Over the years, I’ve come to recognize when my grandchildren become overly anxious about a home or school situation, their disabilities (ADHD, FAS, Intellectual Disability) cause them to do, not really strange, but certainly unrelated things like… oh, I don’t know, setting fire to the house for example.
When two of my grandchildren recently learned their younger sibling would be entering a residential care facility for several months in order to learn behaviour management, they instantly withdrew into anxiety mode, with one setting fire to objects and bedding in her room, and the other building a fire behind a dumpster at a local school.
Over the years, because I have become acclimatized to their strange ways to the point of deeming them normal, I didn’t recognize the severity of this behaviour until I nonchalantly passed the information by one of their caseworkers and noticed the horrified expression on her face.
On her advice, I subsequently called the program coordinator of the Hamilton Wentworth Fire Department’s Youth Program who scheduled an appointment with me and the children and had them answer questions about fire safety, and then spoke to them on the hazards of fire-setting.
About two weeks later, the children attended a meeting at the Child and Adolescent Services of Hamilton, Ontario (see post: Child and Adolescent Services of Hamilton, Ontario) for a fire-risk assessment, where they were assigned separate counsellors who interviewed them and then rated their risk of re-offending. This information was subseqently passed on to the children’s school so the staff could be aware of the possibility of one of the children starting a fire at school, and to the various caseworkers involved with the children.
If you would like information regarding the Hamilton-Wentworth Fire Department Program, please call: (905) 546-2424 ext. 7794 or (905) 546-2424 ext. 1380