Understanding Back to School Issues

Winter Break is over. The decorations have all been packed up and stored away until next year (unless you live at my house). The relatives have all gone home and the leftovers have all been eaten. So it’s time to go back to school. Nothing puts fear into the heart of a RAD kiddo more. Well maybe there is something but this one is high on the list. And this can be full of problems so understanding back to school issues is essential to make this re-entry as smooth as possible.

When August was in third grade, his re-entry after winter break was gruesome. There was no other way to put it. He was confrontational and distracted and he didn’t do any work. He was agitated all the time and he got into trouble daily it seemed. After about three weeks of daily disasters, we scheduled a meeting with his teacher. I’d already become disillusioned with his teacher. She didn’t seem willing to be at all flexible. Some of her methods were down right absurd. Like posting the students scores for reading tests in order like a competition. Like using a cardboard display board around August’s desk to block him from other students so he couldn’t be distracted or distract them (no, not singling him out at all).

So we go into the meeting and we are prepared to hear what has been going on the first few weeks of school. She talks about how disruptive he’s been. How unwilling to do his work. Nothing we didn’t know. Being more informed now about reactive attachment disorder, I am able to talk through some of what I now know about lack of impulse control and what we are working on with adjusting his medications and how we are still learning about what works with him and what doesn’t.

Then it happens. The thing that brings out the mama bear in me and almost makes me jump across the tiny library table. She asks if we’d ever considered home-schooling August. I say we’ve considered a variety of options, that this is all relatively new and we’re going to maybe be making a change for next year. Her reply still rings in my ears. “You don’t have to wait until next year.” This woman who is charged with caring for and teaching my sweet, adorable, damaged boy wants him gone. I was furious.

And yes, I did have a conversation with the principal.

If this story sounds at all familiar, it will pass. But now, while it’s still early, you might want to have the conversation with your kiddo’s teacher about re-entry. Let them know what they’re seeing and why. And also talk with your kiddo. They may not understand why they’re having so much trouble. Talk with your child’s therapist about ideas for handling the re-entry issues. Maybe a short-term bump in medication would help. While I’m not an advocate for over-medicating, I am an advocate for making sure our kiddos don’t have to endure any more hardships than absolutely necessary. You can always back off when things settle down. Because there are other kiddos in school that are hyped up too. Sharing stories of what they all did over break; all the new clothes and toys and video games. There may be new classes to adjust to as well.

Here is a good article about helping to adjust after the holidays. It’s not much different than getting back in gear after summer! Hopefully you all had a great Holiday and the kiddos are well settled back into school. Comment with any tips or tricks that have worked for you!

Until next time,

Shannon

The Year of Radical Self-Care

While you’re busy breaking all your non-resolutions, let’s spend a little time talking about what really needs to happen this year. I proclaim this to be the year of radical self-care. I want to encourage all of the RAD mamas and papas to make this new year (and new decade if you are in that camp) the year that you go to bat for YOU. Let this be the year that you focus on you more-or at all-compared to the years past.

So, what is the year of radical self-care? For some of you, it may look like doing any self-care at all. Going to the bathroom with the door closed. Not fixing four different dinners like a short-order cook because no one likes the same food. At its worst, dealing with a RAD kiddo who has threatened you or physically or mentally abused you. With no end in sight. But hopefully you have found a bit of what self-care looks like, so you can dial that up and get radical in 2020.

The New York Times sent me this great article about how to be kinder to yourself this year. So many of the ideas were perfect for the exhausted RAD parent. The ideas of doing nothing at all and turning regrets into a learning experience (my personal favorite) are spot on. The list seems to hone in on what we as RAD parents beat ourselves up about and what we are needing in terms of self-care.

But as a fellow RAD parent, I know there’s even more that’s required if we want a year of RADICAL self-care. If we want to really put our needs to the forefront (even temporarily) we have to put in some work. And I know that sounds ironic but the payoff will be big. Trust me.

  • Find good respite care: If your RAD kiddos are little and you cannot leave them alone and more importantly their behaviors are such that regular sitters or family are not qualified, start now. Find good respite care. A person or a family who can take your children overnight, once or twice during the year. If you’re not on Facebook RAD groups I’d start there. Your therapist or doctor may know of some resources. Interview, plan, do anything it takes to be able to get away alone or with your significant other for a night (or two!)
  • Ask yourself the questions you ask your children: Are you hungry? Tired? Thirsty? Sad? When we are caught up in “parent mode” it is difficult to take a moment and check in with our own needs. Or even if we do notice, we often brush them aside. Stop doing that. Ask yourself the questions and listen to yourself for the answers. And then take care of what your body says.
  • Set boundaries: This is probably the hardest thing for a RAD parent to do. But also probably the most essential for radical self-care. Close the bathroom door! If your child is screaming at you, don’t take the bait. I know it is so hard. There is a benefit I have right now with August being where he is that when he calls and starts to get angry with me I can hang up. I will give him the chance to calm down and change his tone and I tell him I will not stay on the phone and be yelled at. But if it doesn’t change, I hang up. He calls back again and again and I don’t answer. After a few hours, when he calls back I will answer and he will be calm and apologize. He knows I don’t deserve to be talked to like that but sometimes he can’t control himself. You don’t deserve it either.
  • Don’t miss out on joy: If you have the opportunity to do something that brings you joy, do it! And do not let your RAD kiddos behavior get in your way. If you have are having a good day, keep having it. If you get a chance to have lunch with a friend you haven’t seen in a while, make it happen. If reading brings you joy and you can’t remember the last time you sat down for an hour with a book, prioritize that time every day. Change your priorities so that the things that bring you joy do not fall to the bottom and then off your to-do list completely like they have in the past.
I love Anne Lamott!

I am sure you can also think of some things that will make 2020 a year of radical self-care for you based on your life. But whatever it is, keep it up. Don’t just make January feel good and be back in the depths by Valentine’s Day. I will check in throughout the year and see how things are going. Self-care only works if it’s consistent and if you keep it top of mind. Making a better you makes you better for everyone in your life. But you knew that already, didn’t you?

Until Next time,

Shannon

New Year’s Resolutions-Love ’em or Leave ’em

Well a whole year has passed since my last post. And depending on how you look at it a whole decade too. I am in the camp that feels that 2020 is the end of the prior decade so the next decade will not begin until next year but to each their own. But the best explanation ever of this occurred here:

Whatever year it is, with the New Year comes New Year’s resolutions. Inevitably made and inevitably broken. The tradition goes back over 4000 years to the Babylonians who celebrated (then in mid-March) the planting of crops as the beginning of the year. They resolved to be good so the Gods would grant them a good harvest. When Caesar moved the beginning of the year to January, the practice continued because Janus for whom January was named looked both back into the past and ahead into the future. So, worshiping that deity meant promising good conduct for the coming year.

If you’re wondering what all that has to do with reactive attachment disorder, well not a lot. Except that it was as unrealistic to expect fulfillment of resolutions then as it is now. If you’ve been with your RAD kiddo for any length of time you know that saying or writing down a list of promises one day of the year, even a major holiday, won’t make the world change suddenly. They are not going to wake up in 2020 and have a magical “Aha” moment where everything that they didn’t understand in 2019 now makes sense. The synapses in their brains aren’t going to grow back overnight.

But you can start 2020 with a clean slate. It’s so easy to hold on to grudges and anger and resentment. I know, I’ve perfected it over all these years. My birthday happens to be New Year’s Day and August called. We were about five minutes into the call before I asked him if he called for any other reason than to say, “Happy New Year”. He rattled off a couple more ideas and since he was on speaker phone his brother coughed out “birthday” to try and save him. He heard it and caught on that it was somebody’s birthday but couldn’t catch on that it was mine! There have been years I would have gotten angry that he forgot but I gave him some grief and laughed it off. His memory hasn’t ever been great but he tries.

Starting the new year with a clean slate means letting go of any current battles you and your RAD kiddo are waging. Maybe lifting any current punishments even. If possible, have an honest talk about those issues and acknowledging that you are willing to start this year with a clean slate and offering that olive branch. You may get a great response from your RAD kiddo. You may not. But it’s about unburdening your heart, not theirs.

If you’re just not a resolutions person (like me) try some of these interesting alternatives. Many could be adapted into whole family projects! And if you’re looking for some more “practical” or “real life” ideas, these are great! But be warned, they will hit you where you live…

One of my favorite ideas that I’ve heard to replace resolutions is a gratitude jar. Have a jar and slips of paper available in the house and whenever you are grateful for something you write it down and put it in the jar. At the end of the year, you open the jar and reflect as a family on the things you all wrote and have to be grateful for. It doesn’t have to be in place of resolutions necessarily but it certainly puts the past year in perspective and gives you something to consider for how to move into the next one!

Thank you all for joining me on my journey with August this past year. I hope I have helped a little maybe. It is hard to put into words how much writing here helps me. Happy New Year to you all!

Until Next Time,

Shannon

Another Christmas Apart

I went to see August on December 21st. The prison system allows for visits every two weeks. His brother was coming to visit on Sunday and I wanted to get to see him as close to Christmas as possible. His father and I had sent him some extra food and clothing items from the ordering system that we can order from back in the middle of November and they still had just arrived. He was excited to show me the new shoes we had gotten him. He said he wasn’t going to wear them until our visit. It was so cute.

I got there a little later than I planned because the traffic was really bad. Families traveling to visit for the holidays since school had just gotten out the day before. I imagined I was the only one on the way to the prison to visit my son. Since he’s been moved it’s over a 90-minute drive to get there. And remembering in the morning to take off all the jewelry I always wear, don’t put on the underwire bra, bring the $20 in quarters and the driver’s license–all the things that will be necessary to get admitted in–is a nerve-racking ordeal.

He was in a pretty good mood when we finally got in the room together. He’s been on a tattooing frenzy recently. Apparently there are some talented artists in there and August has bartered for quite a bit of work all over his body. He has asked for pictures to use as examples for additional work and our visits always include updates about the latest additions to the canvas that is him. I know it could always be worse but the idea of that sweet baby skin getting permanently covered with black ink drives me nuts.

There’s also always some arguing when we visit. His anger and frustration at his situation lives just below the surface. And his solution is far from rational. He wants revenge on anyone he thinks has wronged him and in a violent and impulsive way. He doesn’t care about consequences. And he thinks he could beat someone up and get away with it. His psychopathology lives that deep. He sees no value in not wasting that much energy on those negative feelings. Its the side of him that scares me.

Ending the visits are always sad. This one moreso because of the holidays. I knew I was going home and the next day his brother was coming and we’d have a happy Christmas together. And this past Saturday, my extended family gathered together in Cincinnati. August knew we were going to be together that day.

We talked to August on Christmas Day and he remarked that he was spending another Christmas in prison. It’s been so long since he was home for a Christmas I can’t remember when. The sadness in his voice was so hard to hear. I talked about how it was up to him to make sure it didn’t happen again. He knows. I just don’t know if he can do the work to make the changes he has to make. Reactive attachment disorder runs his brain. I always hate what it’s done to August’s life but this time of the year more than ever.

Maybe next year he’ll be home. Maybe next year I’ll wake up with both of my boys under my roof. I don’t know. Some of that is up to August. And some is up to the powers that be in the justice system of the State of Indiana. But we mark another holiday this way. And I am thankful he is safe and warm and not hungry. Happy New Year to all of you.

Until Next Time,

Shannon

The Family Christmas Letter

‘Tis the season, right? In comes the floods of cards and letters from your friends and families with their pictures and the letters. The family Christmas letter. In the last decade or two it has replaced the card. It’s now the way to sum up all that has happened during the previous year. Because just wishing you the best for the coming year wasn’t getting it done. And food and little league and school pictures on social media weren’t enough either. The family Christmas letter is that place that puts a neat red and green bow on the whole year.

But, oh, the pressure! One of my favorite sayings for RAD families is , “Don’t compare your real life to someone else’s highlight reel.” And never is that more true than receiving the family Christmas letter. Have you done it? You open it up and your heart sinks. Here’s how it goes:

Bob and Trish both had amazing years. Bob got a promotion (AGAIN!) And Trish was named volunteer of the year in the county school system. She chaired the Fall fest, the Spring fest, the prom, graduation, the boosters. And she raised the most money of any parent in all the fundraisers! Little Sophie is already on pointe in ballet at three years old. And Bobby Jr. is being scouted by the Cardinals from his all-star performance little league this year. He’s getting straight A’s in fifth grade and has made his commitment to Christ at Our Lade of Heavenly Perfection Church. We are so proud…

Whew!

Now of course this is a huge exaggeration but doesn’t it feel that way sometimes? Doesn’t it feel like everyone else is living a life that just sails along so smoothly with children that never have any troubles? The biggest thing to remember is that it’s really not happening that way. These families are not living these perfect lives all day, every day. And while you may want to run away and get adopted by them, the grass is not always greener on the other side.

If you were a fly on the wall in one of those “perfect” family homes, I am sure you would hear some disagreements. I’m sure you would hear the children get in trouble. And of course I am sure you would hear stress and anxiety in the voices of the parents. Because no parent can go through life without worrying. It comes with the job. Yes, a lot of it has to do with our children. But a lot of it also has to do with how we choose to respond to that stress and anxiety as well.

So what can we do? It’s December 13th and we may not have one decoration up or one gift bought. Maybe you haven’t sent any cards and the thought of doing a whole letter give you a headache. You know what? That’s OK. Keeping up with the Joneses isn’t your job. Having the perfect house with the perfect tree or perfect Menorah and table might make you feel a little better but it’s not the most important thing that’s necessary for your holiday.

Do you need to send a letter that ducks the reality of your RAD family life and paints a rosy picture of your lives? Of course not. Don’t send one at all if you don’t want to. I haven’t sent one in a while. Of course I have this blog so anyone who wants to know what’s going on can just peek in here! You don’t have to compete with anyone and you don’t owe the world some white-washed summary of your life. You are raising traumatized kiddos and fighting everyday for the healing of their little minds. That’s your successful year. Don’t worry about whether or not anyone else thinks it means you’re not doing anything. The people in your life who matter know. Your children.

Until next time,

Shannon

Talking to Family about Gifts

This holiday season it is impossible to get away from the barrage of ads and offers of everything that a child would ever want. And every TV, radio, newspaper, onscreen ad, store and mall is filled with ads and products designed to encourage buying. And lots of it. So how do you talk to your children about keeping the buying to a minimum? And even harder, how about talking to family about gifts?

When August came home and then Spencer was due right after Christmas, we were like a UPS depot at the house. Just about the time the presents stop coming from August’s arrival, then came Christmas. We were a name drawing family. But my grandmother thought that everyone should buy for August AND for Spencer who hadn’t even been born yet! I put the stop to that. I didn’t want to start the boys down the path of expecting a blow out Christmas every year. So, I explained that the boys would go into the name draw just like everyone else. August hadn’t even met most of his relatives yet. And I was going to be too pregnant to go back East for Christmas so it was going to still be a while before he did.

It helped a little bit. But then there was Spencer’s birth followed by Valentine’s Day and Easter and I swear it was Memorial Day before the boxes stopped coming. So early on it was hard talking to family about gifts.

So what do you do when your family needs to understand the unique situation with your RAD kiddo where gifts are concerned? As August got older, he’s figured out the connection between asking for gifts, getting gifts and emotions. And with manipulation being one of the RAD tools of the trade, it is very easy for them to use that expertise at the holiday season. The idea that love can be “bought” is very easy for them to grab onto.

Hopefully you’ve had some conversations with your family already about the different attributes of RAD so tailoring the conversation to the holidays shouldn’t be so complicated. Explaining that RAD behaviors don’t get suspended during the holidays shouldn’t be hard. In fact, it might be good to prepare your family that they might be heightened.

But back to presents. Talking to family about gifts will mean setting some ground rules about cost. And the type of gifts you want your RAD kiddos to receive. For example, we were concerned about August’s fascination with guns. So we asked that he get no video games with guns or toys that were guns. Sometimes that meant over-ruling his list! Of course we didn’t always let him know that. And his list was always huge so most of the time it was easy because there was no way he was going to get everything on it.

As he got older he started wanting money. We wanted to make sure it was for a specific purpose and that he was being practical. One year he wanted a Nintendo DS. My grandmother thought it would be cute to give him $50 but all in $1 bills and in multiple packages. The woman behind us at GameStop wasn’t nearly as pleased when he counted out all those ones to buy it!

The point is that there is definitely an opportunity with the holidays for the structure and rules you have put in place for your RAD kiddo to go off the rails. Well-meaning family need to know that it’s important to honor your wishes even in the season of over-indulgence. And if you get the, “But it’s just…” don’t back down. Make sure you explain plainly and clearly how much it can set back all the progress you have made.

So I tried to find some websites to help with ideas but really couldn’t find anything that made any sense for RAD kiddos. Which wasn’t at all surprising. We will be talking more about holiday traditions and how to navigate them in the weeks to come. So hang on and steel yourself for the season of peace and joy!

Until next time,

Shannon

When School Has No Recess

If your RAD kiddos are anything like August, they have more energy than you ever thought could fit in one little body. And there is some relief in knowing that a decent chunk of it gets burned off every day at school. Between gym class and recess, they get to wiggle out enough calories to make time at home more calm. But this time of year in many parts of the country the weather makes recess impossible. School rules don’t allow for it. So what to do when school has no recess?

Well it’s not very practical to dress your kid like the little brother from A Christmas Story just to go to school. But that doesn’t mean you can’t bundle them up and send them out once they get home, weather permitting. But if the weather isn’t agreeable still, there are other things you can do inside to “get the willies out”.

  • Small Trampoline: These are one of the best inventions ever. You can probably find one used fairly cheaply though they aren’t very expensive. Your RAD kiddo can jump on it while watching TV! There are exercise videos for them now. And for a challenge you can set a timer and see if they can jump for a length of time to get a reward.
  • Dancing: Get your groove on! Move the living room furniture against the wall, tell Alexa or Google to play a funky beat and let loose! You can take turns picking songs, play freeze or musical chairs. It doesn’t matter how you move, just move!
  • Introduce Old Time Workouts: Remember Jane Fonda and Jazzercise? Yes, It was all the rage in getting fit back in the 1970’s. So, how hilarious would your children find it now? YouTube is a wealth of history with all those scary videos just waiting to be unearthed. Load one up and see if your kiddos can keep up? For extra fun, try and match those groovy outfits!

These are just a few of the ways you can get moving when the weather outside is frightful. For some more creative ideas, check out this website for a bunch! Understandably, there will be some stir crazy times during the winter months. Not every day will be good to go out and play. And, some days, your RAD kiddo just can’t be pleased. But there are enough ways to keep those bodies moving to wear them out at least some of the time!

Until next time,

Shannon

Hangover Remedies – For ALL the Hangovers

I took last week off for the Holiday. I hope you had a great Thanksgiving with as little drama as life with a RAD kiddo will allow! After a big holiday celebration, there is definitely a recovery period. Here are some ideas for hangover remedies – for all the hangovers you might be suffering from.

Workout Hangover

  • Ice and more Ice: If you took some time off from your regular workout routine and you tried to make up for it all at once on Sunday, you may be feeling it. While a nice hot soak in the tub may be calling your name, the aches and pains will respond better to ice packs. They reduce inflammation and disrupt pain signals.
  • Tart Cherry Juice: A 2016 study showed that an ounce of tart cherry juice taken twice a day for eight days resulted in less inflammation and muscle damage following an intense workout. Cherry juice has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Get back at it: Keep at it. An easy walk or bike ride will get blood flowing to the sore areas and help with healing.

Sleep-Deprivation Hangover

  • Lay off Carbs and Caffeine: Your body will crave bad foods when you are sleepy. Stick to proteins for constant energy and coffee is OK, but just one cup. And getting out in the sun will help your body clock reset and shake your sluggish feelings
  • Aromatherapy: Inhaling peppermint and rosemary oil will give you a quick boost. These scents increase alertness and memory function.
  • Have a Chat: Go visit your neighbor or co-worker, schedule a playdate. Social interactions have a positive affect on your body’s clock. Even ten minutes can give you a lift in cognitive function.

Stress Hangover

  • Change the Story: Take a break and make sure the conversation in your head is real. Are you making a bigger deal out of whatever you’re thinking than it really is? A quick gut check can help get you in the right head space.
  • Settle Down: Find a quiet place to do some deep breathing. It calms your sympathetic nervous system and switches off your fight or flight response.
  • Get Moving: A quick walk will not only provide a great distraction, it boosts your immune system. Just a few minutes will clear your head and calm your nerves.

The Food Hangover

  • Eat!: The temptation is to not eat again after packing it in at Thanksgiving. But that could and probably will backfire. Better to eat a moderate meal high in fiber and low in salt. And drink plenty of water.
  • Get Moving: Works for just about everything. It speeds up digestion as well as releasing endorphins which boost your mood. When you feel less bloated, you’ll start to feel better.
  • Try Ginger and Mint: Ginger has been found to ease nausea so some ginger tea or grating fresh ginger in warm water can be helpful. Peppermint oil can help with bloating, gas and abdominal cramps by calming the GI tract. But it can exacerbate reflux so if you are prone to heartburn skip this one.

Talking Hangover

  • SHHHH: Texting and email means that we hardly ever have to use our phones as phones. Of course that’s up to the RAD kiddos to decide whether you actually get to do this. But as much as you can, less talking and with quiet tones.
  • Rehydrate: Sips of water with lemon, decaffeinated herbal tea, sugarless gum will help stimulate saliva flow and lubricate your vocal chords. Try not to clear your throat because it will aggravate and already injured throat.
  • Steam: A steam room or a long hot shower will both help moisturize your throat and make it feel better!

The Nightmare Hangover

  • Take a Cold Shower: When your sleep gets disrupted and anxiety starts creeping in, bad dreams are more likely to follow. A cold shower can shock your system, like changing the channel in your brain.
  • Get it out of Your Head: Writing down your dream and how it made you feel allows you to reason out what you dreamed. It will calm any fear and anxiety it may have caused.
  • Analyze It: Change your thoughts about your dream and you will change your feelings about it. It will instantly calm your nerves. Decide what your dreams meant in more realistic terms.

Bet you didn’t realize all the hangovers you could be dealing with? Making sure you recover from these before the next holiday wave hits will make it easier to survive the season. And it will help you be the best you can be for your RAD kiddos as well! Happy holidays!

Until next time,

Shannon

Thankful for the Good Times

We’ve talked about being thankful for the bad times. This may not be easy but it is important because if we didn’t have bad times, we would be able to know the good times when they come. And of course, we must be thankful for the good times!

But I want to talk about being thankful for the good times in a different way. When we are in the midst of life with our RAD kiddos, the good times may be a day when the school doesn’t call. Or a day when there aren’t any fights (at least not big ones). If it was a day when everything goes pretty much the way it should, that’s a good day, right? I know we condition ourselves to think that way because our benchmark has gotten so small when the behaviors of these kiddos can be so extreme.

But I encourage you to be thankful for the good times by remembering the actual good times. Even in the worst of the periods with August, there were moments when we had truly joyous times. Spring break one year, I took the boys to Kentucky. We stayed in some small WPA built cabins outside the entrance to Mammoth Cave National Park. We spent the week explore the various caves, went zip-lining, went to a Cincinnati Reds baseball game. It was a perfect week.

Another time was surprisingly when I went to visit August when he was in residential treatment. I spent the weekend there and I was allowed to take him out every day. We played mini-golf, we spent time with August’s therapy dog and we took a helicopter ride! The look on August’s face when we were in the helicopter is one I will always remember. He looked for a brief time like the sweet, happy little boy he had been before the cloud of reactive attachment disorder descended over him. It was such a wonderful time for us.

I’m not saying the good times have to be just fabulous family vacations. I look at photos sometimes and remember good times that happened right at home. The year I homeschooled August we worked on muscles, ligaments and tendons. One of the ways the material suggested we study this was with a chicken leg. So we got one out in the kitchen and checked it out. We were both so grossed out we gave up! And we didn’t have chicken for dinner that night!

Definitely be thankful for the good times when there aren’t any calls from school. Or when there aren’t any big fights. Because all of those are good times. But sit down with your RAD kiddo and remember those good times. Share them together. Use them to foster a shared experience of good interactions. Remind yourself and your RAD kiddo that not everything that happens between the two of you is negative.

I have said on many occasions that I will always love August. There have been times when I haven’t liked him. And that’s a tough thing to say. But I love to remember these times. I love to remember when we were as close as we could be as mother and child.

Until next time,

Shannon

Is Writing Difficult for Your Child?

The question of the day: is writing difficult for your child? And by difficult, I don’t just mean the content, thinking up the words. Is the actual physical act of writing difficult for your child as well?

When August was in second grade, I finally was able to get him an IEP. I’d been asking since the day he walked into the building. I knew he was going to need extra help. First of all, he wasn’t first language English so he was behind the curve right there. Second, after preschool and what I’d been seeing from working with him at home, I knew he was behind. Our IEP meeting included an occupational therapist and the decision was made to have her evaluate him. That was a God-send.

Her conclusion was that his fine motor skills were underdeveloped. Possibly from his early delayed development and possibly from his ADHD but she wanted to include OT with his IEP plan. I was find with his getting any and all help that was offered! She worked with him every couple of weeks. writing in shaving cream, strengthening exercises with balloons, all designed to help his writing.

After elementary school, this aspect of his IEP translated to middle school as a typing class. He was pulled out and given a typing class to make him better at typing to replace his inability to write well. Now this one I had mixed feelings about. Yes, the whole world lives on computers and smart phones. And he probably won’t ever miss not being able to write quickly or all that legibly I thought. But guess what you don’t have in prison? A computer or a smart phone.

And then his IEP was further modified so that when he did all his papers, he was allowed to go directly to typing them. Most of the time the requirement was there was a written first draft and then the students typed the final draft. Anything that lessened the anxiety of the part of school that stressed him out the most seemed like a good move. And when he finally got a smart phone boy was he ready!

But there’s also the content side of writing. Crafting stories with creative words and painting pictures on paper. Or being able to read something and then digest it and summarize what you’ve read into a paragraph or paper. This is a problem of a different kind for young writers. And often much harder to overcome.

August has been tested every which way over the years. He has never officially been diagnosed with a learning issue, I have always believed he has some sort of issue where language is concerned. I don’t know if it’s connected to his ADHD, or RAD or something completed different. But his reading has always been so hard for him. So being able to read and then write about what he
read was challenging. We even added extra tutoring at Sylvan when he was in
fifth grade to help improve his reading and writing. All that did was
exacerbate the rages and fights over school because of the added time spent in
“school”. I’m not sure it moved the needle much if any.

Not every child will develop a love for writing. But there are ways to help
your child improve their writing skills. If they have an IEP, they can also be
evaluated by an OT to check their fine motor skills. If they also have fine
motor skills issues, an OT can be added or, as was done with August, typing can
be introduced. The ability to write shouldn’t get in the way.

And of course you can find everything online, so here is a website
with some great games and ways to encourage writing for your child. It helps
with learning both content and typing skills.

Teachers say that writing is something that will be useful no matter what
career your child will choose. And it is probably true. So help your child
overcome their fears and insecurities. And help them learn to appreciate the
value of writing.

Until next time,

Shannon