Attachment difficulties

Research series:
Attachment difficulties in relation to our experiences.

I am currently researching various difficulties that relate to our experiences that will help me understand Lou more. But also to enhance my knowledge and understanding of SEND in general to help with future job roles when I return to work. I am completing an online course in ‘Understanding Autism, Asperger’s and ADHD through The University of Derby via http://www.canvas.net

Here I will start with discussing ‘Attachment Difficulties’ :
I hadn’t really thought of Lou as having any sort if attachment difficulty until recently. When piecing it all together and reading up on the subject I’ve realised how it relates to our experiences. I was worried when I first started reading (as I do worry at lot!) That this meant that I didn’t bond with Lou as a baby, I had been asked this during an appointment with a professional when I first started to seek help for Lou’s behaviours at home. But then I thought – of course we bonded, Lou has never been one for cuddling and I’ve been told that from about the age of 6 months I would shy away from physical affection. Lou likes to be cuddled on her own terms and if she doesn’t want to be cuddled at that moment she will squirm away! When unexpected cuddles do happen it’s a massive squeeze! I have looked at attachment theory after a few discussions with professionals that work with Lou I was given a book to read called:

Observing Children with Attachment Difficulties in Preschool Settings

by Kim S. Goulding et al. The observational checklist from this book is most helpful and it was suggested that I should take this along to Lou’s next appointment with her Paediatrician as it may explain some of the emotional issues that Lou displays.

Lou has a great sense of humour, her laugh is infectious but I have described her as ‘Jekyll and Hyde,’ she can switch from being extremely happy to very angry in a second and back again minutes later. Lou has trouble controlling her emotions so I do my best to help her label how she’s feeling, especially by using visual cards which display various emotions. If she is having an angry outburst which could have stemmed from me going upstairs without her, we have certain methods to help calm, such as getting her favourite teddy and squeezing it hard, lying flat on the floor and breathing in and out whilst counting to 10.

From using the Observational checklist I noticed a pattern that Lou is secure at parting from me when I drop her off at her Early Years setting, she is happy to go off in the mornings and quite happy to go and explore what’s on offer. She will run at me with great pace at the end of the day when I collect her! Lou was used to being left at a childminder and nursery when I returned to work full time when she was only 10 months old. She cried for a week when I left her at nursery but since then she’s never had a problem parting from me. Lou’s attachment difficulties happen at home or in public, or even at her grandparent’s house. In fact, it happens where ever I am! I am unsure of the reasoning why but whenever I am present, Lou’s behaviour is worse, especially if I am present with her younger sister Moo. I was talking to someone about this as it seems to me that Lou has issues around me as she knows that I carried Moo and brought her into our family. Please see my further post on ‘Extreme Jealousy’ for more on this.

A typical day at home is Lou following my every move, she dislikes being in a room on her own. This also happens at her grandparent’s – if she is left downstairs – even if I’ve only popped upstairs to collect something for a second, she will have a major meltdown. If we move up or down the stairs she has to be in front everytime or this will cause another meltdown. Lou will be unable to productively play with toys if Moo is in the room, she is majorly distracted by her and will just want to rough-house and roll her over! Lou will be unable to play with any toys without adult guidance. She is very demanding of attention and will give comands such as “come here now” and comes over very bossy! Lou likes to control her environment, she likes to control what Moo is doing and often snatch toys away from her. Lou loves the outdoors, but she will not feel settled out there in her own, if an adult is outside she will quite happily explore, play in the sand pit or on her bike. I had an example of Lou’s impulsive behaviour if she’s detached from me only today, where I had to get out at a petrol station and she thought I was going inside without her, so she broke out of her car seat and flew open the car door, and jumped onto the forcourt not seeing any dangers like cars around. She has run off from my parents at the same garage before and we are still unable to explain really why she does this.

The section in the Observational Checklist about how the child behaves with unfamiliar adults was really interesting as she is overly affectionate and gets right up in people’s faces, she will sit next to people on the bus and say: “Are you my nanny? Can I come to your house?” She also is very inquisitive and has no filter, she will say things ‘as it is!’ She asks her Aunt everytime she sees her: “why have you got funny teeth!?” Lou gets very anxious when she knows that we’re going somewhere, especially if it’s somewhere new. She requires a lot of reassurance and the use of a visual timetable, if she is worried about going somewhere she will usually run around the living room in circles or hurt her sister. She also completely surprises us with her reactions as they are not always what you’d expect them to be! As Lou is a sensory seeker, she was quite happy to watch the needles for both her Pre School injections and a recent blood test and didn’t even flinch! Yet even I can’t watch!

Lou’s behaviour around me can be fascinating especially in a situation where I would lead a class with her present, she simply couldn’t handle it and will do anything she can to gain my attention away from other children. She would sabotage my weekly music sessions by taking my equipment or crawling around the floor, although won’t display this behaviour if I wasn’t present in the room. After the session Lou will say to me: “Oh Mummy, why do you have to come to my Preschool to do music?!” I must admit there have been lots of times when I’ve wondered if I’m to blame for all this, as soon as I’m in the equation Lou steps up with the difficult behaviours, I’ve felt like a failure and cried over it many times. After 2 very successful parenting courses through Wychavon Early Help (Pershore) I have gained confidence and tell myself “it’s not my fault.” I found that the Triple P parenting course and Family Links were most beneficial as they allowed me to also talk to other parents who experience the same. We were also given support of ‘Protective Behaviours’ for Lou, due to her unawareness of ‘Stranger Danger,’ I’ve had to discuss that it’s OK to say hello and to be friendly, but also had to ensure that Lou isn’t too trusting so that she would happily go off with a stranger and this will have to be revistied as she gets older.

I do find it very helpful to research what makes this ‘loveable little rogue’ tick 🙂

Further information and links:

Observing Children with Attachment difficulties

Simply Psychology

Wychavon Early Help

Family Links

Triple P Parenting

Spectrum Sunday