Juvenile system



I recently joined this group, and thank God I found it. I have a 15 (soon to be 16) year old difficult child that was recently diagnosed with CD. No learning diabilities are present, but school has taken a drastic turn for the worse in the last year. He has gone from A's B's and C's to straight F's.

Right now he is incarcerated in our local juvenile detention facility until June. He is on no medications, and doctors say he doesn't need any. He is in school at the Det. Center learning 4th and 5th grade stuff which is a no brainer for him.

Now the delimma. What in the world do we do with him when he gets out? He cannot return to his current high school because we don't feel he is safe there. School officials and on-site police officers can't stand him and have actually made threats to me about harrassing him if he returns. We have set up enrollment in a residential boy's home, but I am not sure that's the right thing. Our options are so limited. The only other thing we can do is move. I want him to have a fresh start, (this is what he has asked for), but I'm not sure what the right move is. I do not want to send him away because I fear the anger and hurt he will have. He needs a smaller more structured environment for school.

Any suggestions? All are welcome!
me: 42,married to husband 19 years
difficult child: 16 year old male, diagnosed with CD late onset. No medications.



Hi and welcome to our world.

This is a very difficult situation because your son has been adjudicated BEFORE being labelled for special education (which would give him a whole lot of rights he doesn't have if not labelled). I wouldn't accept the juvenile justice diagnosis of conduct disorder without further independent confirmation.

CD is a descriptor that says he has done some unacceptable things. The REASON he has done them is very important in my opinion.

If he has underlying emotional problems, then more punishment will not help. On the other hand, some adolescents (most notably kids with bi-polar, ODD, and CD) sometimes cannot reside in the comunity safely due to a combination of emotional, biochemical and behavioral issues.

There are residential placements that are very emotionally and caring oriented. Unfortunately, these are not funded through the special education or jj systems for the most part and are VERY expensive. Examples are CEDU and programs of Aspen Education Group. These are often called "emotional growth boarding schools" or "therapeutic boarding schools." They plug a whole in the system that falls between the juvenile justice (punishment) orientation and special education that is better designed to help Learning Disability (LD) than ODD or CD or BiPolar (BP) adolescents--even though emotionally disturbed is a Special Education category (SED).

Another problem you raise is where to educate an out of control kid who does not have learning problems. MOST but not all facilities mix behavior and learning problem kids. I have a difficult child myself who has no Learning Disability (LD) and this has been a constant struggle for us. Put bluntly, boring him out of his mind while waiting for Learning Disability (LD) kids to catch on has never improved his behavior one bit. But finding programs for academically able SED kids is not easy.

I suggest you check Lon Woodbury's site for programs if boarding school is an option (www.strugglingteens.com). "Small" boarding schools that are not specifically therapeutic are another option for kids who need structure and support but not long term psychotherapy. Some small schools will not take adjudicated kids and others will not take kids on any heavy duty medications. It just depends.

The "start over" approach doesn't usually work if it is just another large public high school because the same influences are present as in the old school--and so is the prejudice bec. you have to transfer school and jj records. However, the prejudice might not be so personal and vindictive. So unless you want to move anyway for another reason, this probably is not the way to go.

I'm sorry to have such bad news but the school will say your son is "socially maladjusted" (not a Special Education category) and not serve him in my opinion. He is too old--and they will use every trick to "age him out."

IS EVERYONE WITH A YOUNGER KID LISTENING???? GET THAT KID LABELLED FOR THE PROTECTION AND OPTIONS IT AFFORDS!!!!!!EVEN IF THE PROGRAM FIT ISN'T GREAT AT ANY GIVEN MOMENT. You can always keep the label but demand LRE--it doesn't work the other way around for h.s. age kids.