How About a Round of Hugs? – FASD Success Stories Series (2nd Story)
We are from a town in Nova Scota with about 10,000 people living in it. Our town had our first FASD awareness day this Sept. 9th. I’m proud to say that our local family resource center asked me to be the parent on their FASD Awareness Committee.
Our Riley is now 11 almost 12 yrs old. We became foster parents to Riley & his younger brother when he was only six months and Riley was two and a half. There were many delays in the boys (the younger brother was still not walking and still sleeping many, many hours during the day). We were very fortunate to have become a forever family in Oct. 2007! Yay, Us! We went from an only child to having three boys with an eleven year age difference.
As most caregivers of FASD children, there has been struggle all along the way… the last two years have been really challenging with Riley. He did well in school up until grade four then everything stopped. He has pretty much sat in class for the last two now going on three years, not doing a lot of anything in class, but with behaviors of hitting, cursing and high anxiety.
The last two years we have very seldom been able to touch or hug or comfort our boy…having to ask most times to touch him and the majority of the time being told, “NO”. No one could walk in or by his personal space, which was about a ten foot area all around him. He has been very hard on his little brother with words that hurt and with hands.
I am THRILLED to tell you that since the Spring he had started shaking hands with our church family and announces to me that he feels so much better having touched them and speaking to them (he used to kneel on the floor for the whole service hoping no one would notice him).
We can now HUG Riley, touch Riley on most days without having to ask and he does NOT blow up when we or others do approach him! YAY RILEY! His anxiety is starting to minimize and he has come up HIMSELF with a couple of different ways to help himself! He asked to go to the after school program a couple of days a week so he could get his anxiety out before coming home to us! He also decided that the hot tub helps him relax, so he asked if we could start going to the YMCA more so he could use the hot tub! I am sooooooo PROUD of how RILEY himself has come up with these ideas on his own!
There is absolutely nothing like seeing our boy grow into himself and help try to help himself. Our family is so blessed (even with the stress, exhaustion and everyday battles) these successes are what makes you embrace and realize why our kids are so AWESOME!!!
Thanks for taking the time to read a bit of our story.
P.S. The picture is of Riley (the taller one) and Braden on the first day of school this year – Grade five and six. Woo Hoo!