Kids

Kids

Monday, September 17, 2012

Self-Soothing, Self-Injury

It has been a very difficult weekend.  After a wonderful week with Emery showing some improvement and being so very happy, she took what seems to be a giant leap back.  Emery has always used self-soothing techniques to calm herself.  She rocks and hits herself in the head with her fists.  The hitting has steadily decreased over time to the point where she may have a brief episode once every two to three weeks.  On Saturday morning, she woke up in her normal happy mood.  After about an hour, she started hitting herself and became very upset when I asked her to brush her teeth.  This was not normal, but I thought she must just be expressing some emotion over something.  Well, she wouldn't calm down.  Which is not normal for her.  Normally, her hitting episodes would only last 5 maybe 10 minutes.  We normally would just try to talk gentle to her and tell her everything was OK, and she would be over it.  She continued trying to hit herself on and off all day long.  We were holding her for most of the episodes because we were afraid the continuous hitting wasn't good.  The strange part of all of this is that she wanted us to hold her and cuddle her and gently try to hold her arms.  But, it was like she just couldn't stop hitting herself.  By evening, we noticed her head by her temples was beginning to bruise from the hitting.  We decided to take her to the med center just to rule out any ear or throat infections or other illness.  She cannot talk much so it was not possible for her to let us know if she was hurting.  No infections or abnormalities were found at the med center.  She calmed down on the way home and fell asleep in her rocking chair soon after arriving home.  She slept through the night and woke up in a happy mood.  That didn't last long and soon she started hitting herself again and sobbing.  Once again, all day long this continued.  She wanted to be held but could not stop hitting herself without us holding her arms gently.  I decided to call the after hours pediatrician line because I was concerned her new TB medication might have a mood changing side effect.  The doctor felt this was unlikely and told us to call back tomorrow.  She slept through the night with the exception of moving from her bed to her rocking chair, which she does often.  Woke up all smiles.  She saw me take out a clean pull up from the cabinet and the hitting began again.  Continued for over three hours.  We did not let her hit herself for this long. we held her.  While she was being held and sobbing and trying to hit herself, she kind of looked half asleep by the end of the 3 hour episode.  Then she kind of opened her eyes up real wide, smiled, and as been fine since.  We are walking on egg shells trying not to upset her.  If she comes to us for something, she is fine.  But if we approach her with a drink or snack she looks like she is about to start another episode and runs off.  She hasn't started another episode, but it seems like she could have one at any time.  Today we talked to the international adoption team in Cincinnati, our adoption social worker and we have a call into Emery's therapist.  This is what they think is going on:  they do not think the TB medicine is the cause because she has been on it for 2 weeks and a reaction would have occurred sooner than now.  They think she is under stress just from the changes in our home over the last 3 weeks.    She has had three major changes, we are no longer going to the cottage on the weekends, she started therapy, and her siblings are in school and she has mom completely to herself most of the day.  They gave an idea to slowly transition her out of the episodes.  They feel we should try to keep stress to a minimum and use the transition technique they gave us and then call them back on Wednesday.  This is what we are going to do.  It is just scary because she rarely hit herself anymore and it has never lasted over 10 minutes, let alone 3 days.  Has anyone ever experienced this before?  Is it common to take such a major step backward?  Does anyone have any other ideas of what could be going on with her?  Any suggestions?


2 comments:

  1. With all the changes have you thought about making her a picture schedule so that she knows what is going to happen during her day....that she will know that her siblings will come home and what she will get to do before they come home. She can also take each picture off once it is complete and see that she is getting close to an activity she likes. Have some times when she gets a choice of activity so she has some control....like she could choose between play doh and coloring.

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  2. I read the first part and what immediately hit me is she is grieving. This happens with ALL PI kids but in a different way for each one of them. Some grieve right when they first get home, others months later. It too looked scary for me when my son started banging his head against the wall out of the blue. (he was one of our first ones home so we were truly scared out of our minds). Change in routine can indeed cause stress for the kids but to me, it also sounds like there is grief going on in addition to the change of routine. Believe it or not, grief is a good thing for these kids b/c then they truly can move on. So sorry you're going through it all. Are they suggesting hold therapy for you all? Thinking of you all.

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