Thursday, May 17, 2012

My reaction to "Deal Breakers"

My response to THIS ENTRY ended up being WAAAAAAY too long, so not wanting to clog up her blog with my ranting, I posted it on my blog instead.  

I only skimmed the comments because the first one was a bit upsetting for me.  I do not mean this to come off in any sort of confrontational way.  I'm not asking anyone to defend themselves nor am I trying to make anyone feel bad.  Just sharing my reaction. 

I also apologize for the length of my comment.  It's kind of a passionate subject for me.  I want to thank everyone for making sure to refer to behaviors and diagnosis as the "deal breakers" and not the children.  "These types of children are deal breakers..."  I fully expected to see a lot of that and I didn't.  Thank you!

A child that has been sexually abused is not a diagnosis nor a behavior.  I could understand if the "deal breaker" was a child that has acted out sexually or abused other children, but I do not understand how a little boy that has been abused is a deal breaker.  Not all sexually abused children act out, and those that do can be helped with therapy and guidance.  I also don't understand that if a boy with sexual abuse history is a deal breaker why a girl is not?  Little girls who have been sexually abused can and do act out sexually.  They can abuse other children too.  They are more secretive about it and it's just not given as much attention.  I've lived in a lot of homes with a lot of different children.  Trust me.  I know. 

You are absolutely entitled to your beliefs, and to choose to include/exclude whatever you believe is right for you and your family.  I encourage everyone wanting to be part of the foster care system to know their limits.  I also encourage all those wanting to get involved to learn as much as they can, and to be open minded.  Not sure you can handle a certain child?  Absolutely don't take them on, but also don't let scary labels make decisions for you.   

I don't think there is any real data that can answer your questions about the curability of mental illness.  Mental illness can go into remission with the right treatments, even schizophrenia.  There are many people you come in contact with everyday that suffer from mental illness and you have no idea.  I have PTSD, generalized anxiety disorder, and major depression, and most people in my real life have NO idea.  I work full time, support myself, pay taxes, don't walk around screaming at people or talking to myself, etc...  I have flashbacks, but they are not at all what TV and film makes them out to be.  Most of my friends have no idea when I'm having a flashback.  Mental illness, just like autism, is a spectrum and everyone falls somewhere on that spectrum.  Much of the time the illness can be managed with the right kinds of treatment, medications, and by learning coping skills and tools. 

I have personally witness and experienced children with autism making dramatic improvements.  Some of the children I worked with, as a behavior specialist, improved so much that intervention was no longer needed.  They also no longer needed an IEP.

There is mental illness and there is mental injury.  PTSD is a mental injury, not an illness.  Foster children are 2 times more likely to have PTSD than Vietnam veterans.  The symptoms of PTSD can also be symptoms for many other diagnoses.  Every foster child is an individual.  Some might have severe mental illness and some may not.  It's not always easy to diagnose children, unless of course, they are in foster care.     

Children in foster care are labeled and diagnosed with all kinds of things that may or may not be accurate.  They are also medicated way too much, often times without any other sort of treatment, like therapy.

I was labeled as ADHD, but I was quiet, obedient, a straight A student, eager to please, athletic, active in the honor society, 1st chair violinist, a teen attorney for "Teen Court," ect...  I graduated at the top of my class despite switching high schools 7 times and being homeless that last semester of my senior year.  I'm not sharing this to boast about myself.  I'm sharing to show you that labels are often very misleading and unfair.  You know why I got that label?  I was trapped in group homes and not allowed to play so I would end up bouncing off the walls with extra energy (wanting to rough house, ect...).  When I was able to go outside and burn off my childish energy, I was perfectly "normal."

I urge all of you to spend some time with the children with the labels that put you off and/or scare you.  I'm not asking you to take them into your home.  I'm asking you to spend some time with and get to know some of these scary kids.

Thanks for "listening."