Painful Experience of Son in Justice System

savior no more

Active Member
It's been a while since I have been able to post but in the desperateness of my situation ( really my sons, not mine) you guys are the only people who can provide comfort and wise exploration of options. My 20 year old son is facing two felony charges in Texas for burglary of a habitation and now aggravated robbery. The first charge he was with "friends" when they robbed his dads house and stold guns. The last time he was sitting in the back seat of a vehicle when two boys robbed a convenience store. He is the follower in these situations and a sitting duck to be targeted by people who exploit him.

He seems unable to self-correct behavior and is attracted to thugs. He is developmentally disabled - Aspergers, mood disorder, and substance abuse. He has a court appointed attorney - I spent a lot of $$ for him to be in a Residential Treatment Center from age 15 -17. The local DA is now offering him 45 years in prison. I am devastated and have advocated to the limit of my knowledge for him with documentation, etc. to mitigate sentence. At least the new court appointed attorney - the old one got a job with the DA - said he will order an independent evaluation although I have documentation beginning since he was three.

He seems to at every turn of the hat do exactly what I am most of afraid of - no matter what age. His dad and I both told him not to get a face tattoo and when I went to visit him the other day at jail he had put a cross under his R eyelid. I'm not so sure why I was so surprised - this is what he has done his whole life, disrespect authority. He lied about just finishing a tattoo he had already started faintly on his eye. It just made me sick to the core and also made me realize the lack of impact I have on him at all. Probably never had any is how I'm feeling now. Now my next pervasive fear is he will go to prison, affiliate with a gang, and then be predated to kill someone which I have heard occurs. The horror and fears I can keep mostly at bay but they percolate underneath the surface.

I wish it was cut and dry and I could turn my back on him but the developmental disability won't let me do this. Then the guilt comes on about I didn't adequately protect him (traveling mom, babied him, gave too much freedom, etc, etc) through all the years of stuff and if I had done better he wouldn't be here in this position. What I try to do today is pray for him, advocate for him, give him limited $$, and let him call. I'm ambivalent about giving him no $$ as I have read they are even more vulnerable with no barter system but on the other hand I have read where kids haven't gotten it until there was no support. Sheesh - I just get so conflicted. Probably I need to not listen to my intuition which is warped which is always to do too much.

Thanks for listening. My family and friends cannot tolerate the pain they feel when looking at my situation with my son. I'm sorry we all have been put in this position, but I'm grateful you guys are here as support.


I am so sorry you are going through this. Our children are able to hurt us and worry us like no other. I cannot pretend to know what you are going through or what you face, but, you know this is the place to be to vent and most importantly find the comfort and support that you need and deserve. Lots of love to you x


Well-Known Member
My heart goes out to you. Please don't beat yourself up. I know your scared and can't understand why your son just won't listen to the voice of reason. I have a son who is very much like yours. His lack of the ability to not shoot himself in the foot floors me.

Tanya M

Living with an attitude of gratitude
Staff member
((HUGS)) to you SNM.

I'm so sorry for the heartache you are going through. I know it compounds it for you because your son has mental challenges.
You have nothing to feel guilty about. You and all the other parents here have done the very best we could. It serves no purpose to second guess how we could have done things differently. I know you are a loving parent because you are on this site. Parents who don't care about their kids will never seek out help from sites like this one.

You love your son and have been there for him through all the chaos that surrounds him. There is not much more you can do for him. I know how frustrating it can be when you try and tell him the choices he are making will only lead to further trouble. Just like my son and many others here, our kids just won't listen to us. Their choices are their own, good or bad.

I'm glad you are here with us, you are not alone in this. We are here for you.

Wishing you some peace today.


Well-Known Member
Hi. I am so sorry for your pain. I have a son with high functioning autism and he gets social security and job coaching services. He is able to live alone, pay his bills, and be independent this way. Does your son get any services? That could help him. Of course, he has to cooperate...sometimes autistic people do not really understand social norms or they really don't get why they should follow them. Since they are rote rather than abstract thinkers, sometimes explanations don't resonate with them. Supports made my son a functional productive citizen and he gets things much more now.

Hugs for your hurting heart.


Well-Known Member

Hugs from me, also.
I am so sorry. Hoping the new evaluation will help turn things around for your son's future and that something else besides prison will be recommended.

Years ago, when I took my son to the MD for what seemed like depression, my son continually stuck his tongue out in the waiting room a couple dozen times. Here I was, worried sick about him, and he was mainly concerned with showing me his tongue piercing. It was the first time I had ever seen it. The piercing was gone within a week. That day, it was difficult for me to stop making the piercing about me, because I was convinced he got it just to bother me.

You read it here quite often: They are gonna do what they are gonna do, regardless of our best efforts.

Please stay close to the board. It certainly is a sanity-saver for us moms, isn't it?

More hugs,

so ready to live

Well-Known Member
Hi SNM. I'm sorry for your pain. Someone had a thread "they don't know what they put us through" SO TRUE.
I wish it was cut and dry and I could turn my back on him but the developmental disability won't let me do this.
This was/continues to be the hardest part for us. We just don't know with our son's limitations whether he's really capable of making it on his own. We did finally realize that he knew right from wrong and could verbalize he was just plain choosing his own way. It looks like a succession of terrible decisions to us, but to him, there must be some benefit or he wouldn't keep doing it this way. Is the benefit "I do what I want, when I want"? If this is the case, then do it. But, don't expect someone to rescue you. Or do they simply fall in with anyone who will accept them? ...and fall into their lifestyle...that's what it seems our son has done and that's what breaks my heart. The problem for us is he seems to expect us to clean it up afterward. At 28? Really? But it's so tiring to watch, hear about, be begged over and over and's no wonder we feel like we would simply pay him to go away (don't tell him ;)) but we know he would be back before long, hand out, with a story again. it's our Grimm fairytale and it's really grim.
It seems I end every good cry with "But I wanted so much for him"...I wish he wanted so much for him...
Love and prayers to you, this is just plain awful.



100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

So sorry for your pain and I have felt so many of the feelings you described in your post with my own son, just not understanding WHY he was doing the things he was doing.

I even asked him one time if he thought WE were bad parents. I couldn't figure it out and still can't. I am the type too that always looks for answers and it's so frustrating when there simply aren't any.

Your son is still young (which is what everyone tells me about mine) so hoping he will turn things around. We CANNOT do it for them unfortunately. I think you are doing all the right things.

I too have many friends that feel so bad that he has hurt us so much. We are good people. I don't think he gets how much he has hurt us by his behavior/choices and I hope some day he does get it, not to punish him for it but when that happens I'll know he has had a true awakening.

Prayers for peace for you and your son.


If focused on a single leaf you won't see the tree
SNM, I am sorry you have so much worry and heartache right now. My son has a low IQ, able to function for the most part, but people know there is something off about him when he starts to talk. He is also developmentally disabled. Anyways, when my son was facing felony charges, it got reduced to misdemeanor. Now it was great that he wouldn't have a felony on his record. However, if he had been given a felony charge, the Judge said she could have court ordered him to a inpatient treatment facility to get mental and rehab services. But the law will not allow her to do so if it's a misdemeanor. So, all she could do is order him to go and get counseling himself at a specified place. If he didn't, then he would be breaking probation.

So, what I am saying, with the felony charges pending, it might be a way to get the help he needs. The court can order him to a treatment facility for a period of time.

Try and call ARC, they provide help, guidance and services for persons who are developmentally disabled. They might be able to intercede, provide legal help and/or guidance with your son. Might be able to petition the court for him to be placed in an inpatient facility for mental treatment.

Here is the website:

savior no more

Active Member
We have tried to access services but his arrests for marijuana ( back then) give pause for them to help him. He appears unable to take advantage of anything good that is sent his way.

savior no more

Active Member
it was difficult for me to stop making the piercing about me, because I was convinced he got it just to bother me.

You are so right - my depression was because I was ineffective mostly. ugh I have wanted to come here more but I am finishing up my studies this summer for Masters and have been so busy. It is the only place I can come for understanding - I'm so grateful to have this forum.

savior no more

Active Member
Thank you for the information on Arc. I have looked at their website and will call on Thursday when I get a free day. He was helped back in sixth grade by a state organization - Advocacy Inc. - who provided legal guidance when I tried to access Special Education for him in math. At least they have approved an independent evaluation of him by a local psychologist that his court appointed attorney requested.

I so appreciate all of the support and replies. As many have said - no matter what the situation, our children's lives and choices are theirs to make. I guess it's mine to learn to accept.
My son is developmentally disabled too and I know how it complicates things. Still, his psychiatrist while he was inpatient once at 15 gave me a new perspective, saying that regardless of his diagnosis, he must learn the rules of society and the consequences of not following those rules. In my experience though, they just don't connect the consequences with their actions.

For example, one of the hallmarks of autism is repeating the same action again and again without adjusting based on the end result. For example, one of my preschool students was red flagged for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) because we watched him build with blocks the same way, every day, even though his tower would fall again and again, he kept placing the block in the same place, watched it fall, placed it again, watched it fall, etc. (he of course had other signs). I think those of us with children like this can see that experience playing out in their adult years as well with life altering consequences.

45 years is a horrifically long consequence and I think you are right to advocate for him to at least get a reduced sentence.


Well-Known Member
Savior no more,
I am catching up a bit on the forum. I just saw this thread. I am following along, and hold you and your son in thoughts and prayers. I have no answers in your situation. I agree with the others here. You know we understand on this forum, and you are not alone. Take care of yourself ~ one day at a time.
~ Kalahou.

savior no more

Active Member
Just an update - ARC called me today from the national office in Washington, Difficult Child. Very surprised about this and now it's all I can do to stay objectively detached while still doing the motions of advocacy. As Night Owl Mama said, he will still have to learn to function in society. When the woman asked if I would like them to suggest alternatives to incarceration, I explained that his substance abuse on top of the intellectual disabilities left him in a place in society that only 24 hour lock down supervision might make a difference. I'm not sure anything will come of this, but they did at least say they could write the court a letter and speak with his attorney advocating for his rights.

But then I"m left with the fact that it is his right to kill themselves with drugs if they so desire. I have been so busy with school to be here routinely, but I appreciate the thoughts and well-wishes.