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Dear subscribers,

The first posting had the wrong link. Please read this one to get the correct one. Mahalo!

Autism As They Grow: http://goo.gl/wJaXL8 

Listen to internet radio with SpecialNeedsTalkRadio on Blog Talk Radio

Mahalo To Bobbi Sheahan and Amalia Starr for inviting me to their show and for being terrific hosts!

PTSD and Ambiguous Loss 6

In When Someone You Love Suffers From Posttraumatic Stress, by Claudia Zayfert, PhD and Jason C. DeViva, PhD , they define ambiguous loss as a “term used to describe any situation in which a loved one is absent in some ways but present in others.” They further explain that this can be when a person is present physically, but is not participating in family life. This describes my family.

The thing is we are still a family and at times we still act like one. However, there are other times, we are not. This may sound like a typical family with a teenager to some of you. It is not.

I am not talking about typical teenage rebellion or pulling away. I am talking about a talented, kindhearted child, who wants to be alone, yet still wants me to be present. The two are contradictory I know, still there it is. She needs me to be present, yet invisible. She needs control of the boundaries she establishes, while at the same time she cannot accept that I too need boundaries. I frequently walk on eggshells as I try to help her.

The more I learn, the more I understand and believe me I understand more than most. Yet, I am at risk. I am at risk for what the book describes as “secondary trauma.” Many family members of those with PTSD have signs of anxiety, depression and PTSD themselves. This is why I get angry when I see people related to the year my daughter experienced bullying. They are all moving forward; this includes the bullies and their families.

We have done many things right to help my daughter. She still talks to me, she still has goals. We take baby-steps in positive directions. She has relived the events too many times already, and does not want to talk about it anymore. She received counseling after the event and was doing better until the school that previously had been supportive let her down completely.

She knows in her heart that it is not her fault, but in some ways the school’s failure caused her to start over at square one and to lose the years of progress. All of the professionals who let her down previously make it hard to trust any of them, and I understand this.

Today I found a wonderful book to help her,The PTSD Workbook. I am also trying to take care of myself, so I can continue to help her. My husband gave me a better camera for Christmas and I am taking pictures of nature as I take my walks. Like the faint rainbow above, there is a glimmer of hope.

Small Part in Helping to Make the World Better 10

There are times I feel smaller and less significant than this Gecko, but I am not about to let that stop me from doing my small part for bully prevention.  Everyone who knows me knows this is a cause very dear to my heart.  October is  Bullying Prevention Awareness Month so I am grateful that Dr. Kathleen Kozak has invited me back to the “The Body Show” on Hawaii Public Radio at KIPO 89.3 FM on Monday, October 3, 2011 at 5:oo PM HST.  You can click on the link then click on KIPO for the live stream.  You can also read more about ways you can help at the sites listed below.  

Bullying prevention advocates call for social movement to address effects of bullying | kare11.com.

National Bullying Prevention Center.

Bullying Prevention Awareness Month (October 2011) | National Child Traumatic Stress Network – Child Trauma Home.

Golden Rule Pledge Joins National Bullying Prevention Month as National Partner – Dr. Warren Throckmorton Christian Blog.

Stomp Out Bullying.

The Effects of Bullying: Robert’s Story 4

Join me in welcoming Robert to my first Effects of Bullying Series.

Robert’s Story

I’m convinced that schools and me were never meant to get on; my trouble with handwriting, spelling and mental mathematics caused a lot of grief. But there was something else present every day, which I detested more: break time.

For me, someone who likes to be forever mentally engaged, break time was the dullest thing ever invented. The other children would talk and play team games like football while I sat in an alcove in the corner of the playground, avoiding the missiles, waiting for the bell to go back inside.

Around nine at the time, an undiagnosed autistic, my interests lay in creativity and making things. I began bringing my creations along with me. So rather than hiding in the corner doing nothing at all, I would work on one of my projects. That’s when the bullying started.

I no longer remember many of the details, but a few students decided that it was a good game to steal and smash-up my creations. Or when they could not steal my stuff, like in class, they would threaten to smash-up my creations, doing hand gestures across the room, like snapping a ruler between clenched fists.

These things represented a great deal of time and effort and I was working with very limited resources and almost no money. Materials and tools were sacred, I worked mainly with what I could find around the house. Breaking, or threatening to break my creations was like breaking a part of me. None of these things could be easily replaced.

Like typical British primary schools, my school was very small; avoiding the bullies was not possible. Nothing the staff did made any noticeable difference and the only friends I had at the time, while great technically minded individuals themselves, were also targets and could do nothing to help. I felt trapped with nowhere to go.

A ray of hope I had been the move to senior school; a completely new set of people and nobody knows me, a chance to start over. The reality was the opposite, even though I had moved beyond lugging projects around a new set of bullies picked up my differences and the bullying started again, but worse.

Instead of focusing on my possessions, this new set of bullies started attacking me personally, kicking, punching and verbal abuse. I was terrified to go anywhere alone, hid in the Special Educational Needs room over breaks and lunch and refused to go anywhere without a support worker for protection.

Combined with the increased demand on handwriting, this meant I was always on edge, always looking for an escape route if something went bad and always ready to meltdown. Unfortunately the latter happened rather a lot, drawing more attention to my differences and making the problem exponentially worse.

These problems and the bullying continued relentlessly. Finally getting a computer eliminated my writing difficulties but the problems only really stopped when I eventually left school and went to college.

Anxiety, fear and constant observation of the environment; always looking for danger, are often cited as symptoms of mild autism. But my own experiences say something different, they are side effects of a difficult childhood.

I have never completely recovered from the bullying in my childhood. While I have been able to overcome my fear of going out alone, I am still very shy and have had no friends to speak of since primary school. My interests and current projects are kept to myself and I’m more likely to accept something as given, or just avoid it altogether, rather than argue.

It gets easier, slowly.