This is what I'm working toward. I realize I won't get everything, maybe not any of these things I want, but this would be my ideal:
- For Bear to realize that he needs his meds and that stopping his meds cold turkey could make him very sick or kill him (we tell him this constantly - I have no idea if it's really true).
- For Bear to understand that his meds are very expensive ($1300/mo) and he needs to stay on Medicaid as long as he can - if he stays with us he qualifies for Nebraska Medicaid until he turns 19 (versus most other states where he's done at 18).
- We have not mentioned Adult Medicaid, but we will if we can't convince him to stay or if we aren't granted legal guardianship. He does not have the ability to fill out the very complex forms required or to ask for or accept help.
- Legally mandated to take his meds - I have met adults who are required by the courts to stay on their meds. Most of them appear to be because while off their meds they broke the law to the extent the court was involved, and therefore the court mandated they stay on their meds.
2. Attachment - Bear has attached to us a little, but I believe that he feels he must push us away in preparation for being out on his own (kind of a sour grapes sort of thing, or rejecting us before we can reject him - even though we're not, he can't trust us enough to believe that). Therefore my (probably foolish) hope is that if he knows he doesn't "have to" leave (due to legal guardianship) that he can feel safe enough to start trusting us again and allow himself to bond.
Right before Bear turned 16, there was a period where we had really begun to trust him. He was acting like a semi-typical teen and as such we were slowly giving him the privileges that went along with that. It swiftly and dramatically went totally wrong. I'm not totally sure what happened, but I have some theories:
- It could have been the lightening of the structure and supervision on our part felt like we didn't care what happened to him and so triggered abandonment issues and defense mechanisms. So he began behaving as he did to get the structure back or just because he was angry at us and felt he couldn't trust us.
- Bear is a follower and due to the lesser supervision he was able to get in with a group of kids that were doing drugs, drinking, using tobacco products, skipping school, having sex... very tempting stuff. Plus the mind/mood altering substances messed with his body chemistry and emotions too.
- He was actually bonding to us, and he realized it, and it scared him to give us that much power and control over him so he panicked and pushed us away. For kids with RAD, love is dangerous and painful. Terrifying!
- He realized he was going to "have to" leave the house when he turned 17 (this was the rumor going around, that you could, and therefore in Bear's mind must, to prove that he doesn't need anyone, leave the house at 17). I think he panicked that 17 wasn't that far away and started pushing us as hard away from him as he could so it wouldn't hurt as much.
3. Legal guardianship - I do not believe that Bear is ready or safe to be on his own. I do not know if he ever will be. Even if he chooses to try to stay on his meds, he does not have the ability to get the services he needs to do so (filling out forms, asking for help, arranging transportation, making and remembering appointments... even though some of these things could be taught, I doubt we could do it in the time we have left - particularly because of his emotional issues (denial of his diagnoses and need for medication, inability to ask for or accept help, difficulties with problem-solving, waiting, being denied, giving up, paranoia, projection....
Thanks to all our efforts over the last 4 years with Bear he has become stable on his meds, able to control his anger (although not his irritability), rarely violent and aggressive, and is mostly getting the education services he needs. Yea! What worries me is that because of these achievements he almost lost the special school he so obviously needs, and his mask is firmly in place. His functional IQ is probably about 80 (when you take into account all the difficulties his multiple issues cause for him), but his verbal IQ is much higher when he's stable so he appears much higher functioning than he really is. He can hold himself together for a much longer period of time.
So it looks like he's functioning... but only because of our extreme efforts.
So my "experiment" is designed to as carefully and safely as possible allow the real Bear to show so that his needs are recognized before it is too late to get him what he needs.
Once he is out of the home, especially if he goes to to a rural area (his Grandfather lives in a town of less than 300 people), with little to no services, and surrounded by people who have no clue how to help him and are in some ways responsible for why he is this way in the first place... I believe that Bear will fail. And by fail, I don't mean he will have a miserable life, I mean Epic Fail - jail and/or death and taking people down with him.
He will discover that his problems have followed him (he thinks that everything is my fault and if he can just get to a small town he'll be fine).
He will have little to no support at all:
- He will lose the idealized support of his Grandfather (no one can maintain the pedestal Bear puts people on, especially if you have to tell Bear, "No"!)
- I sincerely doubt that even if he manages to stay in school that they will have much in the way of special education.
- I could not find a therapist or psychiatrist within a 30 minute drive (but that may be due to poor intenet surfing skills) - of course he doesn't plan to use these services anyway.
The temptation of alcohol (and drugs assuming he can find any) will most likely be increased as he tries to self-medicate his fears and issues. Bear has said that his grandfather is/was an alcoholic so access to alcohol will most likely be easier. This is the grandfather that Bear claims got him addicted to chewing tobacco from the age of 6 so...
Basically I want Bear to fail publicly, dramatically, and preferably in a way that requires police intervention. Something that can't be ignored and that will help us build our case that Bear needs legal guardianship or possibly even some form of mandated group home if he just can't stay home safely. A part of this is that the more that is court mandated the better, because paying for a lawyer to fight for legal guardianship, even with pre-paid legal services, is just not feasible right now, and the way things stand right this minute I think we would have a tough time winning.
It is my hope that Bear just needs a few more years of secured structured care, before he is able to do this on his own. I think he will be able to function on his own one day. Just not yet.