New to site, looking for help.

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by tracev, Apr 2, 2009.

  1. tracev

    tracev Tracev

    Hello to everyone. I found this place through Google. I hope I can find the help we need! :anxious:
    About a year after my husband of 11 years and I were married, we received word that his daughter was in the custody of the state of Arizona. (We live in Ohio.) {Please note, my husband had been searching for this child since he received word that she had been born in Dec. 1995} She was 4 at the time.

    She had been removed from her mother's care under allegations of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse. (In the end, no sexual abuse was proved.) We were granted custody after 19 months of fighting for her. Her mother ended up losing all 3 of her kids to their respective fathers. Briana, (my step-daughter) was nearly six when she came to us. We had to take her to a therapist to help with her transition from foster care to "a permanent family situation." The therapist said Bree was remarkably well adjusted for a child who had spent the better part of her life in and out of foster care. The only thing she found strange was that Briana was not at all concerned about not seeing her mother anymore. The psychiatric. evaluations they gave both Bree and her mother determined that there was no "parental/child bond".

    We were told to enroll Briana in a pre-school as opposed to kindergarten because she was "not ready" for school yet. (She had never attended daycare, pre-school, head start, nothing like that.) She was released from therapy in about 6 months. Briana's mother eventually moved back to Ohio to "try to be in her life." Bree attened visitations with her mother until she was 10. Her mother just stopped calling one day. It's now been 3 years since they have seen one another except for one incident when her mother literally hid from Bree in a department store. Bree has called me "mom" since she got off the plane from Arizona, and refers to her mother by her first name.

    Now that you have a bit of background on us, here is the problem. Very early on, I noticed that Bree was different:

    She didn't play like other kids her age. (I've read on another site that it's an "abnormal play pattern".)

    She was not/is not nearly as mature as kids her age. (If I had to guess, I'd say she's an 8 year old in a 13 year old's body.)

    She lies a lot. (even about unimportant little things.)

    She's obsessed with cartoons, and video games.

    She refuses to do homework, and doesn't pay attention in school. (Although she seems to be gifted in math and science.)

    She is an emotional wreck. She cries constantly. When asked to do chores, homework, or anything other than watch cartoons and play video games.

    She accuses me and her father of hating her all the time even though we try to make her understand that we don't, and that we love her more than anything.

    She doesn't listen to us but, at school, she's always the best behaved. When she visits my mother, my mother says she's "the perfect grandchild".

    She has great difficulty making friends, and for some reason she eventually alienates the ones she does have. (They think she's "weird, and annoying".) Her own cousin, who is the same age won't even talk to her.

    She has VERY low self esteem. (She says she does nothing right, and no one loves her.)

    About once a week, she throws tantrums like a toddler.

    She has no interest in personal care. Showers, brushing her teeth, brushing her hair, wearing clean clothes, even getting dressed. (Thank God she doesn't have her period yet.)

    She's very sneaky, and does things behind our backs.

    We find things she has picked up off the street on her way home from school such as broken dog chains, pull tabs, flattened soda bottle lids, broken toys, just garbage. She stores it all as if it's a collection of some sort, then she'll deny she even knows where it came from.

    But, that's just part of it all. I'm trying to convince my husband to put her back in therapy as this is only getting worse as she gets older. He refuses to believe there is anything wrong with her. Her school is uninterested in trying to help, I've asked before, and I was told they didn't see any issues. To top it all off, my husband and I are both currently laid off. It's been very stressful for all of us, but Briana seems not to WANT to understand, and blames us for not having much money. (We recently applied for public assistance.) I don't even know if anyone here can help us out. It gets more and more difficult for us, me especially, everyday. I've never known a child like her, and I feel for her. It hurts me to say this but, I think there is something very wrong with her, and I don't know where to turn. Thank you.
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi there and welcome to the board.
    There are many possibilities here due to her early neglect, so I'd take her, right off the bat, to a neuropsychologist for a complete, intensive evaluation. That way you can have her tested on every level. As a layperson with a child on the high functioning end of the autism spectrum, I think she presents as high functioning autism. These kids can seem very detached toward people--all people--and tend to mature very late. My fifteen year old son still obsesses over cartoons and videogames and isn't all that interested in girls. He has a girlfriend simply because SHE likes HIM and is tepid about it. He has no interest in malls, looking sharp, hygiene, etc. It's part of the spectrum. He is very smart, although, early on, he needed help in school and still gets a bit of help. But I'd have her completely evaluated and in my opinion NeuroPsychs are the way to go. A therapist is not a good diagnosticiani. I wouldn't take her to a psychiatrist first off because they often don't "get" Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)--this is actually a neurological condition and a "difference" that can look like a mental illness. But your step also needs counseling for the other stuff in her life. IF SHE IS ON THE SPECTRUM, she needs a special type of therapist or she won't connect with the therapist and vice versa. That's why I recommond the neuropsychologist first. These kids are wired differently and do not respond to anything the way "typical" kids do and both the parents and the child have to learn how to communicate. The complication here is the possible abuse too. You have your hands full. I wish you all the best and welcome to the board. A lot of caring people post here.
  3. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Hello and Welcome!

    I would like to second everything that MidwestMom has said....get your child an evaluation. Once you discover the underlying issues, you will be on the road to getting the right sort of help for this child.

  4. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Ditto on the need for a comprehensive evaluation. If you don't have insurance or cannot afford the testing, you can request one in writing from her school, and even if they don't think she has a problem, they have to do it. Depending on the outcome of the testing, she may end up with a referral to county mental health for further assessment. There are lots of websites that can give you specifics on how to word a letter requesting evaluation from a school district, and if you go to our Special Education forum here, you can post more questions about the specifics for how to proceed.

    Another option is to contact the county you live in directly to find out what free services they might have. Or perhaps a local children's hospital can direct you to resources for families in financial situations like yours.

    I'm sorry you are having to deal with a child that has obvious issues on top of a stressful economic situation. You are right to be concerned, and I applaud you for caring and seeking out help for her.

    Welcome to the board!
  5. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Has she ever been on any medications? It sounds as though she has a number of different issues and is able to "hold it together" at school etc. but has to let go at home. I agree that an evaluation is called for but I do realize that it is difficult to get care in these economic times. If I had
    to guess I would also guess Aspergers which quite often includes anxiety. PTSD would also seem logical. Her biomom evidently has mental health issues and there is a genetic predisposition in your daughter's genes.

    I wish you good luck. Having a disordered child and having economic/employment issues at the same time can test the patience of a saint. Now...more than ever...try to stay on the same page with your husband.Whatever support or treatment options that come up, he has to agree with you or it won't happen.

    I'm sending a supportive hug your way. DDD
  6. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Oh, this is screaming at me. So much of what you describe, is hwat we have experienced across the board with our kids, except for easy child.

    A couple of points I must make here -

    1) We cannot diagnose on this board, no matter how much a particualr case screams at us. However, we can say to you, "Please get this child checked out for the possibility of Asperger's or autism, it needs to be ruled out." There are other possibilities, but I would put Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) in some form, high on the list to consider.

    2) If you can, get her father to lurk here/post here also. It has helped me and my hhusband immensely, becaause even though we already communicated well (or so we thought) sometimes what I might type here consolidates my thoughts in a way I haven't successfully communicated to him (even if I think I have). Similarly, he reads what other people respond and he might find something particularly significant that I might miss. Even the fun stuff in Watercooler - husband & I will talk about it when we're together. He heard a joke the other day and said, "We MUST PM that to *Star." I suggested not, only because it was a VERY inappropriate joke, no matter how funny.
    This board has saved our sanity and is now an important part of our life as a family. And our communicartion with each other - it has helped us be even more on the same page. Wonderful.

    Now I have a couple of questions for you,

    1) You say Brianna tells lies - what kind of lies? And how do you know she is lying? This is important.

    2) What do you know of the other kids and how they are getting along? Is there any contact with her siblings? Are any of them struggling in this way?

    The problem with automatically thinking, "She needs to be in therapy again," is that with her history, it is natural to assume that she is like this because of her rough start in life. But you could be dealing with chicken-or-egg situation here. A Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) kid born into a neglectful household is going to have a rough time. The child will present as abused (often IS abused, especially by their standards and especially if not given access to what they need, or not having it recognised). A Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) kid born into a loving, caring household can still sometimes SEEM to be suffering from neglect or abuse. We got accused initially of being neglectful, with difficult child 3. CHild protective services were called on us and we had to undergo a lot of investigations. Once I got over my fear of being blamed inappropriately, I was grateful because it was opening doors for assessments and testing, which suddenly got slammed again when they dropped the case.
    My point here is - her mother sounds like she wasn't up to the job, but if Brianna was born Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) (yet to be checked out) it would have greatly increased the liklihood of inappropriate management of the child. Therapy won't fix any underlying problem, it will only help the overlay, and then only if you're indepedently working to help her with whatever-it-is.

    I can understand your husband and the granmother thinking she's a perfect child - to them, she may present as such. And perhaps when she is given exactly the environment she craves, she is capable of neatly slotting in so her behaviour doesn't stand out as obvious. They accept her and give her instinctively what she wants. You, for some reason, do not - perhaps you are seeing something that concerns you and you're rocking the boat just that little bit to see what happens, and what you then see really concerns you - and they're unwilling to rock the boat even a little, because "if it ain't broke, why fix it?"

    If MWM & I (and those of the rest of us also thinking it could be Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)) are right, then you need to make some changes in order to help her. You've come a long way with her, but your mindset (and the therapist's) has been focussed on her problems being due to early neglect and whatever. You need to consider a thinknig shift towards, "Maybe there's something she was born with," in order to help her adapt.

    I do not intend this as criticism. I am speaking from experience - we all want our kids to do well, and so when we have a kid like this we try to handle it by pushing them firmly in the direction they should be going. I made mistakes like this with difficult child 1. He now sees how I handle difficult child 3 and I know he resents it, even though he sees how vlauable it is. He is jealous, he admits it, he wishes I had got my act together a bit sooner, is all.

    What you need to do - first, watch. Take notes. See the things she likes to do, the things she likes to collect. If you can without triggering a meltdown, ask her why. Again, take notes. She is a product of her nature and her nurture. Her nurture - she had a rough start. her nature - she may have been born with something like Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) (or similar) or her nurture could have triggered other problems now built-in to her makeup. THis is why you need an evaluation - a neuropsychologist assessment as a priority.

    That's point 2 - a neuropsychologist assessment. If her dad and grandma are resistant to this, point out that it will help pinpoint just how smart she is, in the areas she is doing well. It will also help head off any academic problems which are likely o surface later on (perhaps as a result of her rough start). OK, that's what you tell him. Because they alone are good enough reasons, if you have a child who is clearly brilliant at least in some areas.
    But what often can happen with a Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) kid - they get to acertain point in their schooling, and the work becomes more complex, more abstract and they hit an academic brick wall and suddenly begin to do really badly. It's too late to panic then. With advance diagnosis and support, this can be minimised and often ways found around the problem. The academic brick wall can happen at a range of ages (depending on exactly how severe the Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) is). For difficult child 1, it happened at about age 13. For difficult child 3, it happened last year, at 14. For easy child 2/difficult child 2, it happened in senior high school (after an earlier brick wall before she was diagnosed, when she was 8). The brick wall can be climbed, but you do better with expert help who can tell you where the footholds are.

    USe whatever resources you canaccess (ie the school) to get some sort of assessment done now. it won't be perfect but when you are back on your feet you will at least have a starting point and further testing should simply piggyback onto what was already done, and therefore be cheaper. Kids shouldn't be tested too often (because ten all that gets tested, is how good the kid is at doing tests). However, previous testing can be reevaluated and sometimess new, more detailed tests can be added to the list. It's a bit like doing some athletic events such as foot race and hurdles, then someone elsecomes along and says, I don't need you to do the foot race or hurdles again, we've already recorded your times for those, but your performance in the hurdles makes us think that some data on your performance in long jump, high jump and maybe even pole vault, would be really useful."

    Meanwhile, if you choose to use this as your working hypothesis, there are things you can do now, yourselves, without it costing you a cent.

    Step 1 - read "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene. Even if people don't think she's explosive. There are other books also, but I feel for you this would be a good start. Maybe for your husband if he could handle the idea, read "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" by Mark Haddon. It's fiction, but written from the point of view of a 15 year old boy with Asperger's. Read anything by Temple Grandin or Tony Attwood.

    Step 2 - back off from pushing her for a while, and see how you go. Again, do this as you observe and record. Try to get others to also record. Do a PMI - that's Plus, Minus, INteresting (these are the categories you make notes on). Take note of who she gets on well with, who they are, how old they are, what they are interested in. I suspect you will find she DOES have friends but they are possibly bright or odd kids much younger than her, or some surprising adults in her environment.

    Step 3 - find out what makes her feel calm and happy. Do not restrict her access to this. Someone on another thread mentioned that her son likes to wear gloves and have his gloves in his pocket - so for a kid like this, you have spare gloves available. difficult child 3 likes to blow bubbles, so we have lots of little bubble bottles (the kind they hand out at weddings) scattered around. He tops them up with dishwashing liquid and used to take one to school (it was in his IEP). One day at school he left his bubble bottle in the classroom and a teacher refused to let him go fetch it, then put him on detention for the resultant meltdown. That's an example of what NOT to do. difficult child 3 is older now, is no longer so dependent on these things, but he is very dependent on other things. It varies. We watch, we support. Over time, we help him wean off but always he will need something.

    I'll shut up now. I could go on and on.

    I return to my most important question - your daughter's lies. Can you give us more detail here?

    Sorry you need us but glad you found us.

  7. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Do you ahve the state children's insurance (medicaid under whatever name your state is using? - I think it used to be CHiPs in Ohio, it is Soonercare here in OK)? IF so they should cover therapy and the evaluations we are discussing here. That should ease the financial burden of any therapy.

    I am not sure where in OH you live, but there are several excellent Children's hospitals in OH. The one in cincy is where we were finally able to get real help for our son.

    Do you have teh ability to take her to the doctor, or does it ahve to be your husband? If you can, go and ask the pediatrican for a referral to a psychiatrist and a psychologist.

    from the history with ehr mother, and the lengthy time in foster care, I would put money on her having some attachment issues. OFTEN these do NOT show up until later, after she gets to know someone.

    I am NOT saying she has Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) or any attachment disorder, just that this should be evaluated. She should also be evaluated for other things - it sounds like there is something going on. I agree that some form of autistic spectrum disorder (Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)) sounds likely. Especially with the lack of friends, etc...

    You may have to really PUSH your husband about this. I know my husband had the hardest time agreeing that our oldest needed more than just more discipline. Discipline never worked with him.

    One way to start getting things together to help evaluate what you see going on is to start a Parent Report. This is a report that tells all about the child. It is something that you put together. I know that when my husband read the one I put together it hit him liek a ton of bricks - and this was AFTER several years of treatment by a psychiatrist and psychologists. My husband didn't go to the doctor's appts, so he really didn't "see" everything. Plus he had the "Nothing really wrong with MY child" head in the sand mindset.

    The parent report info can be found in the FAQ/Board Help section. They are invaluable in keeping organized, having info to share with docs, school and other professionals, etc... Just remember that you don't have to give ALL of the info to school or any specific group. Only share that info you are comfortable with, though I do encourage candor with doctors.

    It is also helpful here to make a signature such as you can see on the bottom of other posts here. It helps us keep everything straight so you don't have to keep telling us everything over and over. Just remember that tehse are public forums so you don't want to use full names, other specifically identifying info, and especially not last names, phone numbers, or photos. (We do put links to photos of our kids in threads ont he Watercooler, but they only stay there for a few days before they are pulled - it helps preserve your child's privacy while letting us each see those awesome pics of special occasions and fun times.).

    I am glad you found us. Trust your instincts. If they say there is a problem, there is one. Experts and docs and teachers spend minutes to a few hours a month with your child - YOU spend MUCH more time with her. You also have mothers instincts for a reason - trust them. The BIGGEST mistakes I have made with my kids, the ones I truly HATE having made, happened when I went against my instincts.

    Sending you some hugs, and again, Welcome!!
  8. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Amen, Susie. Parental instincts are invaluable. And something to also consider (when your husband says, "Oh yeah? Well MY instincts say there's nothing wrong!") is to also remember that the ones who love the most are often the ones most in denial. It is so very hard to even consider (especially after a really rough time) that there could still be a problem.

    My sister insisted her younger son was fine. I worried about him, so did my mother and another sister who was living with us. Picture two households next door to one another. My mother and sister B with sister B's new baby in one household; sister A next door. Sister A doing it tough. Me, I shuttled between both households while living with my mother and babysitting for sister A.

    Sister A had a strong vested interest to insist there was nothing wrong, she HAFD to prove mum and sister B to be wrong because she felt too much like a loser already. But while they all stubbornly argued about it, nothing was being done to help the boy. So I went to sister A and said, "I love you, I love your kids. But I'm worried about your boy." At first she screamed at me that I was just a messenger, I made it clear I wasn't and finally said, "I want to be wrong. Whatever mum and sister B want, underneath it all I'm sure they would be very glad to be wrong, as well. But I understand that you even admitting to getting an opinion would give them room to crow over you, so let's make the appointment in secret, I'll babysit for you while you take him and I won't say a word as to where you've gone or why. Just organise it with the GP, get the referral and see what they say. If the lad gets a clean bill of health, you can keep quiet about it and then next time mum and sister B mention it, shove the report in their faces and enjoy every second. But you can't do that unless you get that opinion. And le'Tourette's Syndrome pray I'm wrong."

    She did it. But I think once she began the process she realised how important it was to KNOW, and I suspect the GP said to her, "At last! I'm glad you're getting this checked out."
    She told mum and sister B about the appointment and I think mum went with her. End result - a diagnosis of sorts, explained by his previously-known episodes of apnoea and hypoxia after birth. My sister remembered finding him a couple of times in the hospital nursery, blue and not breathing. The biggest worry (possible hypothyroid) was thankfully quickly ruled out.

    For my sister, it was easier to continue to deny than to face (and have to put in train) the process of identifying a lack of perfection in her son. But once she began the process, it was easier to share her worries and to cry about it, and to then help her son overcome the problems that were identified.

    Now from 35 years later, I can see the likelihood that he has some Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) or something similar. He has never married (I think he is afraid of relationships in general) and is a loner. I haven't seen him for some years, I miss him. But when we have seen him, I have enjoyed long conversations with him about very in-depth topics. He's a deep thinker with strong ideas. He's very close to his mother, lives near her and visits her often. Physically, a perfect specimen, incredibly strong without even having to work at it. Almost a cliché. But life hasn't been easy. Maybe these days it would have been better. I can only hope.

  9. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Hello and welcome to the board. :)

    You've already received wonderful advice. I just wanted to add my warm welcome. I ditto the neuropsychologist evaluation.

    While it may be autism, because I agree with Marg that many of her symptoms indicate it, it may also stem from her early years of abuse. I can say this as I was an abused child and your post could have been describing me when I was a kid. It was eerie to read it.

    If you can get Dad onboard that would be a huge plus. But it takes men longer than it does Moms. It helped that I made my husband go to appointments and such and hear what docs had to say in person.

    Sounds like you've been an awesome warrior Mom for this child already. She is very lucky to have a Mom like you.

    Welcome aboard.

  10. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    Just wanted to welcome you to the board. :flowers:
  11. tracev

    tracev Tracev

    :surprise: Wow!!! I couldn't believe all the info everyone provided me!
    I greatly appreciate your interest. I have to apologize for taking so long to reply. Our computer died a day after I posted, and it took this long to get it up and running again. To answer a few questions...

    Briana will lie about nearly anything.

    I have set up a homework reminder e-mail system with a few of her teachers. They e-mail me before the end of the school day exactly what she has for homework. Her homeroom teacher then sees to it that she brings home the required materials. When she gets home, she says she has no homework.

    When asked if her chores are completed, she says they are, when CLEARLY, standing next to the sink, I can see that the dishes are not done.

    She was asked not to take barbie dolls in the shower with her to reduce the amount of time she spends in the shower. After her shower, she insists that she has no idea how the dolls got in the shower.

    My personal favorite occurred again just today. She spends Friday nights with my mother. Every Friday, we gather her clothes, and her pajamas, etc., Every Friday, it's the SAME thing. (I can't stress enough the SAME thing every week!) I say; "Bree, you know Grammie doesn't allow you to read anime books. Why did you put this book in your backpack?" (It's just a thing my mom has against comic books, and anime.) Bree says; "I didn't mom, I don't even know how it got in there, it must have been Daddy." First of all, why would Daddy do that every week for the last two years? And second, c'mon what am I stupid?

    I could go on.

    As far as her brothers are concerned, Briana knew Michael who is 3 years younger than she is. Last we knew, he was living in Mexico with his father's family, but not with his father. His father abandoned him after about a year to raise a family with his girlfriend back in Arizona. (We don't know why, but I wonder if it was because he couldn't handle the poor kid.) That is all the information we have on him. He visited about 4 years ago when Bree was 9, and he was 6. Their mother had their pictures taken at Walmart, bought them matching socks, took them to McDonald's, and dropped them off at HER mother's house. We were called to pick Bree up and we never saw or heard from Michael again. Her other brother, Christopher was adopted by a family on his father's reservation. (He was obviously Native American) His father was then and is now incarcerated. Bree and Michael only met him once, shortly after he was born, before Bree came to Ohio. Briana's mother has never had contact with him, other than giving birth to him.

    I want to thank everyone for your support, and kind words! I will absolutely be looking into as much as I can. We finally were approved for gov't assistance, and we DO have medical coverage for her now. I plan to look into everything you all said to ASAP. I also plan to check out the rest of this site, and learn how to use it now that my computer is up and running. Thanks again!
  12. tracev

    tracev Tracev

    P.S. Is there somewhere I can go to learn all these awesome abbreviations you guys use?
  13. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    I believe if you look under quick links it has a link in there with all of the abbreviations. Gosh it has been so long since I looked!
    I also wanted to add my welcome.
    It sounds like this poor kid needs some help and you also. You need some answers and a direction on how to guide her.