- Non-compliance with meds leading to psychotic adults who may attack family members and damage property - theft and violence
- No communication from p-docs
- Police/ court/ jail
- Grandchildren (not the children themselves, but the parenting issues)
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Monday, February 21, 2011
After the kids had left for school the next morning, I realized I'd accidentally left the candy on the counter (I hide all sweets and baked goods for reasons that are about to become apparant). Of course 1/2 the candy was gone. I did ask the other kids (who rarely steal and would tell me if they did), and all of them denied touching the candy. Bear admitted to taking one piece.
For the last few weeks I've been attending NAMI meetings 2-3 times a week so haven't been home much. One night Hubby made tacos, but I'd had a few too many snacks at the meeting so I put my tacos in a plastic bag to have for lunch the next day. Nobody took my tacos.
I admit I complained in family therapy (which Hubby and I attend with Bear), but just a general whining about my chocolate and tacos being missing, not an actual accusation.
This morning Grandma called. Most of the kids had spent Saturday night as usual at her house. Grandma has a cabinet in her kitchen she calls the "Kids' Cabinet." It always has snack food in it (like Ritz Crackers, saltines, hot cocoa, applesauce, Koolaid...). We have one too, but ours has more whole grain "healthier" foods (popcorn for the air popper, honey nut generic cheerios, generic frosted mini wheats...).
Grandma had discovered that Bear had opened a brand new box of Cheerios instead of using the already open one in the Kids' Cabinet... which was annoying, but she could overlook. What upset her was that Bear had gotten into Poppy's Girl Scout cookies, eaten the entire box, carefully put it back together so it looked like it hadn't been touched, and put it back where he'd found it.
Today Bear missed the school bus home again. I asked Hubby to pick him up. When Hubby confronted Bear about the cookies, Bear admitted to eating a few (which wasn't OK since he hadn't asked permission), but denied eating the whole box.
Needless to say, I don't believe him.
I know why he lies and steals. I get it. I really do. But at the same time, if he feels there are no consequences then what's to stop him from escalating?
Today it's food, cell phones and MP3 players. Tomorrow? Now that he's 17, even that can get him in serious trouble. Plus he cannot seem to grasp that if we can't trust him then he'll never get the privileges he wants (driving, going places alone, independence...). Without checking with me first, Hubby took Bear for his first driving lesson last night. He said Bear is not going to be ready to drive for a long, long time.
- LEVELS - like they have in residential treatment centers. Very concrete which works well for Bear, but really requires a major step up on supervision on our parts. Probably need alarms and to go back to locking the pantry. Plus it'd be very difficult to do at Grandma and Poppy's house and Hubby and I are barely even ships passing in the night as it is, we really need the respite.
- Letter of apology
- Pay back $6 (Girl Scout cookies are $3/box and stolen/broken items are reimbursed at double). The grandparents said they only have one chore that Bear is competent to do at their house - digging garden beds - but Bear already does this for "fun." I took the money for my chocolate that he ate out of his allowance, but he still owes over $80 for past stuff so allowance doesn't mean much to him. So it really needs to be extra chores.
- His Promise not to do it again.
- Online shoplifting class I found: http://shoplifting.net/eclass.htm - it's $55 and meets legal requirements so this won't be happening.
- Writing assignment about why he steals. (“I deserve X and am not getting it, so I steal to help fill that hole.” "I'm a bad person so I might as well steal." I used to need to steal to get what I needed, but now I have what I need, so I steal because ___________.)
While I'm at it, he also needs a consequence for "missing" the afterschool bus, which he does on a pretty regular basis which means someone has to go pick him up and he gets unsupervised time at school until they get there (which can be up to 45 minutes to an hour depending on how long it takes him to call me to tell me he missed the bus in the first place and what I'm doing.
To paraphrase the NAMI "Problem Solving Process" we're studying right now, it says you should:
- Define the problem as specifically as possible and make sure you're only trying to solve one problem at a time (and it should be the one with the highest priority - starting with danger to self or others).
- List all the things you've tried in the past. Cross out all the ones that didn't work (cause it makes no sense to keep doing something that doesn't work).
- Enlist others if possible and brainstorm at least 7 more options (bringing the total up to at least 12 options).
- Pick the choice you want to try first.
- Pick a backup plan.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Increasing numbers of people realize that just because a child fidgets, or loses pencils or toys—criteria for an “ADHD” diagnoses, this doesn’t mean a child is mentally ill. In fact many now claim that children diagnosed “ADHD” are really suffering from lead toxicity, or allergies, or poor diet, or lack of reading skills, and not a mental “illness.” The problem is that they continue to use the psychiatric label, such as “ADHD”, which stigmatizes a child as “mentally ill.” If in fact a child suffers from lead toxicity, then why not call it lead toxicity? If he hasn’t been taught to read, why don’t we just say he hasn’t been taught to read?
The same is true of all psychiatric diagnoses—every single psychiatric label stigmatizes the person being labeled and as long as we continue to use psychiatric labels (contained within the DSM) to describe behaviors—psychiatry will continue to profit while the public suffers.
Psychiatric diagnoses are simply lists of behaviors that psychiatrists have compiled into little lists, given a name, added “disorder” on the end—then voted them into their billing bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) as “legitimate.” This is big, big business, but it isn’t even close to legitimate diagnoses. Not in any medical or scientific context. But in a profit making context? Yes—coming up with new lists of behaviors and new “disorders” is the bedrock of the multi-billion dollar psychiatric/pharmaceutical industry. Its how they get paid. Remember, no psychiatric label, no billing insurance. No psychiatric label, no drug prescribed. So until we stop using these psychiatric labels, which mean nothing other than what some psychiatrists decided was a mental “illness,” we will never stop the “stigma.” The psychiatric labels are backed by corporate interests—not medicine, and not science.Is Free Thinking a Mental Illness?
My response (to an article that is no longer available, so forgive me if parts of it sound out of place):
Yea, nice. Unless your kid needs those labels to get services, proper medication, support, and therapeutic help. My kids have most of those “labels” and they NEED them.
Not labeling Bipolar Disorder does not make my son an artist, it makes him a tortured psychotic.
Not labeling or medicating my daughter’s ADHD does not make her a “normal kid,” it makes her unable to participate in school, learn, or make friends.
Not labeling someone with Oppositional Defiant Disorder means that that child does not get any help, which means yes, he might become a revolutionary, but more likely he’ll be unemployed (you can’t hold a job if you constantly talk back to your boss), homeless (no money, no one who can tolerate being around you willing to support you), dead (mouth off to the wrong person), or in jail (mouth off to an authority figure or do something stupid just to spite someone).
Wanna know where to find those unlabeled teens in 5 years? They’re homeless, dead or in jail. And their parents are being told that it’s all their fault.
Some articles state that all mental illnesses are subjective and therefore don't exist. I have QEEG reports that show my kids' brains are hardwired differently than the average person.
So Why Label?
Lots of reasons!
To get them access to services and medications so they can:
- heal if they're able to heal
- get the right treatment - therapeutic parenting, attachment therapy, physical therapy, trauma therapy... instead of wasting time on treatments that aren't effective for their type of issues.
- have a break from their symptoms so they can mature and gain coping skills without having to feel like they're in a war zone 24/7
- help them remain calm, stable, and generally happy, so they can focus on living their life and attaching and developing relationships
- help them sleep, focus, and learn
- access needed programs at school and other organizations
- keep them from being constantly suicidal, homicidal, and/or psychotic
- keep others from believing they're just bad kids, manipulative, deliberately defiant, need punishment, deserve/ want to be in juvie or worse...
- keep them from internalizing the negative effects of their diagnoses as their fault, personality or identity shortcomings/ flaws, or blaming others
I have 2 kids with major trauma and mental illnesses. They take meds for their bipolar disorder, and the one with severe ADHD takes meds for that too. Hubby doesn't have a lot of problems with these (although he hates the sheer number of meds they take and the thought that they will have to take many of them for the rest of their lives), but most of their major issues cannot be "fixed" by medication (C-PTSD, RAD...), and are trauma-based not biologically-based.
Experts say some symptoms (like insomnia, anxiety, restlessness, irritability...) can be alleviated with medication, even though it doesn't cure or effect the actual diagnoses (like trauma-based issues). I'm all for medicating those symptoms, because in my opinion, you can't work on healing trauma if you can't sleep, focus, sit still, stop crying or raging, react normally to external stimuli (like someone saying, "you dropped jelly on the counter," which, in my opinion, should not trigger a screaming rage but has)...
So in the past Hubby's opinion was that I have allowed the kids to be over-medicated. I disagree. They are on lots of meds, but it took time to find the right meds and good combinations that worked for their individual body chemistry. They are already taking fewer meds than they did 2 years ago. I think a lot of this is due to the fact that they could focus on internal healing when their outside world didn't feel totally chaotic. (I hope it goes without saying that we are not addressing anyone's needs and issues with ONLY medications - we also do therapy, therapeutic parenting, and many other tools).
I think it's like surgically inserting a pin in the leg of someone with a shattered bone and giving them a crutch, a cast and major pain meds. The cast keeps things stable while the body works on mending and healing. The crutch helps them be able to do the things they would normally be able to do if they hadn't broken the leg (like walk and go to school). The pin is necessary to give the remaining bone pieces something to heal around. There is scientific evidence that the body heals better when it is not in pain so you need the pain meds.
Some drugs are like casts and crutches and will not be needed down the road. Other drugs are like the pin and the body wouldn't work without them. I would never allow my children to be drugged into zombies, and when the child is stable I will start looking at lessening or removing their meds (or amping up therapy treatment) - for as long as they continue to make progress healing.
Do Kids Need to "Buy Into" These Labels?
Bear thinks he's normal.
When kids are little, they call it Magical Thinking. Could be positive thinking I guess. All I know is that whenever we discuss a diagnosis, medication or issue, Bear gets mad - at us.
We've talked to him about this repeatedly. We are not labeling him to be mean and put him down. We are not doing this to him. We are trying to identify triggers, symptoms and issues so we can help him deal with them.
Did you know, that there is even a mental illness called Anosognosia that prevents people from being able to recognize their own bipolar disorder?
Someone asked me if it was really necessary for Bear to "buy into" his labels and understand them. I think his reaction highlights that yes, he must understand. If Bear thinks he's "normal," then he has no motivation to do anything to deal with his issues. In fact, all of his energy is devoted to getting away from the mean people who think he's not normal and that he should be doing stuff he doesn't want to do. (By the way, the "mean people" is mostly me in case you hadn't guessed).
Also, when he has behaviors that we know to be symptoms of his mental health disorders (depression, anxiety, night terrors, rages...), and he doesn't believe in his "labels," then he is very likely to attribute the behaviors to something else and/ or blame himself and his faults. Just more proof that he is unlovable and unworthy of love, or that people are out to get him, or that if he's feeling depressed then there must be something causing it. He starts looking around him for what is causing these feeling and of course he finds "it."
Because of his RAD, "it" is usually me. I want him to be in special ed (it's not because his brain injuries and ADD severely effect his academics). I just want to control him by not letting him go somewhere or do whatever, because I enjoy being his warden and torturing him. Because I'm "holding a grudge." This is all worsened by the fact that he really doesn't remember the past very well. He has magical thinking, distorted reality, poor memory, and dissociates.
He needs his world to be within his control. This is a life or death feeling. It's always someone else's fault, because that's safer - he's terrified we will discover that he's not perfect and leave him. Therefore, someone else did or said something to make him mad - his raging therefore has a reason that makes sense to him, and is not caused by his Bipolar Disorder. Instead of being caused by his PTSD, his night terrors must be because the devil is mad at him or he has special powers (because he is Native American) - and they must be predicting that someone close to him will die.
People either don't understand mental illness, or just can't believe how severe the issues and behaviors are that they cause in Bear, or how these illness and trauma interact.
Everyone around him (school, friends, girlfriends...), is telling him he's fine. They think telling him the truth will damage his self-esteem and cause him to feel bad about himself, or they really don't understand it. The special program he’s in for emotionally disturbed kids sees that he is no longer physically aggressive, and do not consider him severe enough to need to be there anymore. They don't see that the structure they provide is the reason he's doing well.
It doesn't help that my kids have what I call "Charming RAD" (Disinhibited RAD). Kitty's caseworker denied that she had RAD, because "she gives me big hugs every time she sees me." (That's actually a huge red flag. It means she indiscriminately tries to please others so they will take care of her). It is easy for Bear to "fool" people who are not around him much. Truthfully, he fools some people who are around him all the time too. It is a survival instinct leftover from when he had to make people like him or they'd hurt or abandon him.
How does that saying go?
You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.
Abraham Lincoln, (attributed)16th president of US (1809 - 1865)
When it comes to people outside the family, I'm not so sure about this. None of these people have a relationship with him, he's not actually capable of them, but they don't see that. There is no give and take, and they really know nothing about him. He can and does function in public, and that is a huge step forward. However, he will eventually have to have relationships with people that lasts longer than 6 months.
Even those who know him well enough to understand that he has serious issues, cannot agree on how best to help him. Unfortunately, Hubby and I often fall into this last category, and it is not helping our relationship at all.
She didn't seem interested in talking to me since Bear is only a junior, but since he's almost 18 she agreed to meet. Long story short, she's encouraging us to apply for services and hopefully he'll qualify for vocational assessment and possibly they can help him get a job or internship this Summer! I'm really excited about this because:
a) I hope this will be a realistic vocational assessment that helps him find a job that actually matches his interests AND ability. The school seems to just ask him what he wants to do (which changes based on who he's talked to that week) and then signs him up for a class or tells him maybe he can take it next semester.
b) If they can get him a job, then he will be supervised and learning essential job skills this Summer!
c) If he has major difficulties on the job and/or gets fired then we have documented proof of his disabilites effecting his ability to work, so maybe we can access services (or pursue legal guardianship if needed) without having to wait until he's legally an adult, letting him fail, and then trying to pick up the pieces (which was the path recommended by his p-doc).
This is what Bear turned in for his 11th grade benchmark essay. It was typed so he presumably had spell check. Does this seem like he's on grade level to you?
The time I felt like an outsider was when I came to Texas to be with my new family that was going to be adopting me. This was weird for me because I met my family once before they sent me to Texas. This meant I had no clue what to think about being adopted and was scared to come to live with them which made me feel like an outsider. I also felt lost and this made me act a little different when I got here to Texas to live with these people I knew nothing about. But for some reason it seamed like every other foster care home I lived in before being adopted. This also meant that I was finally able to live with my little sister again witch meant a lot to me so this is some of the good ways that this has affected my life.
The bad ways this affected my life are it made it harder to see my birth family which were the ones that I really cared about and the ones I felt that would do any thing for me if I need them to. This also makes me constantly worried about my family that I left back in Nebraska who meant a lot to me, like my little sisters that still live with my birth mom. Some times this makes me think what life would be like if I was still there to day like if I would it be different for me in a good way or bad way. This is one thing I think about a lot being with this new family. Why did they pick me over all the other kids in this world? But in the end this all works out with me because of this I think I’m a better person to day! This the way I think being an outsider has affected me and my life
Thanks for reading this and have nice day!!!
The negative ways this has affected my life are it made it harder to see my birth family which were the ones that I really cared about and the ones I felt that would do any thing for me if I need them to. This also makes me constantly worried about my family that I left back in Nebraska who meant a lot to me, like my little sisters that still live with my birth mom.
Some times this makes me think what life would be like if I was still there today to day like if I would it be different for me in a positive way or negative way. This is one thing I think about a lot being with this new family. Why did they pick me over all the other kids in this world? But in the end this all works out with me because of this I think I’m a better person to day! This the way I think being an outsider has affected me and my life. I hope this make me have a better life in the long run to where it can help me help others is my life who are going throw things I went throw in my life lessons I have learned about.
Thanks for reading this and have nice day!!!
He got an 85. He lost 10 points for the uncorrected grammar and punctuation, and lost 5 out of 10 points for uncorrected spelling.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
A friend suggested I use this time to write a book, and I'm seriously thinking about it. According to my stats reader, a lot of people read this blog so I'm going to ask y'all's opinion on what I should write about.
- The FAIR Club - focused on our favorite discipline method. Generic enough for most families, but with info on how to tailor it to each family and child's specific needs.
- Write a book about dealing with older RAD kids and kids of truama in collaboration with one of our therapists who is incredibly experienced, but not necessarily interested in writing her own book.
- Narrative about our adoption/ RAD/ trauma/ mentally illnesses/ teenage/ neurotypical biokids/ school... journey (kind of turning this blog into a story).
- None of the above. This is a bad idea and I should focus on getting a "real job" with benefits.
What do y'all think?
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Saturday, February 5, 2011
Today I needed to buy a new jacket for my job interview tomorrow (none of my current jackets will button over my now 34GG boobs! -- hmmm! wonder if I should retitle this and change this so I don't get all those weird searches again). So anyway, we ran by SA on the way back from Bear's therapy. The loveseat was still there!
I had to talk to the manager about a problem with a price tag (the belt for the wrap around dress I wanted to try on was caught in the stapled on price tag so I had to remove the tag to try it on). The sales guy who had seen me showing the loveseat to Hubby and offered to sell it to me for $75 told the manager I was interested in a better deal on it.
The manager looked at it and dropped it to $45! I had assumed $50 was the best I could get. Hubby still said no. :( He wanted to wait until I had a job. The guy dropped to $40, then $35. I flirtateously told Hubby that he'd dropped the price so much because I'm cute and shopped there all the time. The poor manager was looking at my big hubby and about plotzed! Hubby really looks like a big jealous gorilla of a man (in reality he's a sweet natured teddy bear without a jealous bone in his body). I had to continually reassure the poor manager that Hubby knew I was being silly and (unlike other managers of SA), he's always been polite and totally respectful to me.
The good news is Hubby said yes! I finally get to replace the oversized couch that smells like cat pee! Yea!!! Now if I get the job (wearing my cute $5 jacket), I'll be totally happy!
Oh yea, for those of you with your mind in the gutter wondering why the new loveseat is a marital aide? Every Saturday night the kids go to Grandmas so Hubby and I can have a date night. We're old and poor so we usually end up watching a DVD from Redb*x. None of the couches are comfy for cuddling (we're not tiny little people who can cuddle on the couch together). So now we can both recline next to each other and be comfy and cuddle. Sweet!
Basically I've been talking to the pdoc through Bear's case manager, telling her (and therefore him) about Bear's latest exploits and our general concerns. The last few days have been snow days (not because of actual snow or ice, but rolling brown outs that are knocking out power at most of the schools in our district for about 30-45 minutes at a time 3 to 4 times a day). So on the day of Bear's pdoc appointment I was focused on who I was leaving home alone together (something I rarely do), and how I was going to get everyone to school. Between the trainings I'm attending, the fact that I'm probably a little depressed, Kitty's latest issues with depression/rages because she's been hanging out with kids who are depressed and cutting, and the guilt I'm feeling about not being able to focus a lot of time on her because of all the other stuff I'm doing... I was pretty distracted during Bear's appointment.
So when the pdoc stated that he'd read my e-mails and felt that Bear's behavior was nothing new, it didn't really register. When he stated that Bear's risk taking behavior was typical teenage boy behavior, I didn't even bother to argue (yes, it is typical teenage boy behavior, but Bear is not really a teenage boy developmentally, and... you know what, I still don't have the energy to argue). Bear spent the entire appointment with his head in his hands, obviously depressed or overwhelmed, but he willingly answered the pdoc's questions. He told the pdoc that he had all As and Bs (I hadn't checked in awhile - he's actually failing his computer class so this wasn't true).
The next thing I knew we were being ushered out of the appointment with no meds changed. See ya in a couple of months!
Talking about it with Hubby this morning, and we're still in a major dilemma.
- Bear needs structure and supervision.
- He needs major meds.
- He does not believe in his diagnoses.
- Any issues that crop up are your problem not his.
- He believes that needing chaos is part of his identity so he needs risk-taking, adrenaline junkie activities.
- His IQ is low, but not quite mentally retarded (mid 70s to low 80s).
- He gets overwhelmed in groups bigger than 6.
- He does not handle criticism or being told what to do.
- He has black and white thinking.
- He has low impulse control.
- If you are not his best friend (aka always doing what he wants), then you hate him and he will defiantly do the opposite of what you want - even if it is not in his own best interest.
- He is uncoordinated and has issues with heat and stamina.
- He has an addictive brain - so is vulnerable to addictive substances (tobacco, drugs, eating disorders, sex...).
This is not my opinion. These are symptoms of his diagnoses (C-PTSD, bipolar, personality disorders...) and unlike most teens, he will NOT grow out of them.
People "pull themselves up by their bootstraps" all the time. People with low IQs get good jobs and support themselves and a family just fine. Rebellious teens outgrow it and become productive citizens. People with bipolar disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, ADD, personality disorders, victims of childhood abuse... take their meds, go to therapy, find ways to adapt, and become semi-happy adults. You hear about success stories.
I don't think Bear has what the people in those success stories have. Usually those will serious illnesses and issues have the brain power to work their way around it. Those with low IQs and disabilities have the can-do attitude and support from others to help them get through it.
Many years ago, my brother-in-law lived with us. He has some pretty major cognitive disabilities, probably a low IQ and unmedicated ADHD. He also had issues with depression and had a passive aggressive personality (emphasis on the passive). He lived with Hubby and I for awhile and we tried to help him through college/technical school. At the time, Hubby was working as an engineer, back before the hi-tech industry crashed, so was making really good money.
My BIL wanted what Hubby had, but didn't have what it took to go through the years of school that Hubby did. We finally realized that we were enabling BIL (after he reneged on yet another car loan, flunked out of yet another school, and didn't bother showing up to yet another appointment to help him get assessed to get help for his issues...). I was allowing his learned helplessness to continue. He felt entitled to what Hubby had and would just give up when he couldn't achieve it easily.
We finally encouraged him to go back to Nebraska and live near my MIL(mother-in-law) where everyone has blue-collar jobs and are hard workers, reaping the realistic rewards of their labors. He did better (for awhile).
I wonder if we are doing the same thing to Bear (and Kitty) setting them up to want to live in the lifestyle to which they've grown accustomed, knowing they do not have the abilities to achieve it. If we lived on a farm, or worked in a factory in a small town, or something like that... then it seems like our kids would have a better chance of being happy with what they are capable of.
That probably sounds snobby or elitist or something. It's not the way I meant it. I'm just frustrated.
Need to make lunch so I can get the kids to Grandma's and go shopping at the local thrift stores for a suit for my job interview on Monday. Maybe some retail therapy will make me feel better. Yes, I have a job interview, and I'm kind of excited about it.