Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Boo Boo Bear, My Special Needs Foster Child

    My foster "Son" , Boo Boo Bear, (not his real name) is a rambunctious seven year old, and that's putting it mildly.  He is diagnosed as a special needs child.   He has a number of social/emotional behavioral issues, and a handfull of physical issues that we manage with help from professionals involved through his wrap around services.  Our therapy provider is Catholic Community Services.  We do in-home therapy 4-5 days a week.  This involves a designated therapist that meets with him once a week and then myself once a week, and "shifts" or skills trainers/builders.   He's on an assortment of  medications that help him regulate his extreme emotions and are meant to allow him to access his cognitive thinking.  He attends Heron Creek, a theraputic public school with a private school setting, that specializes in special needs children, most of them behaviorally challenged.  He also sees a psychiatrist monthly, and has a full team of care coordinators.  In other words, this little nugget is a hand full and then some!

     Over the course of Boo Boo Bear's childhood, I've made special accommodations in to home so that he has a safe place to play, grow, and release excessive energy.  While not all of these precautions are needed now (thanks to therapy and a great psychiatrist), they all have been and essential part of our life.  I want to share some of the alterations I've done to give special needs providers ideas of what can be done within the home, and relatively cheap. Over the years, accommodations have changed to keep up with Boo Boo Bear's ever changing personality.

       Some of the safety changes included removing traditional light switch plates, that typically have two small screws to affix them to the wall, and replacing them with  a smooth screwless plate.  My little guy would unscrew the plates and try to get to the wiring.  The electrical outlets had to be completely covered with a smooth plate.  His bedroom window was broken during a tantrum and was immediately replaced with a new window, but for his protection, a 1/2" sheet of plexiglass was professionally installed on the inside window casing.  This would protect him from falling and from broken glass in the event he managed to break the window again.  The plexi had to be approved by our DHS case manager and certifier.  All dressers, and I say dressers plural because he's gone through five, had to be screwed into a stud in the wall because during a tantrum, they'd be flung over.  These are only some of the alterations done. 

     Some of the fun things I've done is installed gymnast rings in the ceiling studs in the center of his bedroom.  I found these at IKEA and they cost next to nothing.  The swing motion helps soothe him and he can swing to his hearts content.  I also installed rockwall hardware from Home Depot.  This is a vertical installation through the sheetrock and into the studs of his bedroom wall.  It took him a while to build the body strength needed to reach the ceiling, but this is one determined kid.  He wasted no time as he set out to meet the challenge.  He has a kick boxing bag with stand that I found at a garage sale for $5, and I found some kids boxing gloves at the local Good Will.  All of these things have helped Boo Boo Bear to exert the energy, frustration, and often times down right anger, away from people and personal property.

     Boo Boo Bear is a VERY loving lil' nugget, and always has such regret after an emotional outburst.  Having these tools has really helped him in so many ways.  I'd love to hear about things anyone else has done to alter the space used by their foster child or special needs child.  I wish I would have done many of these alterations sooner than I had, but kids don't come in a neatly packaged box with a manual, and many of my occupational therapy attempts were purely trial and error.

Casey Everly


  1. I'm so pleased to find your blog and glad that you found mine. It sounds like you and I have walked a lot of common ground, loving and raising kiddos who can't regulate very well. For the longest time, I was just too exhausted to blog. Even if I could have, it just seemed like it would be an endless recounting of our kids' relentless, outrageous behaviors. Things are a lot better, now, though there is rarely a dull moment at our house. I look forward to getting to know you better through reading your blog and to learning everything I can from you so that my kids can benefit.

  2. Hi! This is Christie from just wanted to reply that my girls are adopted now... they were originally a foster placement though. Thanks for following me! :)

  3. Wish there was a "like" button on this page!