PO says monitor

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by klmno, Apr 23, 2008.

  1. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    difficult child has appointment with PO tomorrow so I called her today to update her on trying to get difficult child in psychiatric hospital last week (I called psychiatrist's office 3 times in 1 week with medication/ erratic behavior issues) and calling police on him Sun when he "disappeared" and that I wouldn't have called police except that I was concerned about where he was and what he was doing due to previous "signs" of mania for the week prior. As it turns out, he came home on his own after cooling off, apologizing, and policeman said he's checked and there were no signs of illegal activity. And I told her of upcoming iep meeting (she wants to be in the middle of that too).

    Anyway, she says she is going to put difficult child on ankle bracelet/monitor tomorrow. At first, I didn't think this was such a bad idea. But, the more I think about it, I'm wondering what is this supposed to accomplish? Is it going to stop manic behavior or prevent it or just set him up to punish him for it? She asked what brought this on Sun- I told her I had been frustrated with all the happenings the prior week and I said things to him I shouldn't have said. She said then he should have gone to his room to cool off. Yes, and that would be rational. But, difficult child is not rational or stable right now. He is sometimes erratic, sometimes raging, sometimes an emotional basket case. But he is definitely not rational . And, this is bipolar- it isn't a (juvenile) detention issue- it is a psychiatric hospital/treatment issue.

    If she were putting him on this monitor to somehow stop a bad thing from happening, I would be ok with that. but she can only check it during her business hours- this monitor won't be linked to police, she says. So, it can only give her ability to see where he has been the next day. Why can't school district, legal people, everyone see that this will not prevent or cure difficult child problems?

    And, is she and the GAL going to end up making a big deal out of my telling her that I was at witz end because I'd spent a week trying to get difficult child into psychiatric hospital or some kind of help, to no avail, and got frustrated and said things I shouldn't have said, that I know hurt his feelings, on Sun? (They were bad things I said but I wouldn't say abusive- just that I should have known it would trigger something, and that is bad on my part)

    I don't think I can live this way much longer. She asked how I punished him for this. I told her there isn't much I can do- I have ALREADY taken everything away (per her requirements)- it won't CURE IT!. WE should NOT be pushed to a point where we are having thoughts of giving up on our kids IF the ONLY reason is that we can't get them adequate help and every resource we have available just wants to punish. The guide from child & adolescent biopolar foundation states "punishing a bipolar child for raging (and I assume being manic or otherwise exhibiting symptons and regarding kids with other diagnosis's too) is the equivalent of punishing an asthmatic child for having an asthma attack". And, what do they keep on doing.....

    Is it impossible for them to put forth the same time and money and effort to provide treatment instead of punishment? If they did that, could we not find it easier to not be so frustrated with difficult child issues.

    Vent for the day- sorry..
  2. MyFriendKita

    MyFriendKita Member

    I think you'll find (or have already found out) that there is a huge disconnect between the juvenile justice system and the mental health system. We went through many of the same things you're going through now, but my son was a little older than yours at the time (15). Our experience was that most of those in the justice system are very uninformed about mental health issues and have a hard time believing a disorder can cause bad behavior. I agree with you that it can't be "punished out of them" (we tried and it didn't work). I don't have any answers, but you do have my sympathies. It's a hard job trying to protect your child from not only himself, but also from the school system and the legal system.
  3. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    I agree with you on punishments. I hate that word. I know that sometimes it is needed, but very very seldom. I would use a punishment only for willfull disobedience that cause some serious harm. But still try to figure out why the behaviour happened.

    I rather like the word "discipline". Discipline does not stop at providing a consequence to fit the behaviour for that child but includes a teaching component. I am the worse in figuring out proper consequences for an action so I tend to go to the teaching side. "O.K., that was wrong or that didn't work. Let's figure out an alternative. How can you handle this next time?" (not that I am good at that either but I do try)

    Creative understanding and brainstorming can be more helpful in stopping a behavior than punishing. These kids are feeling bad enough, they don't need a punishment that furthers tells them they are the bad kid that they are feeling they are. difficult child's need to be reminded that we believe in them. We are their cheerleaders, not their prison guards. We are suppose to open the world to them, not shut them away in unbreakable walls. My son will sometimes say, "I am a bad person, go ahead and punish me." To which I reply, "You are not a bad person. You just need to learn not to do what you just did. Let's talk about it and see if we can figure out something."

    So, for your situation with son, it is so promising that he did apologize. That means he has realized that his actions have hurt you (worried you). He also walked away when he was angry - another good step, just have to work on how far to walk. Have you talked to him about what to do when he starts feeling like he did? Let him know that you just want him to be safe and if he needs alone time you will understand. Maybe he can make a doorsign for his room with a code on one side to let you know when he just wants to be alone and a code on the other side that states he has calmed down and is ready to talk. (my 11 yr old son has a teddy bear that says "Hug Me" on it. When he needs me to talk to, he will throw the bear at me and run to his room. That is our clue for discussion time.) You can set a time limit on the "Leave me alone". Let him know that you will check in on him every 15 - 30 minutes (or whatever time you feel comfortable with) just to make sure he is safe but will not otherwise ask questions until he is ready.

    One specialist told me my son vomited for attention. I thought, of course he does, he hasn't felt well for several months and is trying to get the attention of someone who can help figure out why he feels like he does. The feelings scared him (he felt like he should hurt himself and didn't want to). It was his way of saying, I am scared, someone help me. I really feel that difficult child behaviours stem from the same, "I am scared. Someone PLEASE help me."

    Discipline/teaching is also easier to figure out if you know why something was done. Sometimes we are seeing a situation way different than our kids do so our discipline just confuses them. For example, you wake up to a messy kitchen. Your first instinct may be to get mad and start yelling for whoever did it to clean it up. In the meantime, kid is cowarding in the corner waiting for you to calm down to wish you a happy birthday with a breakfast made by him. If you would have taken the time for ask what happened I am sure your reaction would be different. It would probably be, "Oh thank you! And I would love to help you clean up. We will clean this up together." Once you got mad, it is near impossible to get that joy back that your child was trying to give you with the breakfast. What a burst of the balloon.

    I don't know much about monitors, however, I would think you are correct that is a way to deal with the after, not the before and during. You want to teach, encourage your son to recognize and control his feelings, not wait until he acts inappropriately and then try to figure out the punishment as your "professionals" are doing at this point. It shouldn't be, "What did you do about that?" It should be, "How can we help prevent that from happening again?"

    We want our kids to not only follow the rules, but to understand why they need to follow them.

    Hang in there!
  4. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Perhaps if he is monitored, and he continues to be erratic, she has the power to get someone to listen when she says he needs his medications changed.

    Trying to look on the bright side, here...
  5. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    So, would it REALLY be sooooo bad if I went in there tomorrow with the list of signs of mania and depression and had the 18 out 0f 20 that difficult child has done already checked off and then said "SOOOOOOO, you think this monitor is going to cure this?"

    Could she put me in jail for that?

    Just wondering.

    Seriously though, RM1976, yes, I believe you are right.

    Adrianne: that sounds exactly like what I testified to the judge- I don't see my role as a parent as just here to punish for the sake of punishing; "I see my role as a parent to do the best I can to teach and prepare difficult child for adulthood. Sometimes he needs punishment; sometimes he needs help; and some things just simply have to come from inside him."

    Witz: I can only hope it turns out that way- but I'm not so sure that her 60 watt bulb ever gets past 10 watts.
  6. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    Did difficult child tell you where he went and what he did on that day? I understand where Witzend is coming from to have documentation of whereabouts and actions (though would the monitor really be able to show what he has done?), however, he is still only 13 years old. How is he going to feel about the monitor? What will happen when the other kids find out? I would feel better if it were a doctor monitoring instead of the justice system.

    What steps did you take for hospitalization? Have you contacted the hospital yourself and ask for an evaluation from their staff? I have heard that ER's are another door to the hospitals. Next time he goes into a moment, try to get him to an ER. Though this is so new to me I may not be correct.

    I would feel tempted to take him to the hospital for an evaluation before your meeting with the PO. If that is not possible, ask the PO for more time to consider your options. Request a referral for a mental health evaluation and a lot of more information on the monitor (when, where, how, how long, why, what it looks like, how detectable to other kids it will be, ect.). How often has this been used on minors? What is the youngest age this is used on? Call your psychiatrist and ask his opinion of doing this. How does he predict this to effect the medical treatment plan?

    Also, journal everything you remember the last few months if you haven't already done so. Then, if you are not already doing so, get a planner and document everything from this moment on. I keep a planner to record everything including events my son goes to, appointments he has kept or cancelled (usually due to weather), when he takes PRN medications (is that the correct term for over the counter such as Motrin for headaches?) and for what, dates medications changed and what those changes were, challenges he had that day (argued with another student over ........), sleep problems, unusual health (for example, very tired today, or has a cold), good things that happen (100% on spelling test today) ect. Everything that you will need to support your request for a change in medications or more help. This also helps me at psychiatric and pediatric and neurology appoints - I don't have a good memory so this reminds me of issues I want addressed.

    Let us know how things go. Stay strong - stay confident - stay your child's advocate.