudes with the staff there, and physical altercations with some of the other residents, but that is it.

She is absolutely thriving there, and this is why I think she needs to stay longer.  We know that it takes a lot of repetition for kids with FASD to learn something, this is obvious by some of the neuro-psych tests that show deficits in working memory and areas like that.  I think that she is in the most optimal place right now for some of the therapy and anger management stuff to possibly sink in.  She is not constantly angry, being restrained.  She is the happiest I have seen her in 4 years and I believe this puts her brain in the best place for stuff to actually sink in.

I am praying that she will get an extension.  I was not that excited about the RTC option 4 months ago, and I was wrong.  It has the exact kind of structure that she needs to be successful.  As a matter of fact, as I have been watching, praying, reading, exploring, I think that this is the kind of environment that she needs long term to be successful.  She raged and struggled in the crisis home, which is similar to a group home.  She raged in a respite home.  She certainly rages in our home.  I think that the smaller, familial environment, is one that is harder for her to feel comfortable in, even when structure is added.  I have tried to add structure to our home, but cannot attain the level of structure that she needs.

I struggle with the notion that she would be herded out of the RTC because she is not acting totally out of control.  This is why she needs to stay longer, because she is thriving.  But she looks so good on "paper".  I know the RTC is not a permanent placement, but does anyone know of a more residential school type of setting in our area?  I know of a family in Arkansas who have a child placed in one that is in Florida, and I know of a New York family who have a child placed in one in their own state.  Both of these kids are similar to Akila, and have had several failed placements, and are thriving in a residential school/institutional type of setting.  I think that Akila loves the social aspect of it, it is a little similar to dorm life, but very different!

It is interesting to look back at the emotions that were tearing me up on deciding to do this placement.  It was hard, really hard.  It is still hard.  It is very unnatural to not have your child living with you.  I absolutely hate it.  But what is great, is that I can now enjoy her again.  I love talking to her on the phone, and I love our visits.  We are not constantly butting heads.  It brings joy to my heart to hear her so happy.  I know that this is God helping my heart to feel at peace.

We have been enjoying our summer immensely.  The kids have been doing some day camp programs, we have been hitting the beach.  Michael got me an inflatable kayak for our anniversary last week and I am loving it!  Have always wanted a kayak.


GB's Mom said...

Thanks for the update- I have been thinking about Akila. I am glad you and your family are enjoying the summer. It is so important our kids experience success and I hate it that that the system is always looking for the "least restrictive environment" as opposed to the most successful environment. Keep up the good fight!

Emily said...

Laurel on ourjourneyoffaith.net has posted that her daughter is now in an RTC called Hope House... I think it's in Washington state?

praying for you.

Jane said...

Toots was briefly in an RTC in the Hudson Valley in New York State, but I can't imagine you'd want Akila to go that far. Anyway, we liked it. Toots did not, and kept on going AWOL multiple times until we had to remove her.

I agree with GB's Mom about the system looking for the least restrictive environment. But don't forget, the system also looks for the less expensive environment.

Blessed said...

Yes, thank you for updating--have been wondering how things are. So glad to hear Akila is doing so well! And that you are feeling more positive about the RTC, even if it means your daughter is not living with you. I will pray God works things out however is best for you all and Akila!!!

AKBrady said...

Barb, Erin here, friend of Dorothy. My son (ADD, AS) has been at Devereux Cleo Wallace in Denver for almost a year. This is his second placement - first was Copper Hills in Utah (not bad, but not long-term enough, typical RTC). Devereux is long-term, until he is 21 in fact (he's 18 not). They truly focus on life skills, school, and all the other components of an RTC, but in a great environment. We're really pleased.