Challenged Hope

Grandmother raising Grandchildren with FASD in Hamilton Ontario Canada


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Early Words, Hamilton, Ontario

Each of my mentally disabled grandchildren struggled with learning speech. Thankfully there is help and an initial trip to my family doctor regarding their difficulties pointed me in the direction of a program called Early Words which offers a Preschool language and Speech Program, an Infant Hearing Program, and The Blind – Low Vision Early Intervention Program. I learned I could directly refer the child for an assessment so I called Early Words and an initial home interview with a speech language pathologist was arranged and the child’s development discussed. From there the first step was a hearing test to determine if the child’s low speech development was caused by an inability to hear properly. When it was determined that hearing was not a problem I was advised to place the child in a therapeutic daycare setting to help them learn from other children. While in the daycare, the child was observed by a speech language pathologist from Early Words and as a result a program was implemented in the daycare to help the child with vocabulary.

My youngest grandson was also enrolled in a one-to-one six-week program with a speech therapist as his needs were greater than his siblings. The daycare environment helped my grandchildren not only with their speech, but also encouraged them to interact more positively with less aggression toward peers, and to learn to take instruction from authority. However, due to my financial limitations, I did have to apply for daycare subsidy, and discovered finding a daycare opening for each child an enormous hurdle. It took a lot of determination, much patience, a little aggression, and numerous phone calls to various daycare centers before locating a suitable opening.  It was during my eldest grandchild’s placement in daycare that I was encouraged to register for free parent/child workshops offered by Hamilton Health Sciences at various clinics throughout Hamilton, Ontario which offer strategies to parents of children with disabilities, delays, and aggressive behaviors.

Early Words is a preschool speech and language service and works with children up to six years of age. They have a very informative website at earlywords.ca or phone (905) 381-2828. If you are interested in the parent/child workshops offered by Hamilton Health Sciences, browse the workshop guide at communityed.ca.

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CONTACT HAMILTON, Hamilton, Ontario

CONTACT Hamilton, of Hamilton Ontario is an entry point for services for children, youth under 18 who have social, emotional, behavioural or psychiatric and/or development concerns, and for adults with developmental disabilities, and who live in Hamilton, Ontario.

According to their brochure…. CONTACT Hamilton provides:

  • Information about available services
  • Central intake and referral
  • Coordination of services
  • Planning for the children’s and developmental services systems

The brochure continues…Who Can Refer To CONTACT?

  • Anyone can contact us directly. This includes the person in need of services, a family member, school personnel, physician or community agency. A physician’s referral is not required.
  • There is no fee for Contact’s services. Contact Hamilton is funded by the Ministry of Community and Social Services and the Ministry of Children and Youth Services.

Over the past several years, while raising mentally disabled grandchildren, I have used this service many times to either register the children for services, or to gather information appropriate to their needs. While the staff are extremely helpful and the service does not necessarily require a visit to the CONTACT office for an interview, I found assessing my grandchildren’s behaviours via telephone interviews difficult as the focus is upon each child’s development and mental health. Plus, over the years, after having been acclimatized to my grandchildren’s challenging behaviours I might have unintentionally downplayed their problems. Upon the realization that this could possibly be causing my grandchildren to be exempted from programs they deserved and required, I learned to be more assertive  with my answers during phone interviews.

For more information on services, call CONTACT Hamilton at 905-570-8888

email info@contacthamilton.ca

website contacthamilton.com


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Lynwood Charlton Centre, Hamilton, Ontario

What is Residential Care?

Residential Care as a whole can be many things, in many different countries, but in general refers to long or short-term care for adults or children with disabilities, mental health problems, or learning difficulties. Some of the programmes offered for children with mental health problems are: Anger management Assessments; Behaviour Management; Crisis Intervention; Day Treatment; Family Counselling; Group Therapy; Individual Therapy; Life Skills; Training Outreach; Parent Support and Training; Problem-solving Skills; Referral Services; Residential Care Service Coordination; and Social Skills Groups.

For families residing in the Hamilton, Ontario, area INFORM HAMILTON at http://www.informhamilton.ca describes Lynwood Charlton Centre as….. a children’s mental health centre. It offers services to emotionally and behaviourally disturbed male and female children between 0 and 18 years of age, and their families, who reside in the greater Hamilton area. Services include residential and non-residential components as described below:

  • Day Treatment School Program: Emphasis is placed on reintegration of children to their community school settings. Children may be served in either the on-site classrooms or through the outreach team working with children in their home schools. Access to the program is through a Board of Education referral.
  • Flamborough Residential Program: 831 Collison Rd, Flamborough, L9H 5E2
    Phone: 905-627-8475; Fax: 905-627-8482 10 bed residential program for male youths aged 12 – 18 in the care of the Child Welfare Societies of Hamilton. The program is staffed by child and youth workers, a part-time social worker and a consulting psychiatrist.
  • Intensive Child and Family Services Program: A home-based service that is provided to children, 0 to 18 years of age, with emotional and behavioural difficulties and their families in their own homes, communities and schools. The program is staffed by trained child and youth workers and a consulting psychiatrist.
  • Residential Program: A structured live-in treatment milieu for 16 children aged 6-13. The program is staffed by trained child and youth workers, social workers and a consulting psychiatrist.
  • Treatment-Foster Care Program: A service available to children in the care of the Brant CAS and Hamilton CCAS who would benefit from a placement in a treatment foster home. The service is staffed by foster parents supported by child and youth workers, social workers and a consulting psychiatrist.

My youngest granddaughter, at the time of my writing, is ten years of age and currently registered at Lynwood Charlton in Hamilton, Ontario. Her extreme behavior problems caused in part by ADHD, FAS, and an identified communication disorder, had become so out of control that I was advised by a Lynwood Charlton caseworker to call CONTACT HAMILTON and request she be placed on the waiting list for residential care.

For six months prior to my call, I had worked with a caseworker from Intensive Child & Family Services, attached to Lynwood Charlton Centre, who conducted home visits to observe the family situation and offer advise on how to offset critical situations regarding my granddaughter’s outbursts. These home visits typically span one per week for three to six months depending on the severity of the child’s behaviour. When it was ascertained that her behaviour could not be controlled by reasonable methods, and that a more intense programme was required, I was advised to request registration for my granddaughter into Lynwood Charlton Residential Care.

Approximately four months later, after being interviewed by a Social Worker from Lynwood, I was advised my granddaughter would be accepted into the program and begin a Behavior Management Plan. As of now, she attends five days a week: Monday through Friday, and comes home Friday afternoon. Weekends are tense to say the least as I am not sure when she is going to have an outburst and how uncontrollable she will become. I am writing this post on a Saturday after experiencing one of her screaming tantrums which began over something extremely minor and escalated until I felt unsafe in her presence. Although I am encouraged to call Lynwood when her behavior begins, there is not much I can do except wait it out.

Although her behaviour is trying, I am optimistic that upon completion of the programme, my granddaughter’s behaviour will be more controlled and controllable. The program works in three phrases: three months full-time when she attends Lynwood from Monday thru Friday, three months part-time when she will attend only three days a week, and finally, three months when she is in residence only two days per week. During these nine months she will become involved in various programs designed for her specific behavior, while I, as the parent, will participate in parenting and family programs to aid in my understanding of her outbursts and how to control them. I am finding there is a lot of communication between myself and the primary and social workers who are overseeing my grandaughter’s case. I am kept well-informed of what is happening between her and the staff, the programs she is enrolled in, the outings she enjoys, and her behaviour during all of these. The staff’s emphasis is on returning her home with the ability to control her emotions in a more positive way and with a less disruptive attitude.

If you would like information regarding the Lynwood Charlton Centre please call 905-389-1361, or visit their site at www.lynwoodcharlton.ca

If you live for any particular length of time with a challenging child it’s easy to become acclimatized by their behavior and not realize the seriousness associated with the disability. So,  if you feel “worn out” or threatened by a challenged child, don’t hesitate to call Lynwood or Contact Hamilton for Children’s and Development Services at 905-570-8888 or email: info@contacthamilton.ca, 

UPDATE:

My youngest mentally disabled grandson began a nine-month program at Lynwood Charlton residential care centre yesterday where, for the first three months, he will live full-time Monday through Friday, coming home for the weekends. After filling out application forms, having intake interviews, and attending appropriate meetings, the day finally arrived to pack up his things and cart them over to the centre.

My youngest granddaughter is still registered there and half-way through the program, but saying goodbye to my grandson and leaving him was a completely different experience for me than when I cheerfully waved goodbye to my granddaughter who was slowly killing me with years of continuous raging outbursts and screaming fits. Although she is now at the centre only two days per week, during her enrollment she has been receiving behaviour modification strategies, while I bask in the much-needed break from her anger and controlling behaviour.

Despite saying a thousand “I love you’s” to my grandson, I felt tears pricking my eyes as I looked at his sad little face and turned to leave. He looked so small and vulnerable as he whispered, “Well, if you love me that much, why are you leaving me here?” It was like the first day of kindergarten all over again!

My consolation is that the program will benefit him greatly, especially in the areas of anxiety and aggression. Right now he is barely able to communicate with adults. Whenever an adult comes to the house or speaks to him, he curls up in a ball and pulls his hood over his face and draws the strings so tight all you can see is his nose sticking out the tiny hole. I have often encouraged him to wear clothing without hoods, but trying to pry his favourite hoodie from his clutches (at least let me wash it!) causes severe anxiety; I guess it’s like a security blanket to him.

I left him there at two in the afternoon and by eight thirty was on the phone calling the staff to see how he was, so when my call went to voicemail, I instantly entered panic mode wondering if he had run away and the reason the phone went unanswered was because all the staff were scouring the surroundings trying to hunt him down! I imagined him lost and hungry, and crying for me as he pulled his hoodie over his face and called my name in despair!

Of course, that wasn’t the case at all, I had just called at a busy time, and when a staff member returned my call she let me know he had had a very good evening and was settling in nicely. Phew!