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!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Common Comment Response


I wanted to address one of the comments I receive a lot.

"If I was Kitty I would want to move out to get away from you.

Yes, what you see on my blog does appear controlling and restrictive.  There's several reasons for that:

  • I think people are projecting their own feelings or experiences on my children.  Yes, as adults or older teens being treated like a child would be demeaning and feel controlling.  I remember how I felt as teen, ready to get out on my own and try new things.  My mom was pretty strict and protective, and I wanted to rebel from that.  I lived in a big city and I look back now and realize how much my mom's rules protected me.  I had so many friends who got raped, pregnant, dropped out of school...  That being said, I did rebel against some of the rules, and I dealt with the consequences - which luckily weren't too severe.  I think how I parent 17yo Bob and even 14yo Ponito (which I don't talk about much on this blog, since it's not about neurotypical teens), shows that I can parent teens well.  HOWEVER!!!  Kitty is NOT an older teen!!
  • Kitty is at best age 10.  Yes, she gets jealous of the privileges her neurotypical siblings have, what little sister doesn't?   This doesn't mean those privileges are right for her.  RAD behaviors and teenage rebellion/ independence LOOK alike but they are NOT.  Kitty will not be moving out, because 10 year olds expect to have this kind of structure and support.  She may not always like it, but deep down she knows we love her and she doesn't want to leave, just like any other young child.  It is not appropriate or in Kitty or Bear's best interest to parent them like I would a child of their chronological age.   
  • I've been burned before.  I do base some of my responses on our prior experiences.  Honestly, we bowed to pressure a lot with Bear and gave him more freedom than he could handle, and he felt abandoned because of it!   He NEEDS structure and support and when we didn't provide it, he assumed it was because we didn't want to, instead of realizing it meant we were trusting him!  I think he was afraid to admit that he needed the structure and love, so he found ways to force us to give it to him!  I have become more structured, because I know it's what is needed and I'm learning to trust my instincts.
  • I know I tend to overplan and overthink things.  {I also tend to use more words than less!  ;) }  I like to have at least an outline of a plan, which I really am OK with changing.   I try to use this blog (and other resources) as a sounding board.  This blog is often where I experiment and "talk things through" before implementing them.  Although it usually hurts {a LOT} to hear, you guys give me some good feedback, and I listen. Sometimes I change my mind, sometimes I tweak things, and other times I stick with my first instinct. 

Senior Year IEP Results

Before the IEP meeting, we met with Kitty's special school principal and a teacher whose job it is to work on transitions.  Honestly it was the usual joke.  What do you want to be when you grow up?  Where do you want to live?  What do you need (in the 6 months left of school) to reach those goals?

Kitty's answers:  She thinks she wants to take a year off before starting junior college to travel.  She wants to become a flight attendant for awhile so she can travel, but she refused {as much as she will refuse any adult that's not us} to research the job requirements.  She'll stay at home while she goes to college, but eventually she wants to get married and have children.  She wants to continue working at GAC.

The special school principal did mention to her that she might be staying at GAC, because she doesn't like change.  He reinforced that it's a good idea to stay at home for awhile, and stated they will be helping her research the job requirements for being a flight attendant.

The main thing he said is that us making Kitty quit GAC would not get her what we were looking for - which was for the school to find a new job for her.  The vocational program would just drop her.  At the meeting, it was agreed that Kitty would work with her vocational teacher to try to get afternoon hours at GAC, but if not, then the school would fill the time with electives.  After having time to think about it, I'm hoping that she doesn't get the afternoon hours so she can try to get a little more out of these last 6 months of school.  She has the rest of her life to work.  I wanted her to try something new, and since she won't...

So nothing has really changed, except for some reason Hubby mentioned letting her start looking into getting her learner's permit.  That's ALL she got from the meeting.

The actual IEP meeting was a rubber stamp.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

Kitty came home from school very proud of herself because she had "worked everything out" with her VAC teacher and the principal of the special school.  She had arranged to keep her current job at the GAC and the VAC teacher agreed to "try" to find her an afternoon volunteer job (even though that isn't her job), but if she couldn't, then Kitty would be given electives to fill the time slots so she wasn't coming home early.

*sigh*  Knowing that as usual Kitty had heard what she'd wanted to hear the day before, I went ahead and asked Kitty why she'd made this arrangement when it wasn't what we'd talked about.  She insisted (LOUDLY) that my only complaint about next semester's schedule was that she'd be home alone (possibly with Bear) so her solution "solved everything."

Working with someone with such a distorted perception of reality is SOOOO hard!

We continued the "discussion" at therapy.  The therapist correctly pointed out that we were trying to give Kitty facts and logical arguments when Kitty wasn't operating in her logical brain.  The problem is that MOST of the time Kitty is in survival brain. I get that, but what the heck are we supposed to do when what she WANTS  and what she NEEDS are the same in her mind.  When she instinctually responds to everything, and it's usually an automatic "NO!"

I would LOVE to be the nurturer, the one saying, "Poor Baby, is that mean old world being nasty to you?  Don't worry, Mommy loves you and she'll try to make it all better!"

The reality is that children need immunizations, they have to go to school and do homework, and they can't have cheesecake and ice cream for every meal.  Normally you can palm off most of the "blame" on the doctors and school boards... even nutritionists. Instead, I'm the only one who gives a crap about what happens to my child long-term.  No one else is willing to be the "bad guy" who gives my child consequences, to take the difficult task of teaching her the skills and techniques she needs for real life,  and give reality checks/ tell her like it is, that I can be the "nurturing protector." Instead, everyone else gets to have that job!  She has a 100 people getting to give her warm fuzzies, telling her the world is full of sunshine, lollipops and rainbows, and she can do anything... leaving me with the crappy job of having to force her to face the real world so she'll at least try to gain the skills and knowledge she'll need to have a life in the real world.

With most kids you can introduce reality in small doses; natural consequences helps them figure things out on their own; others gently (or not so gently) let them know that a career as a rock singer is unlikely because they can't carry a tune to save their lives; they have poor science grades, and so realize that neurosurgery might not be a good choice...  Subtlety and natural consequences don't work with Bear and Kitty.  They see the world  through a distorted perspective - They are told they are totally normal and their warped view of the world is constantly being reinforced by others (the few people who disagree with their version of reality are "mean" and trying to make the child mad or kill their dreams), add to that Kitty's emotional reactivity, distorted perception of reality, oppositional defiance, intimate relationship issues, mix in the fact that we're running out of time to access services...  I don't feel we have the luxury of letting her live in this fantasy world.

I feel like we often made this mistake with Bear - letting him believe what he wanted to believe (that he could and would do ANYthing).  That's all great, but without someone hitting him over the head with reality so he would accept some practical help... he ended up with a lot of unattainable and broken dreams and his reality check came with years in prison and a criminal record for life.


After a lot of tears, yelling and even a threat to move out (first one in years!)... Kitty finally heard something she wanted to hear - a "compromise" she could live with.

This time we wrote down the compromises we'd agreed to so that she wouldn't remember it incorrectly:
  • She needs a job some time between 2:30 and 6:30pm every weekday except Tuesday (when she has therapy).
  • She can work one weekend shift (Friday evening OR Saturday - not both!)
  • We (meaning the therapist, Hubby and I) PREFER a new job with new skills like keyboarding (although I'm sure Kitty only agreed to this because she knew it was a deal breaker not to)
  • IF the school can't find her another job, she can work DAY shifts at GAC.
  • She would research the requirements for becoming a flight attendant (her current employment goal)
My theory is that she'll only remember that we said she could work at GAC.

The therapist also had her agree that I could write:
  • That she will spend more time downstairs with the family (versus isolating in her room)
  • She will increase her time with Mom and Dad individually (going shopping with mom, eating out with dad...)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Anti-climactic Moment

Kitty has an IEP meeting on Friday, so I planned to discuss the Basic Plan vs Family Plan during her Tuesday therapy session.  She meets with her new psychiatrist (old one quit) on Wednesday and I thought it would be good for her to see Kitty in an agitated state (if Kitty was going to be), because Kitty presents well and most people don't believe me or all the documentation in the face of that.  I didn't want to deal with telling her that we weren’t going to support her working at GAC (Giant Amusement Center) during the IEP meeting.  I wanted a chanced to process it with her in therapy, since she hasn’t been willing to listen to my concerns before now.

Last week I gave Kitty’s special school principal a heads up that we were going to need to talk about job changes at the IEP meeting (among other things).  Don’t know why it didn’t occur to me, but unfortunately the school decided to discuss our decision to stop supporting her working at GAC on MONDAY.   She came home upset that I’d e-mailed her teachers against her wishes again.  We reviewed some of my concerns (focusing on the stress and anxiety that the GAC job produces, her isolating and shutting down and refusing to be part of the family) and she actually took it rather well.

Here's the points we covered that we will need to repeatedly remind her she agreed to:

  • We talked to her about the shutting down/ freeze/ isolating behavior she’s been increasingly showing, and her repeated statements that she’s not willing to deal with any issues or be part of the family because she’s not willing to take any chances about going back to the psych hospital.  She tried to deny that she’s been sleeping or isolating all day, and said she’d been out of her room more, but I pointed out that appears to be only because she lost her iPod on Saturday (and the novelty of having her Netflixs account on the TV - which she decided to do after losing her iPod).
  • She agreed to go along with us telling the school that we would no longer be willing to take her to GAC so that the school would look for another job for her that would start during the school day.
  • If the school was unable/unwilling to find her another job, she agreed to continue to work at The Book Store so that she isn’t coming home mid-day (because we are not comfortable with her being home alone unsupervised for long periods of time if I find a job and/or Bear ends up moving home).
  • Although I feel the stress would be too much for her and I’m unhappy that she will continue to miss so much family time, we did agree that if she went along with telling the school that she needed a new job, and she wanted to secretly continue to work at GAC, we would let her continue to work there. I HATE this, because I feel nothing will change, if she keeps this stupid job.

Not exactly what I hoped for, because I was really hoping to trigger a commitment from her to be a "family girl," but probably the best we were going to get under the circumstances. I did talk to her about the Basic plan vs Family plan, but left out a lot (mentioned it being a CHOICE to be part of the family and that family privileges included chauffering and cable TV).

I didn't even bring up the Boarder Agreement - honestly I never wanted that to be seen as a punishment, so this is better.  Now we can use it as a tool when she graduates high school.  Someone commented that it seemed like a document that was well over her head, and I agree!  The reality is that ALL legal documents are over her head, and yet as an adult she will be expected to sign them (the main reason we needed to get legal guardianship).  That's why she has given me Power of Attorney; she trusts me to explain documents to her and work in her best interest (kind of ironic!).  If Bear moves home, we'll have him fill out the Boarder Agreement as well.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Boarder Agreement


This Agreement is between__Mary & Hubby Themom_(OWNERS) and _Kitty Themom__ (RESIDENT) for the rental of a room located at __123 Bogus Lane, City, TX #####_.

The monthly rent is $__550__, payable on or before the __10th__ day of every month beginning upon graduation from high school.  Prior to graduation, all other terms in this agreement are applicable.
A security deposit of $__900__, including Last Month’s Rent, paid on __________________ (date).

The premises shall be considered vacated only after all areas including storage areas are clear of all RESIDENT'S belongings, and keys and other property furnished for RESIDENT'S use are returned to OWNER. Should the RESIDENT hold over beyond the termination date or fail to vacate all possessions on or before the termination date, RESIDENT shall be liable for additional rent and damages which may include damages due to OWNER'S loss of prospective new renters.

  1. SECURITY DEPOSIT:  After graduation from high school, an additional $100 will be added  to each months’ rent until the security deposit (which includes the last month’s rent) is paid in full (9 months).  This shall secure compliance with the terms and conditions of this agreement and shall be refunded to RESIDENT within 21 days after the premises have been completely vacated less any amount necessary to pay OWNERS; a) any unpaid rent, b) cleaning costs, c) key replacement costs, d) cost for repair of damages to premises and/or common areas above ordinary wear and tear, and e) any other amount legally allowable under the terms of this agreement. A written accounting of said charges shall be presented to RESIDENT within _21_ days of move-out. If deposits do not cover such costs and damages, the RESIDENT shall immediately pay said additional costs for damages to OWNERS. 
  2. LATE CHARGE: A late fee of $_50_, (not to exceed _10_% of the monthly rent), shall be added and due for any payment of rent made after the __10th__ day of the month. Any dishonored check shall be treated as unpaid rent, and subject to an additional fee of $_25__. 
  3. PREMISES MAINTENANCE:  RESIDENT shall maintain room and common areas in a safe, organized, clean and sanitary condition.  (See Premise Maintenance Agreement)  All residents have equal rights to use common areas (family room, front room, game room, dining room, kitchen, hallways, bathrooms, laundry areas, and agree to respect the rights of other residents in such areas. 
  4. RESPECT:  RESIDENT will respect other’s feelings and rights and as such will be respectful and pleasant to be around to other residents of the premises and their guests.
  5. PRIVACY:  Other than in emergency situations (which include protection of RESIDENT’S health and safety, suspected unlawful activity or violation of the Morality Clause, and/or prevention of property damage) OWNERS will only enter room upon verbal consent of RESIDENT.
  6. RIGHT OF ENTRY AND INSPECTION: OWNERS reserves the right to enter, for the purpose of purpose of inspection, establishment of order, repairs, maintenance, inventory correction, and/or in case of emergency or suspected abandonment. OWNERS shall give 24 hours advance notice and may enter for the purpose of showing the premises to prospective renters, caseworkers/ social workers, for smoke alarm inspections, extermination, cleaning, and/or for normal inspections and repairs. OWNERS are permitted to make all alterations, repairs and maintenance that in OWNER'S judgment are necessary to perform.  RESIDENT may not deny access to OWNERS or authorized contractors attempting to exercise the OWNER’s rights or perform the OWNERS’ obligations. 
  7. LOSS/ THEFT/ DAMAGE:  OWNERS shall not be liable for any damages to or loss of personal property in the common areas, outdoor areas, room, or garage/ storage facilities. RESIDENT is strongly advised to secure belongings and consider arranging for insurance coverage of personal property.  Use of furniture, equipment, fixtures, food/ consumables, personal items not belonging to the RESIDENT, and services not specifically deemed for common use will be considered theft and is forbidden.  Removal of common area or common use furniture, equipment, fixtures, or other property is forbidden. Violators will be fined $50 per day for each item in their possession and/or for replacement of item.  RESIDENT is liable for all damage that is caused to the room(s) or any furniture/furnishing/ fixture therein. RESIDENT is liable for the cost of repairing damage to the room(s) and building.  
  8. INSURANCE: RESIDENT acknowledges that OWNERS’ insurance does not cover personal property damage caused by fire, theft, rain, war, acts of God, acts of others, and/or any other causes, nor shall OWNER be held liable for such losses. RESIDENT is hereby advised to obtain his/her own insurance policy to cover any personal losses. 
  9. GUESTS:   RESIDENT’S privilege to have guests is subject to the following limitations:  a) Guest(s) staying overnight without the written consent of OWNERS (requested at minimum 24 hours in advance) shall be considered a breach of this agreement. b) Guest visiting hours are between 10am and 8pm – it is strongly encouraged that RESIDENT request permission from OWNERS prior to the guest(s)’ arrival and that OWNERS be on the premises when guests are visiting.c) RESIDENT may not pressure or force other household members to tolerate the presence of a guest; d) The presence of guests must not restrict the free access of legitimate household members to all common spaces and to any private space they may have or create any situation that infringes on the right of roommates to remain undisturbed; e) The presence of a guest may not exceed 24 consecutive hours without prior written request a minimum of 24 hours in advance.f) Guests of opposite gender to RESIDENT or who have expressed a preference for same-sex relationships must remain only in common areas, never in private spaces. 
  10. PETS: No animal, fowl, fish, reptile, and/or pet of any kind shall be kept on or about the premises, for any amount of time, without obtaining the prior written consent and meeting the requirements of the OWNERS. Such consent if granted, shall be revocable at OWNERS’ option upon giving a 10 day written notice or immediately if there is any abuse or neglect of the animal or the animal is, or becomes, aggressive, disruptive or destructive,  or any members of the household have, or develop, an issue with the animal. In the event permission is granted to have a pet and/or animal of any kind, an additional deposit in the amount of $_________ shall be required along with additional monthly rent of $_______ along with the signing of OWNER'S Pet Agreement.
  11. PARKING: When and if RESIDENT is assigned a parking area/space on OWNERS’ property, the parking area/space shall be used exclusively for parking of passenger automobiles and/or those approved vehicles RESIDENT is hereby assigned or permitted to park only in the following area or space __driveway spot farthest from the front door_. The parking fee for this space (is $________ monthly).  Said space shall not be used for the washing, painting, or repair of vehicles. No other parking space shall be used by RESIDENT or RESIDENT'S guest(s). RESIDENT is responsible for oil leaks and other vehicle discharges for which RESIDENT shall be charged for cleaning if deemed necessary by OWNER. 
  12. HOA: RESIDENT agrees to comply with all rules and regulations set forth by the Home Owner’s Association.
  13. COMMON AREAS/ CURFEW/ NOISE: Without prior agreement, common areas are only to be used between the hours of 7am to 9pm.  RESIDENT agrees not to cause or allow any noise or activity on the premises which might disturb the peace and quiet of another RESIDENT and/or neighbor. Said noise and/or activity shall be a breach of this agreement. 
  14. DESTRUCTION OF PREMISES: If the premises become totally or partially destroyed during the term of this Agreement so that RESIDENT'S use is seriously impaired, OWNERS or RESIDENT may terminate this Agreement immediately. 
  15. CONDITION OF PREMISES: RESIDENT acknowledges that he has examined the premises and that said premises, all furnishings, fixtures, furniture, plumbing, heating, electrical facilities, all items listed on the attached Property Condition checklist, if any, and/or all other items provided by OWNERS are all clean, and in good satisfactory condition except as may be indicated elsewhere in this Agreement. RESIDENT agrees to keep the premises and all items in good order and good condition and to immediately pay for costs to repair and/or replace any portion of the above damaged by RESIDENT, his guests and/or invitees, except as provided by law. At the termination of this Agreement, all of above items in this provision shall be returned to OWNERS in clean and good condition except for reasonable wear and tear and the premises shall be free of all personal property and trash not belonging to OWNERS. It is agreed that all dirt, holes, tears, burns, and stains of any size or amount in the carpets/flooring, drapes, walls, fixtures, and/or any other part of the premises, do not constitute reasonable wear and tear. 
  16. HOUSE RULES: RESIDENT shall comply with all house rules as stated on separate addendum, but which are deemed part of this rental agreement, and a violation of any of the house rules is considered a breach of this agreement. 
  17. FIGHTING:  Threats or acts of bodily harm are prohibited.
  18. ASSIGNMENT: RESIDENT agrees not to transfer, assign or sublet the premises or any part thereof. 
  19. ALCOHOL/ DRUGS:  In Texas, the possession and/or use of alcohol by persons under 21 years of age is prohibited. Distribution of alcohol by sale or gift to persons under 21 years of age is forbidden. RESIDENT is held accountable for what occurs in the room(s) and is therefore expected to comply with state law in the use of distribution of alcohol. Alcohol may not be consumed in the public areas. Kegs, regardless of contents or amount, are prohibited on premises.   Failure to comply means RESIDENT is subject to immediate termination of the Boarder Agreement, removal from the premises, as well a disciplinary or judicial action and criminal prosecution.
  20. THERAPEUTIC TREATMENT AND PRESCRIPTION MEDICATION:  RESIDENT agrees to attend recommended therapeutic treatment and take prescribed medication (as prescribed).  Failure to comply means RESIDENT is subject to immediate termination of the Boarder Agreement.
  21. MORALITY/ PORNOGRAPHY:  Inappropriate activities and materials such as pornography and media (games, movies, music, magazines…) designed for older teens or adults must be kept out of common areas and other residents of the premises must not be exposed to these materials.   Failure to comply means RESIDENT is subject to immediate termination of the Boarder Agreement, removal from the premises, as well a disciplinary or judicial action and criminal prosecution.
  22. FIREARMS/ DANGEROUS WEAPONS - Possession, storage or use of firearms or dangerous weapons are prohibited and subject to immediate termination of the Boarder Agreement, removal from the premises, as well as disciplinary or judicial action and criminal prosecution.
  23. PARTIAL INVALIDITY: Nothing contained in this Agreement shall be construed as waiving any of the OWNERS’ or RESIDENT'S rights under the law. If any part of this Agreement shall be in conflict with the law, that part shall be void to the extent that it is in conflict, but shall not invalidate this Agreement nor shall it affect the validity or enforceability of any other provision of this Agreement. 
  24. NO WAIVER: OWNERS’ acceptance of rent with knowledge of any default by RESIDENT or waiver by OWNERS of any breach of any term of this Agreement shall not constitute a waiver of subsequent breaches. Failure to require compliance or to exercise any right shall not be constituted as a waiver by OWNERS of said term, condition, and/or right, and shall not affect the validity or enforceability of any provision of this Agreement. 
  25. MEDIATION/ ATTORNEY FEES: If any legal action or proceedings be brought by either party of this Agreement, the prevailing party shall be reimbursed for all reasonable attorney's/mediator’s fees and costs in addition to other damages awarded. 
  26. REPORT TO CREDIT/TENANT AGENCIES: You are hereby notified that a nonpayment, late payment or breach of any of the terms of this rental agreement may be submitted/reported to a credit and/or tenant reporting agency, and may create a negative credit record on your credit report. 
  27. NOTICES: All notices to RESIDENT shall be served at RESIDENT'S premises and all notices to OWNERS shall be served at __123 Bogus Lane_. 
  28. CHANGES TO THIS AGREEMENT:  With 30 days written notice to Tenant, OWNERS may raise the rent, alter the terms of the agreement, or terminate the tenancy; 60 days written notice will be given to terminate the tenancy if RESIDENT has resided on the premises for at least one (1) year. Conversely, the RESIDENT MUST give OWNERS 30 days written notice of intent to quit the premises.
OWNERS agree to provide the following:

Electricity/ Gas
Sewer/ Water
Telephone (local)
Trash Removal/ Recycling
Food /Consumables – See Meal Plan
Transportation to therapy and medical appointments

Negotiated Separately:
Chauffer/ Chaperone services – including to work and to go out with friends
Eating out/ Snack food/ Take out/ Special meals
Vacations/ Parties/ Special Events
WiFi/ Network/ Cable
TV/ Electronics/ Appliances
OWNERS and RESIDENT agree to honor the following House Rules and any additional written Rules attached:
By initialing as provided, RESIDENT acknowledges the receipt of the following documents (copies of which are attached hereto) and are incorporated herein by reference:
______ House Rules           ______ Inventory & Condition Report
______ Furniture Inventory & Condition Report   ______ Repair / Replacement Agreement
______ Maintenance Request Form         ______ Inventory of Personal Property
______ Premise Maintenance Agreement         ______ Other: ______________________
______ I understand that I am entering into a legally binding agreement with landlord(s). I also understand that I, as an individual, am responsible to the landlords, the utility companies, and other tenants of the home.
The undersigned have read the foregoing Lease prior to execution & acknowledge receipt of a copy.
Dated this ____ day of ________________, of the year __________
RESIDENT Signature:
 ___________________________________________________ ___________________ Date
 OWNERS’s Signature:
 ___________________________________________________ ___________________ Date

KEYS AND ADDENDUMS: RESIDENT acknowledges receipt of the following which shall be deemed part of this Agreement: (Please check)

___ Keys #of keys and purposes ___________________________________________
___ House Rules ___ Pet Agreement ___ Other ________________________________

ENTIRE AGREEMENT: This Agreement constitutes the entire Agreement between OWNERS and RESIDENT.

No oral agreements have been entered into, and all modifications or notices shall be in writing to be valid.
RECEIPT OF AGREEMENT: The undersigned RESIDENT has read and understood this Agreement and hereby acknowledge receipt of a copy of this Rental Agreement.

RESIDENT'S Signature ___________________________________________________
OWNERS’ Signature ____________________________________________

Friday, November 15, 2013

Basic Package vs Luxury Package - Edited

Kitty has decided her coping strategy of choice is Freeze.  She's been isolating and sleeping to deal with the overwhelm mode that she is stuck in.  I'd prefer she is faced with having to change coping strategies, or even having a breakdown, now, rather than later when she's even more deeply entrenched in her current "coping" strategies.  Plus, status quo SUCKS!!!

This is why I decided that I want to risk overwhelm with Kitty now while she's still in school and has the support and services in place.   A meltdown could help her access more services too.  If we can demonstrate that she is struggling with life now, it will help demonstrably show how much she would struggle with living independently and working full-time. Add in relationships and possibly young children...

Plus we are going to have to start all over with a new psychiatrist and DARS case manager (both of whom have quit in the last couple of weeks. New people always have to be convinced that the child they see on paper is the same child they see in their office.  My kids really present well, especially Kitty who "Acts In" instead of "Acting Out," plus she has a high verbal IQ, and her processing issues don't show as much in a one on one situation.

As you know, I love me some Katharine Leslie, and I've decided to adapt her "Basic Package" vs "Luxury Package" for my sweet child who has informed me that she refuses to be part of this family because it might send her back to the psych hospitals.  The good news is this will hopefully force the issue with Kitty, while at the same time looking like we're helping her be independent (at the same time proving that she's not actually capable of handling independence).

The hardest part for me, as I write these documents (will post more over the next few days), is that I've already made the decision in my own head that we're going forward with this - we just haven't told her yet.  So I'm even more frustrated and irritated by her behavior.  We'll be presenting Kitty with her options next week in therapy.


"The Basic Package"
If you choose the “Basic Package”, we will provide a "structure and rehabilitation" environment (vs. "love and affection" environment).  This means we will meet your basic needs for food (anything beyond basic food will need to be purchased with your own money, and you will be expected to help prepare and clean up meals and snacks), shelter and case management.  We will provide affection (hugs, kisses, loving words) in response to your showing of affection, but only if it's appropriate (for example -  not if you kiss me on the back of the head, from behind the couch, after ignoring me all day or being nasty to me less than an hour before).

This doesn’t mean we no longer love you; 
it just means we will stop making the first move or tolerating hurtful behavior!!

This will be a “give and take” relationship.  You may no longer take more than you give.  Privileges must be earned – mostly through positive relationship behaviors (not chores or being “good”).  You will be given many opportunities to show your caring and loving nature, and can move to being a “family girl” when you’re ready!  You will be expected to be RRHAFTBA (Respectful, Responsible, Honest, positive Attitude, and Fun To Be Around)
You are choosing to no longer be part of the family.  Since you will still live in our home, this means you will need to sign the Boarder Agreement.  You will no longer be expected to do “family chores,” nor will you be able to participate in family meals or activities without prior negotiation.  The names "Mom" and "Dad" are loving nicknames.  You can call us Mother and Father or Ms. Mary and Mr. Hubby.

"The Family Plan" 
The Basic package plus "family perks.”
Family Perks - All the things that children don't need but come out of the goodness of a parent’s heart
Chauffer/ Chaperone services – including to work and to go out with friends
Eating out/ Snack food/ Take out/ Special meals
Gifts, clothing, items, shopping – more than the basic.
Vacations/ Parties/ Special Events
WiFi/ Network/ Cable
TV/ Electronics/ Appliances.
To qualify for the family plan, you need to be RRHAFTBALL (Respectful, Responsible, Honest, positive Attitude, Fun To Be Around, Loving, and Learning) and become a “family girl” with family-friendly behaviors and satisfy parental needs in some ways, most of the time.  It cannot be earned or forced; it is a feeling and a CHOICE.


Edited to add:  I did NOT give Kitty this document, for several reasons (see this post and this post).  I do feel better for having written it, and it has helped me clarify my thoughts and feelings.  I have given her a verbal watered-down version.  I'm not sure what we're going to do, but Kitty's therapist and I have agreed that based on all that's going on, this is too harsh and would be counter-productive at this time.  It may come up in the future though, for any of my children who need to understand the difference between Rights and Family Privileges.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Kitty's Senior year IEP meeting

Wow!  After the conferences I went to this weekend (future posts I promise!), I came home charged up with an unwillingness to tolerate status quo any longer.  Hubby and I both agree that Kitty's decision, that the only way to handle feeling overwhelmed, stressed and anxious by her life was to shut down and "freeze" at home and in therapy, is not acceptable.  His solution has been to spend an hour with her in her room (where she's been hiding with her iPod 95% of the time).  My solution is to give her an ultimatum - she has to choose the "basic plan" and be basically a boarder in our home (which means respectful of us, responsible for herself and maintaining her environment, and NO more family privileges- like access to free WiFi) or she can choose to be a "family girl."  (future post will show the documents I've devised).

Kitty has an IEP meeting next week.  This will determine what she'll be doing her final semester of high school, and transition plans (high school to real world).  I wrote this e-mail to the principal of her special school (she splits her time between the regular high school and a special school for kids who are "emotionally disturbed), in the hopes that he can use his pull to work behind the scenes and get some of the things the school district have fought us on. 

Hi {principal of Kitty's special school},

I have a few concerns I wanted to mention before Kittys’s IEP meeting on the 22nd.

  1. Immediate Health Concern:  Are you aware that Kitty does not eat lunch on B days because she doesn’t want to face the cafeteria?  Instead she comes home and gorges on the packaged food and candy that she gets from {special school} in addition to the food she would normally eat for afternoon snack.  Lately she’s been trying to skip dinner (although I usually have her eat a small portion) – I assume because she’s full from the sheer amount of food she eats at 5pm, but also because she’s trying to lose weight quickly.  We’ve discussed healthy eating a lot over the years, but she still thinks that because the pretzels/crackers are whole grain or it’s frozen yogurt versus ice cream, she can eat a huge portion or even the whole box.  I’d like to discuss having a tray brought to her or finding another way to get her meals.
  2. Transition Planning:  If someone could have some information available about Kitty’s options after graduation that would be helpful.  Currently we are planning on having her live at home and work part time while she takes a remedial class or two at {local community college}, but we’d like information about options like {local assisted living group homes for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities} or some place more appropriate.  I recently discovered that Kitty may qualify for the DADS program (the IQ cut off is 75 not 70 and Kitty’s full scale IQ is 74) and if someone could help us navigate this system that would be greatly appreciated.  Once again I’d like to mention that we’re very interested in the Super Senior program {students graduate with their class, but continue to attend the vocational program through the school} for Kitty.  We’re also interested in having a last FIE {Full Individualized Evaluation - school's version of an academic psych eval} done as well.
  3. OUR BIGGEST CONCERN:  Kitty is currently at her MAXimum stress level with school, work and family, and it has caused severe traumatic emotional debilitation (I realize that you may not be aware of this issue, as Kitty has always been able to hide her issues from the public – even when she was in and out of psych hospitals every other week for suicidal ideation and the psychiatrists were recommending she be homebound until residential treatment was secured, she was able to keep the school from seeing the majority of her struggles).   She has stated several times that due to her need to people please, she has chosen to sacrifice her relationships with the family and progress in therapy because she believes (most likely correctly) that any more stress/anxiety from ANY source will push her over the edge and she will end up back in the psych hospital.  

Currently when she is not shut down and isolating herself, she is lashing out and unable to handle even minor upsets without a major reaction.  Obviously we consider work and school to be important, but Kitty’s emotional/mental health must be a higher priority and she cannot learn and grow when she is overwhelmed and in her “trauma brain.”  Plus, there is a strong possibility that Kitty’s brother will be returning to the home from prison in a few months – an additional cause of stress for Kitty.  We agree that to prevent an emotional breakdown and return to the emotional stability that Kitty needs to function and heal, that stress/ anxiety needs to be lessened in some areas of Kitty’s life.

Obviously there is little we can do about the stress of school and family; therefore, we feel that Kitty needs a less stressful job that doesn’t activate her auditory processing issues (loud, chaotic environment), doesn’t trigger her trauma issues (alcohol, illicit behaviors, and social anxieties), doesn’t continuously overtax her skills and abilities (she feels devastated by her “failures,” every time she makes mistakes and needs assistance – which since her tolerance level is so low right now feels overwhelmingly frequent), and doesn’t occur during family time (Friday and Saturday evenings - she works 5-9pm Friday and Saturday only).
We realize that Kitty dislikes (is afraid of!) change, and she has learned a lot from her time at {Giant Amusement Center -GAC}, but we believe it is in her best interest, despite her current objection,  to have a job more suited to her aptitude and abilities, that will challenge her without incapacitating her.  We also realize that she finds her current volunteer work at The Book Store “boring” and unchallenging.  We appreciate that you have encouraged her not to quit – at least until the semester is over.

We know that next semester Kitty will have even more electives (due to the completion of Economics and Government).  She has mentioned she’d like to take a Nutrition class at {special school}.  Our concern is that the school will propose again that she come home at 2:30 each day (or earlier).  I know you appreciate why Kitty should not just get out of school early each day (she needs supervision and I may not be available, if her brother is home she absolutely cannot handle being alone with him, she WANTS a job or classes where she can be active and learning needed vocational and living skills…)

We are optimistic that you and the VAC {school's vocation} program will find a job that meets Kitty’s needs, whether it is a paid position or not.  I know there are a lot of small businesses around {special school} that she might do well at – including a florist and many food places.  I regret that we have to “force your hand” by no longer being willing and able to transport Kitty to GAC on Friday and Saturday evenings after this semester ends.  If you are unable to find another job that can get her on the bus in time to go home, Hubby and I are willing to pick her up from work (on school days), as long as she is done by 6:30pm (she has therapy on Tuesdays, so we have to leave our home no later than 5:00pm).  We are OK with her working the occasional Saturday with the same stipulation that she be done by 6:30pm.

Thanks for reading this huge e-mail!  Sorry it’s so long, but I wanted you to understand our concerns.  As always, please contact me with any questions or concerns!

Thank you,

Mary Themom
cell:  (###) ###-####