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!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Bearly adviseable

I could really use some advice. Since the beginning of this school semester Bear has been going rapidly downhill. Last semester he was making mostly As and Bs and while we had some trouble with him stealing and taking his ADHD meds to school (probably to sell), overall he was doing well. Now he is making mostly Ds and Fs, has stated that he doesn’t care about school or anything. He seems depressed and has said he’s giving up. I’m not totally sure what happened.

Here are some things (or combination of things) that may have caused the changes:
  • Bear was finally told by Hubby that he wouldn’t be able to go in the marines or join the police force because of his mental illness and meds. We had been trying to get him to make a back-up plan, but he wouldn’t because he didn’t see the need. So now his “plan” is to become a bull riding cowboy and then go work on his great uncle’s (by marriage) farm – which of course doesn’t require a high school diploma (and who knows if they would even consider it - this is birth family and he's been away for many years).
  • Possible taking or selling drugs and hanging out with kids who do. The high school has started much closer supervision of kids who appear to be involved in drugs.
  • After being caught in the halls frequently, some issues with excessive tardies, leaving class frequently and skipping class, I asked the school to keep better track of his attendance, and they went a little extreme on this, including escorting some of the other kids and Bear whenever anyone requested to leave the classroom. Bear felt persecuted and has accused the behavior program staff of persecuting him and wants to charge one staff with sexual harassment because the male teacher followed Bear into the bathroom.
  • Is no longer going to the special school for emotionally disturbed kids that only had 20 students total and was very structured and supportive. Was still taking 2 classes there last semester, but they decided he was doing too well there. (I still think it was because it was what he needed).
  • Thinks/thought that he could move out at age 17 and appears to be pushing us away in preparation for this.
  • Bear has discovered the school will not let him fail. He can wait weeks to turn in something he threw together and he still passes... stupid "No Child Left Behind" crud.

    Wednesday he refused to talk to the psychiatrist about anything but some of his sleeping issues because he doesn’t want his meds to change. He says he feels like a guinea pig. I try to explain that no one’s chemistry is the same and it changes with time, but I don’t think he cared.

    Bear told me that he WANTS some kid to hit him so he can beat the other child. He is feeling very aggressive. He told a teacher he wants to go to the school’s off campus suspension school for kids caught doing drugs or fighting or something.

    We have called a parent/teacher conference for Wednesday, but I’m not totally sure what to ask for. I still think he might benefit from going back to the special school – at least part time. His continued “giving up” depressed mentality is worrying me. He’s maxed out on almost all of his mood stabilizers (I’m taking him in soon to get some lab work to see if he has a little wiggle room left on one) so there will most likely be no assistance there. In case you haven’t guessed I’m extremely concerned at this point!



Unknown said...

No suggestions. But I am praying for you. And I am watching to see how you handle this because we are having similar issues on a much smaller scale with our nine year old. Keep pressing forward.

Mom 4 Kids said...

Would his decline be a help in getting him back in the special school, at least part-time? It is so difficult when the school feels they can let interventions go because the student is doing well. Darn budget cuts don't help in a lot of cases either.

You are an awesome Mom and we are praying for you and your family!

GB's Mom said...

Nothing is ever simple with our kids- there are probably multiple reasons for his decline- including being afraid of impending adulthood. Mom 4 Kids had it right- maybe you can use Bear's decline to get him back into the special school. Praying for all of you. You are doing an awesome job!

Anonymous said...

All I can say is really prepare for that meeting. Bring numbers and the school's own documentation if you can get it to demonstrate that Bear is struggling in the new environment and would be better served in the special school. If you can get his therapist or doctor to write a letter of support that would help your case.

Ask for their help. Part of getting what you want from professionals is old fashioned manipulation (you know--the kind we learn from our kids) Work 'em.

Bring food. There is something that happens when people share food together. They treat each other just a little better. Get some cookies.

Make an agenda for yourself. Limit it to three things or less. It will help you direct the meeting where you want it to go if or when the professionals go in another direction.

If he has an IEP, bring it and take them to task on the goals. What are his precentages? Is he meeting the goals? Use their own documentation to make your case.

I will be thinking of you. Good luck! :-)

Unknown said...

The thing to remember is by law the school only has to provide an appropriate education. Not the best. Even though we want the best for our kids. Keep that in mind and it will help you get what he needs, because the school will shoot down your attempts if you are obviously after the best.
Also - the have to give the child the "least restrictive environment." that is why they are so quick to mainstream. Be prepared to have documentation on why that special school, which is more restrictive, is more appropriate for him.
A really good book to read to help navigate through all this is "From Emotions to Advocacy" by Pam Wright and Pete Wright.
Also - I bring refreshments to every school meeting I go to. And then I leave them there. Every time they go into the staff lounge they see the refreshments. They think of you. It endears you to them because they know you're thinking of them.
Good luck.

Miz Kizzle said...

I'm sorry things are so grim for you and Bear right now. It seems like he's mourning the loss of his future, the future he had expected would involve him becoming a police officer or a member of the armed forces.
If he had a lot invested in his dreams for the future, being denied them must be devastating.
I have no suggestions about how to remedy his disappointment and sorrow but it seems like he wants out of his current school. It may be overwhelming for him -- too big, too many people, too many options. He may need to be in a smaller environment to feel secure and be able to focus.
Teenage boys can drive anyone to distraction. I was fortunate in that my sons are well behaved and good students. They're generally very good company but they have their moments. I think a large part of the reason why I love them, in addition to the fact that they're easy kids to have around, is that we have been together from the very beginning. They're my biological sons and we have a very strong connection. If either of them had landed in my house when they were 12 or 13 I doubt I found feel the same way. They'd seem loutish and loud and unruly. I wouldn't be able to cut them as much slack and i wouldn't be able to see myself in them, as I do.
You were brave to adopt older children but you should have been apprised of the difficulties. You don't just take them home and love them. It makes me angry that prospective parents are being told the truth about attachment disorders and the feelings of loss that children have for their biological families.
I hope you and Bear are able to get through this rough patch.

marythemom said...

Mom 4 Kids - Truthfully I have been pointing out and documenting my son's issues because the only avenue I see to help him IS going back to the special school. Secretly I'm happy that the school is catching him falling apart so that I can hopefully get him back in the special school.

Advocate mom and Brenkachika - yes! Great suggestions. I will be gathering my documentation and trying to get it as concise as possible.

Miz Kizzle - Even if the kids' casemanager had been clearer about the severity of their issues (assuming she knew which I don't think she did since she'd never heard of RAD), our training was a total joke and the agency wasn't able to support us because they knew nothing either. I think the hardest part is the lack of awareness. We would have been much better off if we'd started off with some basic knowledge about attachment.

Mary in TX