Sunday, January 26, 2014

Behavior Plans and Niagara Falls

This is a hard post to write, because in no way do I want anyone to take away a negative impression of my wife.  In fact, I have the utmost respect for her as a person and as a parent. Everyone has limits and I understand that.  She has stretched and grown so much during this parenting journey, a journey in large part started by me, because I always wanted kids. Lots of kids.  She would have been happy for us to remain a couple. She loves our children, but craves more solitude and silence than will ever be possible till the kids are grown!

Last week I received Fiona's proposed behavior plan from her new program.  I am very unhappy with it.  There were attempts to make her visits with family contingent on behavior goals. There is a plan to try and have her have 12 months with no instances of talking back or swearing etc with more than one re-direction from staff.  (ex:  Fiona gets mad and swears, staff suggests calming activity, Fiona accepts all is good.)  Except that this is not feasable or logical. And her participation in the wider community is also potentially held hostage by a need to achieve this and other significantly challenging behavioral changes. There is a transport edict  where she must ride in the very last row of the van because in 2006 there was an incident where she did something unsafe.  2006 and nothing since.

I believe in helping everyone work to their best potential. But I also believe in achievable goals. Making a plan to reduce the behaviors would be great--but not to start with 100 per cent success! Not recognizing the work she has done in the past 7 years is also unfair.  For this and a myriad of other reasons I have refused to sign off on the plan in its present incarnation and there is a meeting in early February to discuss it. I have red inked it and sent it back so that the whole team know my concerns and so that we can work together on a healthy and amicable plan.

When I shared the above example with my wife she was furious on Fiona's behalf. She pointed out that she herself has a Viking temper and could not guarantee that SHE  and fully functioning non disabled individual could agree to respond to a calming activity if she was really upset. She was angry because she knows there are things she (my wife) has changed about herself since 2006 and that she would be upset should they go unrecognized.

I said that it was nice to know she was in my corner on this as I knew that she didn't feel the same level of commitment to Fiona that I do.  It is sort of the elephant in the room in our relationship. When Fiona had to be removed from our home, my wife was so upset, so scared, that she took a giant step back emotionally and never really stepped forward again.  The doctors determined Fi could not live with us, agencies made contact difficult.  In many ways it was easy for her to step back.

I wasn't personally scared when Fiona's incident happened here  and that probably played a big role. I was scared for the kids, but not myself.  I am tall, and a second degree black belt.  But for the other kids emotional well being, yes, I was scared.

I am also an incurable optimist.  I believed then and I believe now, that by being there with and for Fi as much as the powers that be and as much as Fiona herself would allow, that some level of healing would happen. At the very least, she would see that everyone does not walk away. When the opportunity to be her guardian came, I immediately said yes, though I knew that K would not be thrilled.

I also believed that if I just kept on trying that eventually my wife would come round.  I told K that I  call it the "water eroding granite" theory.  It is essentially the same tactic that I used to help my inlaws see that I was after all a pretty nice person. I just kept constantly being nice, ignoring negatives and years later, we really all do love each other.

K laughed when we were talking and said it is not just water eroding granite.  That I am in her words, "f*ing niagara falls eroding granite."  But she is okay with it. And she has come to see Fiona in a different light.  The fact that the group home seems to judge Fiona based on very old issues that are not really relevant to her present behaviors has helped K to see that she was doing the same thing emotionally. There really is a nugget of good in all things.

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