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!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Feeling Overwhelmed

8:40am Get a call from the MHMR reminding me that Bear had a psychiatrist appointment at 11am. Not on my calendar. Let Bear know he was going to have to miss a school field trip for the meeting. Call Hubby because I can't be in two places at once. I'll need him to pick up and take Bear to his appointment and meet me there.

8:45am Bear leaves for school. Normally I would be leaving to drive Kitty across town to school (20 minute drive and she has to be there by 9am), but today she has a doctor appointment to check up on the diagnoses from the psych hospital (thyroid enlarged on one side - they recommended an ultrasound, but wouldn't give the orders. She was also diagnosed with a UTI and put on an antibiotic.

I know that in elderly patients that a UTI can cause dementia like symptoms, but I'm assuming it wouldn't have the same effects on a healthy teen. Anyone have any information? The doc said she thought it would only be a problem for the elderly because they might have renal failure, but this is the same doctor that told me my daughter couldn't be having night terrors because those only happened in very young children.)

I start suggesting Kitty do some laundry (she's got several loads of very dirty laundry to get caught up on). She insists she doesn't have to do chores and it's not her laundry day, so she decides to take a nap instead. *sigh* There are some flaws in our new level system.

9:15am I write an e-mail to Hubby about all the things that need to be covered with Bear's psychiatrist in case I don't get there in time... but find out later that I didn't manage to hit send. *sigh*

9:30am Leave for Kitty's doctor appointment. Stop by the Special school to make sure they have a medication form the psychiatrist needs so the school can continue to administer his lunch meds at school, and to drop off Bear's ticket (I called the number on the back to find out what time we're supposed to be at the court house since it has an appearance date, but no time. Only to find out that the "Appearance date" is just the mail by date for his plea of No Contest, Not Guilty or requesting a trial... which is Friday. I had wanted Hubby to talk to him about it on the way to the psychiatrist.

9:40am Kitty's doctor office has you come in 20 minutes before the appointment, so we're bored in the waiting room. I start talking to a lady with a 1 and 5 yr old. The 5 yr old girl is showing off and mildly acting up (kind of playfully head butting mom, won't stop messing with mom when asked to stop). The woman grabs the little girl by the chin a couple of times and makes some threats to swat her. Kitty starts getting agitated.

10am Finally see the doctor. She decides to allow Kitty to get the ultrasound, and deigns to look at Kitty's hands when they break out in hives and itching while we're sitting in the exam room (I had to insist). Really don't like this doctor! Still not sure what caused it, but they got better after she removed her recently washed sweatshirt and washed her hands.

Bob texts me to remind me I'd promised to get her a doctor's appointment for her ear pain and cough. No health insurance for anyone but Kitty and Bear... *sigh* I get her a 1:30pm appt.

11am Kitty and I run to the MHMR and I leave her in the lobby while I step into Bear's psychiatrist appointment. We talk about Bear's not being good about taking his meds, and I request a sheet listing his diagnoses and IQ so we can take it to court (to try for community service). Bear starts insisting he'll just pay the ticket, but of course he has no job and no money. He of course always thinks that he'll get a job any minute... not that he has time to work between school, therapy and detention. Bear is just focused on the fact that he doesn't want to do community service because that is doing work for free (Hubby and I remind him that he already does volunteer work and enjoyed working at the horse therapy place - which also offers community service hours for many).

Stupid psychiatrist starts talking about how when he was 19 he got a ticket for driving a motorcycle without a helmet or a license, and it was no big deal and has no effect on his life now. I point out that Bear is graduating in 8 months and having a misdemeanor on his driving record (assuming he ever gets a license) could make the kinds of jobs Bear will qualify for very difficult to get (unlike the psychiatrist whose job would probably not be effected by something like this, especially after he got out of college).

I tell the psychiatrist I want Bear's IQ on the document for court and he doesn't understand why since Bear's IQ is average. I tell him No, Bear's IQ is borderline (I know Bear won't understand what this means), and where to look for the IQ is in Bear's records. The pdoc finds it and is surprised. He comments out loud that Bear's IQ is below average at 79. I don't know how I feel about him saying this in front of Bear. On the one hand, Bear needs to understand that he has issues and labels. On the other, is this the best way for him to hear it? Was he even listening? Does he internalize it? Is that why he was in a bad mood later?

11:45am Run by the house to pick up the lunch Kitty forgot and get her some Clair*tin for her hives.

Noon Run to the attendance office at school to get the kids a pass for class (Bear refuses to stop for one and allegedly goes directly to class). While there I brought Bear's med refills to the nurse.

Got a call from the MHMR. They're rescheduling our meeting yet again. I'd asked for this meeting the day Kitty went in the hospital so we could discuss strategies before she was released from the hospital to help us deal with her. They scheduled for Monday even though she was supposed to be home by then. They told me on Friday that they'd decided their supervisor should be there so we could "discuss services" and he couldn't meet until Thursday. Now we're supposed to meet next Monday. Kitty has a psychiatrist appointment on Thursday evening which is when she usually meets with her MHMR skills trainer. So the skills trainer just cancelled and will meet with her the following Thursday (3 weeks since the last time she saw her with a phosp visit in between). Yeah, this makes sense (sarcasm). *sigh*

12:30 I visit Grandma who lives near the kids' school, and she feeds me a sandwich. we get to chat a little about the kids and life. I end up talking to her longer than I should and I'm late picking up Bob.

1:20pm I arrive to pick up Bob, who informs me that Kitty is in the nurse's office. Kitty is sitting with Ms. V and says she can't resist the urge to self-harm. Of course it's a 20 min. drive to the pediatrician and Bob's appointment is in 10 minutes. *arrgh!* I ask Kitty to verbally contract not to harm herself. She says she can only do it if someone is watching her. The counselor, Ms. V, assures me there is an aide in the special ed class Kitty is in. I tell Kitty I'll be back in one hour when the class period ends. Then I'll see how she's doing and stay on campus until school gets out (assuming she feels she can stay).

1:35pm We zoom into the doctor's office. Luckily they aren't busy and see her right away. Not allergies, causing congestion, leading to an ear infection, after all. Just a cold (and lots of ear wax). Already healing. So good news is no antibiotic. Bad news is it cost $90 to figure that out.

2:10pm Run to local pharmacy which just opened and I have coupons! to buy D*lsym for her cough and a snack (but end up picking up a few more items since I got a free discount card). The total comes to over $100! Coupons bring it down to $80, but still way more than I thought it should be.

2:30pm Got a call from Kitty wondering where I am, and saying she's struggling so I reassure her that I'm on my way and we run. I'm assuming I'll be picking Kitty up and going home so I decide not to go by the house to drop off Bob.

2:45pm Check in with Ms. V to see how Kitty did after I left. She assures me that Kitty seemed OK. I have her call the classroom, and I convince Kitty she should stick it out to the end of the day, but if she needs me I'll be doing volunteer work in the library (standard for me - I like to stay busy). Then I vent to Ms. V for a little while until Bob comes in bored, cold and hungry. I tell her we're probably going to stay till school gets out at 4:05pm.

3:45pm I take Bob to the school library with me, but she decides to go to the car and warm up and eat the snack food we'd bought. I put library books in numerical order until school ends.

4:05pm I take Bob home. I return with Kitty to the pharmacy because they had poorly labeled the supplements I bought (looked like they were $2 each, but they were almost $12) so I returned them.

4:25pm Redirect the boys who, realizing Hubby wasn't supervising them, had decided to play Playstation instead of doing chores. Ponito does one chore and disappears with friends. Bear goes to hide in his room (claims his chores are done). Kitty grabs a snack and heads out to stalk in the back yard. I sit down at my computer and start going through e-mails, Facebook, online support groups, and yes, I play a few Facebook games.

5:30pm Hubby takes Ponito to soccer practice. Bear wants to go until Hubby fusses at him for not really doing his chores. I tell Bear he has to go because I don't like having him at home in this kind of mood.

5:35pm Kitty says she's "bored." I suggest she do some chores. She naps for awhile, and then asks to make a phone call. I get her to do a load of laundry first.

630pm Kitty wants to take a shower. I get her to switch over her laundry and allegedly pick up a little of her room floor first.

7pm Kitty's out of the shower and needs something to do. I suggest she make dinner (she likes this). She fills a huge pot with water (didn't realize until it had already been on the stove for 1/2 an hour and still wasn't boiling). She starts a movie, but wanders off after it starts (as usual).

8:30pm Noodles are finally done and Kitty has wandered off. I realize she's used up most of the ingredients I was planning on using for this meal and didn't put them on the grocery list, so there's not enough noodles and not enough noodles to make a good sauce. *sigh*

8:45pm Boys and Hubby come home wanting dinner (I'd thought they were eating out). No one likes dinner anyway so there was plenty.

9pm Finally get Kitty off to bed (so much for 8:30pm). The boys suddenly have homework (Ponito is now grounded from Playstation since this is not the first time he suddenly remembered assignments after bedtime when he'd played all afternoon).

2am So now I still need to send out e-mails to everyone, but instead I'm exhaustedly staring at my computer and blogging.

Guess I better go put dinner away and crawl in the bathtub, and then I can get a few hours sleep before tomorrow.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Chores, Responsibilities, and Other Things My Kids Can't Handle

Link to .pdf

Link to editable version of this chart

Level System vs Age-Appropriate Parenting

Kitty will be coming home from the psychiatric hospital at 4 pm today. After receiving a ton of pressure from the staff at the hospital and school to give Kitty all the privileges that normally go with being 16, I decided to create a new chore chart with the responsibilities and privileges done in levels. 

This was mostly to get them to understand WHY Kitty was not being allowed to have unsupervised dates or have a cell phone or whatever they felt she was entitled to based on her age alone. 

Kitty was so dysregulated that she was not able to handle even the most basic responsibilities.

How the Level System works:

Level privileges require daily completion of ALL the responsibilities of that level and ALL prior levels. Non-completion of ANY responsibility will move the child back to the privilege level containing that responsibility. To move up to the next level's privileges, she needs to demonstrate an ability to maintain that level's responsibilities for a period of time. 

This is not a punishment! This will hopefully demonstrate to us that she has the emotional ability to handle the privilege (for example, not having nightmares before being allowed to watch the media that I think triggers her).
{Handling Dysregulation and Meltdowns}


Self Care: hygiene, taking meds, eating meals 
Basic Safety: No meltdowns, no threatening self or others
Approved music and books, a slightly earlier bedtime, and family activities.


Personal Responsibilities: cleaning room with help and clothing chores 
Emotional Regulation: being respectful, and no gossip
Privileges: (2 days maintaining Level 1 responsibilities is required before the child can get Level 1 Privileges
Regular bedtime, less parental supervision on media{like TV and MP3 player), allowed to spend the night at Grandma's, and can go to church/Sunday School with direct supervision by an adult.

Chores will be inspected by Mom and must meet her standards. If the child is unable to accept feedback on chores, then the child will be redirected to another activity.


Chores: maintaining one of the bathrooms
Emotional Regulation: No whining
Privileges: (3 days maintenance required
Riding the school bus, having same-sex friends over, and do stuff and make choices without direct supervision (media, church...)


Kitchen Chores: but not the ones that usually trigger meltdowns
Emotional Regulation: sleeping well without nightmares (because Level 2 media privileges can potentially trigger nightmares).
Privileges: (1 week maintenance required)- 
A lot less parental monitoring.


Kitchen Chores that have been triggering in the past (ex. emptying the dishwasher)
Emotional Regulation: no dissociating or isolating.
Privileges: (2 week maintenance required) 
include a cell phone and dating
{The cell phone is what triggered this latest episode that sent her to the psych hospital}


a few more Kitchen Chores, handling her own meds, and being RRHAFTBALL.
Privileges: (1-month maintenance required) the "normal" life of a typical 16 y.o.


I'll be telling Kitty that we expect her to work her way slowly through the steps and that we expect her to maintain at about Level 2. In order to head off a meltdown, we will be putting everyone on this system for a week to show her why they are at the levels they are at. Bob will have homework as her major chore. For Bear, we'll probably change "No Whining" to "Be Where You're Supposed to Be When You're Supposed to Be There." 

She's going to hate it. She's going to protest, even though it's as concrete and positive as I can make it... but she's mentally ill, emotionally/ developmentally delayed, and this is our life. 

This level system is really just a tool to give to all the people who've been saying, "You can fix this if you just...". I do not expect it to work for us.
It does help me justify in my own head why we treat her so differently. 


Edited to add: 

How the level system worked for us:

I thought I'd written a post on my decision to throw out the level system and expectations that Kitty can ever be expected to be treated like a 17yo but apparently, I hadn't. Here it is:

Instead of using the Level System we focused on WHY Kitty was acting the way she did and providing her with more Structure and Caring Support, but more importantly, Age-Appropriate, Therapeutic Parenting

The Why: 

Low Tolerance/ Overwhelm

How We Handled It:

Simplify and Cocoon
It is sometimes necessary to simplify a child’s life a LOT to lessen the feeling of “overwhelm.”  This can be like childproofing – avoiding and removing things and events that can be triggering.  This usually means making their world smaller and lowering expectations.

Stripping the Room

One thing Kitty's therapist recommended was stripping her room. Nothing but a bed, one book, and one stuffed animal. It was NOT a punishment, and not something they could "earn" back (or actually not earn back, because my kids are afraid to be emotionally attached to things as it gives others power over them so they acted indifferent to them).
-This also made it easier for the child to keep his/ her room clean!

Parental Regulation

For a time, I even took my daughter's dresser out of her room and had her check out her clothes each day. To get clean clothes, she had to trade her dirty clothes for them (this cut way down on the wet pull-ups stuffed behind dressers and other places).

Working Together
Sending my child to "clean her room" or "do the dishes" was usually completely overwhelming for the child. But if we did it together, the child was usually able to handle it. Especially if I made it fun and more like a reward (the child gets to hang out with mom). This also helped when the child was on line-of-sight supervision.

Chore Expectations

We also cut back on the chore expectations she "should" be able to handle based on her physical age. Instead, we focused on chores that were emotionally age-appropriate. Yes, she could handle certain chores, when she was emotionally regulated, but when she was dysregulated that ability dropped to almost nothing. 

Parenting based on her emotional/ developmental age (which at the time was somewhere around 4 to 6 years old) meant she was given chores that were developmentally age-appropriate - which meant she couldn't handle the chore charts and lists that her siblings had. She usually only had two or three simple chores (empty the trash cans in the bathrooms, clean the kitty litter, bring her laundry to the laundry room). She struggled with even these.

I would break down tasks into small steps and give them to her one at a time. Instead of saying, "Clean your room," which was overwhelming and just didn't happen. I would say, "Empty your trashcan." and when that was done, then I would say, "Put your dirty clothes in your laundry basket." When that was done, I would say, "Put your laundry basket next to the washing machine." 

I find leaving notes works well when assigning chores. It's harder to argue with a piece of paper!

Parental Support

Most of the time, I would have to do these things with her (not for her, but be present in the room, often helping clean near her). This also involved helping her stay emotionally regulated. Sometimes, I would have to stop and redirect her to some other activity because she was becoming overwhelmed and agitated.

School - 
We tried to remove as many stressors as possible for her at school. Reducing or eliminating homework, making sure the teachers were aware of what was going {New School Year Letter}, getting her in smaller class sizes, limiting or removing after school activities...

Eventually, with lots of therapeutic parenting and attachment therapy, Kitty healed to the point where she could handle being given more than one step at a time (a short list with about 2-3 steps), but the chaos in her head will always be reflected in the chaos of her room. 

Parental Regulation

I still have to help her keep things organized and clean. A tendency toward hoarding will always be an issue for her. {"Adult" Boarder vs Family Girl}

I also help keep her emotionally regulated, although her need for that has lessened now that she's an adult in a relatively stable environment. {Calming Relaxation Techniques, Therapeutically Parenting the Adult Child}

Explaining Therapeutic Parenting Based on Emotional/ Developmental Age We had a long discussion with Kitty about being emotionally 6 (still ticks her off to hear that), and I told her that it wasn't fair for us to expect her to be able to handle certain responsibilities or privileges and that we felt it was cruel to dangle higher level privileges she couldn't achieve over her head.  So, therefore, I was going to stop "punishing" her for not being able to do things she wasn't ready for yet. 

I emphasized that parenting her based on her emotional age wasn't a punishment and it would have a lot of rewards.

Age-Appropriate ExpectationsSo now I have "age-appropriate" expectations for her, and she is doing better.  Every now and then she'll want something her siblings have (like any "younger" sibling would!) and we gently explain she's not ready for that.  She doesn't like it, but it is what it is. Therapeutic Parenting Based on Developmental Age

Examples of what age-appropriate parenting looks like for Kitty.. (Obviously this is not how I phrase it to Kitty when I talk about it to her:

  • She has fewer chores 
  • Her chores are very simple and concrete.  
  • She does the same chores every day instead of rotating like the other kids.  
  • She gets to go places even if she'd had a fit recently because I don't hold her accountable for her behavior like I would a teen.  
  • If I have to go to places like the grocery store I take her with me (although I try to avoid having to take her to stores and other overwhelming places).  The other kids frequently have the option to go or stay home, but you don't leave a 6-year-old at home alone.
  • She can have "play dates," but they are well-supervised.  
Finding the JoyHaving age-appropriate expectations has helped ME immensely. I'm less frustrated by her inability to do things that would be "normal" for a teen. I do have to constantly remind myself, "She's only 6!  She's only 6!  She's only 6!"

Encouraging Positive Behavior
Encouraging positive behavior in our kids can be difficult, especially when we're frustrated and exhausted. Having age-appropriate expectations can make this a little easier because it is easier for them to be successful. 

Unfortunately, rewarding/ direct praise will often have the opposite of the desired effect on our kids. {If You Find Out I'm Not Perfect, You'll LeaveOne option is to praise the child to someone else when you're sure the child will overhear. Or you can try leaving notes. Sometimes, I randomly offer a treat or activity because they've "worked so hard" and/or "everyone has been cooperative/ helpful lately." Sometimes, I'll casually drop an "Atta boy!" "Good job" -type message and quickly leave the room before they have a chance to react.   

**** A couple of months ago, Hubby gave Ponito his old phone, which has internet access, so we decided to give Kitty Ponito's old iPod.  I debated long and hard because it has texting and internet access.  I didn't think she was ready.

I was right.

Now we have to decide how to fix it.  But I'll leave that for another post.

A post regarding the comments on this post.

A post regarding Kitty's reaction to the level system.

IEP Meeting Denied

Hi Mary-

I am glad to hear that Kitty is expected to be released on Monday! I hope she is looking forward to returning to school. In order to determine the purpose of your IEP Meeting request I would like to make sure I understand your suggestions from your email.

  • Double Block math class: Kitty is in an applied Geometry class (smaller class taught by a special education teacher). This class is only offered as a double block class. The applied setting contains a smaller number of students and allows for teacher instruction and students to work on the same math skills in 180 minutes that a general education class covers in 90 minutes. I would suggest you speak with Kitty's teacher, regarding Kitty's reports to you. I understand from the Behavior Specialist, Ms. BS that she observed Kitty in this class and Kitty was on task and engaged in the learning process. Ms. BS also indicated that she will be contacting you, if she has not already done so.

{Ms. BS and I spoke. She did a version of the BASC - a behavior survey, and I think is the first and only person to actually have a good understanding of what a meltdown is and how often we see them - once or twice a day. Of course she isn't anyone who actually has much to do with Kitty. Her observations just determine if Kitty will go to the Special School. She did listen when I pointed out that observing Kitty in class, where she's working the hardest to keep it together means she won't see much.}

Ms. BS, you are welcomed to provide any feedback on this topic.

  • Nurse visits: I believe this is a behavior that staff is looking at through the functional behavior assessment.

  • Special Education Transportation: I completely understand that this might impact you negatively in Kitty's 'eyes', if you were to suggest. Typically, to qualify for special education transportation a student must be receiving services on a separate campus, has inefficient mobility skills, unable to communicate effectively, and/or have tendencies toward hyperactivity or aggression. This in no way is an exhaustive list, but I am unaware of any data showing that the general education bus has not been effective for Kitty. The Assistant Principal, Mr. AP may have further information regarding the bus.
Mr. AP, if you have information regarding Kitty that negatively impacts her ability to ride a special education bus as it relates to her educational needs, please let Mrs. Themom and I know.

  • Lunch and Hallway: This might be something Ms. Case Manager could question Kitty's teachers and lunch room monitors (the APs) by sending an email to gather information about what they see in these areas.

Ms. CM - Could you gather some feedback on this? After reviewing the suggestions, it looks as though most of this might be best handled by a parent / teacher conference or contacting the case manager or specific teachers. Are there any specific areas of the IEP that an IEP committee would discuss regarding changes to the IEP that I have overlooked? Please let me know so that we may schedule an IEP meeting.

Please keep in mind that the school will request an IEP meeting to review the assessment that is currently being completed. I look forward to hearing from you!

Sincerely, IEP Meeting Coordinator

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Letter to Kitty's teams

I’d like to officially request an IEP meeting.

We had a meeting today with Kitty’s psych hospital therapist, and I have to admit I have some BIG concerns. He’s already talked to one of her therapists, and would like to talk to someone at the school about his recommendations for how to help Kitty in school. The school psychologist said she’d contact him tomorrow. It looks like Kitty will probably be discharged on Monday.

The good news:
· They’ve reduced the sleep med that we were concerned might be triggering mania (Traz*done - 300mg to 100mg), and she’s slept a full 8 hours for the last couple of nights.
· She’s increased the new mood stabilizer, Dep*kote, from 250mg to 750mg with no apparent negative side effects.

The bad news:
· The self harming behavior is increasing. She’s actually leaving marks with her nails, and she’s now restricted from using pencils without supervision because she’s been using them to hurt herself.
· She appears to be in a constant fight/flight/freeze mode, and very hyper. She said others have been commenting on her mood swings, and she made several aggressive, nasty comments in the short time she tolerated our presence before demanding to be allowed to go back to her friends. {I left the hospital practically in tears. We'd just had a great session with Kitty's therapist who really "gets it," and he was totally reassured that we were good therapeutic parents... and then we met with Kitty and she was even worse than she's been the last few weeks. She blamed everything on us, and was obviously LOVING the kids at the hospital and getting tons of validation. She was reinforcing all the negatives and reasons she wanted to leave home and didn't want to come home. When I called her later she continued with the diatribe and was angry because she feels I'm discounting her feelings by saying it's her "perception" when she says things like, "Daddy thinks I'm ugly" or "You're punishing me for having issues." Plus, I get "everyone" on my side - "everyone" being the "therapist and my friends."}
· She presents to the therapist at about a 10 yr old maturity level (which coincides with our estimate) and this is about the level of responsibility she seems to be able to handle (except for those chores/issues that are trauma triggers which cause her to react in a fight, flight or freeze manner), but she is adamant that she must have “16 year old” privileges, even though she often admits she doesn’t want the responsibilities that come with them. She is constantly comparing herself negatively to her super responsible, mature, YOUNGER sister Bob who is in the same grade at school.
· She is forming friendships at the hospital with the same kinds of kids she’s attracted to at school. Our current theory is that because of her black and white thinking, she is attracted to “bad boys” because they make her feel like a “good girl,” they are tolerant of her issues because they have issues of their own, they make her feel part of the group, and they validate her feelings about us (we are “overly strict, over-protective, we care about the other kids more than her…”) which justifies her pushing us away and the feelings of anger that she has against her “mother” (which she takes out on me).
· She is blaming EVERYthing on Hubby and me (with some special hate for Bob), especially because she is really afraid if she admits any problem at school it will mean she’ll end up in the special school.


  • Kitty had some ideas on how school could be more comfortable for her. Apparently she ends every day with the double block of math, which she says means she goes home all stressed out. She said this class is too loud and chaotic and ends her day on a stressful note, which means she has no reserves left for dealing with the rest of the day.

  • She also doesn’t think she needs the double block of math. That of course is up to her math teacher.

  • Of course most of her visits to the nurse, including the day she wet her pants, have been earlier in the day.

  • She continues to have big issues with social skills. The boy, she is accusing of teasing her by calling her “ugly,” rides her bus. As does the senior boy who is into “shrooms” that she is highly attracted to. She continues to spread rumors about Bob and accuse Bob of spreading rumors about her. My personal feeling is that the unstructured time on the bus to and from school is a huge source of stress and until she can get some help improving these skills, maybe we should consider having her on the special ed bus. As you can imagine she would be highly against this option, and if it’s considered I would greatly appreciate if it was not attributed to me.

  • Lunch seems to also be a big source of stress for her for the same reason. Time in the hallway too. (Ms. V, the school guidance counselor, relayed a story of hearing Kitty announce to a friend that she was pregnant. It was possible she was joking, but Ms. V was too far away to talk to her about it. I asked Kitty about it, and she denied the incident, but seemed to understand that even if she was joking, all the people who overhear her when she’s teasing and joking like this don’t always know she’s trying to tease (or that she can’t handle being teased in return).

  • The therapist is suggesting we start the ball rolling on getting her into residential treatment (since the only place that accepts Medic*id has a 6-9 month waiting period). He’s also suggested partial day hospitalization/ intensive out patient, but her insurance does not cover this. He is not familiar with the special school so didn’t feel comfortable making this recommendation.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Kitty is in Psych Hospital again

Sunday after a rough day at Sunday School (something about Bear teasing her - threatening to go to her Sunday School class next week) she returned to Grandma’s house (where she’d spent the night the night before). She claimed she didn’t feel well and took a nap. I woke her for lunch and after she ate a little she went back to sleep.

At 3pm we sent Bob in to let her know she needed to clean up the room because it was time to go home. She refused so Hubby went in to get her. She started yelling at him for getting her up when she wasn’t feeling well. She was pretty irrational (screaming, crying, threatening to hurt herself and claiming we hate her) and started claiming that Hubby was yelling at her and threatening her (he wasn’t, although at one point he had told her if she didn’t get in the car he would carry her out, which she chose to perceive as a threat).

She did eventually get in the car with me. Everyone else went with Hubby (he took Bob to buy a cell phone, which Kitty was HIGHLY jealous about).

She and I made it home, but when I told her she still needed to do her chores (which she’s been avoiding all week) before she would be allowed to watch TV, and that she couldn’t just nap all evening… she started ramping up again. She also started talking about having a headache again, but never once asked for Tylenol (the “pain” disappeared again quickly when the pressure was off). When I also mentioned that I thought it would also be a good idea to apologize to Hubby and offer restitution, she got even more upset and started verbally attacking me in addition to ranting about him.

When I still wouldn’t escalate with her, she demanded to talk to her skills trainer. I happily gave her the number, but the skills trainer didn’t answer. Kitty then tried her MHMR caseworker, and told her she was feeling suicidal (Kitty hadn’t told me this before so I was caught by surprise). The CW told her to call the Crisis unit, and Kitty informed the person she spoke to there that her feelings of suicide were about a 4 on a scale of 1 to 10.

Kitty requested to be admitted to the psych hospital. After checking with me, the Crisis counselor offered to contact a psych hospital about an hour away if I would contact the closer one. Kitty wanted the closer one because it was familiar, I was half hoping for the other in cases we might get better results than we have the last 3 times she's been there.

I put Kitty on the “4 foot rule” (she has to stay within line of sight of a parent). She became quiet and calm and even cuddled with me for awhile. The local psych hospital said they had no beds, but expected to have an opening the next day because they usually have quite a few discharges on Mondays. The Crisis person did come out and talk to Kitty, during which Kitty remained calm, but still wanted to go to the hospital (although not the one that was farther away because she’d never been there before). Kitty took her meds and went to bed early.

I kept Kitty home from school and contacted the psych hospital the next morning. They had an opening. On the way there I reinforced with Kitty that she NEEDS to let them know what's going on, and not just pretend she's all better because she wants to come home. She was in the hospital less than 6 months ago, and we want her to get the help she needs to stay out!

Of course when we got there she didn't mention the nightmare. Then when I brought it up she started talking about ALL the nightmares she's been having about killing herself! In addition to the one about stabbing herself in the stomach with a knife that she'd been having when Hubby woke her up Sunday afternoon (which she'd mentioned to the crisis person), she talked about all the others in which she'd shot herself in the head, jumped off a cliff, drowned... I was trying not to show how shocked I was. She hadn't mentioned ANY nightmares before, probably because she was afraid I'd send her to the hospital, but I do believe her. No wonder she hasn't been sleeping!

She also admitted that she feels most of the time that no one cares if she lives or dies so she might as well die. She is adamant that she is unloved. I did know she was unhappy, unstable and escalating, but until she spoke to her caseworker, I honestly didn’t think she was suicidal or I would have jumped at the chance to get her hospitalized. She has been so emotionally unstable she was almost impossible to live with, but the hospital won't take her unless she is suicidal, homicidal or psychotic.

She’s been on edge for months now. Following the directions of her psychiatrist, we reduced her Traz*done (her sleep med which is also an anti-depressant in higher doses and can trigger mania in a person with bipolar) on Wednesday in case it was contributing to her mania and sleeplessness, and she started on low dose of Depak*te two days later (couldn't do it sooner because we don't want to make a lot of changes all at once or we won't know what's working or causing side-effects). She’s still wasn't sleeping well.

She’s also been talking obsessively (and non-stop) about a boy on her bus who is calling her ugly and teasing her, and a senior boy she has a crush on who is defending her, but also teasing her for being a “goody goody.” She is highly defensive about her relationship with the senior boy whom she likes, and it bothers her a lot that I do not approve of him because he teases her, encourages her to feel that her life is too restricted, and she told me he used to “do ‘shrooms.”

Her perception is so distorted that she thinks an off-hand comment Hubby made about whether or not Cleopatra was really beautiful (like she's portrayed on TV), as him saying that Kitty is ugly?! Under my breath to Hubby, I had called her Cleopatra (the queen of DeNial) and Bob had accidentally overheard and caught the reference. Kitty wanted to know what we were talking about, and I said Kitty reminded me of Cleopatra the Queen of Egypt. When Kitty started crowing about being beautiful (in a way that intentionally tried to slam Bob), Hubby had made the comment about how did she know Cleopatra was beautiful.

In Kitty's black and white world, if Bob is pretty then Kitty is ugly. She cannot seem to accept that we think both girls are beautiful in different ways. She's looking for the insults, and like an anorexic person refuses to believe she's not fat (or ugly). Bob is tired of arguing and has decided to just agree with Kitty, but I'm trying to stop this (because Kitty takes it at face value).

So Kitty seems to be doing well at the hospital. We don't hold a lot of hope for what she'll be like when she gets home because she'll be surrounded by teens reinforcing her belief that we're overly strict parents who don't love her, but she does seem to be responding positively to the reduction in Traz*done and claims she slept 8 hours last night.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Glass of water

A fellow trauma mama sent me this:


A young lady confidently walked around the room while leading and explaining stress management to an audience; with a raised glass of water, and everyone knew she was going to ask the ultimate question, 'half empty or half full?'..... she fooled them all... "How heavy is this glass of water?", she inquired with a smile.

Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz


She replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that's not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you'll have to call an ambulance. In each case it's the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes." She continued, "and that's the way it is with stress. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won't be able to carry on."

"As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we're refreshed, we can carry on with the burden - holding stress longer and better each time practiced. So, as early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don't carry them through the evening and into the night... pick them up tomorrow.

Whatever burdens you're carrying now, let them down for a moment. Relax, pick them up later after you've rested. Life is short. Enjoy it and the now 'supposed' stress that you've conquered!"


I think that just like holding that glass of water, we get used to the weight over time and it becomes normal to stand there holding a glass of water… or a tray of water glasses… eventually I think we look up and realize we’re juggling gallons of water without breaking a sweat as though that were normal and expected.

So many people trivialize what we do, I mean, duh, anyone can hold a glass of water or even bring in a couple of jugs of water from the car after doing the shopping. What they don’t realize is that we’re not putting the water down. We hold it in the middle of the night when it’s screaming. We fix it if it spills or breaks (yesterday, I had to bring clean clothes to my 16 yo when she had a potty accident at school). We stand there and hold it while we’re being screamed and cursed at or even beaten.

Most of these people who trivialize are focused on only one glass and don’t even notice our juggling act. Worse, they often start critiquing us. Still others just say, wow, I couldn’t do that, put us on a pedestal… and walk away.

I have found that it’s ME who tends to add water, no one else. Yes, I realize that I didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I first picked up that glass (or glasses), but now it feels like I can never put them down. Thanks for the reminder that we can put the glass down, or even just hand it to someone else who “gets it” for a short period of time.

That’s why I love being part of this community. All of you understand that this is HARD, and even if you aren’t able to lighten my load, just having someone who really understands because they’ve carried a similar load, makes a huge difference. So THANKS for the reminder fellow trauma mama, and thanks to everyone else who read on while I beat this metaphor to death!


1 * Accept the fact that some days you're the pigeon, and some days you're the statue!

2 * Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.


4 * Drive carefully... It's not only cars that can be recalled by their Maker.

5 * If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.

6 * If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.

7 * It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.

8 * Never buy a car you can't push.

9 * Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you won't have a leg to stand on.

10 * Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance.

11 * Since it's the early worm that gets eaten by the bird, sleep late.

12 * The second mouse gets the cheese.

13 * When everything's coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.

14 * Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.

15 * You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.

16 * Some mistakes are too much fun to make only once.

17 * We could learn a lot from crayons. Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull. Some have weird names and all are different colors, but they all have to live in the same box.

18 * A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.

19 * Have an awesome day and know that someone has thought about you today.

20 * It was me, your friend!*

Save the earth ... it's the only planet with chocolate!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Kitty meltdowns

Ok, Kitty’s meltdowns are getting more intense and the “flipping a switch” thing really freaks me out. I would be ecstatic if I thought it were her getting more control over her emotions, but it feels more like dissociation. After she’s flipped the switch, she usually can’t even tell you what happened, let alone what she was upset about.

The somatic illnesses are already interfering with school. I’ve taken her home from school twice and finally told her that she would have to stay even though she didn’t feel well. She’s called me almost daily from a classroom, but isn’t going to the nurse anymore. I did talk to the guidance counselor about learning the calming techniques from the Skills Trainer, and she knew Kitty might come to her, but knew nothing about Skills Trainer (I gave her the contact info).

Kitty's still not sleeping well. I don’t think she gets quite as little sleep as she claims (1-2 hours a night), but she’s definitely not getting a full 8 hours. I’ve been working with the new psychiatrist to adjust her sleep meds, but the new pdoc is not comfortable making a lot of changes since she doesn’t really know Kitty. The last time I spoke to her we discussed increasing the Traz*done (in low doses is used for sleep, but in higher doses like Kitty is taking it is used as an anti-depressant) from 300mg to 350 or even 400mg, but she suggested we try 2mg of Melat*nin since we haven’t used it in awhile. We tried up to 6mg of Melat*nin with no effect at all. I contacted the pdoc, but she had changed her mind about increasing the Traz*done, and honestly I’m starting to wonder if the Traz*done isn’t triggering mania – which could cause the lack of sleep and increase in meltdowns.

Yesterday Kitty was told that we’d decided she wasn’t ready for a cell phone (the day before we had gone to the phone store and told her we were considering it for all the kids because Bob and Ponito are getting to the point where they need one because of all their extra-curricular activities). She had the expected meltdown - wailed and cried, whined and moaned, got verbally abusive, ran out of the room…. but Hubby followed her and was able to get her calmed down enough to get in the car (we were at Grandma’s and we needed to go home). In the car she began biting her arm (she claimed she was removing dead skin with her teeth because her nails were too sharp) and sucking on her finger, she was a little verbally nasty, but no one would engage.

Then we got home, she wanted to get on the computer but was told she had to finish chores first. She started screaming and crying and saying her chores were unfair (2 weeks ago she’d demanded “sixteen year old chores” so she could have more teen privileges – like watching PG-13 movies. I’d assigned her the main bathroom and the kitchen, including a couple of loads of dishes). She said some rude things and went to her room.

A few minutes later she’d “flipped the switch” and tried to apologize to Hubby. Hubby told her he did not accept her apology because he was tired of her having a meltdown and then acting like her behavior didn’t matter and all was forgotten… especially since she was just going to repeat it. Not accepting her apology is apparently a trauma trigger for Kitty. Apparently it’s something that Kitty’s foster mom did to her on occasion. Kitty flipped and ran outside. Hubby followed and tried to calm her, but had to leave to take everyone to Ponito’s soccer game. Kitty and I were going to an adoption group social gathering about 20 minutes later.

Kitty came to the back door and seemed calm, but a minute later she was storming out the backyard side gate. I went to the front door to see what was going on and she told me that Hubby had locked her out of the house so she was running away. I called her back and talked to her about the fact that the back door sticks all the time, and Daddy wouldn’t do that on purpose. Unfortunately when we checked, Hubby HAD apparently automatically locked the door. I got her regulated enough to keep her from running while I called Hubby, but was unable to reach him. She requested to talk to her skills trainer, and I agreed, but asked her to wait while I tried to reach Hubby once more and we had gotten in the car to leave for the meeting.

I was worried that if I hadn’t talked to Hubby yet, that she’d use that as an excuse to escalate during the conversation with the skills trainer who advocates that we treat Kitty more like a "typical teen" which makes Kitty feel justified in her entitlement. She returned a couple of videos for me, and while she was out of the car I tried calling Hubby one more time but still couldn’t reach him. I told her she could call call the skills trainer, but she’d flipped the switch and didn’t want to anymore.

She had a great time at the meeting, playing with all the little kids. Tears gone, no one had a clue that I’d been considering driving straight to the psych hospital instead of the meeting. On the way home she started making threats again (“If we’re having leftovers for dinner, then I’m going to scream! I’d rather starve.”), but since she’d eaten quite a bit at the meeting I wasn’t too worried.

We got home and she demanded to get on the computer again, and I reminded her she still had chores to do. She made a small attempt, but when she told me she was done, without getting up, I listed some of the things I suspected she hadn’t done. She hadn’t. A few minutes later she demanded I check. When I went to check she hadn’t finished the job (still food on the counters she was supposed to wipe, the cleaning supplies were still out, there were still items on the counter she’d already been reminded to put away…).

A few minutes later she demanded I come check her chores again, but I told her I was eating, and she would have to wait). When I was ready I checked again and she STILL hadn’t completed the few tasks I’d given her – when I commented on the rags and pitchers that were still out, she said, she “forgot.” I left the room again (staying in the room usually causes her to feel nagged and escalate). A few minutes later, she insisted she was done and demanded I check. This time I told her I was busy and quite frankly tired of being a therapeutic parent at the moment.

She went into a dark room and pouted for about 10 minutes. It was after 8pm at this point (bedtime is 9pm) so I told her she could take her meds and get in the shower or take her meds and go to bed (since she hasn’t slept much she could go to bed early). She started insisting she was hungry, but I reminded her she’d eaten a lot at the meeting and said she wasn’t hungry (we’ve been talking a lot about emotional eating). She wasn’t happy, but she decided to go to bed. This morning she hugged me and went off to school as though nothing had happened.

I checked the chores after she went to bed and they still weren’t done well. *sigh* I’m NOT a super picky person y’all. We’re talking food spills, used utensils and dishes still on the counters, items I’d specifically reminded her needed to be put away still out…

She has an appointment Wednesday with the new pdoc. Don't even know what to ask for.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


I'm still not sleeping (not in bed before 3 am in forever). I thought I'd narrowed down what I was allergic to to my laundry detergent, but it's 3 weeks later and the itchy rash is still there. Since now it's mostly my scalp, neck and pointer fingers, I'm going to assume it's my shampoo, even though I've been using the same shampoo/conditioner for forever. Maybe they reformulated.

We're still in no danger from the fires, but you can definitely smell the smoke and all of us are suffering from allergies (it's allergy season anyway). Kitty especially has been miserable (she hasn't been eating allergy cookies!). I told her earlier this week that unless she has a fever, rash or vomiting (or the equvalent) then she can rest, but she'll need to go back to class. We were in danger of truancy at the rate she was going.

... so of course Bob called me the next morning and asked to come home from school. Honestly I think it had more to do with some homework she hadn't completed, and all the tests she had that day (she said she was ready for the tests, but since she didn't feel good she was afraid it might cause her to lose concentration and not do well). I debated, but finally decided that Bob NEVER does this and she won't take advantage of it (unlike some of the other kids -if you give them an inch they demand a mile), so I brought her home.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Bear's IEP

Bear is only at the special school for his first period class each day. We had an ARD this morning and they decided to keep his schedule as is (Special Ed - English, Government, Reading and Speech, a PE that's mostly field trips, and Vocational classes - Metal working, Small Animal Management and Auto Shop) since it seems to be classes he'll benefit from, but quite honestly we believe the main reason was because they ran out of time. The teachers all had to get back to their classrooms (the team had to take a lot of time walking Bear through all the paperwork requesting a new FIE (full school evaluation including IQ, academics, and behavior} and IEP meeting procedures because he’s an "adult" now). I think Bear knows he needs the structure too (he even asked if he could continue with ISS or have to sit with the FOCUS staff/ principal at lunch daily!). He’ll be in ISS {In-School Suspension} until the “investigation is complete” which means through Wednesday at least.

FYI, Bear did advocate for himself. He stated that his Applied Government class was too easy and since history was his best subject, he requested to go into regular ed with inclusion. Everyone politely told him that he doesn’t have the skills needed that all seniors have developed over the last 4 years (analytical writing and note taking were but two examples given). It was suggested that the school will request that his current teacher “step it up a notch.” Bear disagrees that he's behind and thinks he can do it. I reminded him of what they said, then just backed off.

Bear reads and writes on a 5th grade level at best. He doesn’t have math or science classes this year because he's met all the requirements. He agreed to the FIE testing, even after he was told it wasn’t required until December 2012, because he was told it might help him with getting services and getting into college. Somehow he did manage to pass all the standardized state testing last year (we didn’t see his scores)?

Bear basically said at the IEP meeting that this behavior “wouldn’t happen again,” but he’s said that a thousand times before. Bear’s school case manager (and former teacher) said Bear has lied so many times he doesn’t believe him anymore, but he’d go along with the IEP team’s decision. Bear’s regular ed teacher (the last period class that Bear missed because of the car accident) said of the 4 times Bear was supposed to come to class he’s only made it for the whole class once, and even during that class he was asking to go call Hubby because he was trying to arrange things before the football game (he lied and said Hubby had called him). The teacher said if Bear wants to continue in his class, auto mechanics, then he has to show up on time every day and stay the whole period. Hubby and I agree that based on what everyone is saying, that if we’d had even 20 more minutes, Bear would probably be back at the special school half time like last year.

Honestly I don’t believe this schedule is in Bear’s best interest, but at this time I’m also looking at what in the world is going to happen to Bear when the school mascot team/football stuff is over and we lose our leverage on him running away (Hubby said if he doesn’t live with us then he’s off the team). Hubby thinks he’ll just move out and drop out of school.

Quite frankly I’m terrified at what’s going to become of Bear. He can’t hold a job (he gets bored and scared so he acts out). He’s not bright enough to go to community college and probably not to technical school either. He’s unable to accept the structure and family support we know he needs. I think we need to have him assessed for a group home, but don’t know what the criteria would be or how to go about it. We’ve looked at legal guardianship in the past, but I doubt his psychiatrist has changed his mind about wanting Bear to “fall on his face” first, and honestly if we’d had legal guardianship than this whole car thing could become a financial nightmare. I think Bear needs to be court mandated that he has to be on meds, but in reality, most of what’s been going on has been while he’s ON his meds!

We have started him on the Conc*rta and it didn’t seem to cause the scary side effects that the non stimulant ADD meds did (vomiting/diarrhea, facial tics, uncontrollable body movements, acting as though he were on speed…). He did seem a little more jittery than usual, but honestly that could have been purely circumstantial. It’s not like he’s not under a lot of stress! I’m still hearing the slurred speech on occasion too (he claimed the morning of the IEP meeting that it was because he had a dry mouth).

So that's where we're at with Bear. For now we're kind of ignoring what happened, although last night he wanted to go to an FFA meeting and Hubby was working (gotta make up for the time spent at the school), and I needed to supervise everyone and make dinner. He said something about not being able to get a ride, so I didn't have to remind him that we don't allow our kids to ride with people under 21 (did remind Hubby). He asked what I was going to do about it, and I reminded him that not only did I have other stuff to do, but he's on in-school suspension so I don't think he's supposed to be going to school activities, especially not unsupervised.


Got a call from the parents of the girl whose car Bear wrecked. They want us to pay their $500 deductible. Which is actually pretty reasonable, but they want the money now, and they want it from Hubby and I (since Bear is a dependent they believe we're legally responsible. Need to call Pre-paid Legal and check that. *sigh*). We don't have the money to pay it, or the tickets either.

Bear insists he can get a job at the local grocery store near his school. I told him he needs to find a job near his home and he tried to say that no one was hiring (then he claimed that the only job the local grocery store was offering was a shift that ended at 4am). Truth is he wants an excuse to not have to come home on the bus and he thinks he and a friend are getting an apartment near the school.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Kitty's IEP meeting

As expected, we didn’t get Kitty into the special school, yet. They tried to claim that she was “obviously back to normal,” by pointing to her bright affect compared to “Puddle” of last year. Hubby said he wished to make note that we completely disagree with that statement. As soon as he started talking, Kitty just sagged (laid her head down and looked like she was going to cry). Her school case manager stopped the conversation and asked if it was OK to have Kitty wait in the lobby until we were ready to talk about her schedule. We all agreed (I know I was relieved!) so she stepped out with the MHMR case manager, who is a useless lump anyway (nice lady I’m sure, but has nothing to contribute).

{I talked to Kitty on the way home about why she got upset and she said she felt criticized by Hubby. I reminded her that she doesn’t want to be in regular ed with inclusion help, and we were just trying to let the school know that she still needs the support of Applied classes (smaller class that teach only "core" material). That she HAS come a long way, but we know she agrees that she’s not ready to jump right in to regular ed. I explained that we do still believe she would do better at the special school, but as that’s not an option right now, we would make sure she was getting what she needs. I can’t tell if she felt better, or just flipped the switch, and shut the feelings off.}

Basically the school put her in all Applied core classes (special ed). Her electives are small too. She’s in a Leadership class which has only 13 kids instead of PE. She’s in Reading 180 which is general ed, but smaller and highly personalized. We’re on record as letting them know that is not enough. She’s signed up for testing - FIE, FBA, and counseling… without which she can’t get any more services. They’re supposed to start the testing this coming week.

We do have a new “Crisis plan” – that basically says if Kitty’s not feeling well then she’ll request the school behavior staff to come and assess whether or not she should go to the nurse. If she is feeling stressed or overwhelmed then she can request the behavior staff to take her to the guidance counselor who will be trained in calming techniques by Kitty’s skills trainer. Last Friday she’d gone to the nurse (and I ended up taking her home). Tuesday morning (day of the IEP meeting) she went to the nurse with a sore throat. The IEP committee decided it was just stress from being in the wrong classes (she had 2 regular ed classes with inclusion help and some larger classes, like PE).

So we changed all her classes on Tuesday, but on Thursday she went to the nurse because she was tired, and I ended up taking her home. She hasn’t slept well in weeks. Will be talking to the school about the fact that the “Crisis plan” doesn’t go far enough. Basically she’s exhausted, has a sore throat, or headache… things that behavior staff and the nurse can’t prove or disprove. The nurse lets her rest, but there’s no step in the plan for getting her back to class. We’re right back where we ended the school year, only this time we have no note from the psychiatrist so we’re in danger of truancy.

Her new psychiatrist (met her a week and a half ago is refusing to make any med changes until she has a chance to review Kitty's files and that won’t be until her next appointment. We called her earlier this week and told her that Kitty hasn’t slept in days and she did say we could go up on the Traz*done (anti-depressant/sleep med) after we try putting Kitty back on Melat*nin (over the counter sleep med). Melat*nin didn’t work, but the pdoc hasn’t called in a new prescription for Kitty so we’re out of Traz*done (I hate holiday weekends). I’m kind of afraid to give it to Kitty anyway because she’s showing increasing levels of mania.

I’m starting to wonder if what we thought was ADHD when she’d occasionally miss her morning meds was actually mania, since she’s been off Conc*rta all Summer and we haven’t seen the hyperactivity. Now with the stress of school we’re really starting to see it again. She is chattering nonstop. She is also super sensitive to everything and the meltdowns are increasing. Of course that could be blamed on the lack of sleep, which could also be caused by mania, or of course by stress. Maybe one of her meds has stopped working or isn’t as effective. Something else to talk to the new pdoc about on Tuesday.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Bear's joyride

This is my description of what happened. I sent it to Bear's assistant principal at his regular high school, the principal of his special school, his therapist, and the psychiatrist's liaison (he met a new MHMR caseworker just that morning, because he lost his old casemanager/skills trainer when he aged out of the child side of the program. The new caseworker decided he would be placed at the most basic level because he's not homeless, actively suicidal or homicidal or psychotic. So we are not assigned a caseworker, we just get whoever is available if/when we come in. I'd talked to her on the phone (along with a dozen other people) and she wasn't any help.

I was on campus (dropping off paperwork and picking up “sick” Kitty) when around 2:20pm, I saw Bear in the hallway in front of the AP office with a group of kids, one of whom I recognized as a kid Bear claims is a drug dealer {and Kitty finds wildly attractive}. I’m pretty sure Bear saw me, but he ignored me. I went to the nurse’s office and was told Bear hadn’t taken his midday meds (– a mood stabilizer, anti-anxiety/ADD med, and an anti-depressant), and because he was planning on going straight to the game after school {Bear is on a team that drags a 750lb metal mascot around the field every time their team scores. It is approved by the school and has a faculty liaison, but is run by the parent of one of the kids, and the teacher rarely actually supervises}, he couldn’t just take the meds at home if he missed them.

I went out and looked for Bear in the hallway to remind him, but he was gone. The SRO {police officer that is permanently on campus - it's a BIG high school} happened by, and I asked him to send Bear to the nurse if he saw him {How sad is it that on a campus of 3000 kids he knows Bear by sight}. I then asked the nurse to have Bear pulled from class if he didn’t remember to come in (lunch ended at 2:30pm) and left with Kitty.

3pm the nurse called me to say she couldn’t find him and I started calling around the school to see if she’d sent the aide to the wrong class because of his new schedule, but I couldn’t get hold of anyone. About 3:30pm I got a call from Bear saying he’d been in a car accident (he was so upset I couldn’t understand him at first). He had first called Ms. C {neighbor and family friend}, because he hadn’t wanted us to know. She came to the Sonic on near the school, where he’d hit a post and some landscaping with a girl named K’s car. Ms. C apparently talked him into calling me.

The police were already there when he called me (Sonic manager called them). Bear does not have a driver's permit or a license, and therefore is not on our insurance. He told the police he did not have any photo id, but eventually got out his Texas ID card and his school ID. When the police officer confronted him, he claimed he forgot he had it. He did receive a ticket for driving without a license. There were no other legal consequences because this happened on private property.

Within minutes of talking to me, he started yelling that he was going to the game (he brought it up and was already yelling at me before I even agreed with him that it was probably not going to be an option), and that he was never coming home again.

Ms. C and I both spent quite a bit of time trying to calm him down and explaining that running away wasn’t going to solve anything and he needed to come home. He mentioned going to live with one of his teammates. I told him he had to take his meds (he knows quitting cold turkey could kill him) and I couldn’t in good conscience give them to this kid (administration of his many meds is incredibly complex and lately Bear has shown a tendency to take them or not take them any way he wants – I found over 40 tabs of his anti-depressant/sleep med in his room this weekend and several doses of his other meds – one of the reasons he ran away). He then said something about going back to stay with the family of a girl in the neighborhood again (she lives across the street from Ms. C who I do trust with his meds because of her own kids’ meds, and who had been administering his meds when he ran away at the beginning of this week). Hubby said the police officer reprimanded him for being verbally abusive on the phone.

I called Hubby and he headed over there. The police took the names of the students in the car with Bear and took them back to school. Bear apparently texted his last period teacher to tell him he’d be late because he’d been in an accident.

The girl Bear borrowed the car from, came over after school ended. Originally she told the police that she’d only given Bear the keys to get something out of the car. She later confessed to the police (out of earshot of her mom) that she’d loaned him the car. Apparently not only is this not the first time Bear has driven someone else’s car off campus, but it wasn’t even the first time that day?! The girl’s mom arrived and was apparently VERY IRATE. This family is a very close neighbor. Bear dated and dumped the girl's sister, who then “stalked him and threatened him.” I talked to the mom once when Bear started dating the sister and once when she came over to retrieve the girl’s phone that Bear had “borrowed.” We are not her favorite people. Her fiancĂ© was there as well and is a former manager of Hubby’s. *sigh*

Hubby informed the mom that Bear is 18 now and this is his problem. The damage to the car will most likely be covered by their insurance. Hubby says the Sonic manager just wanted Bear to leave, so maybe there won’t be financial consequences there.

Bear had money for food at Sonic and on his person that we don’t know where it came from. As of Sunday he was broke. Little nervous about where he got the money.

Hubby decided to allow Bear to go to the football game. While waiting for the game to start, they talked about relationships and running away. Bear believes we should be royally pissed at him (we’re not), and this terrifies him and he cares what we think, so he is running away.

Hubby had told Bear that if he left home we would take him off the mascot team. Bear had already contacted the dad of the Ms. C's neighbors that he wanted to stay with, for a ride to the game (I thanked him when he showed up at our house and sent him off).

All his teammates told Bear he'd made a bad choice and is jeopardizing his spot on the team, but after making him sit out for 2 scores they let him participate (they were short handed).

Bear threw up at Sonic and after the game. He has told me that he frequently does this when he’s overheated and stressed (he was both). He told the school's assistant principal (Mr. AP) that he threw up at Sonic because he'd been dipping and drunk a milkshake (then realized he'd just confessed to dipping again and tried to retract it).

At game, Bear disappeared at halftime and when Hubby found him he was talking to the drug dealing kid who had been in the car. Mr. AP had a chance to briefly talk to Bear at the game.

We’d met with the psychiatrist that morning. He basically told Bear that he needs to continue to take the anti-depressant/mood stabilizer, but he can drop to 1 ½ tabs if it’s making him groggy. Bear took two tabs with his other meds last night at 10pm when he got home. Hubby woke him up at 8am, but he went back to sleep. I woke him up again 5 minutes before his bus was due (8:30am), and he got his meds and made it on the bus. He never did get his midday meds yesterday.

We’re not sure what to do because Bear is obviously not prepared for getting a job and living on his own in less than 9 months. Pulling him out of the vocational classes {to put him in the special school longer each day} seems counterproductive toward that goal, but at the same time he obviously needs more supervision. Most of his problems seem to be focused around lunch hour, so possibly ISS {In-School Suspension} or shifting his schedule so that he is at the special school over the lunch period? Maybe being at the special school in the afternoon on A days so he can keep the vocational metal working class? We’re leaving this up to you guys to work this out. We’ll keep you posted and see you at the IEP meeting on Tuesday! Good luck!


Hubby and I had a long discussion about consequences. Hubby suggested he write out all the laws he'd broken, and what could have happened (if he'd hit another car or a person for example). I thought about it and felt that if WE give Bear consequences then Bear will focus on US being "mean" to him, rather than taking ownership of his actions and being accountable. I'm thinking a "Love and Logic" approach might work well for us here. Empathy: "Wow, that really sucks!" and Accountability: "So what are you going to do about it?"

Plus, the list is already pretty extensive as to what his consequences will be.

Bear's natural consequences so far:

  1. Ticket for driving without a license - fines, and could delay getting his license- if he ever can.

  2. Trouble with his teammates, and possibly being kicked off the team.

  3. Teammates aware that him as a possible roommate is not a good choice.

  4. Ticket for "Disruption of Class" - just found out that Bear and another girl, entered the classroom of the car owner to get the keys to the car and "persuaded" her to give them the keys. The SRO decided to give them both a citation.

  5. ISS - In-School Suspension while at the regular ed school while Mr. AP investigates, which could take several days as he has many other duties, including attending IEP meetings!

  6. Sonic and the girl's family might decide to sue for damages. Harder with the girl, since she confessed to letting Bear drive the car (not just on this occasion), but if he didn't tell her he doesn't even have a learner's permit she might have a case.

  7. Possibly going back to special school for more classes, which means he'll most likely lose his vocational classes which he enjoys.

  8. Suspension of his Senior privileges (which includes going off campus for lunch).

  9. Loss of trust with his parents, siblings, LOTS of people - fewer unsupervised activities.


Mr. AP let me know that he's still continuing his investigation, but he did find some new facts.

  • Bear let it slip that he's been dipping again. He claimed he threw up at Sonic because of the dipping and drinking a milkshake, instead of the heat and stress.

  • He also confessed to leaving campus with the girl on Tuesday and Wednesday and driving to McD's. Even though the girl was with him, he drove both times.

  • He did leave campus twice that day, and was seriously late to one of his classes (possibly absent, but the teacher hasn't turned in attendance yet).

  • Bear seems to be contrite and "get" that what he did was wrong. Mr. AP acknowledged that while Bear knew he needed to think twice (or 4 times) before he acted, that in reality, Bear doesn't seem capable of even stopping to think ONCE. *sigh*