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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm posting here, because I'm not sure where to post -- or what I am looking for. I'm fostering an 18mo old child that has clearly had some emotional trauma up to this point in her young life. Her mom is doing prison time for drugs. This child seems to have a bit of separation anxiety -- well, okay more than a bit -- in that I have to be within eye sight at all times. ALL times. My own kids are older so having a toddler around is a big adjustment as it is, but there are a few moments, when I just need a second to myself. I should be grateful, she isn't crying or throwing tantrums, she just seems to disconnected from the world yet clings to my leg. I need help trying to figure out ways to let her know that we aren't going to abandon her. She doesn't really play with toys, just sits by them staring at me or out the window....she doesn't do what I remember my own mischevious kids doing...i.e., pulling everything out then laying in the middle of them and napping even.<br><br>
Can psychotherapists help a child this young? Should I be asking the fostering agencies for a referral? Could she be showing signs of a physical or mental imbalance?<br><br>
or, worse yet, am I doing something wrong?<br><br>
Any thoughts before I go running into the pediatricians office would be nice. I may just be out of practice!<br><br>
L
 

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Aw, poor little thing. I don't have any experience w/ this sort of thing, but I can send you a hug <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/hug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="hug"><br><br>
I also do know they do have therapies for little todlers. But honestly, it sounds to me like she has been torn away from teh people she was attached to, and understandable is afraid you'll go away as well. Give her time. It shows that she has already defined you as her new mama figure and is becoming very attached to you. Have you tried initiating play w/ her? Silly hand puppets? Stuffed animals that talk and tickle?<br><br>
Do you have a mei tai? A mei tai is GREAT for carrying a toddler. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 

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I think what she probably needs most right now is just for you to be there for her consistently as much as you possibly can. There are play therapists, but I don't know if they work with children that young - you could ask, and someone may be able to give you suggestions on how to help her as much as possible, but for my own kids who aren't going through that kind of emotional trauma the 18-month time was a big time for separation anxiety (still is for our 23-month old but starting to lessen a little), so I'm sure it's just magnified for your little one with all the upheaval in her young life. We fostered a little girl from about 13 months to 18 months a couple of years ago and she had some similar issues. Depending on how long she is with you she will probably outgrow it to some extent as much as any child would, but it will probably take her longer due to her situation. Our 5-yo son we adopted through the foster care system and he still has attachment issues that we are working on, and he's been with us since he was very small. Good luck - I do remember that little girl being a very difficult placement at times, although we got pretty attached and still think about her! You could talk to your pediatrician, too, if you are concerned about other issues that maybe a professional needs to be addressing. It would probably depend on how long she has been with you as to what is a normal adjustment period versus something more, but she does seem pretty young for them to diagnose anything other than perhaps developmental delays or such. I think attachment and trust issues are going to be there for some time. Of course, I'm not a doctor so I could be way off!<br><br>
Anyway, just some thoughts. Hope they make a little sense! Big hugs to you as well. It's very hard!
 

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My DS has experienced severe separation anxiety since birth due to autism. The best "therapy" is to be held close for as much of the day and night as possible, to make eye contact and share facial expressions, to keep a running narration of the things you are doing together and to describe the emotions you experience together throughout the day. It's exhausting work, but the rewards for both of you will be obvious, and as the attachment develops it does get easier.<br><br>
My heart goes out to your little girl. I think she's very lucky to have found a home with you. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/heartbeat.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="heartbeat">
 

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L, We had a similar placement. She wouldn't do things that "typical" kids were doing at her age. She lay curled up by my feet if I was washing dishes; sit and stare at toys not knowing what to do with them; and want to be in my lap constantly, so making meals/doing chores were really hard on her for the separation time. I agree with the above posters, keep her as close to you as possible including nap/bedtime, so she has that security. We had to show our dfd how to play with toys. And the person who mentioned the narration of your day is right on it! That helps in so many ways, just the tone (soft & low) seems to relax and reassure a child. We also kept/keep a constant soft CD playing of guitar or lullabies. Hugs & Blessings to you, your dfd and your children.
 

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I would call Early Intervention. There are a lot of therapies they can do for kids that young. My dd2 had major anxiety issues when she was less than a year old due to pain and medical experiences. The OT helped so much.<br><br>
If you are physically able to, see if you can carry her in a backpack or a baby carrier on your body. Rocking really helps kids like her. Rock her and sing to her a few times a day. Play games like "This little piggy". It will encourage you to interact with her. Even if you are just playing itsy bitsy spider or patty-cake, she may not participate but she will probably want to watch you. Also see if you can engage her in play. Blocks are really great. Have her hand you blocks and build a tower for her to start.
 

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Play therapy! Don't have time to post more right now but will look up a few sources for you. Stanley Greenspan has written numerous books on very young children with emotional issues and ways to work with them--most of it is a type of therapy called Floor Time--yes, it is hard, because it is a big investment of time, but apparently if a loving caregiver as well as a therapist works with a child in this way who has been traumatized, it makes a huge difference. Of course, an Early Intervention evaluation will help sort out what it is exactly she needs, if anything, besides play therapy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the great ideas. I'm slowly introducing them into our routine and I'll be sure to keep you all up to date. I appreciate the hugs and encouragement, I must confess I was feeling very overwhelmed.<br><br>
Lisa<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/dizzy.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Dizzy">:
 
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