If you read my blog often, you probably know that my daughter who is 5 has chronic PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder.) The chronic part means that she’ll probably always have anxieties related to certain situations.
One of the most disconcerting parts of PTSD is the anniversary effect. For foster parents – this means out of the blue, life goes flipping crazy! It took us about a week to realize that all of Alyssa’s major changes in life had happened right around Halloween. She had been sketchy and nervous for about a week before a caseworker visit so we mentioned to the cw that she had separation anxiety and that she needed to tread softly. Historically, caseworker visits had not gone well with the children. The kids would get so scared, they’d freeze like a deer in headlights and wet their pants where they stood. It took days of hugging and rocking and reassuring before things went back to normal. Alyssa has a defense mechanism of telling people what they want to hear when she gets scared. She wants them to go away – and telling them what they’re asking gets them to go.
So, the caseworker came and it went like normal for those visits. My sister was in the hospital, so I was heading out the door and Shaun was going to put the kids in bed. Alyssa did not sleep that night or the next three. She regressed all the way back to infant stage and blocked out the entire world. She would not leave my side, even to go to the bathroom and when I turned my back, she grabbed my razor and tried to cut herself. She would only play with some baby toys I kept for my nephew when he visited. This was not normal anxiety – this was scary. (Later we realized this had happened with her last foster parent as well before she moved in with us – on exactly the same date. She had pulled large patches of hair out and had sores all over her head when she came to us.)
We called everywhere we could think of but on a weekend with a 4 year old child, there aren’t too many resources available. There’s a crazy long waiting list for any children’s hospital equipped to deal with mental health issues. We were told just to provide 24/7 supervision and to do what we could.
I did what I do – I got online and signed into a foster parent support group I was a member of. One of the ladies who I love totally to death suggested a blanket that was satiny on one side and fleece on the other. She said it was what calmed her children when nothing else would.
Children are incredibly tactile. They will sit there and rub something in between their fingers for hours. They love sand, water, hair, everything they can get their little fingers and cheeks on.
I gave Shaun a kiss, and headed out to the mall. I got this blanket, a white noise machine that played jungle animals across the ceiling along with a lullaby, some pacifiers, and some aromatherapy stuff.
It’s easy to find stuff to sooth babies. It’s not so easy to find a blanket that is fleece on one side and satiny on the other. I got it home, sprayed it with the aromatherapy stuff (chamomile and vanilla,) wrapped her up in it and sat in the rocking chair.
Thank God, the internet, and foster parent support group – she got two hours of sleep. That blanket went with us EVERYWHERE for weeks. She rubbed it, she sucked on it, she wrapped baby dolls in it, she wore it like a cape. It still holds special honor in her bed by laying next to a fleece covered body pillow.
So, etsy family, I need you guys to make that more available! Moms who need something to help with your child – try one of those blankets. My friend said her children with PDD-NOS, autism, separation anxiety, drug addictions, and developmental delays all loved it. It’s helped Alyssa so much that I’m going to be in the market for one for each boy come Christmas time.
The only thing that could make it better was if it were lightly weighted. Weighted blankets help people with autism spectrum and anxiety disorders sleep better. (Really, read the article linked.) It’s like an all night hug. I sleep better with tons of blankets – I have OCD which is an anxiety disorder – and it’s easier for me to sleep if I feel secure. Speaking of that… etsy folks – anyone want to make a grown up blankie? 😀