MSN Article Regarding ADHD And Trauma>1=31001

My impulse to post this one isn’t too mysterious. Read it if you’d like. It not only made me reflect on certain aspects of own experiences or whatnot, but it also reminded me of my months spent working at a residential treatment facility in San Diego.

New Alternatives Boys & Girls was the lock down fenced off community of a typical elementary school-sized population of 6 to 14 year olds who, when the dismissal bell rang from class, they scurried off four or five hundred yards, not to their bus stop or immaculately groomed parent in her shiny black Lexus SUV, but to their ‘cottage’ as they are called, with nine other kids their age and a small, ridiculously underpaid, underage, and underqualified staff to play mommy and daddy to these kids.

I only worked there for several months back when I was 24 at a time when I was a bit too young to sense the impact of their situations. I was very much aware that this had to suck for them, but it was more of an eye opener, a sad eye opener that these were just normal kids in very abnormal, heart-breaking situations. Although my heart wasn’t breaking. I was 24. I did feel sympathy though and had moments that I certainly enjoyed.

Such as playing sports with the kids in the afternoon. That was fine. You’d see a certain stand out here or there and give him or her that encouragement to hold onto that gift. Or at night. And this was better. I, being a bit safely rebellious by nature, would take the kids on a bunny hunt at night, when the full moon was out and these wild rabbits would dance around between the moon shadows of the trees.

This was a practice frowned upon by many of the leaders of the cottages who by necessity had to be strict w/ control since the kids needed tremendous models for discipline…but thankfully I didn’t choose that role…so I took on my own role of partaking in the fun and joy of doing bunny-recon missions.

We would load up our water guns like we were going to skillfully hunt them down. And I’d keep it serious. “No. Shhh… Two clicks that way. No….shhh Do you hear something?” The kids are all wired searching left and right and quieting one another. They whisper, “What is it?”

“RABBIT!!!” They all spill out across the field in a visual mess with guns a-blazing, and moments later would feel the betrayal as I would light them up with a blast of water across the backs of their necks. “I’m on the rabbits’ side suckers”.

Squueeeel. The chase was on.

Flashlights dance across the moonlit field from the responsible other staff. We retreat back inside the cottage out of breath. The other staff smile and then quickly have these kids recorrect or whatnot.

There were moments.

And nice moments when these kids went to bed. Three beds in a room. Decorated as they should be. Crayon pictures on the wall. A CD Walkman or whatnot by their bedside. A few photos. A pair of shoes sloppily placed below their beds. *Shoelaces confiscated however, reminding us that these aren’t in fact ‘normal’ kids. That this isn’t summer camp up away from their loving homes and families.

24. It is gets registered but not felt so much.

They beg to be read to. I sometimes do for self amusement. I totally play favorites. Some kids I dislike. However at bed time, even the worst kids are borderline likeable. They need the door cracked. They ask for water. Whatever type of monster they resembled in the daytime (and for those outside of social work, these behavior would shock you) would be replaced by those of a sweet kid.

So I’d read to the kids I liked. And a paragraph or two for those I didn’t.

And at times bring my guitar and play some mellow tunes by their door. One kid in particular. For confidentially purposes I will just name him, My Favorite Kid, or Yes I’m Being Unfair To The Rest Of You But I Like This Kid A Whole Lot Better Than I Like You. But, I used to play this Christy Minstrel’s Song called “Today” which really is quite pleasant picked on the guitar.

One kid piped up while I quietly played outside My Favorite Kid’s door. For confidentiality purposes I will call him, Shut The Fuck Up Fucker There’s A Reason I’m Not Outside Of Your Door. But this kid said that the music sounded ‘gay’. Favorite Kid, who happened to be a stud athlete as well…an eleven year old mind you, quickly hushes up the other kid saying, “no it’s not… It’s romantic.”

And I shook my head and thought where the fuck do I sign the papers to adopt this kid.

Which was a partial serious thought. My ex girlfriend at the time previously worked at this same cottage…the only reason I was exposed to this world…and this kid was her favorite as well. She had voiced on a few occasions that she half wanted to adopt this kid. What can I say, she had good taste in men.

But back to my point…or the article. All…I believe I am remembering this right…ALL of these kids were on psychotropic medications. Another reminder to the non-normalcy of it all. Before or after dinner or twice or three times a day for some, the kids would line up for meds and have them placed on their tongue by a faux-nurse who, my God, had no business being in charge of this, and would see that these odd colored peculiar smelling capsules were swallowed and not concealed under a tongue or projected lower lip.

The kids would wiggle their tongues around, show that they weren’t concealing anything, then bounce back to whatever they were doing. Screaming, shouting, testing limits, or watching Harry Potter for the fifteenth time, going “I love this part”. Other kids -”Shut up we know”. Acting out kid -”You shut up”. -Parentified staff member, “Kids.” Me- check my watch.

Even though this was my first introduction into social work or whatnot, I knew this was f-ed up and not right. It didn’t seem right. It didn’t look right and it didn’t take too much thought to think that of course these kids are acting out; they are stuck here. And not only stuck here but are escaping the most fucked up situations. Even my Favorite Kid. His case file reads like a horror story.

So they use chemical restraints, I observed. That can’t be ok. No way was I going to partake in the distribution of the pills. And I didn’t have to.

After several months I was off for my next adventure or chapter in my life. I did return back there maybe 8 months later, a week or so before grad school started up to pocket a few dollars, since that was all there was to be earned.

And the kids would run up to you like you were the sixth Beatle. Clutching, grabbing, demanding your attention. They do it to all the staff who don’t totally suck so it doesn’t go to your head. But this one kid. I’ll call him, Is Anyone Noticing That This Kid Doesn’t Look Right is smiling but his usually skinny as a rail body is now swollen and puffy. Literally doubled in size that doesn’t quite resemble fat and more like a water balloon engorged and stretching from a garden hose. The sight alone was jarring.

What the fuck?

He had to cram his puffy fingers into the green cased Lefty scissors in order to make them work.

“Dude, what’s going on with him?”

“Yeah, I know. It’s his new med. It causes weight gain.”

“You think? So are they taking him off of it?”

“I don’t know.”

The faux nurse interrupts.

“Line up kids.”

There you go. Welcome to social work.

Anyways read the article if you choose. It just got me thinking and remembering.


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