Thinking about sending my child to Residential Treatment Center (RTC)

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by notsuolc, Jun 9, 2012.


Should I go ahead and put my child in a Residential Treatment Center (RTC)?

Poll closed Jul 9, 2012.
  1. Yes!

  2. No!

  1. notsuolc

    notsuolc New Member

    Before I start I just want to say that I am here looking for support and I would like to hear opinions, both agreeing and opposing, but I have been beating myself up enough over this and I really would appreciate it if no one else would add to it.

    Now, with that being said, I have a son that is 7 going on 8. He is one of 4 soon to be 5 and he is the oldest. The other three children are your typical children. They give me hell some days and some days they are angels, but for the most part, other than a tantrum here and there, they are really just well behaved kids. Then we move to my 7 year old. I am having such major behavioral problems with him that I never could have seen coming when I envisioned having children. He has had a problem with wetting the bed since he was 2 and that went from a nightly bed wetting issue to catching him defecating in in basement, urinating in our basement, and now to urinating all over his bedroom. As if this issue hasn't been bad enough, I have caught him acting out sexually...worst part was it was with his little sister. When I caught this, I reached out to a counselor out of school as well as inside of school. I had this brilliant idea that if we just bombarded him with some support maybe we could get to the bottom of this issue and get him some help. It turns out that one of the counselors notified Social Services. I don't understand why because we sought help on our own and I don't know what this counselor thought DSS would do that we couldn't, but none the less, it ended with a trip two hours away with my kids at a hospital for forensics testing and questioning. It was completely traumatizing for me as a mother and very upsetting, but I put my big girl panties on and we dealt the hand in which we were given and got through it. That was four months ago and my children haven't mentioned it since the day we left.

    Now that the kids are out of school, I have been home with them and we have been hanging out, playing and just doing what we usually do. One day last week I was in the kitchen doing dishes and and the kids were upstairs playing. I noticed everything was quiet so I walked to the bottom of the stairs and yelled up for my oldest. When he didn't come running out right away and I noticed his door was shut, I got this disgusting feeling in the pit of my stomach and decided to quickly go up there and open his door. When I did this, I caught him struggling to get himself dressed really quickly...wouldn't have been such a big deal except for the fact that my daughter (the same one that he picked last time) was in the room with him!!! I asked them what was going on and my daughter said that her brother was just sitting there naked. I clarified this and they both admitted that he was sitting there completely naked. I am still not able to get answers as to what was going on, but the only thing I knew to do at that point was to take him and myself up to the office of DSS and wait for the caseworker I am oh so familiar with.

    Now, note, this is not the ONLY problem I have with my oldest. Not only is he acting out sexually and also by urinating in inappropriate places, he is also EXTREMELY defiant and refuses to listen or follow any rules. The ONLY way I have been successful in getting him to obey is by running this house like a frickin boot camp and being a drill sergeant which is completely miserable! Otherwise, he will deliberately do things just because I told him not to. In fact, I have told him to go and do things I know any 7 year old boy would love to do just to see if he would do it. For example, one day I told him to go outside and ride his bike and run around and yell and scream outside. All the things he isn't always able to do but most kids this age love to do...he sat on the front porch quietly for 20 minutes before he came back inside asking to stay in. So the next day I told him to sit on the front porch and not to move...I found him running around the yard yelling and screaming. But usually the defiance issues are more severe than how he is playing outside. He throws tantrums sometimes to the point that he puts his own safety in jeopardy. One day I caught him trying to flood the bathroom upstairs and I briskly forced him out of the bathroom by pushing his back with my hand. It was nothing more than forcefully guiding him out of the bathroom. The bathroom door from the top of the stairs is roughly 10 ft and I guided him to his room which is in the exact opposite direction. As I turned to go back into the bathroom to stop the water I heard all this commotion and screaming so I ran out of the bathroom and there he was rolling down the stairs. When i asked him what the heck happened he claimed that i had thrown his down the stairs! Besides the fact that this was completely UNTRUE, this child could have broken his neck! Sadly, that was not the last time he had done this. He has recently started doing it again since school has gotten out and I fear he is really going to end up hurting himself. And it's not just stairs anymore, it's the pavement and really anywhere he can get attention for it.

    So here I am at the end of my ropes with this child. I am afraid he is going to get so out of control that he has nothing positive in his future. Not to mention, he is taking his little sister down his dark path with him. Putting him in a Residential Treatment Center (RTC) was recommended to me in order for him to get the help that he needs. I am just terrified that he will end up hurting himself or someone else and wind up in a lot worse situation than he is in now. I fear that if I don't get him the help he needs now, it will be too late. I am looking for some other input on this before I make my decision. I want to know what other parents are thinking and what they would do or recommend if they were in my situation. Maybe there is someone out there reading this that made the same decision for their child? If so, PLEASE, I would love to hear from you. I plan on calling this Residential Treatment Center (RTC) on Monday to find out what options we have without turning custody over to the state, but before I go too far, I want to make sure this is really the best decision for my child.
  2. Bunny

    Bunny Guest

    You say that someone recommended that you send your son to Residential Treatment Center (RTC) in order to get him the help that he needs. Who recommended this to you? Has he been seen by anyone other than the counselor and the DSS caseworker?

    You have alot going on there and I completely understand that your main priority is to keep all of your kids safe. Have you taken him to be evaluated by anyone else? Have you mentioned to his pediatrician the behaviors that he's displaying at home? What is he like in school? I would see if I could find a neuropsychologist in your area and have him evaluated by him or her. They do hours worth of testing and will be able to get a really comprehensive idea of what is going on and should be able to give you a fairly good diagnosis. Have you thought about medications for him? Has he been on anything in the past?

    I can't say whether or not I think that an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) is the next step that your son needs because I'm not sure what has or has not been done for him to this point. If he is acting out sexually then you have to keep an eye on him and/or the other kids ALL OF THE TIME! Is there someone else that he can spend some time over the summer vacation with? A grandparent or and aunt or uncle that will take him for a week or so? That might give you time to clear you head and think really clearly about what your next step really should be, and it will give the other kids a chance to have some time without him.

    What do your other kids think about your son? Are they afraid of him? Does he bully them or try to abuse them in any way (other than sexually)?
  3. keista

    keista New Member


    First, I'll say that I don't have direct experience with shuch a difficult child. All my information and opinions come from what I have read or seen, both on these boards and personal research.

    I say yes, continue with your plans for an Residential Treatment Center (RTC). You said yourself that the only way it's manageable is if you run your home like a boot camp. Unfortunately that's not fair to the other kids, and takes a huge amount of energy on your part, especially if you are not a super structured person. That's what he needs 24/7 ultra structured and supervised environment.

    I also believe that they younger you get such a child help, the more promising the outcome is. Unfortunately there are no guarantees for that.

    Welcome to the board! We don't beat each other up here. Sometimes give blunt, honest, advice or perspectives, but never any judgement.
  4. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Welcome. Sending supportive hugs your way. I have not faced these issues personally so I can not provide real advice from experience. on the other hand I have decades of experience parenting and advocating so likely my thoughts are worth your time.

    There is a lengthly trail that usually leads to the behaviors you are describing. Rarely do children sexually act out unless they have had sexual experiences in their own life. Two of my difficult child's were "victims" of sexual abuse. One by an adult neighbor (one incident and the police did not have enough evidence to take action) and one by a child who was his best friend and two years older. I was able to access pediatric experts in sexual child abuse and luckily for me neither child was strongly affected by the single experiences. on the other hand, your son likely has been a victim and his experiences have not been explored with a professional. That is a major problem. by the way, I completely understand that such professional support is not easily available and surely is not cheap. Sigh!

    You sound as though you are a devoted Mom who is doing everything she can to protect her family. The problem is that I am not reading that you have found professional help. Before sending him to Residential Treatment Center (RTC) has he had a child psychiatrist for support? Has he had a neuropsychologist evaluation? Has he demonstrated problems in his school? Does he have any friends? When did you first see him demonstrating unusual or unacceptable behaviors? Have you kept a journal of "odd" behaviors over a period of time?

    Most often Residential Treatment Center (RTC) is sought when there is a defined "pattern" of unacceptable and/or dangerous behaviors. If he is targeting your little girl she is likely to subsequently display abnormal patterns in the future. Perhaps she is not the only child he is targeting. I'm sorry I can't vote in your survey or give you specific advice. I really do believe from your post that you are doing your best. I have no criticixm to offer. It's just necessary, in my humble opinion, to have professionals who support your position before trying an out of home placement. I'm sorry you are in the postion you are in. I truly hope you can find qualified people to support you in your efforts to protect your family. Hugs. DDD
  5. helpangel

    helpangel Active Member

    No we don't beat each other up here, but I have shown up kicking myself in the :censored2: a few times. Having been thru the cps nitemare I have to disagree with the cps attitude only abused children exhibit sexualized behavior; knowing now that hypersexuality is a symptom of bipolar disorder and both my girls have it - I'll never know if their father did anything or not, but if I was on his jury they didn't prove anything.

    I think the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) would be a good idea because he needs more attention then you can give him at home. If he were an only child you could probably manage him at home but if he were an only you child probably wouldn't be here. Point being he's not the only kid in the house and this goes beyond putting a helmet on him so doesn't crack his skull on the stairs. There is a chance CPS may decide to put your other kids in protective custody then you get to cartwheel thru flaming hoops for a couple years to get your kids back and if get really lucky you get to pay child support on your kids that the state stole from you. Meanwhile you still have the ill child to try to get evaluated while dealing with cps.

    Would be much better if he could be evaluated in a Residential Treatment Center (RTC) where they are better staffed to provide 24 hour monitoring of him.

    Almost forgot welcome to the forum glad you found us but sorry you needed to ... Nancy
  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Well, you have two choices here. I come as a parent whose two youngest were sexually abused and penetrated (hate to be graphic, but sexual abuse implies touching and it is sometimes so much more than that). We adopted a child who made my five year old a non-virgin and perped on my son too. Often. The kids did not speak up about it, although we had given them the "always tell Daddy or Mommy anything and we'[ll believe you" speech. They were too afraid of him.

    Back to your two choices and you really don't have any other ones that are safe. One question first: Did 7 have a very chaotic early life? Divorce? Many caregivers? Adopted from an orphanage? Possible abuse?

    1/ You can make your own house into a miniature Residential Treatment Center (RTC). You can make sure your other children are NEVER alone with 7 year old. They must play right in front of you. When you take a bathroom break, make sure an adult is there even then to watch them. Maybe get a videocamera to record what happens if you turn your back. Be sure you put an alarm on 7's door and make sure he doesn't room with any of the other kids. When 7's alarm goes off at night, when all of you are asleep, wake up and follow him to and from the bathroom, then make him get back into his bed and put the alarm back on. He could perp at night. In fact, these types of kids generally are very clever about not getting caught and they get better at it as they get older. This sounds like more than a phase. It sounds serious. You have an obligation to protect your youngest children. He could even perp on your infant that you are expecting. No, it's not pretty, but we lived with it. You would need your other children to be locked in their rooms at night so that 7 can't get in and the baby could sleep in a crib in your room. Don't ever feel safe with 7. I know that isn't what you want to hear, but, again, we have lived with it and your other kids can be damaged very severely by 7. He is doing major time scary stuff.

    2/You can send him to an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) where he can get the care, supervision, and help that he needs. I don't kn ow if there is a way to stop a kid who sexually acts out to stop, but there is more hope if he gets intensive treatment now than later. Meanwhile your other children are safe and sound and Infant will be safe and sound. Normally I would never recommend putting a seven year old in an Residential Treatment Center (RTC), but when it comes to sexual acting out, I don't really think there is another choice unless you really CAN watch him 24/7 and you really CAN make sure he is never alone with any of the other children.

    Note: He could also be trying to perp on neighborhood children and, yes, you are liable.

    Son is peeing and pooping in appropriately too. How does he treat animals? There is a triad that can predict possible psychopathology in adulthood. The three behaviors together are a huge red flag for an unsafe child. They are:

    1/peeing and pooping inappropriately

    2/cruelty or killing of animals

    3/fascination with fire/starting small fires/watching fires

    Our adopted son had all three red flags, although we did not know about the fires until after we caught him perping and made him leave the house ( We called CPS).

    A social worker has no choice but to report the family to CPS if a child is perping on another one. They are mandated reporters and, whether or not you are trying to get your child help, it is up to CPS to decide if that child who is acting out is a safe child to have in your family.

    CPS can decide he is not and take all of your children if he is still there.

    Please act quickly. You can help him more in my opinion if he is somewhere else. That doesn't mean you disowned him. He is simply living somewhere else.

    Big huggles and my heart goes out fo you. This is so terribly sad.
  7. Liahona

    Liahona Guest

    Hi and welcome, so sorry you are going through this. I've done both of Midwestmom's options. I found that as my son got larger he got bolder and I couldn't keep up the level of supervision to keep my kids safe. And he started hurting the other kids right in front of me and he was so fast I couldn't stop it. My criteria for sending a kid to Residential Treatment Center (RTC) is if he is a danger to himself or others. I'm sorry, but it sounds like your son is both. Besides if its cps that is "suggesting" he go to Residential Treatment Center (RTC) you might not have much choice.

    There is a thread in the archives about picking an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) that is very good. I went and toured the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) my son was in. I was looking for safety issues. How were they going to keep him safe. The kids had private rooms with a window in the door. The door locked when it closed. Only the staff had keys. I saw the padded time out room and where the staff sat to monitor the kid while he was in time out. We talked about what will they do if difficult child doesn't make any progress. How long of a stay could I expect. (He did make lots of progress.)

    Sending him to the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) did not mean that I signed my rights over to the state. I did have to pay child support to the state. I was very involved in difficult child 1's care. I went to the staff meetings and all the therapy they would let me. We also had family therapy at the Residential Treatment Center (RTC). They had a neuropsychologist on staff there that diagnosis my son. They also had recreational, occupational, and physical therapists. difficult child 1 went to school there. He actually thrived in that environment. His therapist had been asking me to send him the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) since he was 6 years old. I just couldn't let go of my baby. It probably would've been better for difficult child 1 if I'd had let him go sooner.

    Good luck.
  8. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Hi! Welcome, no beating you up here for sure....I have had people in real life beat me up but not here. Have people asked hard questions??? Yes, but I asked for the help sorting things out. People have different perspectives, we sometimes disagree, and that is important because no one is just gives you ideas and you get to pick what fits your situation best.

    That said, I want to congratulate you on the steps you have taken and how you are continuing to search for answers. That is not easy and for those of us who do it, it is hard. Some people can't and that is ok too....the big picture needs to be considered! I am one of those who has no other kids and I still need this board. I am the target and I too have to run my home very rigid in many ways.

    Can you answer some questions (not one single thing is a judgement, simply helps to know where you all are coming from, and helps people to comment if they can relate)...
    -Was he adopted? Even as a baby?
    -Was he or were you ever ill when he was very little causing any form of separation or pain (like preemies, or my mom had health issues and I had to live with a grandma on and off)
    -Was he a fussy baby, did he calm when you cuddled him?
    -How is his overall development? School issues??
    -does he take medications...any that help but not good enough? any that could be making him more obsessive/compulsive?
    -any family history of a psychiatric or developmental condition that could be contributing to this (bi-polar, schizophrenia, autism, genetic conditions like fragile X, etc...)
    -any chemical exposure or illness during pregnancy (you or if mom)

    None of this is meant to be judgmental! There are many of us who have struggled so if he is a bio child and there were problems, believe me there will be people here who can relate. And obviously the answers are not as important for us as for never have to answer, but you can consider what your answers would be and then do more research, even on this site to see how that might play out for you.

    Have you ever heard of time-in instead of time out? I had to do this all of the time when my son was little. Instead of going to sit somewhere to calm, he had to be within eye sight, often playing on the floor near me no matter where we were. (for some people this may not work)...cameras in his room...a MUST if you are going to do timeout. But time in has the benefit of increasing a bond dont have to be punitive during the time is a safety issue. We also had play sessions together (brief structured) where we put bandaids or lotion on every little boo boo on each others legs or silly little things like that....just a minute of kindness to help build empathy...we still use the phrase (he is 15 now) no hurts....because he learned what other people hurting was through that.

    OK all of this stuff...I would do while waiting to get into a diagnostic placement, a short stay Residential Treatment Center (RTC) type of place at a minimum. I have been offered (but turned down because my son is very imitative and learned more behaviors at a very good psychiatric hospital, but I would do it as a last choice for medical reasons or if I can't keep him, myself or others safe) a month-45 day diagnostic placement, but could of course pursue a residential treatment center for a longer stay--even permanent placement...(due to his behaviors)...but they are not so designed for kids with mod-severe autism who can't participate in therapy groups....

    IF I had other kids...I would not for one second hesitate to find a place though. Also if I end up not being able to contain him in my home. I am moving to help make that easier. Right now I put chain locks on our doors and that helps but he could simply pull the door hard and break them off in a rage...already did once/only part of the lock came lose and I was able to stop him.

    As our home care psychiatric said, for Q, I will have to always create how I want him to live and even in the care of others...he will be my son, go to school and therapies and docs where I want him to go because I will never stop being his mom...That could change though if the legal system or CPS gets involved (and my son makes false allegations is part of his attachment disorder, a lack of bonding with his main caregiver...we have had to work hard on this. He was not abused but had chronic pain/seizures/head aches due to a brain mass and was taken from his bio parents due to their illegal activities whenhe was 7 mo....he had one consistent and loving foster grandma until I adopted him at age 2.9). I have been accused of causing him to be as he is, yelled at in public, gotten stares, had professionals question and doubt me, etc...ugly. Happily the majority of people have been amazingly supportive and with a ton of patience and frustration, I put together a good medical team and have stayed with them for most of his life so that I have tons of back up if the legal system gets involved.

    I was talking to TWO moms yesterday at the concert I went to. One couldn't bring her daughter because she has had a year of issues and yesterday ended up in her daughter being very violent, throwing things at her etc. The ohter extended family member, with a daughter who is kind of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) like but not refused an ODD only diagnosis when she was young which hurt too much...and being from a small town, not many options for diagnosis. This girl is getting older so now the school social issues are widening...She heard what we often say here...get a neuropsychologist. evaluation instead of just a neuro. or just a psychiatric. or psychiatric evaluation....It is broader.

    Anyway, the point is, what we ALL three said was the big crises are rough...finding a child like you did in the bedroom, a big explosion, a huge incident in school...super hard, gets lots of attention from professionals etc... But we do as you said, pull our big girl panties up and deal with it. BUT it is the every day all day hyper-vigilance, the every minute/hour/day negotiations, trying to prevent a scene, do I take this risk or not? Having to adjust plans for everyone involved on a dime. THAT is the stressful part. Wonder if you can relate?

    Please know you are not alone. These are hard issues and your son is barely out of early childhood. I think you would be wise to pursue every single opportunity possible. Not only for the hope of improvement, but it lays the foundation for future support as they get bigger. Keep journals that start now (or calendar pages where you list little words or reminders of what is happening if a j ournal is too overwhelming).

    Blessings to you, I hope you check in and see that you are among friends.

  9. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    I haven't been down this road as a parent, so can't advise on Residential Treatment Center (RTC) or not, but... I CAN tell you that if a bed-wetting problem started at age 2... then that is totally different than never managing to get control in the first place. It is a huge red flag for him having been sexually abused at that age.
  10. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Except before that was he in diapers?
  11. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Good point Buddy - it does depend on age of being potty trained... I grew up in a house of "trained at 18 months"... so, bedwetting starting after 6 months "dry", would be a sign of abuse.... but never having been dry is a different issue. (we don't know which one, in this case).
  12. keista

    keista New Member

    I just assumed it was a "never dry" situation. DD1 went through potty training from 18 mos-3 and finally got the hang of it, but was never dry at night.
  13. buddy

    buddy New Member

    LOL, yes, and then there are kids like mine in pull-ups all day till age 5....(I know, not bad for his level of delay, we know there are kids who go longer....but Q did have the pooping in weird places 3 times over a couple of years and thank heaven that was it...was trying to be a dog it turns out, so not so much part of his attachment stuff....nothing is easy)
  14. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Welcome, and good for you for running the household like a drill sergeant, even if you don't like it. You've got to maintain control.
    Residential Treatment Center (RTC) may very well work.
    But I'm wondering why you don't have a diagnosis from a good therapist or psychiatrist or both?
    Urinating and defecating can be signs of anything to bowel obstruction and immaturity, to autism, to sociopathy. You need more info.
    Many, many hugs. You've come to the right place. I feel for you. And for your other kids.
  15. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Terry...he sexually abused his sibling. That's the problem. The biggest one.