Monday, March 24, 2014

Hardwiring Happiness

I've been reading the book, Hardwiring Happiness, written by Neuropsychologist, Rick Hanson, Ph.D. and am about 1/2 of the way though. I've read enough to be able to recommend this self-help book.  Dr. Hanson does a thorough job of explaining basic neuroscience concepts of how the brain processes both good and bad experiences and why the brain is like Velcro for the bad and Teflon for the good.

I found the passage below intriguing. Perhaps it is my love of chocolate cake. I will have to test this out the next time I am under extreme duress. I do think that this seems like a great coping technique...

(click on photo to enlarge)

Time for bed and dreams of chocolate cake and ice cream!

We are a work-in-progress!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Happy Birthday, Colin

Today Colin turns 13 years old. It's been 5 months since we've seen him. There are just under 4 months until his stay at my sister's house will be over and at this point he does not seem any closer to being ready to come home.

Therapy, Schmerapy.

Colin has not had any full-on rages since moving in with my sister and her family. Instead he has what the therapist calls "tantrums", where he puts his head in his lap and hands over his ears. Colin does this in response to therapy. He will sit in the room as directed but will completely shut-out his therapist. Part of the therapy is to talk about school or his life and Colin has remained mute. The other part of the therapy is to sit in his uncle's office and face a trigger for 5 to 10 minutes.

The past several weeks the therapist will turn on the ceiling fan and leave Colin alone in the room. This week she played a recording of refrigerator sounds. The reward for staying in the room with a trigger is one hour of X-Box time. It is hard to know whether Colin is really confronting his triggers. The first time this happened, he seemed surprised when his Aunt told him that he had earned video game time. He claimed not to have heard any of the conversation between his aunt and the therapist.

I am concerned about how therapy is going and have been vocal with our Psychologist.I have been warned by those with Misophonia that Exposure Therapy can make triggers more severe. I also am worried that no visible progress has been made and that Colin is tuning out his therapist. Due to the fact that my son is able to leave the room at any time, we have allowed this method of therapy to continue. We are amazed that Colin stays in the room but most-likely does this out of defiance and to prove that he will not be broken or cooperate with therapy.

Report Card

Colin seems to be doing well in school. He made Honor Roll and his teachers see no odd behavior in class. In fact he appears normal and participates in class discussions. His teachers have been briefed about Colin's sound sensitivities and on what to look for. So far there has been nothing significant to report.

The only notable report was the day the therapist came to observe Colin in one of his classes a few weeks ago. Her visit to school was in response to Colin shutting down in his home sessions. When the therapist was in the classroom, Colin was fairly subdued and quiet. As soon as the "visitor" left the class, Colin turned to a classmate and said "So. How's your day going?" and then started to participate as he normally would.

Only the teacher knew the real reason for the "observer" and was most-likely the only person to notice Colin's change in demeanor. 

Our psychologist has noted that other than his aversion to therapy sessions, Colin seems to be coping fairly well in his new environment.

I have been warned by other miso-parents and by an expert, Dr. Marsha Johnson, that this is not uncommon but most-likely only temporary. It can take up to a year for new triggers to show up. Colin has been caught swearing when he thought no one was within earshot. He also has had other reactions when alone, such as turning off the mini-fridge in the game room, tossing shoes and knocking over chairs. When confronted, Colin denied responsibility.

We are grateful for the temporary reprieve but realize this would not be a realistic long-term living situation. Ready or not, Colin will be coming home soon. He has been told he has to come back to us first before going to foster care which he claims to favor rather than to reunite with his family.


Birthday Wishes 

So far Colin has received 2 cards in the mail, one from Grandma and the other from Dad. Colin gave the check from Grandma to his aunt to cash for him. The card from Dad was opened but found later crumpled and tossed into the bushes by the back door.

I mailed 4 more cards to Colin yesterday and they should arrive today. Two of the cards are from his brothers and two are from me. While I fully expect these to be tossed away, I am anxious to hear his response.

Tonight my sister and her family will take Colin out to dinner.

I hope to get a report tomorrow. I will hope for the best, expect the worst and be content with somewhere in between.

We are a work-in-progress.