OUR VOICES: TOUCHING TRAUMA AT ITS HEART

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What Happens to the Siblings of a Special Needs Child

–by Sara Borgstede [read more from Sara, including the original version of this post, at her website The Holy Mess] When my teen son, young adult daughter and I return home from a youth group meeting, my heart sinks when I see a police cruiser sitting in our driveway. We walk into the living room to find an officer taking a report from my husband and son about a situation

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When Children with Mental Health Issues Are Violent

–by Sara Borgstede [originally published on the author’s own blog, The Holy Mess, on March 1, 2018.] Manager’s note: while many children who suffer from mental health issues never become violent, the tragic reality is, some do. A huge hug of gratitude for Sara for her courage in sharing one such story. Like most people in this country, it was with great sadness and alarm that I read about the

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A Christmas Gift for You

–by Laura Dennis [NOTE: this post references this author’s faith as an aspect of her own experience. It is not meant in any way to proselytize, nor does it represent the beliefs of everyone at ATN.]     I was crying. Again. I never know when secondary traumatic stress will rear its ugly head. I do know it can get awfully old. “It’s just that I hate Christmas,” I blurted

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I Wish I Hadn’t Adopted

–by Donald Craig Peterson I wish, I wish, I wish…I wish I hadn’t adopted. There I said it. Like a majority of families who’ve adopted children, I wasn’t mentally prepared for the surprises. You know, the chaos inside Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. The manipulation and triangulation inherent to attachment disorders. The invisible insanity associated with developmental trauma. Sure, I expected some challenges along the way. After all, adoption isn’t a fairy

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Throwing Myself on the Floor

  –by Janyne McConnaughey, PhD It was inexplicable. I was a twenty-seven-year-old wife and mother of an infant, and I had just left the family gathering and thrown myself on the floor kicking and screaming. My husband was standing over me with a compassionate but perplexed look on his face. I now understand exactly what happened. In that moment, I was not an adult. I was one of my child selves and

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Confession Time

–by Lorraine Fuller Time to confess some things. When I first started this journey of parenting a child with trauma, attachment, and other issues, I read everything I could get my hands on. I joined groups, attended classes, and went on retreats. I was determined to do everything right to help my son heal. From my reading, I got the impression that it was like a math problem: if I

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Manipulation and the Inability to Ask for Help

–by Janyne McConnaughey, PhD One day, well into my first year of therapy, I caught myself trying to manipulate my therapist. Not that I hadn’t been trying all along, but I hadn’t recognized that what I was doing looked distinctively like manipulation. Suddenly, I found the connection between that and my inability to ask for help. At issue was my need to schedule another appointment. The therapist had always taken

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That Feeling

–by Lorraine Fuller It’s a feeling special needs parents know all too well. My most recent experience happened on a cruise ship, on a vacation with extended family. One evening, I couldn’t sleep. My son had gone to a teen party and everyone else had gone to bed early or was off doing something else. I went walking and decided to get a slice of pizza – 24-hour pizza is

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Caregiver Stress: It Might Eventually Kill You

–by Donald Craig Peterson originally published on the author’s website, ADOPTING FAITH: A Father’s Unconditional Love, July 31, 2017 The serious look on the eye doctor’s face was obvious. Then she said, “Are you under a lot of stress at work?” Instantly I let out a nervous laugh. “At work – no. But home can be another story.” No doubt, parenting children with special needs isn’t for the meek –

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Triggers: Providing Emotional Safety in the Classroom

–by Janyne McConnaughey, PhD Every adult knows that there are triggers in life. We often know each other’s triggers, and in toxic relationships, we talk about how we push each other’s buttons. We know those buttons exist, but we often don’t remember how they got there. It is even harder for children, who are not yet developmentally capable of identifying the trigger. Most difficult of all, for children and adults

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Trauma without Healthy Attachment: How a Child Feels

–by Janyne McConnaughey, PhD I sat on the floor next to her. I understood her fear of abandonment, the trauma she had experienced, and how her mother had been unable to provide any form of comfort. I watched her body shake uncontrollably and offered a blanket. I knew she would not want me to hold her. As we sat, I thought about how this had all started the day she

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Neediness: An Unintended Consequence of Shame

–by Janyne A. McConnaughey, Ph.D. originally published June 21, 2017 on Janyne’s blog I stood in the doorway. I was very small, maybe two. I was sucking on my two middle fingers and watching my mother in the kitchen. I was forbidden from entering. Then I did the unthinkable. I stepped over the imaginary line and asked for a cookie. The response was not a positive one, but what strikes me

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Stronger in Spirit Than I Ever Imagined

–by Donald Craig Peterson Manager’s note: you can read the original post on Craig’s own blog, Adopting Faith: A Father’s Unconditional Love. Craig also has a forthcoming memoir, Adopting Faith: A Father’s Unconditional Love, and you can follow his son Andrew’s story by clicking “Like”  on the Facebook page, Andrew Peterson Goes for the Gold. ____________ The past month at my house has been rough. More surprises than usual. And not the pleasant variety.

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The Classroom through the Lens of Trauma

–by Janyne McConnaughey, Ph.D. The doctor my parents took me to was wise beyond his era. He said, “She seems to be a bit anxious about school. Maybe it would help to keep her home for a week.” My first-grade report card proves that his advice was taken. In the midst of almost perfect attendance, there was an anomaly. It was called trauma. I used to tell a story about

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Why Jeannie Can’t Tell Time

–by Janyne McConnaughey, Ph.D. Staring at the analog clock in my therapist’s office, I wondered which hand was the big hand and struggled with my need not to go over my time. “I can’t read the clock,” I said. It was awkward because I was 62, but I really wasn’t. This awkward therapy moment is brought to you by my dissociative disorder. It was a watershed moment in understanding one

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20 Years after the Fetal Alcohol Diagnosis

–Craig Peterson Manager’s note: you can read the original post, along with many others, on Craig’s own blog at https://adoptingfaithafathersunconditionallove.org/ Craig also has a forthcoming memoir, Adopting Faith: A Father’s Unconditional Love, and you can follow his son Andrew’s story by clicking “Like”  on his special Facebook page, Andrew Peterson Goes for the Gold   Jan was a gem, a dedicated child welfare case manager. With knowledge of maternal alcohol use during pregnancy, she drove

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Adventures in therapeutic parenting: spit cup in a tree

-by Laura Dennis I was enjoying my coffee when a panicked voice rose from the back yard. “Help!” My spit cup is in a tree!” I never imagined these words in the same breath: help, spit, cup, tree. Well, not until I became a parent, and not just any parent, but a parent with special powers, for I am raising a child with attachment disorder. I acquired these powers thanks

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Smart and strong

by:  Lorraine Fuller My son told me once that the reason he lies and breaks rules is because he is testing the person. He will do things that seem to make no sense, tell lies that get him into trouble, or steal inconsequential things. If a teacher tells him to write his name on the top left side of his paper, he will put it on the right side or the

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The Dynamics of Disruption

By Nancy Spoolstra, DVM Although there are several possible explanations for why an individual, a couple, or a family chooses to add an unrelated child to their home, in today’s modern society it usually boils down to one basic principle—the desire to parent a child or another child. Perhaps some are motivated more by altruistic feelings than others; still, the desire to parent is probably a core motivator. When the

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Failure is always an option

by:  Lorraine Fuller I have been a special needs parent for almost 24 years. My oldest was diagnosed with Aspergers and dysgraphia. That presented a few challenges, but we were able to overcome them. Then my second son played a big part in helping my older son become super high-functioning, even as he dealt with his own challenges, namely dyslexia. He is about to finish college with a degree in psychology and

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When your child suffers

Craig Peterson poignantly reminds us of the daily struggles that some of our kids have faced, still face, and may always face. Coping When a Child Suffers Daily

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Meet your new blog manager

One year into the first adoption, sibling girls from India, we felt like things were going pretty well. “Why not another?” we asked. “Maybe this one will be a boy.” Turns out it would definitely be a boy –we wanted our kids to have a common cultural heritage, so were returning to India, and the government of that country could not fathom that a family might freely choose to raise

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What if it’s NOT the most wonderful time of the year?!

Greetings from your new blog manager. You will be hearing more from me next week. Meanwhile, does the chaos of this image remind you a little too much of the holidays where you live? Craig Peterson shares some wisdom for helping our trauma kids through a time that can be filled with anything but love, joy, and peace on earth. Just click below, and may his words speak to you as they

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Don’t Give Up on Kids like Charlie and Moms Like Me

We are thrilled to welcome Allison Cooke Douglas to the ATN blog team.  Allison is not only an adoptive and former foster mom, she is also a foster parent trainer and leader.  She currently serves as a DCS Foster Parent Education Specialist for Centerstone in Tennessee.  As her opening post, we are sharing her remarks as she edited and updated them in honor of NATA Day. by:  Allison Cooke Douglas I

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A Niche for Every Child

by:  Craig Peterson All children need a special activity in their lives – something to call their own. And especially those who’ve experienced trauma. Many of these opportunities happen through school. For some it’s team sports. For others it might be music or theater. In the case of my son Andrew, he found his niche through running. Like thousands of children each year – in spite of 25 years of

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What NATA DAY is Not!

By:  D Craig Peterson NATA Day is coming June 19th. Let me tell you what it’s not. It’s “not a” day to be alone. All families need support. Wear a blue ribbon and tell others what it means. It’s “not a” day to be angry. Sure, go ahead and vent if you need the emotional release. But don’t let the anger about your child’s behavior stop you from connecting. In

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