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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Answering tough questions about FASD

"Mom, I take my medicine", my son said. Only half listening, I absently smiled at him and told him he was a good boy as I bustled around my kitchen. Then he asked, "Mom, why I take medicine?" and I knew it was time to forget about the breakfast dishes and talk to my son. This was a question that wouldn't wait.

The short answer is that Aniyar's medicine keeps him safe and helps him to control himself. The longer version takes us back almost 2 years to the days when Aniyar and Madiyar were new to our family...to the days when we feared for Aniyar and the rest of our family too. Here's part of the blog post I wrote back then:

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Things we wish would never happen...

One day last week, I heard the wail of an ambulance siren and knew it had been called for my own child.

One day last week, I pulled up to my child's school and knew the paramedics and police were there because of my child's crisis.

One day last week, I committed my child to a pediatric psychiatric unit.

Sometimes things don't turn out exactly as we hope...and when you adopt older kids with a troubled history, it's probably better to hope for the best but prepare for the worst. That's pretty much where we are right now.

It's now becoming clear that our youngest son has more problems than just cultural transition and language. Aniyar's behavior has been so inappropriate and unsafe that he had to be moved from the regular school where Tanya and Max attend to a program for kids with emotional and behavioral problems...and even that program has not been able to address his needs. Aniyar is sweet and charming one minute and then angry and aggressive the next; he has choked students, punched teachers, and tried to injure himself. At home, his behavior is marginally better than at school but still frightening; he lacks impulse control of any kind and has to be watched constantly to prevent behaviors that are unsafe for him or his siblings.

Last Tuesday wasn't the first time Aniyar attacked one of his teachers and had to be placed in the crisis room...but this time, the teachers couldn't calm him down after 40 minutes of raging. When they called me to come and pick him up, it was clear that bringing him home wasn't an option. We had finally reached the point our psychologist had warned us about...Aniyar needed to be hospitalized in order to get some help.

Where are we now? Aniyar has been in the hospital for a week now and we don't see much change in him. The psychiatrists tried him on a patch medication to reduce his aggressive behaviors and improve his impulse control but Aniyar wouldn't keep the patch on. They're trying other medications now...but Aniyar resists taking them. They also have him on a behavior chart...maybe they'll have better luck with that than we had. Sadly, even with meds and behavior charts, Aniyar is still acting out aggressively towards other patients and staff from time to time. We just don't know what will happen next.

We visit Aniyar every day; we miss him but are relieved that he is in a safe environment where he can be assessed and given the help he needs. We don't know what tomorrow will bring but we'll face it as a family...

Thankfully, Aniyar did get the help he needed. After two months in the hospital, we were able to bring him home. During that time, we learned a great deal about Aniyar's past...his prenatal exposure to alcohol, his extensive trauma and abuse from infancy, his developmental delays and his memory deficits. So many things to overcome...but finding the right medication brought his rages and unsafe behaviors under control. Medication brought him home and gave him a chance for a normal family life. Aniyar now has a future that doesn't have to be ruled totally by his past.

So what answer did I give my son? I told him the truth...about his birth mother's drinking and how that affected his brain even before he was born. I told him that he had problems learning and remembering things and controlling himself at times because of this thing called FASD. I told him none of it was his fault, any more than the abuse he suffered was his fault. I told him that the medicine he takes helps him with those problems so he can learn better, feel less angry, and be more safe. Aniyar thought a minute and then he said, "I'm mad at my mom for drinking and for hitting me. I don't like her now." I told him I understood how he felt but we couldn't change what happened in the past. I promised him that we would always be his family and I would always take care of him...including making sure he takes his medicine every day, twice a day...for as long as he needs us. 

1 comment:

Lori Printy said...

Dee I remember your post from 2 years ago vividly. It is nothing short of amazing to see how far your son and really your whole family has come since then.

I can only imagine where the next two years will bring you all.