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, November 29, 2012

Entrenching Deeper into Distorted Reality


It feels like we're stuck. At a recent therapy session, we spent the entire session talking about Kitty's relationship with Hubby (or lack thereof).  Kitty's distorted perception means she sees him as being hyper critical all the time.  Hubby's parenting style tends to be a bit quiet, a little sarcastic, a bit authoritative, and very laid back.  He tones it WAAAAYYYY down with Kitty, because she can't handle it at all, but she still sees all interactions through this skewed filter.

For Christmas last year, Santa brought the kids a Wii system and a couple of games.  Honestly the kids don't play it a lot (they say it's because of the limited game choices), but partially it's because it's set up on the main TV screen and if you want to play, then no one else can be watching TV.  In the car, Kitty started complaining that Ponito was playing Wii in the mornings so she couldn't watch her shows.  Hubby said something along the lines of, "Heaven forbid, someone doesn't get to watch TV!"

Kitty took this to mean that he thought she was self-centered, and for the next two days ran around to her teachers and family asking them if they thought she was self-centered (they of course all answered no, of course not).  Of course the reality is that she IS self-centered in a totally oblivious to the wants and needs of others kind of way (not so much that she thinks the world revolves around her). Immediately after the incident though, she just shut down and spent most of the rest of the day in her room.  Honestly, this is so typical of her usual behavior that we didn't really notice.

At one point in the evening, Hubby told her she needed to come out of her room and join the family.  At first she hid in a nearby room and read a book.  At therapy a few days later, she told me she'd decided to come out and deliberately torment Hubby by babbling at him while he tried to watch TV.  She was very successful although Hubby didn't realize she did it deliberately, because she does it so often.

I hate that it's so hard to live with her.  I want to feel that she's maturing and becoming easier to live with, but the reality is that while she is maturing in some ways (she didn't rage about this!!), she's not becoming easier to live with at all.  It feels like she's entrenching herself in this defense mechanism.  I see the Borderline Personality Disorder ("I hate you!  Don't leave me!") becoming a stronger part of her personality.

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Kitty seems to be getting something out of holding Hubby and I at a distance.  Of course I understand why she is afraid to acknowledge that she is attached to us; she feels like it gives us power over her.  Plus, she really doesn’t have the relationship skills she needs to be able to have a healthy relationship, but how is she going to get those skills if something doesn’t change?

Bear went through something similar when he realized he was going to have to leave home soon (his perception, not reality of course).  At 15 ½ he finally started relaxing enough to attach and let us get close, but then suddenly he freaked and decided he had to leave home at 17 so he started pushing us away (irrationally he also seemed to blame us for abandoning him).  At 16 ½ we finally convinced him that being able to move out at 17 was an urban myth, and we wouldn’t allow him to leave at 17, but he was already thinking ahead to 18.  We tried to nip that in the bud too, but were ultimately unsuccessful.  He’d rejected us before we could reject him.

So here’s our dilemma:
We can go with status quo and continue to suffer Kitty’s verbal abuse, tiptoe around her impossible to contend with hypersensitive reactions, and allow her to continue to distance herself… and “enjoy” 20 years of this crap - knowing she loves us, and waiting for her to someday decide, maybe, to acknowledge it and treat us accordingly.  At which point there still might be some time to start working with her on how to have a real, loving relationship, that doesn’t involve hurtful “teasing,” revenge, and fight/flight or freeze responses.

Part of me wants to tell Kitty again that we plan to get legal guardianship, which means she no longer has the excuse of leaving in 1.5 years, so she NEEDS to learn to have a relationship with us.  Let her know we’re tired of being treated like crap, and won’t allow it anymore, but that we’re in this for the long haul and nothing she can do will push us away.  Hopefully alleviate the abandonment fear and avoid the sour grapes stuff that Bear did for so many years before he finally left (I know you’re going to leave me, so I’m pretending I never wanted you anyway, and I’ll prove it by leaving you first… and it’s your fault).

Another part of me worries that instead of relieving the pressure of her fear of abandonment, she’ll focus on seeing legal guardianship as a prison sentence… that we’re controlling her for the rest of her life, and her ODD will kick in and she’ll push us away anyway, and the next 20 years will be even worse -if that’s possible.  Plus she’ll STILL be miserable because she really does love us and need us and now she can’t let herself admit it.

I wonder if there’s a way to achieve the same goal without using the apparently triggering “legal guardianship” words.  Possibly wait until after her ARD next week, when she sees us fighting to get her what she wants and needs at school (assuming she chooses to see it that way), since school seems to be the biggest reason she’s mad about legal guardianship.  Maybe give her the ultimatum about not treating us like crap, but without the net of legal guardianship (assuming that doesn’t trigger her fear of abandonment).

Suggestions?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Kleenex Girls

"Do you ever wonder about the IQ and development of girls that would choose Bear as a boyfriend? Do you think it's fair to call them Kleenex girls? Would you want someone calling Kitty that? I don't mean to call you out, it's your blog and all, but it's a little mean. By the way you describe Bear and the violent crime he's been charged with, I feel a little sorry for those girls he's been with."

A recent commenter suggested I was being mean by calling Bear's girlfriends "Kleenex Girls," and I wanted to clarify.  I don't call them Kleenex girls to say anything about the girls themselves, although I do believe they probably have serious issues themselves to tolerate Bear's issues. I call them Kleenex girls simply because Bear goes through them like Kleenex. Believe me I feel sorry for the girls and occasionally I try to warn them off (but don't always feel it's my place).  

Bear's relationship pattern is that he meets a girl, immediately tells her he loves her (and expects the same from her), and starts a brief, intense relationship with expectations that no one can actually live up to.  He fully believes they will live happily ever after, until the girl falls off her pedestal (in Bear's black and white world a girl must have no outside interests but him - no homework, no friends, no family... nothing can be more important than him) OR she does devote herself to him and BEAR freaks out at the closeness and pushes her away.  


Bear had been engaged at least 3 times that I heard of before he turned 19 years old.  His average relationship lasted 3 weeks (hence the name "Kleenex girls" - because he goes through them like Kleenex), and he usually has a "Back-up girl" ready and waiting before the relationship even ends so that he is never alone.  Occasionally he'd have a long-distance relationship that lasted a little longer (because he felt less pressure), but he was usually involved with someone local at the same time.

Recently Bear asked me to contact his most recent Texas girlfriend, and tell her where he is now.  He's hoping to get back together with her when/if he moves back to Texas (he's had time to idealize the relationship).  Maybe this wasn't the right way to handle it, but I do feel sorry for these girls.  This was her response.


"thanks for tell me this... i have so much to ask you about why is he in there... we really didt talk about him going to oklahoma and it kill me bc i didt want him to go and when he got up there we really didt talk we fighting alot but i was thinking he didt care or just didt want to talk.. this is crazy... JUST WANT TO KNOW WHY HE IN JAIL :("

I know this girl and her mom gave Bear a ride to the bus station and loaned him some money when he left.  He'd mentioned proposing to her (but I don't know if he did).  He's been gone long enough that he's idealized their relationship.

This is the follow up comment I sent to her:

I want you to know I'm telling you this information, not to hurt you, Bear, or your relationship, but because I think you should know.

Bear is seriously emotionally disturbed and mentally ill (no matter how much he wants to deny it).  Because of his childhood he also has a severe attachment disorder.  Off his meds he is even more emotionally volatile, making even more bad choices (he stopped taking his meds in March).  He also has an addictive brain and tends to gravitate toward drugs, alcohol, and tobacco, among other things.  He has recently admitted to using all of these since he moved out of our home in February.

You seem like a nice girl, so I'm going to tell you that I know Bear is not capable of making a long-term emotional connections.  When people get "too close," he finds ways to push them away.  He picks fights with them or pushes them until they leave him.  Mostly he runs.

He craves relationships, but he's just not capable of maintaining them.  He wants to love and be loved, but that part of him is seriously damaged.  This is true of his bio family and adoptive family too.

When Bear ran to Oklahoma, he wanted the ideal.  He wanted the relationship he craves, but can't maintain.  He hoped to find that with his grandfather.  Now that he's away from you, he's idealized your relationship, and when he gets out of jail, he wants to come back to you, but the reality is that what was wrong in your relationship when he left is still wrong.  Nothing has changed in him, and he's still not capable of having a real relationship.

Bear has been engaged before, it seems to be his last ditch effort to try to fix a relationship, and they still don't last.  I know he has had at least one "serious" girlfriend since he moved to Oklahoma.  He is in jail for ___________________________________.  This is a first degree felony, and if the courts decide not to take his low IQ and mental illnesses into account, he could be in jail for 30 to 40 years.  The charges could also be dismissed and he could be out in a couple of months.

Again, I'm not saying this to hurt you.  I am not trying to be mean or hurt Bear.  I love him.  This is just who he is.  I'm sorry.

Again, feel free to e-mail me if you want.

Mary

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So how far would you go?  Who would you protect?  Bear?  These poor young girls with their own issues?  Should I stay out of it?  Most of these girls have been under 18, I hate to see them victimized.


Friday, November 23, 2012

Transition Good News! Bear Update


I am reeling! We met with the new principal of my daughter's special school for emotionally disturbed kids. We've been dealing with this school for 5+ years (Bear went there too). This guy GETS IT!

We've been fighting the transition (from high school to real life) battle (and losing) for years, one big reason Bear is in jail. This guy backed me up on our complaints about the school encouraging unrealistic vocational goals (Bear wanted to join the military despite being on massive psychotropic medications with severe mental illness), and as you know, Kitty wants to be a preschool teacher (bad idea for similar reasons). The school has been encouraging them to "be whatever they want to be" despite the fact that they both have low IQs (74 and 79), memory and processing issues, severe emotional issues and take large amounts of psychotropic medications..

Currently transition plans are written with the child and either a case manager, or, more likely, a "transition specialist" who has never even met my child and has no access to their files.  This specialist "interviews" my child and writes their answers to questions like, "What kind of place do you want to live in? (apartment/house/city/with a roommate"  "What kind of job do you want?"  "What skills do you have to get what you want? (can do laundry, budgeting, cook...)"  "What education/skills do you need to get this? (junior college, electives in high school, math classes...)"

The person writes these "brainstormed" answers with different colored markers on big white sheets of paper they've posted around the room (which they give to the child when they're recommendations are written - and the child promptly throws them away).  So if my child says she wants to live in a mansion and become a brain surgeon, then the recommendations might include taking extra science courses and doing volunteer work as a candy striper, with lots of deadlines and assignments for individuals on the "team."  (Mom will give her more chores.  The guidance counselor will get her a copy of the electives for next school year.)  No thought as to whether or not this is a realistic goal.

The new principal said, not only will he help us write a realistic transition plan, but he will be RECOMMENDING SHE STAY IN SCHOOL PAST GRADUATION NEXT YEAR, despite the fact that she'll have all the required credits for graduation! I'm so excited! Now if only he'll follow though...

Since the annual IEP meeting is in only 2 weeks then the principal had better hurry!

***********************

Bear has been going back and forth about what he wants to do when he gets out of jail.  He's bored and struggling with his PTSD, depression and the return of his night terrors so he's not willing to let the lawyer do a continuance after all (the lawyer's original plan was to put off the court date as long as possible in the hope that the plaintiff would just want it to go away, and not show up for court - in which case the charges would be dismissed).  He's struggling and there is apparently no alleviation for his mental health issues until he goes to court.  Which he doesn't qualify for unless they get the charges reduced to a "non-violent" crime.

The court is also doing nothing about paying for his LSI (mental health testing to see if he qualifies for mental health court), and if friends or family pay for it, then we jeopardize his indigent status and he could lose his free court appointed attorney.

Sometimes Bear says he wants to come back to Texas.  He wants me to contact his ex-girlfriend here and tell her he hasn't contacted her because he's in jail (which is bs - he'd already dumped her and moved on to new Kleenex girls before he was arrested).  Sometimes he's willing to go to Gary Job Corp.  Sometimes he talks about going to live with bio family (for the whole 6 weeks that would last!).  Sometimes he talks about a "fresh start" in Georgia because they're "nicer to convicted felons there" (I've pointed out that he HAS TO HAVE the support of family and he has none in Georgia).  He's still talking about going to trade school (although we've mentioned our concerns about this).

We're trying to be pretty realistic about his options.  I've told him that moving to another state where he has no one willing and able to help him get the services and support he needs is pretty stupid.  He can't live in our home anymore, but he can go to the Gary Job Corp that's not terribly far away.  So far the only thing he's consistent on is needing to get back on his meds.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Co-conspirator Dreamkiller

Kitty had an intake interview with DARS (Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services - now called Texas Workforce Commission), a vocational rehab program which helps people with disabilities get what they need to be able to work.  This might be as simple as finding funding for hearing aides or other technology, getting them set up with a job coach or job training program, even going with the person to job interviews and helping them fill out forms. We used this program with Bear, and they got him involved in the job training program and helped him Kitty will be eligible when she turns 18.

For some reason the DARS person answered in the body of my letter, even though she knew I wanted to use her letter as outside confirmation of what I'd already sent.  I took what she wrote, separated it, and sent it to Kitty's school case worker to be included in the vocational information.  Anyway, here's "our" letter.  I only forwarded the first highlighted section to the school.

Hi {DARS intake person},
I enjoyed meeting you the other day.  The following is a letter I recently sent to Kitty’s school caseworker regarding transition plans.  Your comment regarding medications (she pointed out TO KITTY that Kitty takes a LOT of serious medications and has been hospitalized very recently, and therefore should focus on other vocational options) was a very valid point that I did not include in this letter, but I will be from now on!  Thank you. 
I truly believe if she were to reveal her disability or the medications that{she} is taking to a childcare provider, they would not hire her. Although this could be considered discriminatory, employers do it all the time. Also, they would send her for a drug screen and the combination of these medications would be detected in that screen and she might have to disclose to the employer if there were questions. Also, DARS would not be able to support placing her in a childcare situation based on the vast amount of psychological information and medical evaluations received showing she has a history of poor anger management, aggression, and some violent history. She has also had numerous hospitalizations, despite medication intervention, and is having to participate in a sheltered academic program where she receives maximum supports to help alleviate anxiety. I do not believe that childcare nor preschool worker (and/or training) is realistic for her at this time. I highly disagree with the school’s goal on her IEP, and I would be happy to discuss this with them once I come back from maternity leave.  I believe placing Kitty in a childcare situation would pose a safety risk to HER, first and foremost. There are very stringent rules and ramifications to working in a childcare facility, as well as legal ramifications if she were to become overwhelmed, vacate her position, accidently forget a child in a vehicle or outside, etc. etc. I am thinking about the welfare of Kitty, and I believe there are other employment positions and training programs better suited to her strengths and NEEDS :)
I don’t suppose you know if she would have the same issues with medication and driving? Yes, I do, as discussed on the phone.  
I checked out the driver’s license application, and she certainly doesn’t meet the criteria now without a doctor’s note.  I don’t think she should be driving, but the people who did her latest neuropsych refused to state unequivocally that she should or should not be driving.  All they would commit to was that at the least, she should go through the driver’s ed offered by Texas Neurorehab, but to start that program we’d have to help her get her learner’s permit. I  think she MAY be be capable of driving once her processing difficulties and reasoning abilities improve. This is something DARS may consider down the road. Right now she is in extended evaluation and DARS could not support this goal.

I gave Kitty a copy of the Driver's License Application (which is also used for Identification cards), and told her she needed to fill it out.  Will be interesting to see if she notices (and understands) that she doesn't meet this qualification, but for once I'M not going to be the one to tell her.  I've done enough Dreamkilling this week.

DRIVER LICENSE APPLICANTS
Answers to 1 through 7 below are for the confidential use of the Department.
YES NO MEDICAL HISTORY QUESTIONS
1. Do you currently have or have you ever been diagnosed with or treated for any medical condition that may affect your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle?
EXAMPLES, including but not limited to: Diagnosis or treatment for heart trouble, stroke, hemorrhage or clots, high blood pressure, emphysema (within past two years) • progressive eye disorder or injury (i.e., glaucoma, macular degeneration, etc.) • loss of normal use of hand, arm, foot or leg • blackouts, seizures, loss of consciousness or body control (within the past two years) • difficulty turning head from side to side • loss of muscular control • stiff joints or neck • inadequate hand/eye coordination • medical condition that affects your judgment • dizziness or balance problems • missing limbs
{This is the one Bear was told very clearly at his last neuropsych evaluation he had serious issues with - if he gets upset/angry it seriously impairs his judgement and abilities to the point he should not drive.  Our biggest concern of course is that when he's upset he tends to make poor, impulsive decisions, and he's MORE likely to drive.}
Please explain and identify medical condition:
2. Within the past two years, have you been diagnosed with, been hospitalized for or are you now receiving treatment for a psychiatric disorder? 
{This is the one that Kitty would NEVER pass.  She would need a doctor's note and I don't think her doctor would sign.  In reading this, I realized Bear would NOT have to answer "yes" to this one!  He was diagnosed more than 2 years ago, has not been hospitalized in 4 years, and was/is not currently receiving treatment for a psychiatric disorder (although he SHOULD be).}
3. Have you ever had an epileptic seizure, convulsion, loss of consciousness, or other seizure?
4. Do you have diabetes requiring treatment by insulin?
5. Do you have any alcohol or drug dependencies that may affect your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle or have you had any episodes of alcohol or drug abuse within the past two years?  
{I explained to my kids that the massive doses of medications they take would be included in this - as they are dependent on them. Most of them warn against operating heavy machinery, dizziness... that effect the child's ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.}
6. Within the past two years have you been treated for any other serious medical conditions? Please explain:
{Do I even need to comment here?! lol} 
7. Have you EVER been referred to the Texas Medical Advisory Board for Driver Licensing?
NOTICE: The information on this application is required by the Texas Driver License Act, Texas Transportation Code Chapter 521.
Failure to provide the information is cause for refusal to issue a driver license or identification card, and in some cases, cancellation or withdrawal of driving privileges. False information could also lead to criminal charges with penalties of a fine up to $4,000.00 and/or jail.

Other posts about our kids and driving:
What We Expect Before You Begin Driving 
Driving Rules and Contract

Thursday, November 8, 2012

DreamKiller Letter to Kitty's school


I expressed my concerns about Kitty's vocational choice to Kitty's case manager in preparation for her annual IEP meeting next month.  The case manager was disagreeing with me, so I offered to put my concerns in writing.  I'm going to send this soon, so anyone having any input, just let me know.

Dear Case Manager,

Kitty would never deliberately hurt a small child, but she has very little empathy, can't multi-task or prioritize, and can't make quick decisions when things go wrong.  So why did I let her work in my friend’s home daycare?  Because we have no proof until we let them attempt it, right?   I'm constantly getting pressure to allow her to get job-related skills, especially in areas she's motivated in, like preschool teaching.  Plus, I thought that since the home daycare was owned by a friend, this would be a controlled enough environment and a good assessment of whether or not we should try to find another direction for Kitty while we still have a little time.  

Despite my expressing my concerns regarding leaving Kitty unsupervised, my friend kept leaving Kitty alone with the kids while she talked on the phone, changed a diaper, went to the restroom... so this ended up being a pretty accurate assessment (although less safe for the children) than originally expected.  I don't think my friend really believed me because Kitty is ssooo conscientious and helpful.  She LOVED having Kitty there, and the kids loved Kitty too.  It went from being a few hours twice a week, to every afternoon.  Kitty loved it, although she did find it very draining.

I was the director of a large private preschool for many years, I have run a home daycare, I have worked in church daycares, I have over 30 years working with children in this industry.  I do not believe that Kitty has the skills, abilities or personality to work in this highly stressful job that is often literally life or death, especially when she has so many other options.  This Summer we will be working with DARS (Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services) to try out their vocational skills program.  I’m asking for your help.  I need EVERYONE to be encouraging Kitty to be looking for viable options.

Reasons for wanting Kitty to look into alternate vocations.

1.    1.    Daycare Environment – Kitty needs a low stress, non-chaotic environment (why she’s doing so well at GOALS compared to McNeil).  This does not describe childcare! 
·         Large numbers of children - even as an assistant she will be left alone with large numbers of children  for extended periods of time (TX allows one teacher to supervise alone – 11 potty training two year olds, 15 three and four yr olds, or 30+ five year olds… classrooms are frequently combined and you often do not know the kids)
·         Toddlers and preschoolers can DIE!  Unlike almost every other job, mistakes in childcare, including a moment of indecision can lead to death, serious injury, and irate parents.
·         Parents of preschoolers are often not rational about things that have happened to their precious child.  Especially if they’ve had a bad day.  Usually it is the assistant at the end of the day who get to tell parents about things that happened to their child during the day -  lead teachers usually go home hours before.
2.      2.   Multi-tasking/ Prioritizing/ Emergency Situations – this is something Kitty struggles greatly with at all times, and which would be worse in a chaotic environment (in a chaotic environment her processing ability/IQ drops to the 50s).  Kitty does well handling routine situations, but has limited skills in what to do in an emergency.    She takes direction from adults easily, but without an adult supervising she is easily flustered and makes impulsive decisions.
·         Kitty went to break up an argument between 2 preschoolers, laying down the baby, next to a toddler on the couch, and the toddler pushed the infant off the couch. 
·         On another occasion, Kitty was briefly left alone with a baby, toddler and two year old.  The two year old ran out in the street, and Kitty didn’t know what to do (chase the two year old and leave the younger children alone) so she froze.
3.       3.  Stamina/ Easily OverwhelmedKitty was at a playdate with 3 yr old triplets, and a 6yo.  The children’s mother and I were both nearby.  Kitty begged to leave after an hour drained and with a raging headache, because most of the children were demanding she play with them.  3-4 hours working at the home daycare always left her totally drained.
4.       4.  Emotional regulation/ Limited understanding of children’s developmental capabilities.  Kitty has great difficulty with empathy, understanding other’s developmental capabilities, and regulating her own emotions when she gets stressed or overwhelmed.  She’s good at playing with kids, but shows no ability or interest in helping them grow emotionally.   When a six year old was picking on his little sister, Kitty came home wanting to “punch him in the face because he was being mean to a little kid.  She didn’t understand that at age 6, he was a little kid as well and didn’t know better.  She often came home often talking about how the older kids deserved to be punched in the face.  While I don’t think she would deliberately hit a child in her care, I worry about her impulses.  She has hit her younger smaller sibling (he was about 10 at the time), because he’d roughly pushed her out of the way so she felt he’d “started it” and instinctively punched him in the head.   
5.       5.  Social Skills – Because Kitty is emotionally immature (approximately age 6) she gets along well with young children, but has difficulty following the lead of the child (empathy), guiding play in appropriate directions, or mediating disagreements between children.  She has mentioned several times she doesn’t know that to do with or feel capable of handling a child who is being oppositional or children who are misbehaving.  She has expressed herself inappropriately to parents, casually telling them about their child being in dangerous situations or even injured through what could easily be perceived as negligence on her part.
6.       6.  College – Kitty wants to be a preschool teacher, not an aide.  To do this she would need a minimum of a CDA (Child Development Associates Degree).  This means she would need to attend junior/community college to make up the fundamentals not covered because she was in special ed, and then start classes for her CDA.  Assuming she is capable of handling the academics, Kitty has already acknowledged that she cannot handle the large classroom environment.  We are currently looking into online courses.
7.       7.  Out Classes  – assuming Kitty continues to have an interest in child care or any other field that the Special School cannot accommodate, then she would need regular ed out classes.  We firmly believe that her current stability is due to the Special School environment, and are not willing to jeopardize this stability for a non-viable career option.
8.       8.  Legal GuardianshipKitty will most likely live at home, or in a group home, for the rest of her life, because she probably will never have enough of the skills and abilities she needs to be able to live and work independently.  Kitty’s psychiatrist has already agreed to complete the necessary documentation, and we are working on getting a lawyer.  This means that we will continue to be an active part of Kitty s team even when she turns 18 in April.
9.       9.  Part-time /Volunteer work – Kitty will needs to receive SSI benefits when she turns 19, which requires her to make less than $700/month or be in danger of losing her benefits (including Medicaid).  Her medications cost approximately $2K a month so losing her benefits would be a big problem.  Any job she takes would therefore need to be part-time.
10.   10.  Driving – We do not foresee Kitty having the skills and abilities for driving any time soon.  This would make work as a nanny very difficult.

Kitty’s dreams of being a surgeon were not such a big deal in elementary and middle school, but we allowed her brother to continue his unfeasible dreams (joining the military, professional football…) well into high school and he graduated high school with few  practical job skills and abilities, including some key life skills, and a desperate unmet need for structure and support.  He now has the only job/life he's qualified for... prison inmate. 

Unfortunately the school did not back us up when we finally had to tell Kitty that being a surgeon was not a viable option (until the very end), so she chooses to place the loss of that dream entirely on my shoulders (despite hearing the rationale).  Kitty’s dream of being a preschool teacher seem innocuous enough, but it means she’s not looking at alternatives and trying new things.  Plus, as the only person telling Kitty my concerns and that she should keep her options open, her attachment issues cause her to believe that I’m the ONLY one who believes this is true and she hears it as criticism, because it is coming from me, her mother.  She needs to hear this information from others.  Right now she chooses to deny my concerns.  I hate having to hurt her while trying to protect and help her.

How do you encourage a child to have ACHIEVABLE dreams, so they won't feel they've failed?  Someone once asked me what Kitty is good at and enjoys doing...  I couldn't think of anything (besides reading anime and watching Annoying Orange on YouTube).  It would be different if she loved something so much that she worked hard to overcome any obstacles, but she doesn't really like much of anything (she only wanted to be a doctor so she could make lots of money and buy a no-kill shelter, but when I tried to encourage her to do something along the lines of working in a shelter or with animals, she refused). 

Thank you for reading this lengthy e-mail.  Please let me know if there is any other information I can provide, or any other way I may be of assistance.


Mary 

Friday, November 2, 2012

LSI invoice

So much for blogging every day!  Sorry, I'll try harder. :)

Recently we received an invoice in the mail for Bear's LSI assessment*, which is required to determine whether or not Bear can go to mental health court..  Bear had told us to expect some paperwork from the person doing the assessment, so we were expecting a questionnaire or requests for documentation regarding his diagnoses... NOT an invoice!

I immediately called the CADC (certified alcohol and drug counselor) who'd done the assessment and sent us the invoice, and asked her why it was being sent to us (Bear is legally an adult and money is tight for us right now).  She said Bear had no way to pay for the assessment (true) and generally the family pays for it.  I asked what they normally do when an indigent person needs the assessment, and she said, if the person didn't have family that could pay for it, because they were dead or something, then the person just sat in jail.  Can you say major guilt trip?!!When I asked her again, she said sometimes, the lawyer might pay for it out of their own pocket, if there's no one else.  She then made it very clear that the LSI would not be submitted until the invoice had been paid.

We had a tough decision to make.  A big concern was that even if we did pay for the LSI, that Bear would still not be able to attend the mental health court because a first degree felony cannot be considered a "non-violent" crime.  Bear says the attorney thinks they may be able to get the charge reduced, but who knows.  We decided to talk to Pre-Paid Legal and get some advice regarding our options.

We were connected with a very knowledgeable attorney in the state where Bear is incarcerated, who told us that we had no legal obligation to pay for the LSI (which we knew), but more importantly she told us that if we paid for the assessment then there was a serious chance that the court might decide that Bear had access to someone who could pay his legal bills and he could lose his indigent status and therefore his court appointed attorney.  In other words, if we or any other family member paid this 75 dollar invoice, Bear could be on the hook for 75 thousand dollars in legal fees.  I need to make sure biofamily is aware of this and doesn't pay this invoice either.  She assured us that the court would pay for the LSI.

She also mentioned a very recent addition to Statute 21 regarding mental health care for detainees.  Apparently a detainee did not get the mental health care and medications he needed and he ended up seriously harming himself and died.  She suggested we mention it Bear's attorney, since Bear has been in jail since the end of July and still hasn't received any mental health care.

Our attorney suggested  some wording for what to say to Bear's court appointed attorney (I faxed it since he doesn't return my calls).  This is what I sent:



Dear Mr. Attorney,
I have tried to reach you by phone several times, but continue to receive no response, so I have decided to fax you this information.
Recently we received an invoice from Ms. B. S., CADC in the amount of $75.00 for Bear’s court-ordered LSI assessment.  I contacted Ms. B. S. to question why we were sent the invoice for Bear’s assessment, and was told that if we did not pay for the LSI she would not submit it, and Bear would be forced to sit in jail indefinitely until the invoice was paid.  We are not able to pay for this or any other testing.

Bear is a legal adult and was recognized as indigent by the court, which is how he received the services of yourself, a court-appointed attorney.  I’m asking that you use your advocacy skills to seek payment for Ms. B. S. through state funds as well, so that the LSI assessment can be submitted to the court.
I am also concerned that Bear still has not received any medical attention or medication for his well-documented mental illnesses.  I understand that a new statute regarding detainees with mental illness went into effect recently, and I hope this will help Bear get the mental health care he requires.  Please let me know if there is any additional documentation that I can send you to speed this process, as I am very concerned about his safety and ability to handle himself in court and jail.
Please contact me with any questions and for any needed documentation.  Attached is a copy of the invoice we received.
Sincerely,

Mary Themom




*The LSI-R™ assessment is a quantitative survey of offender attributes and offender situations relevant for making decisions about levels of supervision and treatment. The instrument’s applications include assisting in the allocation of resources, helping to make probation and placement decisions, making appropriate security level classifications, and assessing treatment progress. The 54 LSI–R items are based on legal requirements and include relevant factors for making decisions about risk level and treatment. Probation officers, parole officers, and correctional workers at jails, detention facilities, and correctional facilities complete the semi-structured interview with offenders. They then use the interview together with collateral information to complete a QuikScore™ form. The results are converted to cumulative frequencies on a ColorPlot™ Profile. Users have the option of profiling the Total LSI–R score against the Canadian norms or the U.S. norms.

LSI–R scores are proven to help predict parole outcome, success in correctional halfway houses, institutional misconduct, and recidivism. This predictive validity is partly a result of the method of its construction. The item content was developed to reflect three primary sources: recidivism literature, the professional opinions of probation officers, and the social learning perspective of social behavior. Scores can then be used in conjunction with professional judgment to arrive at valid placement decisions.