Runaway difficult child picked up by police - WHAT NOW?!?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by KJsMama, Feb 24, 2010.

  1. KJsMama

    KJsMama New Member

    My difficult child was spotted last night by his previous youth pastor, Chris (he ran 120 miles away to where we lived for 2 years). Chris called the police and followed difficult child until they picked him up. difficult child wouldn't talk to Chris (or anyone else). They took him to Juvenile Hall and is extremely angry right now and doesn't want to talk to us either. In a couple of days they'll transport him back to San Diego - he's in El Centro right now. His court date will be on Monday or Tuesday. Any ideas on what they will recommend?

    I desperately had wanted him to come home on his own because I thought it would be better for him mentally, but on the other hand I'm glad he's safe. I don't know how to help him. I don't understand him at all - we've given him a good, calm, loving, supportive home but he continues to make such stupid choices. I just don't get it.

    Any thoughts on what I should say to him when I see him and how/where to get the help he needs?

    He's been to a psychiatrist before (July-Sept. 2009) but without even talking to him started him on all these medications for ADD (doctor also thinks he's bipolar but only wanted to treat the ADD for now). Nothing made a difference and it frustrated me that the doctor just sat there with his prescription pad doling out medicine without taking ANY time to talk to difficult child. Did I just pick a bad doctor or is that how it goes?

    I think I've been in denial about his mental illess (you'd think that when he robbed a convenience store at gunpoint last year because he was frustrated about having no money that I'd get it, but...). I just want him to be "normal" - grow up, get a job, have a family, etc. I DON'T WANT THIS FOR HIM!

    Thanks for listening - I feel like I've finally found people who understand and that's priceless.
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I have no idea what you should say to difficult child as I've never had a child who ran away (although my daughter used to abuse drugs). And I think your son is taking drugs. He may also be mentally ill, but robbing a conveinient store and running away are two huge red flags. If he seemed to flip out overnight when he became a teen or pre-teen, in my opinion this is the #1 problem to look at right now. And it's not just weed if he's robbing for it.

    My daughter abused drugs at one time. She didn't rob a convenient store, but she stole from us. We had no idea of the depth of her involvement until she quit and told us. The kids tend to use drugs when we are asleep and we see them when they have come down and are many grumpy or sleepy. But sometimes they miscalculate and the drugs mess up their systems and they can act out violently.

    You'd have to give us more info for us to make a guess on what may be going on other than drugs. However, my first gut instinct is that...this child is taking drugs...possibly quite a lot.

    How old is he and was he always this way? Is Dad at home? Are there any psychiatric problems of substance abuse problems on either side of his genetic family tree? Any siblings? How was his early development. Has he recently changed his friends? Does he hang with tough kids?

    Sorry you had to join the board, but welcome.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2010
  3. KJsMama

    KJsMama New Member

    Here's some background on difficult child: He's 15 and we (his dad & I have been happily married for 18 1/2 yrs) have always struggled with difficult child. As a toddler, he had difficulty sleeping - we used to have to lock him in his room out of fear he would get up at night and get into things that could hurt him. In elementary school, difficulty concentrating in school, lying, stealing, etc. He's extremely smart, but had/has absolutely no motivation and doesn't work to his ability. In Jr. high he tried to blow up a toilet in the boys' room. Has run away several times through the years when he gets upset about a punishment (usually the loss of video games). This runaway episode was different, though, because nothing had happened and he went further, stayed away longer. He doesn't have many friends and no real close friends. Our rule has always been that if he wants to go out with friends we need to meet them first (come over and spend time at our house, for example). He says his friends wouldn't like us (I take that to mean that he doesn't think we'd approve). So, he doesn't go out much. He's only asked to go out 2x this school year. I really don't think drugs are an issue with him, when he was arrested for the robbery there were no drugs in his system. His teen behavior hasn't really been "sudden", but it has consistenly been escalading through the years.

    We have a 17 year old daughter who has no mental health issues, well adjusted, graduated at 16 and is currently going to college and working. There have been some mental health issues on my side of the family (depression, anxiety) although I've never had to deal with it myself. We don't really know about my husband's side, as he was adopted.

    I hope I answered all your questions...I really want to get a clear picture of how to help him. Thanks
  4. dadside

    dadside New Member

    I have no idea what special to say to him when you see him, other than you're glad he's alive and (relatively) well. And I have no idea what the authorities will recommend or what the judge would rule. Based just on what I've read in this "thread", I do know what I think would make sense for him.

    First, notwithstanding what you said about no drugs being found in his system when he was arrested, I agree with Midwest Mom that big signs of drug involvement are there.

    Second, another psychiatrist is clearly in order.

    Finally, I think your son would be well served by a stay of a week or more in a secure, good, youth-oriented psychiatric hospital, all in order to get a solid picture of what is going on. Then, based on those conclusions, enrollment in a residential school/treatment facility would seem appropriate. If you agree, you could suggest all this to the prosecutor and the judge. If you can afford it, you could offer to pay, although your health insurance may cover the psychiatric. hospital part, and because of the special needs resulting from the psychiatric. diagnosis, you may well be able to get your local school district to cover most of the residential school cost. (If you paid, or were able to get at least insurance to cover the hospital, you might get a better facility for him. Ditto as to residential therapeutic school, although some out-of-pocket cost would be almost inevitable as local school districts will take some amount of time to decide about paying.)
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I have an idea that may or may not be right. Has he ever been to a NeuroPsychologist?

    I could be wrong of course but he does exhibit some signs of Aspergers Syndrome. These kids are bright, but clueless and socially inept and when they get to be teens, if they haven't gotten help, they can get so frustrated that they do many angry things. Did he on time or, as the opposite, talk early and in a very precocious way? Did he make good eye contact with strangers? Any odd quirky behaviors? Does he know how to have a give-and-take conversation? Any obsessions? If he has Aspergers, it's a neurological problem that looks pscyhiatric (and can certainly CAUSE psychiatric difficulties due to t he frustration level of the people who have it).

    Some drugs don't show up on drug tests, but to me it sounds like more is going on. I am of course just a layperson. I'd get him evaluated if he is willing to cooperate. This is in no way the fault of your parenting. Some kids are born wired differently. Often it is inherited, sometimes from extended relatives. It's just not the typical kid to take a gun and hold up a convenient store clerk for ANY reason that makes sense (which is why drugs came to mind). That is beyond normal rebellion or even normal teen anger.

    We adopted four kids and our younger one's birthfather was in prison when we adopted her. He had done an armed robbery for cocaine, which is one reason drugs came to mind. Through the years he has committed other crimes, like auto theft, for drugs. Please, please take this as as huge cry that something is very wrong and don't discount drugs entirely. Or anything. Evaluate him.

    I'm sorry you are going through this. I know how hard it is!
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2010
  6. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    Unfortunately difficult children choices will come back to bite him in the behind.
    Love cannot "cure' some of the issues our difficult children are dealing with ~ my difficult children learned to manipulate my heart in a very big way. I put a stop to that once it was pointed out to me.

    My difficult child kt is a chronic runner (never that far though); once kt has run she ends up in the psychiatric hosptial & then onto Residential Treatment Center (RTC). For us it was an indicator, heck a light beacon, of instability.

    Saying that, my first words are "are you hurt?". My next words are "I want to shake you until your teeth fall out - do you know what danger you were in?". That second part is for me - kt never got that, still doesn't.

    The bigger question is what will you do, knowing your difficult child, to help him - to keep him safe, etc. Are you willing to let him sit in juvie so he can experience consequences? Are you willing to have him admitted to the hospital & take medications? At what level are you willing to acknowledge that a stable supportive loving family isn't all it's cracked up to be when it comes to our children?

    I'm asking these questions but please know it isn't a criticism. Each parent on this board has stood in your shoes to some extent; some of us understand better than others.

    What you have done isn't working - one of our fearless leaders often told us "if you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got".

    Just some thoughts for you.
  7. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    My 2 cents is that the bipolar should be the PRIMARY focus of any psychiatrist's attention for treating because it has the greatest potential for the most destruction. Furthermore, you may find that once the bipolar is adequately treated, the ADD-ish issues may improve as a result. Also, many of the medications used to treat ADD/ADHD can make bipolar disorder WORSE. If your psychiatrist does not have a lot of experience dealing with bipolar kids, I'd keep looking for one who does. You are in a major metropolitan area, so I would think you'd be able to find SOMEONE appropriate. Teaching hospitals are often good places for resources, as are children's hospitals. Have you looked at Scripps? Or what about UCSD:

    Based on where your son is coming home FROM, I think you really need to consider getting him in for intensive counseling ASAP, coupled with a good psychiatrist who knows bipolar and who will start low and go slow in terms of medications. And your son will need medications if bipolar is indeed the diagnosis: it is not something you can just counsel away.

    Have you looked into whether there's a local NAMI chapter in your area? They often have face-to-face support groups for parents of mentally ill kids, as well as free courses that teach you the basics for the various services available for mental health in your area.

    I hope you can get some really good resources lined up before your son comes home. I can't imagine being in your shoes!
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2010
  8. compassion

    compassion Member

    In my experience, with a difficult child who started running away at 15. She was in phospital and got diagnosis of BP1. The antipychotic /mood stabilizer combo have stabilized her to the point that she is not doing the extreme life threatening stuff (like running away at age 15). I know how devastating this is . difficult child had a stable loving home, church group,sports,etc.etc. It is an ILLNESS. Get on NAMI and CABF and Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) about bipolar.
    In my experience, I went the tratment/illness route. Our insurance covered acute stage in a psychiatric hospital. ((( ))) Compassion
  9. Momslittleangels

    Momslittleangels New Member

    I live about 2 hours from you and I can certainly pass along the name of a facility that we used when our difficult child needed evaluation. If you are interested, please PM me and I will give you the information. Good luck!
  10. KJsMama

    KJsMama New Member

    I'm definitely open to having him evaluated at a psychiatric hospital and placed in a treatment program. I'm going to do some more research on Aspergers because I don't know much about it, but he talked on time, has no problem with eye contact and is able to have a "normal" give/take conversation, no obsessions.

    I haven't discounted drugs completely, I just really can't see it. I take him to school, he stays at school (no problem with truency or skipping classes), I pick him up and then he's supervised until he goes to sleep and at that point we have an alarm system (we got the alarm system after the robbery).

    Another thing I was thinking about last night that I haven't mentioned is that we can go months without any problems whatsover and then BOOM we get hit with something like this out of left field. I think that's why we haven't been very driven to medicate him because most of the time everything seems just fine (keyword: seems). I guess I would expect that with drugs there would be more daily issues (or weekly) but what do I know.

    I definitely want to hug 'em and then shake 'em. His court date has changed to tomorrow suddenly. I'm not able to get off work with such little notice so Dad's gonna go. Thanks for all of your help/encouragement. Just knowing others are going through similar situations is, odly, comforting in a sad way. I'll also look into NAMI and CABF - I don't know what they are yet but thanks for the resources. I'll PM you, Momslittleangels - Thx.
  11. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!