Saturday, October 17, 2015

Deeper Relationships With Children

Something has been going through my mind lately as I continue to carefully study Sissy and make my own observations and evaluations to send to the developmental pediatrician. One of the things that I've become very aware of and truly miss, is having a deeper relationship with my older girls.

By the mid teens, most teens are having rather philosophical conversations with their parents as they try out their wings and consider new ideas and beliefs, gain more knowledge and maturity. There begins to be talk of a future as an adult and they share desires and hopes. I realize that this might sound more deep than many teens may get these days, but I do know many, many parents who are having these experiences with their teens at this stage.

I truly don't think Sissy imagines anything other than returning to her orphanage in China. She can't even begin to imagine getting older, much less being an adult. She still thinks living on the street holding a cardboard sign is a viable option. She's memorized our conversation about being an adult and just fills in her side of the conversation with things I've said. It goes something like this...

Me: So, what do you think will happen when you are an adult?

Sissy: I know I need to work.

Me: What would you like to do?

Sissy: I don't have any skills.

Me: What are you doing to learn skills?

Sissy: Obey mommy. Not lie.

Me: But you aren't doing those things. You aren't obeying and you are sneaking and lying a lot.

Sissy: (nothing)

Me: Do you have a plan?

Sissy: (starts looking confused)

Me: Have you been doing your speech exercises?

Sissy: Not every day.

Me: Have you been doing anything to help yourself learn and grow?

Sissy: You said I'm not growing any more. (she's thinks I'm talking about height)

Me: Do you understand what I'm talking about?

Sissy: I will live outside.

Me: I've already told you that you can't do that.

Sissy: (nothing - she can't go any further)

Communication is everything. How do we communicate with a newborn baby who isn't verbal or anyone for that matter who isn't verbal? We do it through looks, actions, touch, care, etc... What happens, though, when children don't respond to this?

A healthy newborn will grow up and learn to speak. It will develop and conversations will go from a mother's soothing words, to encouraging and imitating baby's sounds, to repeating real words, and, eventually, to having basic conversations that will include questions by the child. As the child's knowledge and experience grows, the conversations become more complex, the child's ideas gain depth and understanding of an ever expanding world. The parent can broach new subjects and the child can respond and vice versa.

This doesn't happen with Sissy and happens with tremendous delay with Jie Jie and Blossom. I wonder where we'll be three years from now?


Anonymous said...

Hello, How does Sissy behave around her friends? I know at times my daughter seems much more "incapable" around me than she is around her friends. Have you had a chance to just observe from a distance to see what kind of interactions are going on between/among them?

Best, Doreen

Silvia said...

Hi! Have you considered getting some sort of training for yourself to help you communicate better with Sissy (and JieJie)? One thing I noticed in the conversation you had with Sissy, is that you seem to become distracted from the question you started out with. You end up talking about weather she has been doing her speech exercises and about her sneaking and lying. Even if she did understand the first question, she might not find it easy to think about what she CAN do if you are so quick to move the conversation to things she can't do or can't do well.
If you want to talk with her to build a relationship, give her the feeling that her ideas are valuable, even if they are not realistic. If she says "I want to live outside" you could say:"oh, really? what would you do if it rains?" instead of making her feel bad for giving yet another "wrong" answer.
Best wishes for you and your family, Silvia

goodiego said...

I believe my daughter learned a lot about communication and social cues from watching television shows and movies. They can become witnesses to healthy interactions between people. There really are some good shows out there and we did watch them together which made for some great conversations. She has always watch some movies over and over again and they still come up in our conversations about making friends and keeping them. Even though she is 14 years old she will still watch some "baby shows" I find it socially helpful and instructional for better communication between peers.

I also made flash cards of emotions to help her learn to read other people's emotions.
You can have the girls help make the flashcards by cutting faces out of magazines showing
the different emotions people can have. We drew silly emotional faces, now there are all those emoticons too. Or practice making those emotional faces in the mirror with the girls...silly and fun while still being instructional. Learning how to read emotions will help with communication too.

Peggy said...

This is not a criticism at all....just an observation and a suggestion. With the developmental delays you are seeing, I would probably move away from speaking about the future. The girls may be so overwhelmed with dealing with the present that the future doesn't seem like reality to them. Also, they know that children grow up and leave their mama, and that thought may be overwhelming and scary to them...they just found you, after all. Maybe as you talk about learning skills, you could make it relate something they need now rather than for their futures?

I'm so glad you share the good, the bad, and the ugly along with the triumphs because I've learned so much from watching your journey!

Sara said...

Sigh, I know it's hard. Sissy may need to jump into the workforce long before she has mastered her high school or similar skills. However, there is a place. Explore the interests: art, music, drama, teaching, cooking, cleaning, child care, hospitality, food service, sewing, serving - what makes her feel complete - there are many options. She can earn her own money. Street corner sitting is not an option! Mom, you're doing a great job!

Ruby said...

I have two bio boys, ages 9 and 7. My 9 year old has high functioning autism (high enough his kindergarten teacher argued he doesn't. He does.) My 7 year old has several disabilities, but none of them emotional/social/behavioral. My sister has a non-bio son age 7 that she started to live with at age 5. He has RAD. There are times when we are talking about our similar challenges, particularly with connecting to others, and what works/doesn't work. We both know it is controversial, and completely not accepted in some circles, but both of us have been drawn to the idea that autism/RAD are the nature/nurture sides of a disability coin (with some exceptions). Both of us employ parenting techniques that are more considered for the 'opposite' disorder (ASD/RAD).

This post in particular, but other recent posts about Sissy I have really had these ASD/RAD thoughts. Have you looked into parents with ASD kids deal with these problems (my son is not of that age yet, and he does have interest in some things, but that is not an unheard of problem in the ASD community).

Anonymous said...

I don't know if these fit your situation, but have you looked at social stories?