Today was the last day of our Attachment Intensive. It was also the first day that Hope did not melt down before we even got to the office. She thought about it, but chose not to.
First The Dad and I went in to speak with the AT. Everyday started that way. We talked about the bottom line. Good news: A few of the children she sees are solid stone and if that were the case, we would be talking about long term institutional placement. We are not. The AT said there was the smallest spark still left in Hope and our job was to gently fan this spark everyday, while maintaining the compliance boundaries the AT set up. GB is strongly attached, and even with her special needs, she is going to survive being Hope’s sister. Bad news:This is going to take years and years of hard, constant work and Hope still may not make it. The AT is going to speak to the waiver worker and the school day treatment worker and make sure they know exactly what needs to be done. Hope is going to need regular, ongoing attachment work. The AT agreed to continue working with her. I will post more on that on the other blog later.
Today’s exercise was interesting. The AT took out large piece of white paper and drew a vertical line down the middle. She told Hope to pick two animals; one that represented the Hope that made good choices and one that represented the Hope who made poor choices. Hope decided that the Hope that made good choices was an elephant and the Hope that made poor choices was a ram. The picture on your right is the elephant I drew (no laughing, please) and on your left is the ram Hope drew. We spent a lot of time writing the things Hope the elephant would do and every once in a while, the AT would ask Hope for an example of what Hope the ram might do. In the beginning, Hope would only admit that the ram might do things like whining. We kept filling the elephant side up and gradually the AT addressed the ram behaviors. Hope fought talking about them, but the AT was persistent and they eventually addressed some of it.
The At waited for Hope to make a mistake on the elephant side of the picture. When she did, the AT pointed out the mistake and Hope fell to pieces. The AT quickly took the opportunity to point out that the elephant makes mistakes too. The difference between the elephant and the ram was that the elephant fixed the mistakes. That branched off into a discussion the sad, mad, glad, and scared feelings both the elephant and the ram had and how the difference was in the way they expressed those feelings. She had Hope practice saying “I am mad because _______” It was very difficult. The AT gently persisted until Hope had made two successful I am mad statement about things that had happened today. Another time we will tackle “I am sad because________” statements as sad is harder for Hope than mad.
We ended by reading a book with Hope, “Even If I Did Something Awful?”Hazen, Barbara Shook. At the AT’s suggestion, I ordered that book from Amazon (used) and “Emma’s Yucky Brother (I Can Read Book 3)”
Little, Jean; for GB. The book for GB is about a girl who is excited when her family adopts a brother and dismayed at the brother’s nastiness and behavior when he actually arrives.
I have not come close to processing everything that happened during the intensive, but I can say I am happy we invested the time and money in it.