Help outfit Michael, Sarah, and John

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Not so clever

Iryna is still pinching herself (and others) a lot. It's driving me crazy. Today I had an idea to have her wear gloves, thinking that would remedy the situation. It's true that it makes it more difficult for her to pinch herself and so when she tried to do so and it wasn't the way she wanted it to be, she became frustrated and then she hurt Keith. I was highly irritated at this. #1. She hurt Keith who did nothing to her. #2. I really thought that gloves would work. I know that replacing the behavior with something else would be ideal, but I've tried that already with offering her bubble wrap to pop, dolls to pinch instead, and rewarding her with positive affirmation when she's NOT pinching herself. I just don't know what to do. It's hard because it's a constant thing and it's become unconscious, I believe.


McElwain Family said...

We had this problem with a little girl we adopted from Haiti my mom found some "skin" crayons. That you can safely color on your skin. Then my mother sat down and drew hearts all over the little girls arms and legs. She gave Olivia the crayons and told her she could show how she feels with the crayons instead, by drawing faces. If she pinched herself or someone else my mom would take the crayons away for a few hours. Olivia fell in love with expressing herself with the crayons and would get really upset the pinching stopped after a few says and after about a month Olivia no longer played with the crayons. She was satisfied she had expressed herself on her body. I'm not sure why that's such a big things but they want to use their own body to express themselves. I remember my mom was super worried it would lead to tattoos but the therapist insisted it was just a temporary thing like oral affection is to an infant. I remember more than once Olivia walking up to me and drawing hearts, smiley faces, or frowns. We just let her do it, it didn't last long.

Diana said...

Don't be too hard on yourself. Just keep looking for solutions. I know you've heard me preach this a million times, but look past the behavior and see what's driving it.

So, that becomes the million dollar question of the day. What IS driving it? Is it stress? Is it a sensory seeking behavior? VERY likely you'll find that it is both stress and sensory related. MANY (aka most) kids with a history of early neglect missed out on all those sensory building activities, including being touched and cuddled and tickled. This is especially true for our PI kiddos. It's likely now that she doesn't have the ability or coping tools to process the vast amount of sensory input she's getting.

So what is the pinching about? I'm willing to bet the farm I don't have that you are 100% right. It's subconscious. It's not deliberate...or at least not for maladaptive reasons (to purposely harm herself.) It is, however, a maladaptive (warped thinking) coping tool. Whether it's ADHD, sensory processing problems, underlying trauma, or stress (school, life, Halloween, siblings, anything can cause it and usually all of it does)...or all of it combining, it may be manifesting as anxiety.

Anxiety isn't a happy feeling for anyone. Instinctively she's trying cope with an internal storm. It sounds like the best way she's figured out how to relieve this tension is to pick/pinch herself. To her, the strong sensation of the pinch really does feel better than whatever it is she's trying to cope with internally. Even though it looks like it hurts from your perspective (because you know it does), to her it is actually soothing and calming.

Actually, for special kids like ours, especially when FASD is compounding everything by like a thousand, replacing the behavior with something else is NOT ideal. In fact, if you try to get her to stop this one, it's pretty likely she'll come up with something bigger and intense masturbation (in public if you're really lucky) or skin puncturing or scratching or head banging or destroying anything she can get her hands on...or maybe you'll hit the jackpot and get what I got...incessant thumb sucking while aggressively picking the nose at the same time with no regard for location or privacy or appropriateness. Oh yah,'s awesome. And did I mention the other is a picker, too? mmmm hmmmm...drives me nuts, too.

Here's the thing though. If I try to stop any of it without giving some other equally soothing and sensory rich thing in its place, crazy comes out to play. Crazy rages, spins, hurts other people, and/or pulls out some of the above named ever so lovely replacement behaviors.


Diana said...

You've hung out with me long enough that you've probably heard me say about a million times that CBT/behavior modification doesn't work. This is exactly why it doesn't. As your little experiment proved (which is actually really good that it did!!) it isn't about BEHAVIOR. Behavior is only an outward symptom of internal tension.

So what do you do about it? 1) consult an occupational therapist and have her tested for sensory process problems. 2) Make sure said occupational therapist knows what part early childhood trauma (neglect is trauma, abandonment is trauma, institutionalization is trauma, and even adoption is processed as trauma to a child) and probable FASD play in her story as well 3)keep her world very small. VERY small. She needs lots of quiet, low stimulus time to allow her brain to calm down and catch up with the processing. Keep her close to you, wrap her in a weighted blanket, consider doing a baby regression if you haven't done so, turn off the TV (very sensory rich, especially kids shows like cartoons or Sesame Street) and video games (same reason) and teach her how to be still and to recognize calm...nope, not easy for a kid with ADHD. Some people have had good luck with prescribed strong sitting. Play sensory rich games together. A favorite here is exaggerated actions to songs like Eentsy Weentsy Spider, making sure that all of the actions like the rain and washing the spider out involve safe all-over touch.

Hang in there, Mama. You're doing good stuff!

Sarah C said...

Wow! Those were some amazing comments from your friends! I am sure those suggestions will help a lot. Good luck.

Courtney said...

If you haven't tried them yet, you might try a weighted vest or a compression vest. It definitely sounds (from this end, where I am not seeing or experiencing it) like it is sensory related. I hope for your sake and hers that you can find a solution! Oh, and you can make a weighted vest for her since I know you know how to sew. :) :)