Sunday, March 10, 2013

A bit of psychology: {Zoe}


Lilah's psychologist decided she wanted to see Zoe. I had told her a little bit of some of the issues that Zoe has and that both girls were responding quite well to some of the techniques we have been using (see attachment), but that she was on the opposite side of the spectrum from Lilah. She thought meeting Zoe and figuring out a way to work with both girls together would really benefit Lilah.

I went to this meeting expecting the Dr. to tell me that I should just continue on with the same techniques that we are already using. And she did say that. But that was not all...

I love this psychologist because I feel she has really great instincts. Instincts that are usually right in line with mine.


Zoe is also full of tension, which shows in her body. Her tummy is very tight and somewhat extended. She is also very hypersensitive. I have posted before about how massaging Zoe is often a challenge. Not always. But often. She squirms and squeals and laughs uncontrollably when people touch her. If she is relaxed, I am really the only person that she will sometimes allow to touch her, without these reactions.

The psychologist recommended giving her more control in these situations. Putting her hands under mine and allowing her to control the massage. Using heat bags to roll on her back or tummy, again with her hands controlling the movement. Putting the lotion into her hands and having her rub it behind her ears (her most ticklish spot!). She also recommended singing together while doing this to cause some distraction. It may also relieve some tension to have her lay on her back, hold her ankles, push her legs up and rotate them around and around. Or to push her legs up towards her tummy. She would like these short bursts of exercise to happen once an hour for about one minute. We will see how that goes!


Zoe clung to me throughout the hour. She looked to me for comfort. The psychologist said she could tell that Zoe has a very healthy attachment (unlike Lilah) and through some questions that she asked (who is in your family? where do you all live? how old is everyone? etc.) she could see that Zoe is very centred in our home. She understands who her immediate family is and where we all belong. This is something Lilah hasn't quite figured out yet.

The Dr. does NOT feel that Zoe has ADD or ADHD. Zoe stood at the sand table and poured a tiny stream of sand into the spout of a tea pot for five minutes. A child with ADD would never be able to do this.

But Zoe has no inhibition and no impulse control. There is a disconnect between her body and her mind. This is something that could put her in some very dangerous situations if it isn't brought under control. An example of this behaviour would be that if Zoe decides she wants something... she will ask over and over and over. Stop for a few minutes. And then go back to asking for that item over and over and over again (obsessive play). She CANNOT sit still. She CANNOT NOT touch other people.


We have noticed this lack of control whenever strangers (even family friends) come around. She will instantly start yelling, laughing, running, etc. We often have to send her to her room until they leave. We thought it was an attention seeking action, but now I think that it is her anxiety rising.

I have also talked about Zoe's food issues. She is always worried about when the next meal or snack will be. She will ask in the morning what is for lunch and for supper. She gets very upset when told no or to wait for food. She will sometimes still eat food off of the floor if it is there. She can say she is full at a meal, but if you don't take the plate away from her, she will continue eating. This fear of lack of food is what causes her tummy tension. It was suggested to have her play with a toy kitchen, to pretend to prepare food and give food to others. Again, if we can get her to a consistent relaxed state, these food issues should diminish.

When Zoe was playing in the sand table and asked to pick some toys to put into the tray she chose a tea cup, dishes and tea cups. Some she filled with sand, others she did not. She also chose a ballerina with very long hair and a princess. When asked to tell a story about what she had placed into the sand table, this was her story.

Once upon a time there was a ballerina named Zoe and a princess named Mama. They were invited to a birthday party, but when they got to the birthday party there wasn't enough food. Some of the plates were empty and they were hungry...


After one hour at the office, Zoe was done! She crawled on my lap crying, begging to go home. This is very unlike her.

Because Lilah is doing really well right now (we have had three straight weeks of cooperation and happiness), the psychologist asked to see Zoe alone again in two weeks.

Zoe shows classic signs of PTSD in children. The psychologist feels there was some early childhood trauma that occurred. She wants her referred to a Psychiatrist at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital for an assessment. I don't know what the psychologist was thinking, I sat there and felt that there was something she wasn't telling me... I should have asked more questions, but didn't think of it at the time. I left discouraged and upset and worried.


Marie said...

Oh Paige! So sorry to hear that you left feeling like that! Will be praying for peace and insight for you and the psychologist.
It sounds like you have an incredible Dr. We've yet to find someone that is truly helpful. Hmmm...another reason to move???

Fenix Selevanta said...

Sending love. Must be so hard to go through this with the girls. :)

Patrick and Christina said...

So sorry that you are feeling uncertain. This has me in tears...

Gonna pray hard for you and her though this one. Praying for my girl too and for Mao Ping who is I think a lot like Zoe. The laughing and happy go lucky is really functional cover for anxiety or trauma.

There is nothing easy about this...PSTD...about the fact that we love our kids but could not be there to protect them when they were little. That whatever it was that happened to them some developmental wires got crossed or damaged.

The good news is, with the right help (and you've definitely got it! ), it can all be softened and healthy and functional. I know I have been blessed to see this in action! Sometimes the "trauma" is not the worst case scenario but just that they did not get the protection that they needed when they needed it the most. Food insecurity rewires us, not being held enough rewires us, especially when we are little.

Love all that you do for your littles! What an incredible MaMa! What incredibly resilient little girls you have!

Jessica said...

Praying for you, and the girls. My brother had severe RAD, it was very hard sometimes.

Monica said...

Aw, I know the feeling of worry after you leave an appointment and wishing you could go back and ask more questions. I feel for you.

Your psychologist really does sound fantastic. What a blessing to have your girls here for this type of assessment and treatment. I know healthcare isn't perfect but I have nothing but praise when it comes to the treatment my children have received here - treatment that likely wouldn't exist back ion China (at least not to the extent as here).

Hang in there, Paige. You are doing such a good job of ensuring your children have access to all the treatment and therapy they will need to live productive and happy lives.

the meaklims said...

Praying for you, for peace. I wonder could you call her... can only imagine your worry. She does sound amazing though and I hope Zoe gets the help she needs.

Great news about Lilah.


Denise said...

It's wonderful to hear how good Zoe's attachment is to you. That is a great base for any type of trauma she might need to work through in the future. She is a beautiful, strong girl - and with her family by her side, she will do very well with whatever comes her way. The photos of her are so beautiful...

csmith said...

It's so easy to leave an appointment feeling anxious. But , try to focus on the positives. A helthy attachment to you, asking you to hold her and take her home, shows that she is already recovering from past trauma. Also her ability to play with food items and make up stories about her worries is a huge sign that she can take charge of her fears and work through them.

The Drinkwaters said...

I wonder if her PTSD revolves around her food anxiety? Mary still struggles in this area (very similar to Zoe) and I realize now that this will most likely be something that will be present for a very long time for her.