Diary of a foster mum...
Our foster son struggled to settle at night, as well as being hyperactive during the day. He was affected by the smallest of stimuli. He would often get up in the night and we feared for his safety, so we put an alarm on his bedroom door invested in a house alarm with CCTV in the living areas only. We set the down stairs alarm every night without fail. His room was stripped out, nothing in there no curtains, toys, TV etc. We had a fish switch fitted on his bedroom light, this switch this stopped the light disco every night and we got fitted thin piece of white metal in between the window double glazing unit to stop light stimulation. We needed to create a sanctury where he would feel secure and calm – His room was for sleeping or relaxing only with sensory lights. All toys TV etc were only down stairs. He loved digging and painting the fence with a paint brush and a bucket of bubbly water... Very visual!
Alarm was to notify us he was out of his room or he would wander around the house in the night which placed him in danger as he takes risks and doesn't function at his biological age. Age 20 functioning age between 6/8years. Room blank to lessen sensory stimulation. If you can imagine a child floating around the world never being able to settle or rest due to what life presents to him. This daily level of high alert, frustration, anxiety, unrest and isolation.
It is exhausting and because they are unable to problem solve or change things for themselves life become very negative. Breaking things, self harm, low self esteem and rejection all become a way of life. Caring Adults who are very little experience of such behaviours are thrown into the messed up confusion and may like me, didn't understand and made it worse. Once I realised how helpless it was for him and how he couldn't even explain how he felt as he just didn't understand it have the words to do so. It was then we went back to basics...
Basic parenting, black and white instructions and consequences like you would a very young child. This really worked. We saw a real change when he went into his empty room he could relax, sleep better, it became his safe place he loves being in there and when times get bad he takes himself in there and self soothes. I would say when he is in a heightened state his bed becomes his anchor. The uncluttered room wraps around him like big reassuring arms. He can breathe he can, cry, he can think, and when he is ready he can join back into the world that will always be over whelming for him but he has a way now to cope.
He was uncontrollable and looking back I don't know how we all managed. He is nearly 21 now and he still chooses to stay in his little dark bedroom he feels calm and safe there he says. His world is still scary at times and he finds life hard. But he is now a pleasure but can be a pain like all sons at times. He loves cooking, music, being outside in the woods, walks by the beach, digging and dancing.
There was a big shift for us as a family when he was out of control, we used to send him to his safe room for down time this could happen more than twenty times a day. This wasn't a punishment it was a way for him to realise what he was doing was unacceptable and to give him space to try and regulate his behaviours as our interference triggered him more. He managed after many years of kicking the walls swearing screaming hitting himself to self soothe and regulate his behaviours.
It was very black and white really and still is even at the age of 20 if he can't manage his behaviour he takes himself off to his room and comes back to the family and joins in when he can. Am sure by taking away the audience he lost control and wanted to join in. NO kid likes to be left out. He in the end copied the other four children not sure he wanted to but he wanted what they had. If this is just learnt behaviour that's fine by me as he is now social acceptable something I never thought would happen .
If you are finding things tough, you are not alone. NOFAS are a brilliant support and if your in Kent try FASD Awareness South East.
Hope this helps a little.