This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Advocating - Some Notes

ADVOCATING


Presentation means a LOT. How you present yourself strongly affects how others respond to what you have to say.

"People decide in seconds whether or not to take you seriously,” says Margaret A. Neale, Ph.D. So the next time you are faced with a pushy doctor or a IEP “team,” sit tall with your chest open and your shoulders back. Research shows it’ll give you confidence and may even alter your body’s chemistry in a way that helps you feel less stressed and more powerful. ~ REDBOOK August 2015.
Physical appearance 
– Good impressions are important. I always dress fairly professionally. Not necessarily in a business suit, but usually a blazer (most of the time in hot pink or red!) over dark jeans or slacks. Something that makes me feel confident and attractive. I always wear makeup and do my hair.

Attitude 

– Stay calm and carry a big stick. I try to always stay calm, pleasant/friendly, professional, respectful, and show empathy for the stress the other person is dealing with (acknowledging that they have to balance the needs of many children and yes, this IEP meeting is running long). I also love to take my husband or a pushy advocate so they can get angry and demanding where needed (not that I can do it!) and I don’t have to lose my credibility as a competent, confident, rational professional – (unfortunately, that’s very easy to lose).

Helpful 

- I want teachers to know that I’m an involved parent (especially because my children tend to be prone to telling stories about how we abuse them and other reasons why they aren't able to do what's asked of them - ex. Bear told his teachers he was on a bender for all of Spring Break with his girlfriend in a city hours away. In addition to sending out the New School Year Letters at the beginning of the year, I also try to find time to do some volunteer work and get to know the teachers better.

Persuasive 
We need people on our (and our child's side). If we want them to do something for us we need to be persuasive

  • Know exactly what you want, and keep meetings/ discussions on topic and focused on that goal. 
  • Leave out everything else (KISS - Keep It Short and Simple)
  • Think about it from your audience's perspective. 
  • What are their goals and motivations? (Getting home on time, keeping students safe, liability/ protecting the school, protecting their image of themself as a good person...
  • Say it in a way that will speak to your readers. 
  • Look for ways to make them want to do what you want them to do.
  • Make it clear and easy to do what you want them to do.
  • Use words that inspire enthusiasm or make them feel better about themselves. 


Instead of: 
"Forgive me for being blunt, but at the end of Bear's junior year in high school as I look at Bear’s declining grades and spotty attendance over the last semester, send yet another e-mail, leave yet another unreturned message with the Associate Principal and [BEHAVIOR PROGRAM] office, talk to yet another counselor or [BEHAVIOR PROGRAM] Aide, talk to yet another teacher about major projects Bear hasn’t even worked on… knowing that none of my repeated requests for assistance with Bear’s steadily declining behavior are being addressed, especially now that there’s little more than a week of school left… I’m feeling a little FRUSTRATED, to say the least. I am therefore officially requesting an immediate IEP meeting."
Try This:
"I am concerned that Bear is a danger to himself and others. I am officially requesting an IEP meeting."

Instead of:
"Kitty was sick a lot during the last 6 weeks. She's missing assignments and not prepared for the test tomorrow. You need to simplify or drop the missing assignments. Obviously, she can't take the test tomorrow. What are you going to do to fix this?"
Try This:
"I'm hoping you can help Kitty. She's missed a lot of classes due to serious illnesses. She's working hard to catch-up in your class (and all others) but unfortunately will not be ready for the test tomorrow. She plans to attend your scheduled tutorial hours after school. Do you have any additional ideas/ suggestions on how we can handle this?


How to Get Your Document Read - Persuasive Writing

As parents of special needs kids, we write all the time. Quick emails, formal documentation, requests/ demands for services or resources... how many times do you feel like they just stuck your document in the round file?


This post has a lot of info on how to get your document read - 

How to Get Your Document Read - Persuasive Writing


Document! Document!! Document!!!
Documenting can help protect you from false allegations, get services for your child, and make sure chronic issues get addressed. 

One thing I HIGHLY recommend to any parent dealing with children of trauma is to DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT!  You've heard me say it before... I'll say it again, and again.  It helps protect us, get services for our children, and refresh memories of past issues so you can see progress and make sure chronic issues get addressed correctly.

Ex. At an IEP meeting in November, the IEP team said Bear was doing so well that they wanted to move him full time from his structured, supportive special school to his home school (he'd been splitting his time between the two). It felt so wrong in every way, but I couldn't think of a single reason why not! 


Luckily, I took a minute to glance at my notes, and realized that only a couple of months before, Bear threatened a special ed student in the middle of class in front of everyone, took the girl's car keys, loaded her car with his friends and drove to a local fast food place, where he accidentally ran into their landscaping and wrecked the car (consequences for skipping class, driving without a license or permit, threatening a student, disrupting class, stealing and wrecking a car... none). The crazy thing was we ALL had forgotten this major incident!! (I think I was repressing it.)
Put It In Writing!
When dealing with police, CPS, getting your child services and treatment, trying to get people to understand and believe you... 
it's amazing what they'll believe when it's in writing, versus hearing it from the parent
- even if you're totally calm, logical, and professional when you speak
- even if they know you wrote it

Written Communication –

Letter to a Stranger - "When you write letters/emails, these letters will usually be read by strangers. Many important decisions about your child are made by strangers. What impression will your letter make on a stranger? Will the stranger see you as an angry, negative complainer? Or will the stranger see you as a rational, thoughtful parent who is expressing valid concerns? When you write letters, keep this "stranger" in your mind’s eye."

Document Conversations:

Especially when dealing with bureaucracy (like insurance or school!), try to keep as much communication as possible in writing (e-mails, notes, letters...).  If the person insists on phone calls and face to face meetings, take detailed notes and IMMEDIATELY type up a transcript afterward with as MUCH detail as possible. One of the main things to remember about documentation is to do it as SOON as possible after an incident.  Adrenaline and time really alter memories quickly. 

Include names, titles, agencies and affiliations, DATES and TIMES!  When you need documentation you can use these transcripts and they are MUCH more admissible then saying, "Well Ms. So and So said he was doing this a few weeks ago."  Once again, people believe what they see in writing, and it gives more credibility and authority to your statement.

Instead of: “I talked to someone about this a few days ago and she said… (something vague in support of what you want).

Notes: “21st of March at 2:15pm, I spoke on the phone to Ms. Smith, the head of the ARD Committee. We discussed Johnnie’s behavior during transitions times. Specifically, pushing Susie in the hall when she bumped in to him (3/19 at 1pm on the way to Music – observed by Mr. X), when lining up to go to recess running away from the teacher and found 20 minutes under Mr. E’s desk (3/17 from 2:20-2:40 – reported to Mom with a note in his homework folder on 3/18). Ms. Smith suggested that an option was to transfer Johnnie to Ms. Jones’ classroom 5 minutes before the bell rings so to reduce Johnnie’s stress during transfer times. Since many of these incidents were later in the afternoon, we discussed sending a high protein snack for Johnnie that could be given in the nurse’s office). We agreed that we would brainstorm other options and discuss this at the next ARD. Ms. Smith will make requests to Johnnie’s homeroom teacher, Mr. X the behavior aide and the assistant principal to bring options to the next ARD, which is on April 1st.”

Confirmation in Writing: Then I would email a summary to Ms. Smith (and copy everyone else that needs to know). “Dear Ms. Smith, I just wanted to confirm our discussion on 3/21/15 regarding Johnnie’s behavior during transitions. As agreed, you will contact Johnnie’s homeroom teacher, behavior aide and the AP regarding options that will help Johnnie access the least restrictive environment that meets his needs to successfully access his education. I look forward to receiving these options for my review before our next ARD scheduled on April 4th, so that we can discuss them and choose the best solutions for helping Johnnie be successful…”

Incident Report: Documentation protects you because many of our children will make false allegations and people (even ourselves!) forget or misplace information about incidents. This information may be needed to get the services our child needs.

To protect all involved, I recommend writing an "Incident Report" and keeping it in a log, sending it in an e-mail to the child's therapist or whoever might keep track of the info, and/ or add it to the child's timeline:

  • Antecedent - what was going on before the behavior or possible/probable triggers.
  • De-escalation - what we said/ did to try to prevent the event (if we had time) - calming techniques
  • Behavior/ Event - with as much detail as possible
  • Intervention - what we did during and immediately after the event - how we tried to calm the child, confrontation, redirection, distraction, sitting with them, time-ins, holding, rocking.., 
  • Follow-up - how you processed what happened with the child.  Injuries, damage, repairs needed/ made (emotionally and physically)... What consequences were given (if any)? Agencies contacted. Reports filed.

Documentation Goes Both Ways! 

Use their documentation to hold them accountable and get services. I often took psych reports with recommendations to places like my child's school and demand that they put these accommodations into place or our insurance company and demand they pay for programs/ therapy that met these goals (such as Hippotherapy or an expensive RTC that specialized in DBT therapy). 

I know that most of the psych eval recommendations were "cut and paste" crap, but I could still use them to my advantage.
 Example: 

  1. A two-prong treatment approach that includes both individual and family therapy/ parent training is strongly recommended. Treatment will be best geared to concrete, face-valid, short term goals establishing control and adaptive coping behaviors. At this time, it is important that therapeutic work address establishing a solid emotional vocabulary to help him directly express his feelings in an appropriate manner, developing emotional awareness...... blah, blah, blah...
I might use this recommendation to get:
  • DBT therapy versus whatever random talk therapy intern assigned to my child, because it specifically works on developing emotional awareness and vocabulary.
  • Forcing the school, adoption agency, or insurance company to find and fund an alternate placement for my child that can better help my child get the help he/ she needs such as finding an Alternate Placement (Alternate Placement and Crisis Plans) or an RTC (Finding and Funding an RTC). 
  • Even though this recommendation is talking more about therapeutic goals, I would probably use it to get IEP accommodations in the classroom that are focused on concrete, short-term (chunking) goals. Meaning, my child won't be handed a long-term project at the beginning of the year and expected to be able to complete it themselves. Instead, the assignment would be broken into steps and each step would have its own accountability.
  • I would also use it to get my child more emotional accommodations at school. Such as a quantifiable way for my daughter to let the school know she is experiencing anxiety or is feeling suicidal or like she wants to self-harm. Anxiety Scale. Crisis Plan.

Get ORGANIZED and keep EVERYTHING! E-mails, school behavior reports, transcripts, psych evals, documents. Get letters from his doctors, caregivers, therapists... Get these Organized and keep them updated (you'd be amazed how many times the school will say, "Well we don't have access to, or record of, that, let's wait until it can be found..." When you open up your 3 ring binder and pull out a copy of your child's behavior reports, that medical report (that you had them put in to their records at his last IEP meeting), your list of topics you want to be discussed at the meeting (I usually send out a copy of this via email before the meeting and ask them to make a copy for everyone!)... it keeps them from slowing down the process.

3" 3 Ring Binder - I take this everywhere - school IEP meetings, doctor/psychiatrist appointments, anytime I'm going to have to fill out a ton of paperwork requesting my child’s history, dates, and dosages.  I tend to keep these binders in my car in their own tote (more than 1 is too heavy!).

Primarily I use a 3" 3 ring binder with front and back pockets and a clear covering that I can drop things into. It's divided into sections with tabs. I add to the sections by putting the most recent information in the front of each section.

SPINE- Label with the child's name - since I've got 2 kids), but I also made sure they were different colors so I could recognize a child's quickly.
FRONT Drop in business cards so they don't get lost.
BACK Add a photo of the child. I've found some people in the IEP meeting forget we're talking about MY child, so even though my child is usually present I find this important. I have a beautiful crayon sketch done by my mom of my daughter. For my son I have a photo of him.
INSIDE (I generally try to keep things in chronological order - most recent items in front - unless it's a summary or needs to be in the front because we use it a lot)
  • Front Pocket - I keep a copy of the current IEP here since it's too big to fit in the binder sections.
  • In Front. Current Meds and Diagnoses page. I keep this one-page document updated and with me at all times.  I also keep a copy in my purse.  This summary has the child’s name, age, grade and where they go to school, IQ (if significant), current meds and dosages, current providers’ names and contact info (doc, therapist, pdoc…) and a list of diagnoses (with DSM V codes if possible) including, if needed, a brief summary as to how that looks in my child (ex. 294.9    Cognitive Disorder NOS (deficits in processing speed, working memory, executive functioning, and visual memory) - Cerebral Dysrhythmia (TBI) – right temporal lobe. - which controls memory, hearing, understanding language (receptive language), organization, and sequencing.
  • NOTE: It's especially useful to have the Meds and Diagnoses page on hand when I need to fill out a health form for school, admittance forms for a psych hospital or residential treatment center, new therapist or medical practitioner forms, to give to police officers and to child protective service workers (when we're reported for child abuse by a child who makes false allegations).
  • Blank ruled paper for notes.
  • TAB 1. Medical - (this includes copies of discharge paperwork from psychiatric hospitalizations), a current med list, a med list with all the meds they've ever been on (including when they took it and why it was stopped - if I know), immunizations, hearing and vision, and reports in chronological order of any significant medical issues (surgeries, test results and reports...), most recent well check summary…
  • TAB 2. Psych evals - (this includes the school version of a psych eval - called an FIE at our school). I like to use big paperclips to keep each report together rather than staples so they can be copied easily and so I can flip through quickly.
  • TAB 3. School - this has copies of important e-mails, IEP meeting invitations, printed out attendance, behavior reports, grades... I keep the most recent IEP in a pocket in the front of the binder because it's WAAAYYYY too big to fit in the binder. I only have room to keep a "summary" of important stuff in there (she's had 6 IEP meetings this year), so older stuff from past school years usually gets filed away unless it's really significant. A copy of the Procedural Safeguards (just so they don’t have an excuse to try to give me yet another one).
  • TAB 4. Legal - this is different per child. For my daughter we filed due process against the school (kind of like a lawsuit) so I keep this information here. Including recommendations of her therapists and psychiatrists regarding her school placement. For my son, it's more about his involvement in the judicial system. This would also be where we put Power of Attorneys, SSI paperwork, pretty much anything legal.
  • TAB 5. Adoption - just some legal documents needed sometimes because our kids were teens when we finalized, their names are different on documents from before their adoption (my daughter's first AND last name changed from her birth name).
  • TAB 5. Work - Now that my children have started working, we’ve replaced the adoption stuff and now have job search info, resumes, DARS information, pay stubs, Write Ups…
  • Back Pocket - odds and ends.
IN THE TOTE - A separate file folder for "current stuff” -  Stuff I haven't had time to hole punch, stuff that doesn't actually belong in the binders, info on programs we're considering, a calendar, "to do" stuff... whatever. A pencil bag with – pens, fidgets (for the kids), random stuff. A cheap hole punch. A photo “brag book.” A book for me to read (since I don’t have a smart phone!).





ADVOCATING FOR YOUR CHILD AT SCHOOL

The most important thing I've learned is that my children need relationships and emotional healing WAAAYYYY more than they need an education.  Think about it, do you really want to raise a well-educated psychopath?

What Happens in School Stays in School. I'm a firm believer that what happens in school stays in school.  We have enough problems with relationships at our house; I don't need to fight the school's battles as well.  Advocate to make sure they get what they needed, but leave the rest to the school.  Family relationships are way more important, and you're not able to work on that if you're fighting about school.

Homework is not YOUR problem.  If I force my kids to do their homework then in their mind it becomes MY problem (meaning no longer theirs!).  Also, the school doesn't get an accurate picture of my child's issues (Like most kids of trauma, my children have severe executive functioning and memory issues, which means they canNOT get/stay organized. A lot of times my child understands the assignment at school but has forgotten it by the time they get home, or they can do something laid out very concretely, but in the homework, they are supposed to apply the knowledge they learned - which process to use - which they just can't do!). My son would act out to hide the fact that he couldn't, or didn't think he could, do his homework.

 I need the school to grasp and acknowledge my child's academic issues, and they won't get that if I walk my child through the homework. I do give my child adequate time to do homework and offer support and help (if they ask for it and remain respectful), but I will tell my child to put it down and walk away if it's obviously triggering him/her.  Maybe I encourage them to come back later.  Maybe not.  It depends on what's best for the emotional health of the family as a whole.

Key Phrases to Help Your Child:

  • "My child has a right to a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), this (issue) is preventing him from being able to access his/her education." 
  • "These behaviors are caused by my child's Disability. In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), My child cannot be discriminated against/ punished/ reprimanded/ denied access to his FAPE for symptoms related to his Disability."
  • "My child has a right to be in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). The LRE for MY child to be able to learn and receive an education is in a smaller classroom with more INDIVIDUAL (one on one) attention. My child cannot learn in a large, chaotic environment like a general ed classroom therefore that is a MORE restrictive environment for my child and as such not APPROPRIATE."  

Wrightslaw - go immediately to http://www.wrightslaw.com/ and become familiar with your child's rights!!


New School Year Letters 
I write New School Year Letters at the beginning of the school year to alert the teachers and other people who deal with my children to the fact that I'm a concerned, loving, involved parent so if my children are doing something that seems "off" or inappropriate then it's probably related to their issues and not my parenting. ;)

These are ONE-PAGE letters that I send out every school year to teachers and people who will be working with my child.  This is a brief summary of my child since most teachers don't have time to read a child's whole file.  It gives tips on what works and what doesn't with my child, diagnoses and what they mean. 

Most importantly, the letter gives them my contact information and lets them know that I am an involved parent. Hopefully it will keep the teacher from making assumptions about our family, believing the crazy lies my child tells (hopefully they’ll be more likely to verify with me before they call CPS), and be thoughtful about the assignments they give (asking us to send baby pictures, talk to an older family member about your life history, family tree… write a eulogy for Tweetie - for my child who just got out of the psych hospital for suicidal ideation, memorize a monologue called Men are Slime - for my child with men issues, read the Outsiders and watch the movie - so many triggers I can’t mention them all!)….

New School Year/ Changing Schools
I've gone through this a couple of times. My best suggestion is to lay the cards on the table at the beginning (with as much in writing as possible because people believe what they read over what they hear). Be as clinical and matter-of-fact as possible. Tons of documentation to back you up but presented as briefly as possible. More of an outline so they can assimilate it quickly (they won't read more than a page at most) but making it obvious that there is documentation to back you up.

You want them to see you as a professional and an ally. You need them to come to you if something seems off rather than believe the children's stories.

If your children don't already have IEPs and you think they qualify then I would get the ball rolling on getting the school's testing done immediately. That helps too because if they understand your children aren't the average neurotypical students then they're less likely to believe any tall tales.

Above all, keep up the documentation on your end because with our kids it's usually not a matter of "if" it's a matter of "when" you'll be reported to DCFS.  

Document! Document!! Document!!! 



ADVOCATING FOR YOUR "ADULT" CHILD

Finding Services - Many high schools and other organizations offer Transition Services/Trainings, including things like Transition Fairs to parents of special education students and children with special needs. Check with your school's special education department (many have an organization for parents), check with other local and government organizations, google it... It's different for every state.
Transition Inventory - This is specifically for the state of Texas, but some of the resources are national.
Getting SSI/ Medicaid for Your Adult Child 





Tuesday, August 21, 2018

How to Get Your Document Read - Persuasive Writing

As parents of special needs kids, we write all the time. Quick emails, formal documentation, requests/ demands for services or resources... how many times do you feel like they just stuck your document in the round file?



Here's how to get your documents read:



First, what is the purpose of your document? 



  • Persuasive/ Call to Action (You want someone to do something)
    * Know exactly what you want, and write to that goal.
    * Leave out everything else (KISS)
    * Think about it from your audience's perspective.
    _____What are their goals and motivations? _____Say it in a way that will speak to your readers. Make them want to do what you want them to do._____Make it clear and easy to do what you want them to do.
    _____Use words that inspire enthusiasm or make them feel better about themselves. 



    Instead of:
     “Look at the school's policy on bullying,” 
    Try This: "You can help stop bullying in your school.


    Instead of:
     

    "Forgive me for being blunt, but at the end of Bear's junior year in high school as I look at Bear’s declining grades and spotty attendance over the last semester, send yet another e-mail, leave yet another unreturned message with the Associate Principal and [BEHAVIOR PROGRAM] office, talk to yet another counselor or [BEHAVIOR PROGRAM] Aide, talk to yet another teacher about major projects Bear hasn’t even worked on… knowing that none of my repeated requests for assistance with Bear’s steadily declining behavior are being addressed, especially now that there’s little more than a week of school left… I’m feeling a little FRUSTRATED to say the least. I am therefore officially requesting an immediate IEP meeting."
    Try This:
    "I am concerned that Bear is a danger to himself and others. I am officially requesting an IEP meeting."
    Instead of:
    "Kitty was sick a lot during the last 6 weeks. She's missing assignments and not prepared for the test tomorrow. We need you to simplify or drop the missing assignments. Obviously, she can't take the test tomorrow."

    Try This:
    "Kitty needs your help! She's missed a lot of classes due to serious illnesess. She's working hard to catch-up in your class (and all others) but unfortunately will not be ready for the test tomorrow. She plans to attend your tutorial hours after school

         To learn more about the right way (and wrong way) to handle this in an IEP meeting, CLICK HERE.

  • Informative - Something you want to be read, but doesn't require immediate action on the part of the reader.
    * Keep this short and relevant if you want it to be read!
    * One page at most.

    Don't hand a teacher a book or a long article about RAD and expect him/ her to read it. 
    Instead, give the teacher a short summary applicable to his/her needs. Include information about the book or article so the teacher can do more research if he/ she wishes. This also lets the teacher know this is not just your opinion.
    Examples:
         One Page Summary of Your Child's Diagnoses and Issues     New School Year Letter - to make sure everyone is on the same page.


    It's always amazing to me what people will believe when it's in writing  (vs hearing a parent say it) - no matter how super calm and logical you are)!
  • Documenting - Generally a CYA (Cover Your A$$) or to hold others accountable.
    This will most likely just be stuck in your child's file, but it lets you say, "You were informed on such and such dates about each of these incidents."
    Ex. Incident Reports
    One of the main things to remember about documentation is to do it as SOON as possible after an incident.  Adrenaline and time alter memories quickly. 

    To document conversations and phone calls-
    Send the people involved an email or letter (keep a copy) that puts what was said in writing.

    You can email a confirmation letter to the person you had the discussion with, and copy everyone that needs to know (which helps hold everyone accountable).

    Include bullet points about what each of us agreed to (especially if the other person is supposed to be doing something).


    Documenting can help protect you from false allegations, get services for your child, and make sure chronic issues get addressed. - Document! Document! Document!) 

  • Formal Request - Always put requests in writing, especially when dealing with your child's School  (for assessments, for an IEP meeting or parent/ teacher conference, for a review of your child's file...)  This is usually a requirement by the school, and it is needed to start the countdown.
    Ex. Typically schools have 30 days to respond to a written request for an assessment.


    Always Put It in Writing!
  • Venting - go crazy with this. Write as much as you want. Be emotional. YELL! Bitch. Whine. Complain. Tell them how they messed up and how it hurt you, your child, your family... Share it with your friends. Share it with your therapist. Use it as a basis for a persuasive letter, but most importantly.

    DO NOT SEND IT!!
    Ex. of a letter I should not have sent - What My Child Learned From Not Getting Consequences in School.


********


10 Key Points to Persuasive Writing 

1. KISS (Keep it Short and Simple!)

What points do you NEED to make? Keep these simple and few.


If there are more than a couple of points than you can explain quickly and concisely think about separating them into more than one letter/ document.

2. People might read one page; they won't read a novel.

No rambling. No novels. No background information, unless it vital to what you want, and totally relevant. {Yes, this is a case of do as I say, not as I do!}


3. Lots of White Space and Headings

People skim. If a document looks like a War and Peace novel, they probably won't even read more than a sentence or two.

Break the information up into lots of little paragraphs rather than one or two long ones. This is not an English essay or a research paper! 2-3 sentences max.


4. Know Your Audience

Don't forget. Just because you're writing to your friendly caseworker, doesn't mean someone higher up isn't going to see this. You don't have to be formal, but skip the small talk and the backstory. You can do that on the phone (or not at all).
"Letter to the Stranger"
When you write letters to a school, these letters will often be read by strangers. Many important decisions about your child's education are made by strangers. What impression will your letter make on a stranger? Will the stranger see you as an angry, negative complainer? Or will the Stranger see you as a rational, thoughtful parent who is expressing valid concerns?
When you write letters, keep this "stranger" in your mind’s eye. Who is the "stranger"? What does he look like? How does he think?
Judges are strangers. Most judges aren’t knowledgeable about special education or children with disabilities. When you write letters, you are trying to educate and inform the "stranger."
- See more at:
 http://www.wrightslaw.com/advoc/articles/Letter_to_Stranger.html#sthash.75iaZY63.dpuf
Remember, when you CC: or BCC: people but start the email with "Dear Ms. So and So," the average person will ignore the email because they assume it wasn't written for them.
(This is fine if you are just Documenting and only want it on record that they were informed).

5. TMI - Anything You Say, Can and Will Be Held Against You

This is not the place to vent or ask for emotional support. Always remember that if you show signs that you are struggling and/or failing, then that can be held against you. Rather than receive help, I've often felt judged and people unfairly use this information as an excuse to blame me for my children's issues and/ or blow me off as overemotional and overreacting.  

Generally, people are looking for excuses not to help you. They'd rather say, you can't handle this child so we're moving him, or making you take parenting classes, or ignoring you... rather than spend time and money supporting you. I won't say that a lot of their decisions are made based on short-term goals and money, but it certainly feels that way, more often than not.

Do not share personal information! I think we (especially women) tend to talk about our personal lives too often and to the wrong people and at the wrong time. A lot of times, we have to share intimate details of our lives with so many people (ex. home studies) that the lines have become blurred.


To be an effective advocate for ourselves and our children, we need to maintain professionalism at all times. This is true both in writing and in person.


Social media has made it the norm to tell everybody everything. The problem is that people are forgetting where they are (not among friends) and whom they’re talking to (bosses, case managers, colleagues and the public, not their buddies). And even if they know it’s inappropriate to share certain personal information in a professional setting, they do it anyway because everyone else does. So they think it must be O.K. (it’s not), and they think that their boss, colleagues, members of their child's "team"... are really interested (they’re not).





6. How To Ask for Help
If what you're asking for is support or help. Be very concrete and clear about your needs.

Don't use emotionally-charged wording
("I want," "falling apart," "failing," "struggling," "please help"...).


Instead, 

Focus on what you want them to provide (weekly in-home therapy, respite, residential treatment...). Talk about the immediate benefits to the child and the risks if you or your child don't receive these treatments. Be specific.



7. Headlines
Let's face it, headlines are important (Titles/ Email Subject Lines/ Document Headings). It doesn’t matter what you’ve written if people read the first sentence or two and then mosey on to something else because the words just didn’t catch their attention or they don't think it applies to them. 

Obviously, what’s written after the headline matters too. Your headline should actually reflect what's in the document.  4 Ways To Hook Readers With Headlines. I often go back and write the headline/ title/ after I've written the whole document.



8. Lists/ Bullet Points.
A person is more likely to read a document if they can scan it quickly and know the:
  • Action Points - allows the reader to quickly see what they need to do
  • Succinct Summary - quickly summarizes and organizes your reading points, 
  • Relevance - allows the reader to decide whether or not the information is relevant to him/ her, 
  • Is it Worth Reading More? - helps the reader decide if he/she should give you more than a few seconds of his/ her time. 
  • Reminder - so you can tell at a glance what tasks or info you need

The easier the document is to read, the more likely someone will do so!


9.  Check for Spelling and Grammar mistakes

Not only are they distracting to the reader, but they make you sound uneducated and therefore damage your credibility.




10. 


Refine. Tweak. Tweak some more. Have someone else read it. 
Done.


{An example of how NOT to write a letter. I Finally Hit Send
Better, but still not effective. Revised Letter.
Actually sent version. What Bear Has Learned This Year}




When you're requesting services, accommodations, and changes -
  • Put it in writing! 
  • Stay calm and unemotional - this is not the place to editorialize. 
  • Stick to the basic facts. - Explanations and "backstory" can be discussed later. This is more like a police report - just the facts and nothing but the facts.
  • Know your child's rights and what they're entitled to (Get familiar with Wright's Law and IDEA).
  • State your expectations simply and plainly.
  • Give deadlines and consequences.  

Be Aware - Example
A school agreed to give a child an assessment to see if he qualified for additional services. The parent did not like one of the tools they were using to assess her child (an IQ test), because she felt it would not be accurate (the child had refused to participate in this type of testing before which skewed his score significantly). The parent informed the school she did not wish for them to use that particular assessment and revoked permission for that one test. The school documented this as the parent revoking permission for the entire assessment! Definitely not what the parent wanted! 


Things to know about IEPs
You can always refuse to sign/ give permission. 
You can also revoke permissions previously granted. 
You have the right to demand FAPE services for your child.

If the school can't or won't provide a service (assessment, a one on one assistant, having a less/ more restrictive environment...), then you have a right to demand they pay for the service to be provided by an independent professional of your choosing. Unfortunately, you might need a Special Education or Attorney to back you up on this (it's often difficult to get money out of school districts!).

To learn more about how you can get your child services in School CLICK HERE!

Ten Timeless Persuasive Writing Techniques 
Persuasion is generally an exercise in creating a win-win situation. You present a case that others find beneficial to agree with. You make them an offer they can’t refuse, but not in the manipulative Godfather sense.
It’s simply a good deal or a position that makes sense to that particular person.
But there are techniques that can make your job easier and your case more compelling. While this list is in no way comprehensive, these 10 strategies are used quite a bit because they work.
  1. Repetition
    Talk to anyone well versed in learning psychology, and they’ll tell you repetition is crucial. It’s also critical in persuasive writing, since a person can’t agree with you if they don’t truly get what you’re saying. Of course, there’s good repetition and bad. To stay on the good side, make your point in several different ways, such as directly, using an example, in a story, via a quote from a famous person, and once more in your summary.
  2. Reasons Why
    Remember the power of the word because. Psychological studies have shown that people are more likely to comply with a request if you simply give them a reason why… even if that reason makes no sense. The strategy itself does make sense if you think about it. We don’t like to be told things or asked to take action without a reasonable explanation. When you need people to be receptive to your line of thinking, always give reasons why.
  3. Consistency
    It’s been called the “hobgoblin of little minds,” but consistency in our thoughts and actions is a valued social trait. We don’t want to appear inconsistent, since, whether fair or not, that characteristic is associated with instability and flightiness, while consistency is associated with integrity and rational behavior. Use this in your writing by getting the reader to agree with something up front that most people would have a hard time disagreeing with. Then rigorously make your case, with plenty of supporting evidence, all while relating your ultimate point back to the opening scenario that’s already been accepted.
  4. Social Proof
    Looking for guidance from others as to what to do and what to accept is one of the most powerful psychological forces in our lives. It can determine whether we deliver aid to a person in need, and it can determine whether we muster the courage to kill ourselves. Obvious examples of social proof can be found in testimonials and outside referrals, and it’s the driving force behind social media. But you can also casually integrate elements of social proof in your writing, ranging from skillful alignment with outside authorities to blatant name dropping.
  5. Comparisons
    Metaphors, similes and analogies are the persuasive writer’s best friends. When you can relate your scenario to something that the reader already accepts as true, you’re well on your way to convincing someone to see things your way. But comparisons work in other ways too. Sometimes you can be more persuasive by comparing apples to oranges (to use a tired but effective metaphor). Don’t compare the price of your home study course to the price of a similar course—compare it to the price of a live seminar or your hourly consulting rate.
  6. Agitate and Solve
    This is a persuasion theme that works as an overall approach to making your case. First, you identify the problem and qualify your audience. Then you agitate the reader’s pain before offering your solution as the answer that will make it all better. The agitation phase is not about being sadistic; it’s about empathy. You want the reader to know unequivocally that you understand his problem because you’ve dealt with it and/or are experienced at eliminating it. The credibility of your solution goes way up if you demonstrate that you truly feel the prospect’s pain.
  7. Prognosticate
    Another persuasion theme involves providing your readers with a glimpse into the future. If you can convincingly present an extrapolation of current events into likely future outcomes, you may as well have a license to print money. This entire strategy is built on credibility. If you have no idea what you’re talking about, you’ll end up looking foolish. But if you can back up your claims with your credentials or your obvious grasp of the subject matter, this is an extremely persuasive technique.
  8. Go Tribal
    Despite our attempts to be sophisticated, evolved beings, we humans are exclusionary by nature. Give someone a chance to be a part of a group that they want to be in—whether that be wealthy, or hip, or green, or even contrarian—and they’ll hop on board whatever train you’re driving. This is the technique used in the greatest sales letter ever written. Find out what group people want to be in, and offer them an invitation to join while seemingly excluding others.
  9. Address Objections
    If you present your case and someone is left thinking “yeah, but…”, well, you’ve lost. This is why direct marketers use long copy—it’s not that they want you to read it all, it’s that they want you to read enough until you buy. Addressing all the potential objections of at least the majority of your readers can be tough, but if you really know your subject the arguments against you should be fairly obvious. If you think there are no reasonable objections to your position, you’re in for a shock if you have comments enabled.
  10. Storytelling
    Storytelling is really a catch-all technique—you can and should use it in combination with any and all of the previous nine strategies. But the reason why storytelling works so well lies at the heart of what persuasion really is. Stories allow people to persuade themselves, and that’s what it’s really all about. You might say that we never convince anyone of anything—we simply help others independently decide that we’re right. Do everything you can to tell better stories, and you’ll find that you are a terribly persuasive person.



Thursday, April 26, 2018

When an Adult Child Moves Out

Kitty has decided to move in with her boyfriend. I know it will not last (her relationship with him is already volatile) and she already feels guilty about moving in with a boy (emotionally she is still only 12, despite being in a 23 yo body). I believe this will end in the same way as when she runs to biofamily {Running to Birth Family} -- the second she moves out, the grass will be greener on our side of the fence. At most, she's made it 4 months with biofamily. I'm suspecting this will last at most 6 months, probably less.

In addition to providing us some much-needed respite, my current thought is that this may actually help. She has been fighting to get off her medications so that she no longer needs Medicaid because she wants off SSI {Getting SSI for an Adult Child}.

She feels like I am controlling her (which I am because she is legally a disabled person who is unable to handle more than the most basic care for herself). I've made it very clear that she needs to stay on SSI to keep Medicaid so she can afford doctor appointments and her medications (without insurance the meds alone would cost over $1K a month).

She desperately wants to be "normal," and to her, that means being able to spend her money how she wants to and do whatever she wants to do. The main problem is, she has no concept of money, budgeting, saving...

She is not able to fill out even the most basic forms (insurance being a big one). She does not have the ability to hold more than a part-time job. (She currently works 15-20 hours a week at $8.50 an hour). She cannot drive

When I try to explain budgeting and the costs of living independently, especially if she no longer receives any income from SSI, she just says she'll get a full-time job or 3 part-time jobs. It's like having an argument with a 2-year-old. Reality does not compute.

I decided I would tell her that a condition of her moving in with him is that we all sit down and discuss her circumstances. under the guise of discussing her budget. Since she's actually fairly compliant and I control her SSI money, I can do that.

I decided to create a list of points I feel need to be discussed.

A mom from a Facebook group for parenting young adults with FASD, made some awesome suggestions about how to handle this discussion, and these are some of the takeaway points I got from them:

  • Maintain a positive focus about how great it is that they're going to be working so hard at this relationship.
  •  Emphasize how impressive it is that he loves her enough to be willing to take on a relationship with a disabled person and is willing to take over her caregiving.
  • Let them know that we plan to be supportive and will help with this transition because we want them to have a successful relationship. 
  • Let them know that we will be there for Kitty if things don't go as planned.
  • Pull him aside and subtly put the fear of God in him that we will report him if he takes advantage of her physically or financially. With a reminder that legally she is considered a disabled person and as such there could be additional criminal charges if she is not protected.

These are my planned talking points. I do intend to hand them a list/ agenda, but the following has notes I don't intend to share with them. I'd love it if you would note any additional suggestions in the comments:


  1. This is a Trial Period (just like it was with biofamily). It will be 3 to 6 months before I will transfer Medicaid, SSI, whatever, to her new address.
  2. Contracts. During the trial period, she CAN NOT sign any contracts that will obligate her to pay money (lease, new phone, non pre-paid credit cards...).
  3. Caregiver Duties. If they stay together, at some point, he will be expected to step in as her caregiver. I don't plan to emphasize the access to her money part of this and I don’t really think they will make it long enough for it to happen, I just want to use it as an excuse to explain her medical and mental health issues, as well as her budget and why I maintain tight control over her finances. I will tell him that he needs to be aware, that this is a legal position. Taking advantage of a disabled person financially has serious legal consequences.
  4. She has a Brain Injury (Learning disabilities, ADHD, cerebral dysrhythmia, FASD...),  This is a serious, permanent condition. Among other things, it means she cannot handle her own money. She is not able to budget. While I will continue to handle her actual finances at first, he will be expected to help her manage her money, including making sure she has enough money for groceries and bills; she doesn't spend the money she gets from her job until the money for SSI has been taken out; she will need help keep track of receipts for things like her rent.
  5. She has Bipolar Disorder. Severe enough that she can never go off mood stabilizers and can't use "herbal supplements" or a special diet, or whatever hooey might work for someone on the mild side of the spectrum.
  6. Current Meds and Diagnoses pageI plan to show him this one-page document we give to therapists, medical professionals, and people "on her team" (like teachers and administrators when she was in school). It details things like her IQ and her mental health diagnoses (BPD, FASD/cerebral dysrhythmia/ brain injury). I will be explaining what each of these means and will strongly encourage him to read Stop Walking on Eggshells (which explains more about living with Borderline Personality Disorder from the family's point of view).

    {This may seem like oversharing or even an invasion of privacy to some, but I think he needs to understand how severe her issues really are if he's going to be living with her.}
  7. Rent and Utilities. While she will definitely pay rent (as much as she can afford, which will probably be less than 1/2 if you include utilities), if she moves out, her rent money goes with her. Period. Her name cannot be on the lease or utility bills. If this doesn't work out, then she can't afford to be financially obligated.
  8. Receipts. As part of my Rep Payee duties, I need to document where her money goes. Any money she pays, like rent, will go directly to who it's owed to (like the leasing company, or the gas company) rather than her boyfriend. I'm still debating whether or not I'll do this during the trial period. It's going to add some complications, since we won't be reporting the address change yet.
  9. Teaching Her to Drive. If he helps her get a driver's license, which we strongly discourage due to her issues that affect her ability to drive {Co-conspirator Dreamkiller} They need to understand she will not be going on our car insurance. She'll need to go on his insurance rather than paying her own because she's on a fixed income (and even then, she can't do that for at least 6 months of them being together).
  10. Full-Time Job. She cannot *plan* to get a better paying full-time job and get off SSI. She has to *HAVE* a full-time job for at least 3 months because historically she has not been able to handle a full-time job (despite what she thinks). She currently works only 15 hours a week.
  11. Budget/ SSI. We will look at her budget based on her income from her job and SSI (which will show him she doesn't make enough to pay her half of the bills and food).

    Her take-home last month was $375. The month before that was $325. Currently, about 1/2 of that has to be saved to make up the difference in her SSI amount (they reduce her check by 1/2 of her gross pay, so she won't have enough money to pay her bills if she blows her whole paycheck).

    I plan to show BF how more than half of the money from her job has to be saved (“paid”) into a separate account because her income doesn’t affect her SSI money until 2 months after she’s earned it. I will also show him the careful financial record-keeping and monitoring I do to ensure that her SSI money is reported correctly and comes in on time -- so she doesn’t lose it and Medicaid. We will also look at how much her medications and doctor appointments would cost without Medicaid.

    I will continue to have control over her finances and SSI, until such point as I decide he can handle taking over (probably never!), which means I will be kept in the loop.

    Part of her SSI money will continue to go to us to pay for things like her phone, private insurance, and bank fees, things that don't stop just because she doesn't live here.
  12. Getting to Work. Currently, she's planning on having him drop her off at our house when he goes to work. Since she usually doesn't have to be at work until 10:30am at the earliest and sometimes not until 4:30pm, that means she'd be sitting around our house for hours. When I asked what she'd do if he couldn't bring her over here (it's a 25-minute drive from his new apartment to here), her plan was to take an Uber.

    {After reminding her several times to look into the cost, we finally looked up the cost together. A round trip uber from her apartment to work is about $30 - not including tip. Working a 4-hour shift at $8.50/hr means she only makes $25.50! She's very excited about a recent promotion, which means she'll sometimes make $9/hr. She can't grasp that this means she's still only making $27 a shift.} Despite my best efforts, she does not understand that even if she only takes the Uber one way (she would get a ride home from BF). that still means an uber would not be cost-effective.

    I reminded her that our town is now on a bus route that connects to the city that the apartment is in and suggested she should confirm the bus route goes to her new apartment (it is within walking distance on this end). She needs to see where the bus route goes and how much it costs to get a commuter pass. She refuses to do this because she doesn't want to ride the bus.

    She also needs to *ASK* me if it's OK to stay here (she's planning on having BF drop her off on his way to work and have her spend hours here before and after her shift).
  13. Doctor Appointments/ Medication. She needs to know how she will get to her doctor appointments which are here in our small town. She cannot change to a new doctor during the trial period. I will continue to attend her psychiatrist appointments. She needs to confirm with me that her appointments work with my schedule. She needs to figure out how she'll pick up her medications.
  14. Pregnancy. If she gets pregnant, he *WILL* be paying child support. He needs to be sure she is on birth control. If she goes off Medicaid, he will be responsible for paying medical bills.
  15. Moving Out. She will be taking ALL her stuff. Nothing left behind at all. We're not a storage unit for her crap. She will also be putting the room back to "move out" condition, just like she would if she were living in an apartment.
  16. Moving Home. If it doesn't work out, she is welcome to move back in with us, but in the meantime, I will be moving my fabric stash into the "Hobbit Hole" (a small study she has been using as a bedroom) as originally intended before she had a mental health break down and had to unexpectedly leave the fantastic residential 18 - 24 months long vocational school the state was paying for. So she will have even less room until her "Apartmenette" is done (maybe next year).

    As a condition of returning, she will be expected to sign the Boarder Agreement again.
  17. Physical Abuse/ Taking Advantage of a Disabled Person -  If he lays a hand on her, we *WILL* be calling the police. We will report him if he takes advantage of her physically or financially. With a reminder that legally she is considered a disabled person and as such there could be additional criminal charges if she is not protected.
  18. Chauffeur Services. She will be expected to find a way to get to me if we need to go to the SSI office or her psychiatrist. I won't be driving her anywhere unless she's already at my house, and she verifies it is convenient to me *before* she makes an appointment.
  19. Family Events. They are invited to attend Friday night family dinners, but if the place is expensive, they may be expected to pay their own way.

What Actually Happened
Aaannnndddd.... none of this worked.

Apparently, the boyfriend has no idea she's on SSI and she doesn't want him to know. He has no clue how severe her mental illnesses are. He thinks she's paying us rent and supporting herself with her paycheck and he has no idea how few hours she actually works. We thought it was him pressuring her to get off her meds and SSI, but it was actually her choice because she doesn't want him to find out (and also because she thinks it's keeping her from being an adult).

She saw no need for me to talk to him because she's "going off SSI anyway so he doesn't need to know about it." She refused to let me meet with him and speak to him about any of this.

She's supposed to move in in 3 weeks when his new apartment is ready. Her current "plan" is to go off all her meds (we're talking 2 major mood stabilizers and an antipsychotic) so she can get off Medicaid and SSI. She also plans to get a full-time job (By the way, this month she made all of $375, last month it was only $325).

Of course, all of this is totally unrealistic and unfeasible, but she's 23 years old and she wants to be treated like an "adult" (of course, this is just what she thinks being an adult is like). *sigh* It's like arguing with a 2-year-old.

I told her if she's going off her meds to start now (because I don't trust her not to try to sabotage her SSI as soon she's out of the house). Right now, she's still stable on her meds and so thinks she doesn't need them.

If she manages to get off SSI, it would take months to get her back on, and if she has a psychotic break and/or gets pregnant... someone is going to have to pay all those medical bills.

I told her she can't sign any contracts, including the lease. I also told her I would be paying the leasing agent directly. She asked me a legitimate question - if she's not on the lease, how will she pay rent? I'll have to figure that out because I don't want to hand the money over to the boyfriend. She will need receipts of payments for SSI.

*****

The next day, after dropping her off at work, the boyfriend stopped by to pick up her phone that she'd forgotten. He doesn't talk much, but he asked if we were OK with Kitty moving in with him.

We told him that it was her choice, but if he hurt her... I didn't actually finish this sentence, I just told him to fill in the concerned parent threats here. We all laughed.

I mentioned that I didn't want her name put on the lease or any other contract until we knew for sure this would work out. He said he understood and at most would be listing her as a roommate.

I told him that I planned to send in her payments directly to the apartment complex, but I wasn't sure how that work if she wasn't on the lease. I told him that we'd have to have a receipt for the government, and we talked about whether or not a receipt written by him would satisfy the government. I told him I'd look into it.

Even though he started it, during this brief chat, he couldn't get away fast enough. I can only wonder what Kitty has told him about us.

*****
Flash forward to this afternoon.

Via text, Kitty accuses me of telling the boyfriend all about SSI and stuff. (I hadn't exactly, although I did hint at it).

She then starts in on how it's against the law for me to not pay her rent for 3 months and I could get arrested.
Say WHAT?!


{I'm going to paraphrase our conversation and change things up a little, because Kitty has difficulty writing what she actually means to say due to spelling, grammar and cognitive issues, and sometimes we're responding to a text while the other one is typing)

Me: I never said I wouldn't pay your rent with BF. In fact, you and I talked about me paying it directly to the leasing agency rather than giving the money to BF. Although your comment about not being on the lease possibly making that difficult was valid, and that's why I mentioned to BF that you'd need a receipt and I would look into whether or not it would be OK for him to write a receipt. 

I did say that this would be like when you went to live with Biofamily, in that this would be a "trial period," but I also told you that I was referring to not telling SSI that we were changing your address for 3 to 6 months in case things didn't work out, because your moving causes a ton of issues when dealing with SSI, so we need to wait until the trial period is over.

This is why I wanted to sit down together. So we'd have numbers in front of us and I could put stuff in writing so you didn't forget or misremember half of what we talked about because you were triggered.

Kitty: But I want to get off {SSI} anyways. So why does it matter? I'm not going to be at your house

Me: Wanting to get off SSI and being ready to get off are two different things. You are not ready to get off for at least 6 months. That's how long it takes for your meds to get out of your system. You need to stay on it until you're sure how your body is going to react.

Me: Did I mention that I think it's a bad idea to try to keep these major issues from BF? If you trust him that little, then you should rethink living with him.

Kitty: I trust him a lot.

Me: Obviously not. From what you said, he doesn't know anything about your medications, disabilities, income, living situation... no wonder he thinks I'm a controlling bitch. He has no idea why I handle your finances.

Kitty: {Responding to my comment, "Wanting to get off SSI and being ready to get off are two different things."} 
Then let me have more control let me pay him and let me give you the receipt but you haven't given me a chance to like be an adult.


Me: Obviously you don't remember what happened over the years when your meds weren't right; otherwise, you wouldn't even consider going off of them completely.

Me: {Responding to her comment, "
Then let me have more control let me pay him and let me give you the receipt"}

We can talk about that. You haven't mentioned it before now. You've just stomped your foot and acted like a 2-year-old saying, "All by me!!"

{I admit I got frustrated and said some triggering, non-therapeutic things during this part of the conversation} 
Me: I'm ready to have rational, adult conversations. Instead, most of the time, you're demanding things that you have repeatedly shown you can't handle, and talking about things like getting a full-time job as though you could walk in to any place tomorrow and be handed one, and going off your meds as though your doctor was an unprofessional idiot and giving you prescription medications, because she thought it would be funny.

Just because you want things to be a certain way, does not mean they are. No matter how badly you want them. 

You are physically an adult. Legally, you are an adult too, but there are limitations set on that by the government that say that you need extra help and have a right to it. It doesn't have to be me providing it, but someone has to, and so far no one else is willing to step up and be there for you.

Kitty: {Flipping the switch!} And I love that you have helped me over the whole time I've lived with you, but I feel stuck cause of the meds and SSI.  I'm tired of. Being stuck.

Me: I totally get how frustrating it is to be stuck. I truly wish that it weren't the situation you've had forced on you by your past and your genetics. 

I feel like you're blaming me for your diagnoses, trauma, and issues instead of acknowledging that it is what it is and working with me to help you find ways to work with it and around it and get what you want. 

I think you will not find happiness until you find acceptance for the things you cannot change (your diagnoses ) and courage to take the steps needed to change the things you can.

 I hope you know that I will always be here for you to help you figure out what your dreams are, and how to work to achieve those dreams despite, or sometimes because of, your limitations/ disabilities.

I know that you can achieve great happiness. I just wish you would work on it instead of jumping off a cliff and assuming you'll be able to fly just because you want it so badly.
Does that make sense?

Kitty: Yes. But that's how life is. Birds push the babies out and let them learn on their own. And most parents do the same.

Me: When they're ready. Shoving a baby bird out of the nest too soon or if it has a broken wing is evil.

Me: Have you seen this video? You remind me of Karamel the squirrel. 



She was badly injured through no fault of her own, but she was a fighter, and her adopted family wanted her to be able to run and play. They helped her deal with her disabilities and found ways around them. 

She's a happy squirrel who can run and play. She can't climb trees though. Does that make her any less of a squirrel? Do you think she's miserable because of what she can't do? 


She worked hard to learn how to use what she was given and taught, and now she's in a loving family, being a squirrel that can run and play.

{I wish that was where the conversation stopped, but there was a lot more lather, rinse, repeat...}

It boiled down to:
  • Kitty doesn't want BF to find out she has "issues" because she is afraid he will leave her. Which means he can't find out she was on medications and that someone has to handle her money for her.
  • She wants to be an "adult." She wants to be "normal." She desperately wants to believe that if she gets away from me,  and gets off SSI, then that will magically happen. That she actually will be normal, because she wants to be - she needs to be. That I am all that's keeping her from being normal.
  • If she gets off SSI, then she loses her Medicaid. She has to have Medicaid to pay for her medications; therefore, she will get off her medications so she can get off Medicaid. Her magical thinking kicks in and she convinces herself that she doesn't actually need her meds.
  • She feels "controlled" because I handle her finances and where she lives (in that I can fuss at her if she leaves a mess).
  • A lot of my "control" over her is actually her controlling herself because subconsciously she doesn't want to make Mommy upset because then Mommy will leave her (again). {If You Find out I'm Not Perfect, You'll Leave} Half the time it's not even something I'd be upset about.
  • She projects her own fears and guilt on me. She feels guilty about moving in with her boyfriend because she thinks it is wrong and terrified that he'll leave her, so she accuses me of trying to break her and BF up because I want to "control" her.  I point out that while I do tell her when I think she's making a mistake, especially if it's a major mistake, that's all I do. I give her my opinion. She projects her own feelings of fear, guilt, and/or shame, and "hears" ultimatums and threats.

    As an example, I pointed out to her that while I did tell her that I don't think moving in with BF (or Biomom or Biofamily) is a good idea, I didn't stop her. I didn't disown her. When she was ready to come home, I allowed her to come home and didn't say, "I told you so."
  • I admit that I have "threatened" her with ultimatums and tried to force her to not make certain choices, but those choices are either life-threatening or severely affect her future or both. When she wanted to move in with biomom with less than 2 weeks notice, that meant she would be without medications and not under a doctor's care. At a vulnerable time, she would not have any supports.

    I've seen what happens when she is not on her meds. It is life-threatening. She becomes suicidal, she rages, she hallucinates.

    Pregnancy is equally life-threatening - If she's on her meds, then in addition to her genetic toxic soup, the poor baby is being "pickled" in major psychotropic medications. If she's off her meds, she will become psychotic or suicidal, and the baby is being "pickled" in stress and anxiety hormones. When the baby is born, if she is allowed to keep it, then the child is being raised by a seriously mentally ill mother. Either scenario is dangerous for both mother and child.

    I've tried and tried, but nothing less than an ultimatum works {usually the threat of us getting legal guardianship} and even that rarely works, and of course it triggers her even more. {Running Again}

*****


In the end, we agreed that: 
  1. I would put the money in her account so she could pay her rent on her own. She's supposed to contact the social security office to see if they will accept a handwritten receipt from BF. Hopefully, she won't tell them that she's moving, but she might try to sabotage her SSI that way.
  2. I told her that she can't just call and tell SSI that she doesn't want SSI anymore (I hope I'm right and/or I hope she never tries).
  3. At some point, we will have to talk about budget again with numbers she will get from BF. In general, if she asks me for money, then I will give it to her, as long as it is in her budget.
  4. We kept getting stuck on the fact that I won't just hand over the SSI money or let her cancel SSI. I finally hit on the fact that if she wanted to get rid of it, all she had to do was make more than $1400 a month (the max you're allowed to make and keep SSI). 

One month later:
 When I finally got all the numbers, I realized that Kitty's monthly SSI money covered her share of the rent and utilities and about $60 for groceries. Rather than me having to tell her that she can't afford things, I can just transfer the full amount at the first of the month. When it's gone, it's gone. There was no extra, so there was nothing to argue about.  

She's still taking a half dose of one of her mood stabilizers (and possibly more) because deep down she knows she needs her meds. 

She's also decided to stay on SSI/ Medicaid for now. 

Biomom shared the link for this post with Kitty (I do not block anyone from reading this blog because I think transparency helps other parents, which is the whole point of my blog), but generally, my kids don't bother to read it.

I thought it was interesting that the only thing that upset Kitty about this whole post was that I mentioned we would push for BF to pay child support if Kitty got pregnant?!! 

Oh, and that we won't automatically pay for her and BF's dinner if she joins us for family dinner. That one doesn't surprise me though, it's about food.