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Thread: I am the mother of "that child"

  1. #1

    I am the mother of "that child"

    Please bear with me - this is long, very personal (and probably self-identifying), but I feel it's VERY important.

    I have five children (3 by birth, 2 by adoption from foster care), so I'm intimately familiar with bullying and other behavior problems in schools. And, I'm disappointed and embarrassed to say that I am the mother of "that child." You know the one - disruptive in class, bullying other students, absorbing a significantly disproportionate share of resources to simply maintain a safe classroom.

    This past school year, he has sexually harassed, bullied and instigated fights with other students. He has attacked staff members and is known to become agitated (to the extent that a violent outburst is a very real possibility) over simple things, like a chair squeaking or being told it's time to work on division. He lies and steals. His Behavioral Intervention Plan (BIP) practically allows him to go unchallenged in the event that he gets frustrated, in order to avoid a confrontation that could lead to an unsafe situation. Staff at the school has had to undergo additional training to learn safe restraint techniques and they have plans to evacuate his immediate area of other students. They have had to execute these plans more than once.

    At home, he is frequently violent, and I have the bruises to prove it. He steals from his siblings and throws things around the house. He runs away. I have had to lock him out of the house to keep our other children safe. While we can frequently maintain some semblance of normalcy, when he devolves, it is scary and dangerous.

    If you ask him why he acts this way, his response is simple - either he is annoyed by something someone else is doing, or he is being asked/told to do something he doesn't want to do.

    He is only 11, yet is stronger than most adults. And he is very, very obviously a broken child. Without going into his history too much, I can assure you that this is not entirely surprising - but it is ENTIRELY unacceptable.

    At this point, you're probably saying that he does not belong in school with your children, and you're right. Not only that, but he really belongs in a secure facility where he can work on his issues while the rest of society is safe from his rampages. And you're right.

    We delved into private resources - counseling and medications, and evaluations at large hospitals (Kennedy Krieger, Children's), all in an attempt to identify and address his issues and help him overcome his past. The formal evaluations document a troubled child, but refrain from attaching any formal label other than ADHD because he is so young. He is minimally participatory in counseling (we have tried several kinds of therapy and multiple different counselors), and we have only found medications that manage his general mood swings, not his outbursts. We have tried many, many medications, and with each medication change, we move up the strength scale, with ultimately the same minimal effect.

    After a particularly violent outburst, we took him to the ER for a psych hold, but by the time we got there, he was calm and under control, so I looked like a lunatic. The social worker informed me that there wasn't anything she could do - his behavior wasn't "bad enough," nor was the severity documented. When I asked what I'm supposed to do if I truly don't feel safe at home with him, she informed us to call the police (who, given our location, would not likely be able to respond very quickly), and to reach out to DSS (the family preservation unit). She DID give me a list of psychiatrists and counselors in the area. Let me tell you - 1/3 of those don't accept our insurance, 1/3 of those don't see children, 1/3 of them aren't accepting new clients, and 1/3 never return phone calls. 1/50 may actually work out - and they're not the good ones. If you've noticed that that adds up to more than 100% - well, that's obviously an over exaggeration, but it is truly representative of the frustrating process of trying to find a child the right kind of help.

    So, we put a plan into place - we informed everyone in his life (including the school) to simply call the police if he was out of control, so that it would be documented and he could be safely removed from the situation.

    Several weeks later, he went ballistic at school, kicking holes in the wall, throwing things, screaming and threatening. They called us first, not wanting to call the police. We told them to call the police. An officer came and managed to get him under control, and escorted him to the ER under a psychiatric hold. Once there, it took six (SIX) adults to manage him, and he flipped over the (heavy) hospital bed and threw chairs around the room. They had to sedate him - several times.

    This finally allowed us to get him transferred to a facility for a short-term emergency stay to reevaluate his medication.

    Two weeks later, he was released. Things seemed better - they honestly did - and we held onto something good for about 5 weeks, when he had another violent outburst. He destroyed the artwork in two hallways at school, attacked three staff members and the responding officer. This time, he was arrested and charged with assault and destruction of property. He was released to us, and is on probation.

    He continued to act out, though not to the same degree, until the past week or so, when the behaviors intensified at home. Frustrated and scared, I finally escorted him back to the ER (and he was calm by the time we got there), and had him re-committed to an inpatient psychiatric facility. We are desperately seeking admission to a longer-term facility, truly believing that he can't safely work through his issues at home and with available community resources. HOWEVER, due to his age, the only facilities that will take him are state-run, which means that we need referrals/authorization from a state agency to gain admission. Herein lies the rub. We have exhausted local private and public resources, with no help or improvement in his behaviors. The hospital can only hold him if he's an immediate danger to himself or others, which is not the case by the time he's admitted. SMCPS wants to try a more restrictive - but still local - placement, despite the fact that he isn't safe to be with "normal" children. DJS can only bring him in front of a judge if he violates his probation, which isn't immediate enough, given the violence of his behaviors. The police can arrest him and charge him with assault (or whatever), but then would release him back to us, and we'd be charged with abandonment if we refused to accept him. SMCDSS, which is in charge of local referrals to residential placements - we've called family preservation, CPS, foster care, and adoptions over the past many months - will not return our calls.

    We have gone everywhere we can think of to seek help, only to be turned away, or told that his behavior isn't serious enough. So we languish with local community resources, and people getting hurt. Yes, we have tried every consequence and reward system available over the months/years, including all the ones recommended by specialists in the fields of child psychology, adoptions, etc, and resorting to physical (for those of you who would tell me he just needs to be spanked). I'm ashamed to admit that nothing works.

    So, for those of you who think that the parents of "that child" are simply ignoring and potentially even enabling the behavior, please know that that is always the case. Hospitalization (the only private resource available to us)? Tried that, it's only short term, and he's not violent enough on a regular basis to warrant a longer hold for safety reason. Level III/IV school placement? Not bad enough. Jail? Too young. DJS consequences? Very delayed, slow process (which doesn't help, in the moment). Residential placement? Controlled by SMCDSS, which is completely unresponsive. And, if I keep him at home (which I have done more than once, if I feel that he's likely to act out at school), I come out looking like a domestic violence victim. I, as an individual, am not strong enough to take him on. Our other children are not safe with him in the home (and they know this). Yet none of this is BAD ENOUGH.

    I do worry that by putting this all on a local public forum, we'll be identified, criticized, and shamed, but most of the people around us already know what we're going through. The bruises I'm wearing aren't a secret. The arrests at school aren't a secret. But, if this either helps put the failure of public resources into perspective, or helps us find more resources available (including getting SMCDSS to place him into a residential facility), then it will be worth it.

    Signing off for now so that I can reach back out to DSS and residential facilities to find alternative ways to get him admitted. Let the shaming begin!

  2. #2
    How come he hasn't been arrested for assaulting others and yourself and gone through the system and been placed in a institution where he can receive the help he needs.
    Cheltenham youth center is full of children like this.
    Proud to be a cereal comma user.

  3. #3
    #*! boat! Gilligan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by black dog View Post
    Cheltenham youth center is full of children like this.
    I admit it's all anecdotal (though some of it directly from the folks working in juvenile services) but I've heard Cheltenham referred to as "Future Repeat Offenders Academy" and "Future Criminals U".... When my youngest found himself in legal trouble a few years ago, his "parole counselor" made it pretty crystal clear that she wanted to help keep him out of Cheltenham at all costs.
    Last edited by Gilligan; 06-05-2017 at 10:03 AM.
    You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline. It helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer. -Frank Zappa

  4. #4
    Registered User MarieB's Avatar
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    Forgive me if this is a stupid suggestion, but have you considered saying that he threatened to commit suicide?

  5. #5
    Board Mommy vraiblonde's Avatar
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    You certainly have an extreme situation and I'm not sure why anyone would want to "shame" you for something that isn't your fault, and that you're trying to deal with. There should be sympathy, not condemnation. I like to reserve my condemnation for those whose children aren't mentally ill and only need a firm parental hand that they're not getting.

    I have no advice for you, sounds like you've covered every avenue available. It's stupid that we don't have a mechanism to deal with situations like yours. The law says you have to wait until he injures or kills someone, then they'll treat it as a criminal offense and off to baby prison he goes.

    Are you medicating him? I didn't see that in your story, but it seems to me that the first thing they'd do is diagnose him and drug him up. <--That came off sounding harsher than I meant. Clearly he has a chemical imbalance in his brain, and that is typically treatable.

    Anyway, I'm sorry this is happening to you.
    "Too much agreement kills a chat."
    ~Eldridge Cleaver

  6. #6
    American Beauty RoseRed's Avatar
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    I have no words of advice, but my heart goes out to you. Good luck.
    Quote Originally Posted by kom526 View Post
    Dear Baby Jesus lying in a crib in Bethlehem,
    I thank your divine intervention that I was not drinking anything when I read this post.

  7. #7
    I think you should seek help as well. You feel others may look down on you for this posting, but obviously feel it's important enough to do so. I'm sure it was also somewhat of a relief to be able to get it off your chest.

    I know you feel all the attention and therapy should go to your child, but your health is just as important. Seek out professional help. Even if its just someone you can vent to.

    Best of luck.
    Crybaby Cripplecrow Hanging on a Monkey's Toe Club

  8. #8
    Registered User
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    You won't believe me, but I had the same.
    I did two things:
    1. Refused labels and medications and gave up (eventually)
    2. told him his past sucked more than most but that he had to chose to control himself. (This is a summary - I hate summaries)
    Two things happened:
    1. time passed
    2. he chose to control himself

    I've heard similar stories from others about boys this age range.
    Peace to you and your family :(.

  9. #9
    god bless you for what you are trying to do. I wish I had advice for you, all I can say is you are not alone. Feel free to PM if you need to vent, I promise not to judge.

  10. #10
    Board Mommy vraiblonde's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris0nllyn View Post
    I know you feel all the attention and therapy should go to your child, but your health is just as important. Seek out professional help. Even if its just someone you can vent to.
    This is very good advice and I hope you'll consider it.
    "Too much agreement kills a chat."
    ~Eldridge Cleaver

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