Freeze

Flight.
Fight.
Freeze.

The standard responses to stressful situations.

We’ve seen them all, and I must say that I find Freeze the hardest to pick up on and deal with.

Our first introduction to Freeze was Mork, about 18 months ago. I know at the time we didn’t have a clue what was going on or how to deal with it. He was the king of shutdowns. No eye contact, no speaking, nothing. Nothing but silence if he thought he’d done something he was in trouble for.

We saw it with little Jade. Our normally bubbly, chatty, little wiggle worm would become the quiet, placid baby when in a situation she wasn’t sure about, like access visits, especially with her father.

Most recently it has been Kelly. And I have to admit, after 3 years of respite with Kelly, it was a shock, and it took talking to “Rex” (placement support worker) to identify what was the cause of her shutdown. We thought perhaps she either just didn’t understand what she’d done, or she just didn’t care. But after my chat with Rex the following day, it was clear, she shut down and froze, waiting for whatever explosion was going to come from us.

So, what did Kelly do?

She didn’t turn the shower off properly. She has issues with her hands, and while she is getting occupational therapy, she doesn’t do her exercises as often as she is supposed to and also doesn’t try to use her hands to improve them. The outcome. The shower dripped (slow trickle) all day while we were out. We got home to find water dripping through the floor upstairs, through the ceiling below and onto the couch. It must have been some trickle as the couch was soggy.

When we talked to her about it, she never said sorry. She never tried to make an excuse. She just sat on the couch and said nothing. The next morning, again, no apology, nothing. Just acted like nothing had happened.

I must say, I was furious. I know it was an accident, but its not the first time she’s done it. But it’s the first time there’s been significant water damage as normally we catch it quite quickly. We’ve told her many times if she has any problems with the taps to let us know after she’s done in her bathroom and we’ll go fix it for her.

Her regression this year since speaking to the police about what happened to her as a young child has been massive.

Not being able to follow more than one instruction at a time. Having to be reminded to go to the toilet, to use toilet paper, to flush, to wash her hands. Taking an insane amount of time to get ready. Being unable to open a carton of milk. Not wiping toothpaste from her face (one day we sent her 4 times to the bathroom to wash it off) and now, we’ve added in freeze behaviour.

Traumatised children.

Sometimes I feel like we aren’t the place for Kelly. That we don’t have the skills to help her. Rex said that the opposite is true. We are a stable place for her, we are consistent, and despite feeling frustrated by her regressions sometimes, we are helping and we are reporting to her case worker which is giving them a bigger picture of Kelly and they are getting her more help.

We have a week before Kelly comes back for respite since the flooding drama.

I wonder what the next weekend will bring.

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