Emma’s Fostering Blog. Jack
It all started with 7 year old Jack smearing, it’s an extremely difficult thing to cope with and very unpleasant to deal with, I remember listening at the beginning of my Fostering career how this challenge was commonly faced by other foster carers. I thought then I could never cope with a child who smeared. From attending training my anxiety lessoned around this as I knew there could be any number of reasons for this. Jack had developmental delay and this was his way of showing his distress as he couldn’t explain, and we kept our responses low key, noted the behaviours, worked with it, until one day it just stopped.
We were on a day out in London, It was very busy and I held his hand, it was busy and I him to wander off, as we stopped to watch the street entertainer I glanced at him, he had black stuff on his lips, on further investigation I noticed a bin beside him, he had licked the top of the bin where people had put cigarettes out, I was absolutely horrified. I started to think about the odd behaviours at home; blue tack that kept up the posters was disappearing, missing pages from books which I couldn’t find, at the beach eating the sand and licking hand rails when out. School was reporting he was licking windows, parts of displays and small objects missing, and picking up bits from the floor into his mouth.
I was really worried, the doctor tested for low levels of iron or zinc in his body, this came back normal. Then one morning I went into his bedroom and I just couldn’t believe my eyes, he had a wooden bed it had teeth marks on the rail that went round it – it looked like a giant hamster had attacked it. After researching – I purchased a selection of oral chew tools, and some social story books to help him.
We updated his School health plan, they suggested phoning us first if anything happened – utter madness! He may choke it could be life threatening, I suggested they call an ambulance straight away and inform us after! Meanwhile I was being that really pushy parent and we had to attend many appointments and that was a challenge in itself, finding the right person to work with him as he found processing the information difficult eventually he was seen by Occupational therapy then CAMHS.
They couldn’t offer much more than we were doing by this point, responding to the behaviours in a calm, receptive yet assertive way, rather than just punishing the behaviour. We did feel supported by someone that understood -much later he was diagnosed as having a Sensory Processing Disorder and PICA.
My thoughts are, he was using his mouth to find out about the world around him, but I needed to keep him safe.
Emma – A Blogging Foster Carer – I Love What I Do!