Looking for someone with experience with PINS


New Member
Hello, short time lurker, first time poster. I have a 17yo son. I don't want to go into a long history but he was diagnosed with ADHD a long time ago, and used to take medications but is off them now, though still occasionally takes Vyvanse when he wants to because he knows it helps him focus. He's bright but not a good student. Learns well orally (think Michael Oher from the book/movie The Blind Side). As we continue our lifelong learning, we're almost certain now that what he "has" is FASD (he's adopted).

My question first, then the explanation. Does anyone have experience with PINS? What can you tell me about it? How did the child react? Was it a good decision? Bad? Different? (PINS = Person in need of supervision).

Here are the problems:
He's always hated school, but now he skips often (he's a senior, if he fails one class this year he will not have enough credits to graduate). He's late pretty much daily. He'll ask to leave class for a bathroom break, then never return. I mean, he really HATES school. It's "boring, stupid, pointless, boring, dumb and there's no reason for him to go." (say that really angrily)

He's a good athlete who has received a partial scholarship to a private junior college. And doesn't seem to give a damn about what he needs to do to get there. He "can't" get out of bed in the morning. He will fight me if I physically try to coax him to do anything, and I'm not doing that. Yeah, he's a bit oppositional defiant. But he'll always say he "can't" do something, not "won't". Well, he does say he won't go to therapy any more because "they all say the same thing and it's boring, pointless, complete waste of time, etc."

He won't even look for a part-time job because he "knows he'll be bored and quit or just not show up after a couple days."

He smokes weed regularly, probably daily. He does get an allowance tied to a very simple chore. We don't have many relatives close by so he doesn't usually have much money, but I think he mooches from his friends as much as possible (he's very handsome, outgoing and popular). But he's also stolen money from his mother and I, and his sister. But we all know to keep cash hidden away now, so that's not a problem.

However, he does not respect personal space or belongings. He will go into our room or his sister's room and take a phone charger, or backpack, or hoodie, or whatever he needs right at that moment. And he'll leave them somewhere or lose them.

He'll argue with us and tell us off if we try to discuss... just about anything with him. If we were to ground him, he'd just leave the house. That said, he's almost always home by his curfew. This wasn't always the case, but is now.

He's a generally disobedient, dope-smoking truant with a warped sense of entitlement.

I'm know from reading that others have it much worse. Thank you for reading this far, I'll finally get to the point. We are in a pre-PINS program (he's refused to cooperate). The next step would be to basically go into PINS, where the county would become responsible for making him go to school or otherwise be where he's supposed to be. My wife and I disagree about this. I don't want to start that process, because it scares me, for one thing. My son is black, we are white. I believe his behavior is not normal or age-appropriate, but I'm not sure "taking action" will bring better results than "coping" and just keeping the lines of communication open.

If my wife wrote this, she would have painted a much darker picture. The truth is probably in between. I'm really not looking for if anyone thinks we should or shouldn't proceed, more what will it look like if we do? Thank you.


Well-Known Member
I am going to tell you what I think/know about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), although you didnt ask for it. in my opinion if your son really has any sort of fetal alcohol syndrome, it won't work. We adopted a drug exposed child (also black...not sure why this matters) and learned that FASD is organic brain damage and the affected person really CAN'T live life like others do and often need lifelong care, not discipline...it doesn't work...they lack an understanding of cause and effect and don't seem able to learn it. Many end up in jail and don't know why so they offend again and still don't get it. Memory is spotty.

We were lucky. Our son is doing well and it turned out he dodged the fetal alcohol bullet...God knows how, but he doesn't have it. He does have high functioning autism, but is kind and independent. You can help autism. You can't help brain damage caused by alcohol. It's a sad disorder.

Maybe you and wife need to learn more about FASD from a Neuro psychologist (a psychologist with additional training in the brain) before you move on. If son never got that diagnosis, take him to a specialist...he may not have it and that is not something you want him to have. Be sure. Once you are sure, you can make helpful decisions. Until you know what you are dealing with, nobody can know what to do. Neuro psychologists are great diagnosticians too. One may be a good diagnosician for your son.

by the way, his race is a non issue in this.

Good luck.
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New Member
We adopted a drug exposed child (also black...not sure why this matters)

by the way, his face is a non issue in this.

Good luck.

First, thanks for the feedback. The reason I mentioned his skin color is because I'm afraid of directly or indirectly getting him in "the system". I know PINS doesn't equal a criminal record, but African-Americans are represented in the system in wildly disproportionate numbers. Systemic bias is a real thing. I just noted it as another reason why I'm wary of proceeding.


Active Member
I can see why you would be concerned about using this support given your sons race, and the perception he may take away from it.

I agree sign SWOT that you need a difinitive diagnosis of fetal alcohol if that is what you are dealing with. I work in the school system as a guidance counsellor so I see these kids all the time. I agree they can’t control it. It doesn’t mean they are not capable of learning. I have worked with some who have done so well! I have also seen others who do not have the support to find success.

I can see you love your son, and I think if this program could help him, it is worth pursuing. However getting to someone who understands fetal alcohol is critical if this is the diagnosis.


Well-Known Member
As always, I wish I had said it as eloquently as Colleen. I would guess he needs support and encouragement and understanding of he has fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. In Adoption Land, I was in a very large support group with other adoptive parents for years and fetal alcohol plus reactive attachment disorder (or both) are huge and common problems for our kids whose birth parents suffered from addiction and could not quit during pregnancy. These subset of adopted kids do not get better by discipline. They are not "bad." They are disabled. I don't know how old your son was when you became a forever family, but reactive attachment disorder is almost the rule with older kid adoption. It is caused by very early loss of a major caregiver, abuse or chaos ages infant to three. Do ALL older adopted kids have this? I work with a girl adopted at four and she is normal, in four year college and sweet. She doesnt like her mother, but is very attached to her father. So no not all older adopted kids cant attach. But it is common and no fault of yours or his if he has attachment issues.

I would take him to a Neuro psychologist before you do anything with court. It is true that blacks in the U.S. are often considered guilty for being black....all the killings of black youth show this. Ii

Thanks to Colleen for being a kind voice of reason. Being a teacher, i trust her word as well as what I saw. She is wise and compassionate.