New Member
Hello all.

I have lurked here on-and-off for about six months, denying that this place seems like the kind of place that would totally understand my family's situation, but we recently got news that brought myself and my partner to a place where we have no hope and need some support from people who have been here.

Between us, we have four children: from his first marriage, a 13 yo girl (clinical depression, PTSD, disordered attachment), an 11.5 yo girl (Disordered attachment, PTSD, and some other unknown {read: undiagnosable}), and a 10 yo boy (fairly well-adjusted and healthy, though we suspect burgeoning PTSD); from mine, a 10 yo girl (generalized anxiety disorder). We also deal with our own mental and physical health issues.

The child giving us the most difficulty is the 11 yo girl. I'll call her S.

S is an incredibly bright, social, charming girl with good physicality and stunning potential. She also lacks empathy, abuses all of the members of her family verbally, steals, goes wherever she pleases, disregards rules, trashes her's and other's belongings and our home, and has started to become violent.

We've had her in intensive weekly therapy for over a year and on medication for over six months; first an antidepressant which did literally nothing and now guanfacine, which addressed her impulsivity but made her more cunning and secretive.

We fear that we know the road that S is heading down as she has a looming family history full of examples - all undiagnosed, unique enough that clinicians don't give our gut-instinct credence, and alarming enough that we don't want this for our girl. I could give full histories for her paternal aunt, paternal grandfather, a cousin on her father's side, as well as stuff we've put together about her biological mother's family. Some of these histories are almost exactly parallel for childhood development and escalation. We fear what comes next, if that parallel holds true.

Recently, S was found with a stolen phone and an ipod touch on her. The fall out from her punishment has lasted almost two months. Since then, she's stolen $100 from me, refused to do any homework (went from an A+ student in elementary school to failing almost every class), ignores rules and goes where she pleases, and has escalated the abuse of us to include throwing objects and trying to throw punches.

Almost more worrisome than her behavior when in a fit is how she behaves when calm. I've seen her triangulate friends, pitting one against the other. I've seen her isolate friends, shower them with praise and then discard them when they speak against her. At one point, she had her little brother so co-dependent on her that he couldn't answer a simple question without looking to her for approval. Her ego is so paper-thin that there is no disciplining her. Everything is an attack that proves we hate her. Everything is proof that she's terrible. Everything is a lie.

Since this latest stealing incident, we've tried to escalate care to more intensive resources with her therapy service, spoke with the psychiatrist to no avail, and even consulted with DCFS. She qualifies for a program called WISe, which provides in-home counseling and a full wraparound set of professionals to support her and us. But because of the long waitlist, in order to get the services, you need a referral from a second agency - an At-Risk-Youth petition through the court system, an active case with DCFS, or an IEP. She doesn't qualify for an IEP and is too young for an ARY. The DCFS people won't get back to us despite our calls to them. And the therapy service finally told us Tuesday that the most support we can really hope to gain is therapy for ourselves.

We're incredibly poor. We can't pay out-of-pocket for anything additional. Not sports programs that might keep her out of trouble. Not boarding or hospital schools that could give her additional support. Nothing. And we lack any other kind of support. My family all lives out of state. His family is scattered and his mother is too ill to be much help. The kids' mother is around as often as she can be, but she's homeless and unemployed herself. S' needs and meltdowns are such that she's taking 100% of each of our attention and it's STILL not enough. Her meltdowns are escalating in intensity and frequency. Her behavior is starting to cause her younger brother distress. My ex-husband is concerned about the effect of living with her on our daughter, and I can't blame him. S could literally cost us our family, and at this point we've been told that the only way to get her more help is for her to torch her own life and someone else's too. We've essentially been told that the bright potential S has means nothing and to stop expecting we can mitigate whatever underlying mental health issue is causing this behavior.

We don't know what to do. Our family can't take much more, but we don't have other options. So we're here, hoping some commiseration and possibly some insight will help us.

Wiped Out

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Welcome, I'm so sorry you needed to find us but glad that you did. I'm also sorry things are so rough. It makes me so mad at agencies that they want you to have a referral through a court system instead of being proactive. We were lucky enough to get support for our son that sounds similar because his counselors and mine went to bat for us and practically begged-saying that we were trying to be proactive and keep him out of the court system (which knock on wood so far he has not been involved in the system). They actually listened and qualified him for immediate services. He did have an IEP but that wasn't a qualifying factor.

Even though her grades, won't qualify her for an IEP what a about an EBD referral based on her behavior?

One thing that is so important is taking care of yourself through all of this. I know it is easier said than done but even if it's as simple as a bubble bath or reading a good book. I also know how hard it is on the other children. We were able to get our daughter therapy to help her in dealing with her brother.

Again, welcome, you might want to take off your picture of yourself on your avatar to protect your anonymity. Sending gentle hugs your way.


New Member
S has done a great job, until recently, of confining her behavioral issues to the family home so she doesn't yet qualify for an IEP. However, the last two months have seen her behavior shifting so radically that we've received multiple calls from teachers as well as her calling us IN CLASS to yell and swear at us. So maybe soon she'll qualify...but even that would be a hollow victory, because it would just be another confirmation for S that there is no reason to strive for better from herself.

We're trying to take care of ourselves. I've actually quit my dayjob because the added stress of the daily bus commute and responsibilities made it impossible for me to give enough support to the family, and the stress of dealing with S made it impossible to do my work well. I am getting myself into therapy, and my partner is getting his insurance stuff straightened out so that he can as well. In the mean time, we're able to get a monthly overnight for the kids with his parents and are working to get a monthly overnight with the kids' mother. She's recently found more stable housing, where the kids are welcomed. While the situation isn't ideal, we're desperate enough for respite that we can't pass up the offer.


Well-Known Member
It sounds like you are in the US. Our mental health facility helped me complete an SED waiver application. It was based on her mental health needs and not on our income. We had decent medical insurance, but it wouldn't pay for a case manager. It also covered all the copays for appointments and medication. Plus, they said we could ask for the last 3 months old uncovered charges to be considered.

Also, add the doctor that prescribes the Rx to consider DNA testing to find the right medication for her. It found help to find new medications without a lot of trial and error. You can google "DNA testing for medication". It is a cotton swab to the inside if the cheek. Everything they had tried for my daughter was on the use with caution list.

Good luck...this is so hard... KSM


New Member
Our children are on medicaid. Washington state has a much more comprehensive medicaid than most states, but I don't know if it'll cover anything like that.

Thank you for the google direction, though!


Well-Known Member
You have gotten some supportive and helpful replies, I think, to your difficult, unfortunate situation.
Not sports programs that might keep her out of trouble
I wanted to add that in my area there is equestrian therapy that is free for children with disabilities and special needs. Your child would certainly qualify.
won't qualify her for an IEP
I have worked in this field. She would qualify based on emotional factors. You may need to get an advocate but this is free, through many disability advocacy agencies. We got a free attorney who advocated successfully for private school for my son.

If there are issues of safety involved, and there are, serious and difficult decisions must be made. There is the welfare not of your daughter, but of her siblings, who already are vulnerable to her.

Residential treatment, I would look into. Once she has an IEP, this could be a goal. The school would pay.

There are parents who have relinquished custody of their children so that those children could have access to needed treatment for serious illnesses whether medical or psychiatric. That there is a genetic component to this, or may be, does not mean she is a 'bad seed" and that this cannot be treated. Biology does not have to become destiny. That it happened before does not mean it will again. It may. It may not. If she becomes a danger to the other kids (or you) you might consider temporary placement in a foster family equipped with skills to safely manage her behaviors and keep your other kids safe.

If it were me I would take her to a regional children's medical center/hospital where there is a Developmental Department which consists of a team of child neurologist, neuropsychologist, family social worker, psychiatrist. She would get an extensive evaluation and recommendations for treatment made. Such evaluation would help advocate for her with schools, agencies, etc.

When my son went to the private behavioral school there were other children that lived there. The majority did. It was associated with a religious order. If my son at the age of your child had had problems manifesting as do hers, I would have hoped I would have considered an intensive intervention such as this.

Meanwhile, I hope you keep posting. You will receive a great deal of support here, and good information. There are many parents here who have over many years dealt with problems like your own. Many of these kids have gone on to make productive and fulfilling lives and the parents have come out on the other side. Alive and at peace. While it may not seem so to us now, in the midst of it, there is a great deal of hope.


Well-Known Member
The genetic testing is not that expensive. A bit over one hundred dollars, I would guess.

I was a single Mom when I adopted my son. He needed language therapy that was quite costly. I was not working. I had nothing and no one. There was a women's group called "Daughters of the Golden West" that somebody told me about. They offered grants to help kids. I applied and wrote a letter about the circumstances. 26 years ago they gave me two thousand dollars. Just like that. I will never forget the generosity. I do not know if they operate in Washington. They just might, or there may be another option for help. Like something that is called crowdsourcing or something like that.

There are various websites where people with a need or a goal who require funds and people all over the world can contribute. It is remarkable. I think it is free. The website takes a small percentage of the monies, I think. Or maybe some of them are non-profit. I would do it. In fact, what I did, was pretty much the same. The internet hardly existed back then!


Well-Known Member
I looked online for a company that did this genetic testing. This one company did offer the possibility of financial assistance for eligible people.

My son has taken very, very expensive drugs for a medical condition. Like thousands of dollars a month. When he lived with me, my insurance paid most of it. When he was not with me for the short time he took the drug--unfortunately he stopped--he paid nothing. His Hepatologist was involved with the manufacturer and filled out paperwork for people who could not afford the drug, and they got it free.

This is something these companies do to stay in good stead with the government. Kind of like free AIDS drugs Africa. They preserve the pipeline of big money by giving away a small portion of their product for either free or cheap.

You are going to think I am a whack job here. But I am thinking of the series they did on CNN about medical marijuana--which I am so, so against, because of the abuse by kids such as our own.

But there was a strain of marijuana developed by marijuana growers (legal) in Colorado called Charlotte's Web because it did not have the high-making properties. What is that called? THC? The strain only had medicinal properties. You do not get high at all. There was a little girl named Charlotte who was tortured by seizures with which nothing helped. Until this marijuana. Her seizures reduced greatly in intensity and in frequency--with this marijuana medication. Other children, now, are benefiting from this--for a variety of ailments and issues. The people who developed this, the manufacturers, I believe donated this.

I mention this not because I believe your child will benefit from marijuana, but because these parents, Charlotte's parents were desperate, too. They were besides themselves. They watched their child dying from these seizures. Suffering. They tried everything. And because they were desperate, they tried even more things--even outrageous things--and lo and behold, one desperate, crazy thing worked.

The thing is this: Nobody here on this forum can tell you what is wrong or what is happening with your child, or what will fix it. But sometimes kids act out, because something is happening to them (or happened to them) either internally or in their environment that they do not understand, or put words too. And sometimes they blame themselves for being bad, and they act this out too.

Nobody knows yet, whether or if your child may be suffering from something neurological-like mini-seizures to which she cannot speak or put into words, or even may not be aware. It is not likely, but it is possible. That is why the more diagnostic measures obtained, the better.
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Well-Known Member
I would google forums, chat rooms to find other desperate parents such as yourselves. They will know legal resources, possible remedies. I was never so shocked as to when I learned of how many good parents relinquished their kids to get them treatment that the kids needed. I do not believe it needs to get so bad--that she torches her own life and/or somebody else. I would hope to G-d we are not such a heartless society that this would have to happen.

Another idea is this: if you live in or near an urban area there is an agency called Jewish Family Services. There is plain old Family Services, too, but I have never sought help there. JFS will work with anybody, happily. Any religion, faith, gender, identity, age. They turn away nobody, that I know of. They have a sliding scale, and may offer grants for inability to pay. The people that work for them are always good. There is a great deal of oversight and the agency is a purely social service agency.

Keep posting. We are throwing information at you. Sorry. In the hope that something may be useful and feel supportive.

Needless to say we understand and are with you, all of us--near and far. There are people that post from all over the world. We are united in our caring and we send our love and support and concern. And hope too.


Well-Known Member
Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health

I found a document on the internet written by attorneys from the above organizing, advocating the change of federal law that required the relinquishing of children to obtain needed mental health treatment. The brief was from 1999. My point here is that there are groups of parents, with attorneys who are advocating for children and families in situations much like your own.

Another organization is NAMI. You will have a branch near you. They provide advocacy, education and support for families.


New Member
We know S has a long history of abuse, neglect, and trauma. The lady from DCFS told us that the case file on her and her siblings is thick. She called it chronic neglect. I nearly wept in front of her. Her mother taught her to shoplift when she was a wee thing. She also got drunk around her often, and her boyfriend was physically and mentally abusive in ways we're just starting to really understand. As well, S still wets the bed with regularity. She has no physiological reason to do so. She's seen renal specialists, even. This is psychological. It could be related to early sexual abuse. But we don't know what is and what isn't real because S won't talk bad about her mother or confide in us the truth.

After googling, I found a couple of possible agencies that might be able to offer next-level help or a way into the WISe program that can't be offered by the therapy agency we use currently. The unfortunate thing is that we live in a very under-funded county in Washington. While the overall state of medicaid here is good, it's done per county. And what's offered here is paltry, as opposed to just over the county line where there is more funding and nonprofit support to back up the medicaid offering.

We have Catholic Community Services here. I might contact them as well.

As far as medical marijuana, I'm a user. And the high-CBD strain you're referring to is one we'd consider but only after we've exhausted other options. The psychiatrist has already reached the place of considering lithium. We've taken her to a naturopath and done nutritional testing. We're doing elimination diets. We're trying everything we can at this point.

Please and thank you. Keep throwing stuff at us. We're so thankful for support.


Well-Known Member
I found a couple of possible agencies that might be able to offer next-level help or a way into the WISe program
just over the county line where there is more funding and nonprofit support
If there are non-profits, perhaps they do not have requirements of residence in that same County. In fact, I would be surprised if they do. Governmental agencies, yes.

You know when my son went to one of the private school placements paid for by the school district (he was in 2 different school districts and 2 different schools, sequentially) one of the schools was in a 3rd County. The school district has to pay, is legally bound, if there is an IEP and if the IEP finds that such service is necessary.

If the disabling condition interferes with learning, presents a barrier to learning, the school district must pay for the cost of the appropriate and necessary educational setting where the child can and does learn. If there are no resources in county they must pay to transport the child to that school. Every day a taxi came to pick up my son and drive him 45 minutes to a neighboring county. And bring him home. The school district paid.

If there is no setting within commuting distance they must pay for residential treatment.

I am not using the correct legal language which you can readily find on the internet. The important thing is the child must have an IEP. To begin.

And if you have Medicaid in your state, your child should be able to receive resources in any county, regardless of residence, in places like Regional Children's Hospitals or University Hospitals. These are the places your child will get the best help, anyway.

My son got services in multiple neighboring counties at Children's Hospitals and University Hospitals. Residency never was an issue. County Mental Health. Yes. But having worked for them, I was not impressed.


Well-Known Member
This is psychological. It could be related to early sexual abuse.
Well, if it is psychological, there is a great deal of hope. She has a story. She can make new stories. It will take time.

I have known many, many people through my work with early stories such as her own. They have made themselves wonderful people. Good people.

The problem you have got is she is too young to know how to do what she has to do. And soon hormones will kick in. Now is the time to get a handle before that happens. Hopefully there is time.

In addition to doing all that you are doing, I would encourage as much exercise as you can. Of all sorts. Running. Walking. Equestrian. Every single thing to divert and channel her energy away from the destructive or self-destructive. And I would encourage any form of art or craft. And music.

There is a lot of current work being done now on trauma and how the human body has intrinsic non-verbal mechanisms to deal with trauma, inherited from early human and non-human ancestors. You will find books on Amazon. Google Somatic Treatments for Trauma.

While there are mental health practitioners who specialize in this, any repetitive bilateral activity like walking, knitting, crochet, artwork, running, etc. will serve. The latter, the artwork and needlework have been found to be as effective as meditation, in dealing with anxiety and other distress.

I will look for the name of a book I bought (not yet read) that may serve as an introduction to this way of thinking. The author is a man named Peter Levine, a psychologist. Another prominent figure in this school of thought is somebody named Von Bessel or something like that. You will see his name on amazon.


Well-Known Member
Peter Levine wrote Walking The Tiger.

He is also expert in helping parents understand their children's trauma and support them to heal. One book by him that caught my eye is Trauma through a child's eyes: awakening the ordinary miracle of healing. Another that caught my attention is In an unspoken voice . Levine calls his work "somatic experiencing." He has PhD's in both medical biophysics I think it is and psychology.

There are videos of him speaking a bit, which I had never seen or heard. After listening I give him a lot of credibility. And the other guy too. This one:

The body keeps score by the Von Bessel guy, I forgot to check the spelling of his name. He is an MD. From Belgium or Holland I think. Each of these men are highly, highly esteemed. They wrote the book, so to speak.

This would be a way for you and your husband to become the experts to help your child mobilize her own resources to heal. What could be better?

If you are interested in this approach, I would be happy to discuss the material with you and support you.

Let me describe a little bit the way of thinking, in a very basic way, because I know not too much: Trauma is held in the body and not released. And thereafter every scary thing that happens, re-awakens it and can be re-traumatizing. Thus PTSD. Not every victim of crime or traumatized vet gets PTSD or what they used to call battle fatigue. The thinking is that people who were traumatized as children, are retraumatized and do not have the same resilience as do other people. But this can change, by this approach.

The idea, and thus the title, Walking the Tiger, I think comes from the reality that animals are traumatized all of the time and there are no psychotherapists or Paxil or Prozac available to treat it. There are genetically transmitted mechanisms whereby animals (and primitive man) worked through the trauma by their daily activity: running, for example. Bilateral movement.

That is the little bit I remember. But now I am motivated to find the book somewhere in my house.

The beauty of this approach is it does not require the verbal skills, insight or maturation that talk therapy requires. And in my view talk therapy has not necessarily been so effective in treating traumatized people, although others may differ.


Well-Known Member
Your daughter had a horrible start in life. I feel sick at what some people can do to their own kids. Mom sounds so awful.

It does sound like she may have been sexually abused, which is often forgotten...the subconscious hides it. But bed wetting with no physical reason is a big symptoms.

With what she had to live through, I urge you to put "attachment disorder" into your search engine. Unfortunately most psychiatrists don't know it when they see it and have no idea how to treat it. Attachment Disorders cause horrific behavior and no conscience and is a form of PTSD. But it has to be treated in its own way. And nobody is sure what that is. You'd need to find an expert if you feel, after reading about it, that this fits your daughter. I think you may think so.

I adopted an older boy who has it and we were not told. Eventually he was too dangerous to my young kids and pets and everyone else to live with us, but he was very good at hiding his abuse of other kids and pets.

He was an angel around adults. This is not the case with all attachment disordered kids, but he did it. They are all different with one thing in empathy toward others. They don't care who they hurt unless they get into trouble and then their tears are about themselves, not their victims.

We relinquished our rights to him and he spent years in residential treatment, another option that often takes Medicaid. The child gets 24/7 treatment and has a place to live and go to school. Look into state run residential treatment centers.

If your daughter may have been abused, she is a risk to either do it to a younger child in or out of your home or, when older, abused girls often accuse the father of sexual abuse. The allegation, even without proof, is taken seriously. It causes a lot of heartache.

Ask yourself if this child is a risk to her brother, younger school mates, pets or even yourselves. Our boy was. Attachment disorder is caused when an infant and then young child's needs are not met by a consistent caregiver. This is mandatory for a healthy, thivfting child to become a loving person who cares about others. Later love by an adoptive parent or other kind caregiver can't cure this. The child fears love, doesn't trust anyone and often acts worse when we try the hardest to love them.

Attachment Disorder, often shortened to R AD (means reactive attachment disorder). It is common in older adopted children, but can happen to any child who has a crazy, chaotic or neglectful early history.

There are three big symptoms that are red flags for a child who eventually ends up as an adult with no conscience/Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). They are bed wetting, cruelty to animals and fascination with fire.

Often sexual acting out or exposing self is there too but sometimes they are smart kids and hide their symptoms from us.

Our boy did and his younger siblings, whom he was sexually abusing, were afraid of his threats to kill us all by setting the house on fire. He told them he was the devil and crazy and they better not cross him. They didn't, not until they were certain he was never coming back.

He showed no remorse in his residential treatment center but he was at least not able to hurt anyone anymore. He is out now with children. I don't know if things are okay now. I saw his FB but have not spoken to him for over a decade.

Look up reactive attachment disorder and see if it rings a bell. Talk to your youngest privately and ask if he is afraid of her. He may not tell the truth if she scared him.

Well that is another possibility. Her mother sounds sick. I would do something now or it could be too late. There are places to go if you have Medicaid. University psychiatric centers that understand unattached kids and how to diagnose this would be my first choice. You don't want to risk going through what we did. Our family stuck together and grew closer. It doesnt have to tear you apart.

You can do this. You are strong.

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Roll With It
If you are still checking in, GO TO CATHOLIC CHARITIES! No matter your religion! They are truly there to help and especially to help children. If the local level is too underfunded/overextended to help you right away, go up the chain to the regional or state level. My father in law volunteers with them and many relatives have also done so over many years (in very different states) and they would be more than willing to help.

Also get started on a Parent Report. It is a document about your child and what is and has gone on with her. You write it and keep it up to date, and take it to all appointments. When things were so awful with my son, it was our most powerful weapon be cause I could show a doctor what we had done, or not done, and why, or what the result was, because I had the info at my fingertips. Moms here long before me wrote the outline and I don't think my son would have come as far as he has without it because each new doctor would have wanted to reinvent the wheel rather than build on the previous doctors' work. The link in my signature will take you to the outline for the Parent Report, so you can write one for your precious daughter to get her the help you need.

Also, given what you describe, her not getting an IEP is bogus. They are snowing you. Any child going from all As to failing needs one. There is a reason for her failing and SCHOOL has the responsibility for figuring it out and fixing it. It is called FAPE in LRE, or Free and Appropriate Public Education in Least Restrictive Environment. You need to write a letter and send it by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the school. This puts a timeline into place for them to test her and give you a meeting to discuss her results. If you don't put the request in writing and mail it with the whole certified mail return receipt requested, you cannot prove when they got the letter. The Special Education forum here has templates of letters you can use to request the evaluation if you would like. Or others here can help with that. I just think the school has given you the runaround, which schools do with smart kids.

Hurt and sad

New Member
Welcome, I'm so sorry you needed to find us but glad that you did. I'm also sorry things are so rough. It makes me so mad at agencies that they want you to have a referral through a court system instead of being proactive. We were lucky enough to get support for our son that sounds similar because his counselors and mine went to bat for us and practically begged-saying that we were trying to be proactive and keep him out of the court system (which knock on wood so far he has not been involved in the system). They actually listened and qualified him for immediate services. He did have an IEP but that wasn't a qualifying factor.

Even though her grades, won't qualify her for an IEP what a about an EBD referral based on her behavior?

One thing that is so important is taking care of yourself through all of this. I know it is easier said than done but even if it's as simple as a bubble bath or reading a good book. I also know how hard it is on the other children. We were able to get our daughter therapy to help her in dealing with her brother.

Again, welcome, you might want to take off your picture of yourself on your avatar to protect your anonymity. Sending gentle hugs your way.
Hi I am new. How do I make a new post?