Wednesday, January 25, 2012

In line supervision . . .

I write here often that Dustin is on constant supervision or I sometimes call it In-line supervision. I am not sure that everyone quite understands what that means. Let me tell you what that is like for us and why that has to be the case.

Dustin has not impulse control issues. He also lacks object permanence. He cannot connect cause and effect and struggles with empathy. His issues with attachment also causes him to act out in ways that can be a danger to himself, others and animals. His flight or fight response is always on high alert and he tends to take off or lash out. All those things combined make for a child who cannot make good choices and his need for an "external brain" to help guide him in those decisions is very important.

Dustin ahs to always be within 3 feet of us or less. If he goes to the bathroom, we go with him. I stand in the kitchen waiting for him to be done, or at the end of the stairs. If he needs a drink, I go with him to the kitchen or I make sure that one of us can see him. If I am cooking dinner, he is sitting on his stool or helping. If the littles are not home, he is sitting at the table next to Robert playing his Nintendo or he is 3 foot from us in the kid's TV area watching television. When he is in his room, there door is always shut and his door alarm is on so we know if he leaves the room. He has to be able to be seen at all times. If he is particularly ramped up he has to be within arm's reach in case he decides to bolt toward the door.

Even with this type of supervision proximity is not enough. I cannot tell you how many times a night he is sitting with us watching television in the living room, and he makes a poor choice and tries to hit the dog RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. Or I catch him out of the corner of my eye watching me while he tries to scoot across the floor to take my scissors off the coffee table to cut up his pajamas or try to cut the cat's tail. Those are the time when he has to move to come sit on the couch right next to me. While sitting there, within inches of my leg, he will STILL try to smack the dog, or kick the kids as they walk by. When I tell him to stop, he says, "I didn't do anything." It is absolutely frustrating! Supervision is not enough, constant vigilance is necessary to keep everyone safe.

So what other reasons make it necessary to keep this tight a rein on him? He has gone to the bathroom upstairs unsupervised and intentionally shoved a rag down the drain of the sink and turned on teh water to make it rain in my dining room. He likes to pee in places that should not hold pee like the shower, the corners of the kid's bedrooms, the sinks, drawers, toy cubbies, etc. He LOVES to pick the plaster off the walls of my very old house and make holes big enough that you can drive a truck though. He hides things that he can use as weapons like : thumbtacks, paperclips, screws, nails, etc. He takes other people's belongings like watches, game cartridges, stuffed animals, pencils, etc. I am afraid he will hurt himself or others or leave the home without anyone knowing. He has some issues with showing parts of his body that should not be shown to others.

Thankfully most of these issues have not happened in a long time. Why? Because he is constantly watched! I have him make sweeps of his room and throw away trash from his food hoarding and clepto ways that he somehow still gets past us (usually tucked in his underwear - ick!). He is simply asked to return it to it's place or to the trash as necessary. I know this is a product of his trauma and we deal with it on an unemotional level.

We do our best to make him feel safe and happy while we are keeping everyone else safe and happy as well. I am not certain he would be able to be in a home without the level of supervision we use. Yes! It is tiring, and it wears on us all, but it is necessary to allow him to live in a family. As my children get older they have begun to help with the supervision. I have struggled with that as I don't want them to feel as though they need to be a "warden" and I don't want him to think they are in charge of him. We have worked hard to strike a balance. I told my daughter the other day that I could do it when she offered to take him toward he bathroom. She said, "It's ok mommy. I am helping you." I told her she was not in charge and she said, "Dustin is it ok if I help you? Mommy could use a break and I know you need some help to be safe." He agreed and I was ok with her understanding of the situation. And he was okay with it too.

The life I lead is not NORMAL, but I don't regret what we are doing.


Ashley's Mom said...

Having a child also with RAD, I understand completely what you describe. On top of all that, do you sometimes sustain injuries at his hands? I have, but I always rationalize that it is better me than one of the other children or the pets. There are days when I don't know how much more my body can take - a real issue as the child grows bigger with each passing year.

Lisa said...

Oh just described our life (almost) to a t. We no longer have pets as my geriatric cats passed on a few years ago and our beloved dog was hit by a car several years ago, but the rest is dead on. although the one difference is that my husband started taking him to work with him every day almost 2 yrs ago because he refused to go to school and was quite threatening to myself and the other kids I was homeschooling at the time. I sometimes felt very, very guilty that we do this, especially since no one sees the terrible behaviors now - now that we have to do these things that is to keep everyone safe. I just said to my dh earlier today that the only people who've learned anything from this level of supervision is US, since there seems to be no learning going on with him and we seem to figure out something new about him every day.

He will also stash contraband in his underwear - like whole bricks of unwrapped cheese, granola bars, etc. - ICK! is right. I am still amazed at what he can steal right under our noses some days. I guess the thrill is worth the effort he puts into it. My son would already be incarcerated (juvie or jail) if it weren't for this level of supervision. He'll be 18 in April and I'm not looking forward to that at all.