Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Easter with My Foster Peeps: War, Peace, Enlightenment and Traditions

Hi friends, We wanted to wish everyone a Happy Easter, and share a post from last year for those of you who are new to our blog. We hope it brings a smile to your face... 

by John
Easter started with a bang.

The boys were fighting. One of the boys could not find his Easter basket, and the others had, so it was not so peaceful this Easter morning.

I had to step in and break up the fight and send the boys with their baskets to their rooms… This was all before 6:30am mind you. 

I gave my other foster child a hint as to where his basket was, and when he found it, and headed happily back to his room, I went groggily up for a shower.

By the time I came back downstairs the boys were all up, faces covered in chocolate bunnies and sugar coated peeps and said they were sorry. They even had my coffee ready for me. I smiled.

So, now I sat them down and asked them if they knew what had happened last night and early this morning.  Two of the boys had no idea, but the one foster boy who has been with me 6 years told me the Easter story.

I knew he should know it. He has heard it 6 times now but this was the first year he told it to me. I thought to myself, “ I LOVE IT! THANK YOU GOD! He can learn!”  (This is especially significant as this foster son has significant memory and learning difficulties stemming from fetal alcohol syndrome amongst other things.)

Next, I asked the boys if they knew what the Easter basket was meant to represent. The two boys who were being naughty at the crack-of-dawn this morning didn’t know. The other boy, again, showed that he could remember and recited all the symbolic meanings behind the Easter grass, and the candy.

Then I asked if the boys knew the meaning of the basket itself. None of them could remember so I reminded them.

I said, “It was empty last night, right? Nothing good was in it and nothing was in it to give hope, just like the tomb that they had for Jesus. The basket is like Jesus’ tomb.  It was empty but in the morning it was full of hope and love. You boys were just like the apostles, running to the tomb to see if it was true, to see if he had risen. You were looking for your baskets this morning the same way… hoping that they were full of all the good things you were dreaming of and when you found them you were so happy, you were laughing and loud, just like the apostles were when they found out Jesus had risen. “

So, then we went outside to do something I started a few years ago. I yelled as loud as I could three times “Jesus has risen, Jesus has risen, Jesus has risen!” The boys all had big smiles on their faces. They began yelling, “Happy Easter, Happy Easter!”  and our family grew a little closer because we shared our Easter together with traditions both old and new.

Don’t be afraid to start new traditions with your foster kids. You will create memories that they may cherish the rest of their lives. Invite them to share traditions that bring back good memories for them as well, from their former life, if they have them, or try to incorporate traditions from their culture. Sharing traditions helps build bonds amongst all the family members and creates new memories they can share and build upon.

Oh, and don’t worry, I did feed them an actual breakfast… on top of the chocolate bunnies and peeps.

Image: Flickr:  License
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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Advocating for Your Kids: National Legal Resources and RAD Resource You Should Know

Hi Friends,

In researching some information for this blog, I ran into this posting on a forum from a troubled parent of a RAD and mentally ill child. Unfortunately it sounds so familiar to many of our friends here...( from psych central forum)

"Our daughter is 8 yrs old and suffers from mental illness. She has been diagnosed with Reactive Attachment disorder, traits of anti-social personality disorder. She hears voices and is extremely aggressive. She has been hospitalized since November 2010. Our insurance is running out and she has made very little progress and is no where ready to come home. We our searching for all our options before she is discharged. The options the hospital gave us are to either give up our parental rights or let her come home and put the family at risk. Our daughter has promised to kill her brothers and my wife when she gets home. She has attempted this several times in the past. We do not have a lto of disposable income at this point in our lives, and like I said previously, our insurance is running out. We need to find options for our daughter, we are not ready to give her up, but we can not in good conscience bring her home to hurt her brothers. Does anybody know of any resources for children sufferung with this type of issue? Our daughters birthday is 8/6/2002, she is 8 (will be 9 in August). We need help, if you know of anything or anybody who might be able to help it would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!"

Many times we have gotten messages from parents or foster or adoptive parents who are at the end of their ropes and are wondering what their legal rights are. Sometimes you just need to find an advocate, other times you may have to delve in a little further. 

Although there was no easy answer for this parent, there were some resources mentioned I thought might help some of us at one point or another, but we should all be aware are out there. 

For our international readers, if you have links to advocate groups for us to add, please let us know and we would love to include that information here for everyone.

National Disabilities Rights Network:
contact them for help with (amongst other things)  :

Special Education

  • To learn about your child’s special education rights and related services such as assistive technology.
  • Assistive technology is equipment or services that help your child participate in and complete school assignments and activities.
  • Your child has not been evaluated for services even though you requested an evaluation.
  • The school is not following the requirements of the child’s IEP (Individual Education Program).
  • The school has not held an IEP meeting within the last 12 months to review your child’s IEP.
  • Your child’s needs have changed and you have asked for another IEP meeting, but the school has not followed through.
  • Your child is getting suspended or expelled because of behavior related to his disability or other special needs.
  • You believe that the placement or services your child is receiving are not meeting her needs.
  • You believe that the placement or services recommended by the school are not going to meet your child’s needs.
  • Your child has been placed in an alternative school or juvenile justice facility and is not receiving the special education services she needs.
  • The school has not provided the equipment such as computers or communication devices that have been recommended to assist your child in completing assignments.
National Alliance on Mental Illness:  
Contact your local NAMI group to find advocates, support groups, get lawyer referrals, help with missing persons and more.  This link takes you to the site to hook you up to find your states website.

Finally, TCU Institute of Child Development: Although NOT a legal resource, this site has information on working with RAD and attachment disorder children, including videos on adopting children from "hard" places.  Check it out if you have or are considering adopting or fostering children who may have been traumatized or have attachment disorders.

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Monday, March 18, 2013

Helpful Tips for Parents in New Book : ADHD, Anxiety Issues

Hi Friends,
We here at Foster Parent Rescue are all about Practical Advice that works for everyday parents to help deal with the daily chaos of dealing with kids with behavioral problems. 

We came across this book review that sounds like it may have some really useful tools for parents of troubled kids.  Although we havent read the book yet ourselves, this comprehensive review does give some great information about the book, which includes practical exercises you can teach your kids to deal with their own behaviors.

Executive Function basically means teaching kids to deal with and control their own behaviors, which, I know, in some cases, won't work... but, in many, many families, will... and even if you don't think your child can handle self-regulating his or her behavior, teaching them techniques to calm themselves, remind themselves of routines or other tools is well worth the effort to try.

Check out the review and the book.. let us know what you think....

Executive Function & Child Development

By Marcie Yeager and Daniel Yeager

Reviewed by Gwen Nicodemus

Learn more
Working with children with ADHD, Tourette’s Syndrome, or other challenges isn’t easy. Various issues can make it hard for these kids to get through everyday tasks. In their book, Executive Function & Child Development, Marcie Yeager and Daniel Yeager provide a framework for teachers, parents, pediatricians, and therapists to help children with developmental and other issues become more independent.
The authors explain concepts clearly and provide concrete tips to help kids get through everyday activities. Most important, perhaps, is that their approach shows respect for children’s autonomy. The emphasis is on how to help children calm themselves down through self-soothing, as well as how to provide kids with the tools to help them further their own capacities — all of which fosters independence at a young age.
The first part of the book answers the question “What is executive function?” Simply put, it’s what allows you to complete tasks and survive in society. Marcie and Daniel Yeager explain that psychologists credit executive function with anywhere from three to 36 abilities, but that they’ve chosen to simplify the list of abilities into four categories.
The first ability of executive function they name, working memory, refers to how much we can keep track of in our heads at any given time. For instance, to “get ready to leave the house for school” a child probably has to eat breakfast, drink water, get dressed, brush his teeth, comb his hair, feed the dog, find his lunch box, find his homework, pack his school bag, and keep track of the time. Remembering all those tasks is the job of working memory.
The ability to shift focus, meanwhile, allows us to put our attention on tasks that we need to do while shifting away from distractions. Imagine that you’re folding and putting away the laundry and your cell phone rings. Your real intention is to finish the laundry. If you can ignore the phone, you’ve successfully shifted your focus back to the task you meant to do and worked toward your goal.
Inhibition is another capacity: It gives us the ability to stop and think of a second or third way of dealing with a situation after an initial plan pops into our mind. For instance, you might want to hit someone when he steals your favorite toy, but you’re able to stop and realize that you need a plan B.
Creating and carrying out the steps necessary to complete a goal form the fourth executive function, the authors tell us. To get ready for a vacation, for instance, you need to get your daily life settled and take steps to prepare for the trip. Maybe you need to kennel the dogs, contact someone to pick up your mail, set the sprinklers to automatically water your lawn, get the oil changed in the car, and lock the windows in the house. This goal-setting function involves understanding the big picture and also figuring out what all the little parts of the picture are.

Read more here:  http://psychcentral.com/lib/2013/executive-function-child-development/

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Can You Teach Joy to Troubled Kids?

We love to share other great blogs with our friends here, and the True Aim Education blog has a lot of really useful posts that can help inspire parents who might struggle with creative ways to educate their kids.

Recently, we came across their post on Values for Children: Joy.

Joy can be an especially tricky concept to explain to children with troubled or abusive pasts. Cynical and jaded at such early ages, teaching something that should be innate, such as the concept of "joy" and fostering the idea that it is a desirable thing and something of which they are worthy, takes time.

In the True Aim post, the author lists some terrific games that help kids understand that they can choose to live more joyful lives and make changes in their attitudes.  Check it out. (with permission from Trueaimeducation.com)

Values for Children: Joy

Looking to teach your children values?
Below, you will find tips, tools, and resources to teach them about Joy.


Joy is the expression of inner happiness and contentment.
Joyous people look for the good in every situation.
Choose to be positive and content and you will be a source of joy to others.


"My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you- I whom you have delivered."
Psalm 71:23

"The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with joy." Psalms 126:3


Let's Talk About Joy

  • Joy comes from God: Remind your children that the purpose of life is to please God and tell others about Him.  When they understand what has been done for them through Jesus, they can be joyful no matter the circumstance.  Also see "Values for Children: Faith".
  • Healthy Habits:  Well rested, well fed, and active children are more joyful.  Help your children establish healthy bedtime routines so they get plenty of sleep.  Make them eat their vegetables, and teach them to take care of themselves. 
  • Joy is a Habit of the Heart: Joy is a choice.  Make it easier for your children to choose it by teaching them to control their emotions.  This Values for Children series is a good place to start.
  • Just Smile:  As always, set the example for your children.  It is easy to get caught in the drudgery of menial tasks.  Remember to smile.  Leave notes for yourself around the house if need be.  Also, singing is a great way to bring joy to your home.  If you struggle with this, here are some great songs to help you bring the joy of music to your home.   
  • Spread the Joy Bean Bag Toss 
 Read the rest of the article and get the rest of the games and links at: http://www.trueaimeducation.com/2013/02/values-for-children-joy.html?showComment=1362684151227#c3389598205458202302

Monday, March 11, 2013

Advocating for Your Kids: Part 2: At School

by John.  

We all have been there. You are trying to get the right kind of help for your child in his or her school so your child will be successful.  
Getting help for your kids could be anything from just asking to have them moved closer to the teacher so they will feel more a part of what is going on, to getting them involved in a special education class or tutoring.  Whether it is a big request or a small one, working with your school isn’t always easy.
So, again, you know your child the best. You know his behavior, his triggers and how he learns the best. You know what motivates and frustrates him. How do you communicate all this and make what you know translate into a successful school experience for your troubled child?  Start here.
1.     Find persuasive people who can help you convince the school that your child needs help.
Ask medical doctors, psychiatrists, counselors, and teachers that have worked with your child, to write letters.  These letters should support your position in regards to any special needs or teaching approaches that will help your child’s academic career.
2.     Read up about your school and find out what your rights are as a parent or guardian. In my case   the child have an “agenda book” with the school rules in it and what the school will do for your child if they need help. It also has contact numbers for you to call if you don’t believe you’re getting the help your child deserves.

3.     Try to talk to the school staff before the school semester starts.  Start with the teacher of your child’s class.
a.     Never go to talk to teachers or any school staff upset or mad.  Always go with questions that you would like answers to.   If they can’t answer, them don’t get mad just ask where you go next to get the answer?  Always ask them how or what you can do to help them work better with your son or daughter.  Leave them thinking you are there to support them not to blame them or to fight.

4.      After you try to work things through with the classroom teachers, if you don’t see results, move up to the next step.  
a.     Sometimes the teachers will find themselves at a stalemate with the school hierarchy and need the parents to advocate and get involved. Working together, you may be able to get more help for your child within the school parameters.

5.     Now after you have entered the school system you have a “team.” some schools put together a team for you to work with.   You meet them at your IEP meeting.   
a.      If this did not happen, you will have to do it yourself.  You make a team up of people who will be working with your child directly.  Teachers, school counselors, even the nurse, principal, lead teachers and the school’s psychologist. (In most of my cases these people are also in direct contact with my kids, more then I hoped.)                                                                                                                                                            
6.      Get to know your team members personally and let them know what kind of help your child needs and why you are trying to get the kind of help you are asking for.                   
a.     Have all your documentation available for the meeting including your child’s behavioral history and list of triggers etc.
7.     At the IEP meeting if you can get your counselor to go to the meeting with you, that works the best.  They can talk for you about your child’s needs and can give the technical words that make everyone feel better so they can fill out the forms to get the help your asking for.

8.     Find other parents who are going through the same things you are and form a group. That way you can bring things up as one voice and this sometimes works when everything else fails.

9.     This is the one way I like to use the most. Be a friend to the school. Talk in private and go directly to whom you are having issues with. Tell them why you feel that this is hurting your son or daughter and ask them why won’t they help you?  Tell them you’re not trying to make waves but you love your child and you need their help. Then point out, in a nice way, how you could have done it, by getting mad and writing letters and making a scene at school board meetings, but you understand that they have a big job to do and you’re sure they are doing their best but somehow this mistake happened.   Then go on to say, “so how can we do what is best for my child and where do we go from here?”   

 Although this might sound passive-aggressive on paper, we want you to approach it as empathetically as possible, as you see that their job is hard and you are not trying to make it harder, just trying to do your best for your child.   Make friends not enemies.  

10.  Last thing is the first thing I do before I ever start anything.   I Pray and ask God to Guide me and my words that they may understand.

Do you have tips and have found successful ways in working with your school to get help for your special needs or troubled child? Please share your story with us!

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Thursday, March 7, 2013

What Could the Future Hold for Your ADHD Child? A New Study Has Some Answers.

In a recent article published in USA Today online, a study which followed children with ADHD into adulthood indicated some interesting findings.

The study focus' on the minority group of individuals that continue to have symptoms of ADHD into adulthood, but found overall that 70% of the study population were successful, "normal" adults.

Having said that, the study's goal seems to be improving continuous care coverage for the remaining study participants, and the ADHD sufferers that carry the diagnosis into adulthood.

In this study, about 30% of the children continued to have symptoms of ADHD into adulthood (this study followed them to the age of 27) and also found most of them had additional psychiatric issues including substance abuse, depression or anxiety disorders.

They also found that this population were also 5xs more at risk for suicide than those from the general population.  3% of the people followed in the study were incarcerated during the study follow-ups.

What does this all mean? It means that ADHD is a serious, chronic condition that requires follow up care and lifelong monitoring (for some of it's sufferers) , according to study physicians.

The development of associated disorders and substance abuse to deal with symptoms in adulthood when not monitored or addressed properly has dire and direct negative consequences to those who have ADHD as children.

"When it comes to treatment, ADHD warrants the same approach as chronic health problems such as diabetes, Barbaresi says. In those cases, "when a child is diagnosed, we immediately institute strategies aimed at keeping the child engaged in appropriate treatment for the long haul."
For many reasons, including "a huge problem with regard to health care coverage of appropriate assessment and treatment ... that's not really happening at a systematic level with ADHD," he says."

Read the whole article here at USA TODAY Childhood ADHD News

What do you think? Share your thoughts here.  

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Monday, March 4, 2013

Advocating for your Kids: Part 1. With Doctors and Counselors

By John.

We often get emails here from parents who have trouble communicating the needs of their children or foster kids to doctors, counselors or teachers.  Let’s face it, no one knows your kids better than you do, so you have to be clear and concise when you discuss your child’s case with others.  We want to help you become an effective advocate for your child, and to do that you have to know how to present information to the different people in your kid’s lives.
This week we want to help you be understood when you go to talk with your son or daughter’s doctor or counselor.  Whether you are just starting to try to get help and get a diagnosis or want to have a better relationship with your doctor, these tips will help.
1.     Make sure you know what you are talking about.  Do some research.  Most of us go to the Doctor/ counselor thinking he or she will see what I see in my child, and then my child will get the help they need. This will not happen for numerous reasons:
a.     Your child will not act out in front of the Doctor. Your child may even make you look like there is something wrong with you Mom and Dad, and your child is just fine! Have you ever heard that?  I have too many times.
b.     Doctors and counselors are not experts in every disorder, so unless they are a specialist, they may know less about a potential disorder than you do.

2.     Document behaviors, actions and reactions, and have at least a month or two worth of records. Don’t go to the doctor with just some incidence that have happened in the last three days, for instance, and think that the doctor will diagnose your child with RAD, or ADHD or whatever. 
a.     You need to bring in comprehensive notes with information on day, date, time of day (to check for patterns)
b.     List the behaviors, actions and reactions to stimuli
c.     List any input from the child about his or her own behavior and what the child attributes it to. (For instance, if the child says they “just zoned out,” or go “into a rage.”)
d.     If you can get it on camera that is the best way to prove your point, even cassette tape works well for this.  
e.     Now tell them why you think your child needs help.  Just doing a history may help you understand what is going on in your home and it may shed some light on the problems you’re having and you may find you may not need a Doctor after all.
3.  Ask schoolteachers, parents of your child’s friend and family members, anyone who has witnessed problematic behavior, to write up testimonial statements about the child’s behavior. This will just help to show the doctor that the behavior happens in many different environments and again, helps provide more information to build a history for diagnostic purposes.
4. If you know one of the child’s triggers and you trigger him or her in front of the Doctor/ counselor this works well to but always be safe.
5. Make notes about the child’s diet. The child’s diet can tell a lot, so keep track of with they are eating.  This will help the Doctor/ counselor.   Does one food make the child more hyper or less?  Does food high in caffeine or sugar make the child hyperactive or does he seem to handle it well or even calm down?
6.   Always be nice to the doctors, nurses and counselors.  Smile and don’t get mad just because they don’t see what you see.   Just try harder next time with a different Doctor/ counselor.
Even if you already have a diagnosis and have a long-term relationship with your doctor or counselor, ongoing documentation is important to note needs for medication adjustments or changes in approaches as the child ages.
Next I will be writing about being an advocate for your child at his or her school and with teachers. (Difficult, sometimes, I know.)
Do you have some tips to share about dealing with doctors or counselors? Please share, and God Bless.

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