Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Learned Helplessness

The notion of Learned Helplessness is extremely interesting to me at the moment.
Perhaps because I have been confronted with it in some form, and have had to really reflect on what it means for my child with a disability.

So what is it?
There are many different thoughts about it, and you can click on the link above to read a summary for yourself, but essentially, the idea is that people will only try at something for so long before they give up and just accept that this the way you do things, so therefore don't seek to learn that task.

'Learned helplessness' refers to 'the feeling that no amount of effort can lead to success' (Eggen & Kauchak, 1999, p. 412).

People may feel powerless and ineffective in certain circumstances. If this feeling is generalised to new circumstances, then people may exhibit learned helplessness (McInerney & McInerney, 1998). Learned helplessness leads to shame and self-doubt, with the eventual result that people give up without even trying. Repeated failure at a task can lead to learned helplessness. One solution is to design environments that provide people with opportunities for success. Another solution is to explicitly instruct people about the causes of success and failure. Effort and persistence, rather than natural ability, is an important determinant of success.

Reference Here

My example:
At a recent appointment with the Continence nurse for our yearly review (so we can get some funding for nappies), she questioned me about Ryley and what my long term goals were in terms of toileting.
I replied, as I usually do, that I don't ever expect him to be out of nappies.
Wrong answer Anna.

I was grilled.
Well, to be fair, it wasn't really a grilling, it was more about my thoughts being challenged, and rightly so.

We went through where Ryley was at in terms of his awareness, and I explained.
And even as I heard the words coming out of my mouth and the nurses excited eyes as she nodded her head, I knew, that I had been missing some of the vital awareness signs.

*Lightbulb moment*

What the nurse gently pointed out to me, was that all the signs were there for Ryley that we could actually start to have some real successes with toileting if we were prepared to give it a go.
Because (and here is where the learned helplessness part comes in), Ryley has learnt to just use his nappies instead of learning to go to the toilet.

Holy McCrackens.

Suddenly I am looking at things differently again with Ryley.
I need to be doing more.
Does he sometimes give up because he knows someone else will do it for him (well, yes, I know that is true).


Time to get a degree in Occupational Therapy, Speech Pathology and Physiotherapy.

What are other's experiences? Is this 'learned helplessness' a thing designed to make us all feel even more guilty? Is it always such a bad thing?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Braeden's baptism

On Sunday, Braeden was baptised into the Catholic Church. Given that he is 4 years old, he was pretty excited and he was hoping to meet God.

I couldn't deliver on the God part, but it was a really special ceremony and Braeden loved every part of it.

Why did we leave it until now?
Well, mostly because we just haven't had the time.
But, to be honest, the timing was actually really good, because we felt as though he actually understood what was happening. 
Despite Braeden being quite nervous (oh gee where does he get that from?), he really enjoyed being the centre of attention for once.

We were extremely proud of him.

Let that be a lesson

Source: via Sara on Pinterest

So I learnt a little something on Friday night.
Time to really up the security on this blog.
So, there will be some changes in terms of my photos, but it will make it harder for people to copy them and then use them elsewhere.
Because basically, one of my photos was copied from this blog and put into a video that someone has created and posted on You-Tube.
There was no link back to my blog and certainly no one had asked for permission.
I have since learnt that this is illegal.
You are not able to post photos without permission or without a direct link to where you found the photo.
I could track the person down (and given I have their IP address, that is pretty easy) and have them charged with theft.
Obviously I am not going to do this.
The video that has been made is about WHS and has been created to educate people.
I am not against that.
It is good etiquette though to at least attempt to ask permission if you can. Or at the very least, add the reference (or blog) from where it came.

So I did close this blog briefly over the weekend while I pondered on what I was going to do.
I enjoy blogging, but as time goes on, the privacy issues are starting to weigh very heavily on my mind.
You just never know who is out there reading.
If they wanna try and stalk me, good luck.
I have two big dogs, a small dog and a bloody ferocious cat (who is more like a puma some would say).

Any other bloggers have issues with security? How do you manage it?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Source: via Minerva on Pinterest

Anger is an interesting thing to watch.
Moreso, when that person is non-verbal.
Actions, I have found, often speak more than words.
Take this afternoon for example:
Ryley, who was my non-violent child, brought over a book for me to read.
He often does this, as it is his way of asking to be read to.
I was busy cooking tea and told him to wait.
He pushed the book into my leg.
I told him to wait.
He threw the book as far as he could throw it and threw himself on the floor at my feet.
He then proceeded to try and pull me down to the floor.

And then there was another example.
Probably not even 10 minutes later, he went into where Braeden was happily creating things out of boxes.
Ryley decided he wanted one of the boxes and snatched it off Braeden.
Braeden protested, naturally, and grabbed it back.
Ryley picked it up and tried to break it, discovered he couldn't, so threw it.

To be honest, I have never seen Ryley act like this.
I don't know whether to be proud of him, or ever-so-slightly concerned.
One the one hand, it is great he is expressing his anger and frustration.
But I do wonder if there are hormones starting to come into play a bit here too.

Whatever it is, we may have a bumpy ride ahead of us.
Well, even bumpier than it already is!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Never say Never

This god awful photo of me was taken just after I finished my 4km run for breast cancer.
The main thing is, I finished it!
Excuse the slightly frowning look as I am trying hard to breath.

For those that suffer from anxiety (like me), it is sometimes really difficult to do things that challenge you.
Hell, it is sometimes even hard to do things that aren't a challenge normally.
Part of the reason I really wanted to do this run, was to prove to myself that I can do anything I put my mind to.
But geez, I almost didn't get there.

The thing about anxiety is that once the physical symptoms start, you mind starts working overtime trying to figure out whether you are going to 'fight' or 'fly', otherwise known as Fight or Flight Response.
This is where it gets hard.

I was absolutely fine until I woke up at 6am on Sunday morning and started feeling anxious.
That was ok, I am used to that.
My boys gave me some beautiful things for Mother's Day and I spent time just cuddling before it was breakfast time.

In no time at all it was 5 minutes before we had to leave and I suddenly felt sick.
My stomach started cramping and this sudden rush of fear pulsated through my body.
I started crying and I said to David : I can't do this.
He just said: Yes you can.

And that is the thing, I took a few deep breaths, and started to change my pattern of thinking.
Every time I felt a negative thought come in, I breathed and told myself I could do it.

When we got there, I was back to feeling the nervous energy again, but this time I felt ok.
As soon as I started the run I felt this rush of adrenaline, only this time it was a flood of endorphins.
I actually ran one of my best times ever for that distance and when I got closer to the end all I could see was David, Ryley and Braeden waving and waiting for me.
Which meant I sped up of course.

I can't tell you how it feels to have accomplished that.
Anxiety is something I live with every day, and while it doesn't affect me much in my day to day stuff, I still have times when it rears it's ugly head and threatens to knock me over.

Why am I sharing all of this?
Because I Never Say Never.
I figure if Ryley can walk when everyone said he couldn't, then I can run a charity race.
I need to be strong for my kids and my husband.
I need to be able to lift my 25kg kid when he can't walk any more.
I need to show my 4 year old that anything is possible.

(and PS. I am going to start training next week for a 10km run. Watch this space.)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Strength is...

Never say never.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Source: via Beth on Pinterest

I have been writing this post in my head for days now.
Writing, erasing, rewriting, and finally now actually typing.

When you have a child with a disability, they say the early years are the hardest.
You are often moving through the stages of grief, whether you know it or not, and you are faced constantly with medical and health issues and figuring out a way to navigate through your new reality.
Most people find support through Early Childhood Intervention. It could be through parent support groups, learning groups, or professional support.
Then you transition out of the comfort of support at your fingertips and head out into the world of school

When we first had Ryley we didn't realise that our life was going to be so radically different.
We moved in and out of stages of grief, and left the friends behind that didn't support us.
This felt good.
Empowering even.
Our new normal was ok.

But then as your child gets older, you begin to realise that they don't have friends to bring home for a play date. They don't get asked to go on sleepovers or even to play at someone's house.
The medical needs are more complex than ever, which means respite options are limited and costly.
The opportunities to participate in social activities are few and far between.
Mostly because:
a) No one to care for the kids
b) In winter, at night is pretty much a no go for Ryley given his susceptibility to respiratory infections

This isn't a poor me post I promise. 
We do have wonderful friends who we do get to hang out with, and do organise things so we can attend. Or we organise things at our house too. 

On Sunday, I am running in the Mother's Day Classic which is a fun run to raise money for breast cancer research. Obviously this is a cause close to my heart seeing as my mother is a breast cancer survivor.
What confronted me the other day was a conversation I had in my lunch break with some colleagues who asked who I was running with, and was I part of a team?
Actually, I am doing this on my own.

I suddenly felt ashamed and alone.

It's not that I don't have friends.
The problem is that my best mates live out of town. Bit hard to catch up for a quick run.
I only ever have a tiny amount of time each week to even get out and run.
And honestly, I can't commit to anything because things change very quickly in this house sometimes.


I know that many other people I know who have a child or adult with a disability feel isolated at some point. Sometimes it is because of the diagnosis.
Sometimes it is because of behaviour.
Sometimes it is because it is all just too damn hard, and you get sick of false people and explaining and the stares and the comments.

It can be easier to just isolate yourself.

Thoughts? Comments? Experiences?
Agree? Disagree?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Sheep ARE cute, sheep are beaut'

It's funny, but a lot of people arrive on this blog by searching for 'sheep are cute, sheep are beaut'. Goodness knows why they end up here.
Anyway, if you do, HELLO!

This weekend at the farm we settled 12 Merino Ewes in. We got them at a bargain price (if we were to sell them we would get at the very least double what we paid for them). We had to do some quick fencing patch ups, but overall they have settled into their paddock very well. The aim is to get them in lamb and increase our mob.

Unfortunately, the inverter that converts our solar and generator power blew up, so we effectively have no power. We do have 3 gas lights in the house at least, so weren't completely in darkness. So the next step is to try and find someone who specialises in stand alone solar power to come have a look and tell us what we need to do. I expect it will be costly. Ugh.

So there is the Farm Update!
Have lots to write about this week. Several hot topics in my draft box being fine tuned.


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