Advice for someone who's become a mother figure over night and has a major concern regarding my new charge?

Sandra - posted on 03/26/2013 ( 2 moms have responded )

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I have become a mother figure to a 4 year old over night and I'm left feeling a little overwhelmed to say the least. I guess I need to give a little background info about my boyfriend's little boy. When he was 14 months old he sustained a head injury that caused his brain to hemorrhage and had a grand mal seizure that left his right side of his body weak and nearly unusable. After having therapy for a while he has improved greatly but still favors his right hand and won't use it unless he's carrying something light or is reminded to use his hand.

Our living situation is unique and complicated which adds to the stress that we're all experiencing. My boyfriend's son hasn't been living with my boyfriend for most of his life, and the person who was caring for him has done a decent job of raising him, but there are some things I'm not sure are normal things for my new son to be doing, or if it's just me and not remembering what's it like to mother a 4 year old.

The first thing I noticed is that when adults are talking he'll keep repeating himself until one of us acknowledges him, or will repeat his questions even after we acknowledge him. We try to tell him he needs to wait till we're done talking or tell him to say excuse me if he wants to interrupts adults who are talking. The second thing I noticed and it alarms me because I have some knowledge of child development and traumatic brain injuries in regards to speech. When he is talking to someone he'll ask a question like, "where's nana?" I'll say, "she's at the store." His response is "who's at the store?" I'll say, "you're nana's at the store." He'll say, "why?" And I'll give him an answer and he'll ask, "who's nana?" and this conversation will literally go in circles till I change the subject because I'm ready to pull my hair out. Almost every conversation I have with him is him asking a question, getting an answer, and acting like he has no clue what I'm talking about. It's frustrating to say the least. It's like his memory has gaps or he forgets, then minutes later remembers. I'm concerned due to his prior head injury. But I'm not sure if it's just normal behavior for a 4 yr old or am I on to something with my concern? I work with 17 three and four year olds 5 days a week and I have never seen that kind of behavior with my kids at work. We don't know what his previous caregiver has done with him as far as teaching him normal things like colors, numbers, letters, etc. But I do know that he's living with us now due to getting proof that he's been verbally and physically abused by that person.

So now I'm feeling lost because every time I tell my boyfriend or his family that I think there is something wrong or not right with how his son interacts with others, they seem offended that I would dare say there's anything wrong with him. Please give me any advice or comments as to whether or not this 4 year old's behavior is normal and what should I do about it.

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Sandra - posted on 05/05/2013

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Thank you for responding Elizabeth and I apologize it's taken so long for me to get on here. I noticed no one commented so I stopped checking.

His mother lost custody of him and has weekly supervised visitation, but misses more often than she actually makes it in to see him.

I only have one child and my daughter is 11. She thinks he's adorable but he drives her absolutely crazy. Which I'm not sure is normal or not. Lol. If he didn't ask questions the way he does and does that whole going in a circle and acting like he has no idea what we're talking about, she might be ok with him. But she doesn't like when she has to be around him because she's worried he's gonna hurt himself and feels like she has to play mom. But I'm thinking it's more due to her age and not him.

Elizabeth - posted on 03/28/2013

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This could or could not be normal. I once worked with a high functioning autistic boy about the same age. He acted very much like you're describing. I would not doubt it if the head injury severely affected his brain, it is definitely not unheard of.

I'm sorry his family is in denial, this does not help the situation much, as you may be his only hope at ever getting hope.

I hope this is not too personal, but may I ask what happened to his mother? Also how old are your other children, what do they think of the boy?

I wish the best of luck. You and your son-to-be will be in my prayers. Just work with him and give him all the love you can.

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