I went a couple of weeks ago to a wonderful evening to introduce me to the world of Theraplay; although to be fair our first social worker did tell us about it, and had see still been our social worker when boy-o was placed she'd have done some with us. I really enjoyed the evening, not just because it was nice to be with adoptive parents who are becoming friends but because the information was useful.
Theraplay for those not versed in adoption theory is a 'method of enhancing attachment, engagement, self esteem and trust in others'. The goal is to help the relationship between adult and child so it is secure, attuned and joyful.
The SW who was leading the session pointed out that even a child that was removed at birth and has had minimum moves, they still have a different experience to birth children that have always lived with mum and dad. That they have lost an inherent belief that they will be where they are forever. Theraplay helps by working on structure (and encouraging safety and regulation), engagement (connection and attunement), nurture (regulation and worthiness), and challenge (competence & confidence along with supporting exploration). For more information have a look at their website...theraplay institute
We watched a video of a SW working on some theraplay activities with her son. It was useful to see some of the ideas in practise. We did some of the activities. We had a discussion about some of the practicalities. Thankfully the SW leading the session knows boy-o so when I said 'what about when he won't sit still to do this or that' and she referred me to some of the more active activities.
My plan is to try to do some theraplay activities during the long holiday... it's only 4 weeks away now. I'm going to do some planning and collect some equipment and practise with M! The idea is that the adult leads, and that it's relatively fast paced for a short time. The plan is that if it seems to be helping I might contact the SW's and ask for someone to come and do a session with us to make sure that there isn't anything I haven't missed.
In an aside I spoke to boy-o's key worker at pre-school this morning in an attempt to gather information in preparation for the visit I have booked to speak to next year's nursery class teacher. She can't believe how much he has come on in some aspects, social and communication are amazing to look at. However, he doesn't recognise numbers, colours, or shapes (I knew that!). They also commented on his concentration... he's just too nosey. Which of course makes me wonder about hyper-vigilance; does he need to know where everyone else for safety. They also raised several over issues; which I knew about... can't be helped it's who he. The big question mark I have is over how he will do in a new environment, and how long it will take him to settle. I can't imagine until he's happy and confident in the nursery class he'll do very well at school...but that is the point of making the change now, not in 12 months when he starts school. He can have a year getting used to it.
He will be okay, he's a happy, jolly and social child. It doesn't matter that he can't do what someone else of his age can, it's only someone else's idea of where he should be. He is doing amazingly well... he's progressing in all areas, and in the right manner. He'll get there, and if he doesn't, so what, he's our boy and we love him.
9 hours ago