Supplementary Reader #1 : LUSENET : M.Ed./International Falls : One Thread

Supplementary Reader #1 - Dont Touch My Heart

Dont Touch My Heart by Lynda Gianforte Mansfield and Christopher H. Waldmann, MA,LPC

Dont Touch My Heart tells the story of a boy suffering from the attachment disorder. The definition of attachment disorder as listed in the books glossary is the following: a psychological disorder, resulting from early childhood trauma, that causes the child to mistrust significant others and to form defense mechanisms of highly controlling and confounding behaviors.

The name of the boy suffering from the attachment disorder in this book is Jonathan Jacob Justice. He spent his early childhood years in a dysfunctional home of neglect, abuse, drugs, and abandonment. Jonathan was removed from this environment at the age of three. His world changed again as he was shuffled in and out of foster homes. It was at this time a social worker named Laura came into his life. Laura worked hard on finding an adoptive home for Jonathan.

Jonathan was finally placed in a foster home where he was adopted. Jonathan began to change as he pushed his anger and frustration deep inside of himself. He began trying to be the perfect child for his adoptive family. After living this way for a while, he began to change into a hurtful child. He would lie, make up stories about his family to others, destroy things, and take out his frustrations on his family and pet dog. His adoptive mother worked hard at doing special things for Jonathan in hope of drawing him into the family.

The more Jonathans mother tried to help him, the more he misbehaved. The family became frustrated and angry with Jonathan. Control became important to Jonathans survival. Jonathan felt a sense of power with this control. He wanted to keep everyone he knew at a distance because that was how he felt safe. Jonathans behavior escalated to setting fire to the familys barn. It took this traumatic experience to bring an awareness to the family that Jonathan was crying out for help. Help that needed to be sought after.

Shortly after the fire, Jonathan and his adoptive parents began counseling. It was through these sessions that the family learned that their adoptive son was suffering from attachment disorder. They found out that Jonathans lack of bonding during infancy and early untrusting relationships were causing him to behave in controlling ways and thus, preventing him from getting close to others.

The entire family began going to counseling sessions. Jonathans therapy was a learning experience for the entire family as they learned to accept his limitations, moods, and his many behaviors. They learned to love him no matter what. Jonathan learned how to express his feelings with others, how to face his anger and sadness, and how to trust. Most importantly, he learned that he could be loved as well as, return his love to his family.

This story documents the causes and outcomes of attachment disorder. It brings hope to those suffering with attachment disorder, that through therapy, they can learn to overcome their angered personality by learning to trust and love others. I learned that intervention of therapy is not a quick fix, but that it is the first step in changing the unattached childs world. I also learned that as an educator of young children, I should learn to recognize warning signs of unattached children, and respond to these childrens needs by providing a nurturing learning environment.

Dr. Foster Clines seventeen warning signs were listed in the prologue of this book. The seventeen signs are the following:

1. Superficially engaging and charming

2. Lacks eye contact on parental terms

3. Indiscrinimately affectionate with strangers

4. Not affectionate on parents terms (not cuddly)

5. Destructive to self, others, and material things(accident prone)

6. Cruel to animals

7. Lies about the obvious (crazy lying)

8. No impulse control (frequently acts hyperactive)

9. Learning lags

10. Lack of cause-and- effect thinking

11. Lack of conscience

12. Abnormal eating patterns

13. Poor peer relationships

14. Preoccupation with fire

15. Persistent with nonsense questions and incessan chatter.

16. Inappropriately demanding and clingy

17. Abnormal speech patterns

I was interested in reading this book because the term attachment disorder was discussed at one of my mentoring training sessions and it was recommended that we read this book to learn more about it. I wanted to learn more about what causes the attachment disorder and how this disorder affects brain development at an early age. I plan on using this book as a reference for my thesis project on brain development.

-- Anonymous, November 28, 1998

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