Son back from Residential Treatment Center (RTC) - making scary choices


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hi. I have posted here before and i am so grateful to all the advice and encouragement. I guess I need more.
My son was released from the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) in September. They were very clear that he was to go with me, and not his dad. But he would see his dad on weekends. My son is almost 18. He has autistic traits, oppositional defiance, alexithymia, and is obsessed with marijuana.
His dad lives in a very wealthy town, I am nearby in a not so wealthy town. So my son casually met some other young men, and asked if they wanted to buy weed. He met them, asked to see their money and one of them hinted he had a gun, but my son didn't see it. My son managed to get away, but his cell phone was stolen - it had been collateral, as my son pretended to go get the weed, as he ran away.
OK - ran back to my house. Where he lives. He lost them shortly before he got home, but they followed him to the entrance of our neighborhood. That night I drove him to his dad's. We both thought he should go away at least for the night.
Before though, when he arrived at home, he was terrified, got in the house, locked the doors, breathing very hard, then threw up. But by the time we started driving to his dad's - maybe a half hour later, he wasn't scared. He said he "felt like he didn't have a phone." So, the alexithymia. He was scared, but now can't access the fear. So what is to prevent more of this?
Meanwhile, I am honestly scared to have him back. I don't know what to do.


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from a website i quick googled -

Alexithymia is a personality characteristic in which the individual is unable to identify and describe their emotions. The main feature of Alexithymia is an emotional unawareness, lack of social attachment, and poor interpersonal relating. Furthermore, those suffering from Alexithymia have difficulty recognizing and understanding the emotions of others.

Alexithymia means there is:

1.Difficulty identifying feelings and distinguishing between feelings and the bodily sensations.

2.Difficulty describing feelings to other people.

3.Limited imagination and, therefore, little or no fantasies and limited dreams.

4.An unawareness of what is happening in their own mind and a very concrete way of thinking.


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And his dad, he was emotionally abusive and controlling to me. I left him when my son was five, but after I did he kind of went nuts, and he is just really a shadow of who he was. So he really is completely permissive, and gets "stressed out" and hides in his bedroom instead of spending time with my son.


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Thank you. I had never heard of it. Is he capable of overcoming it or is this sort of the way he was born? If he can't help it, he may not be able to be independent.

Is your son on Disability? Can he get community supports or maybe live in supported living? Sounds like he may not be able to make decisions without guidance and that some of his decisions put himself and you in danger.

Has the residential treatment centers staff offered further recommendations? I have heard of something like your son has called mind blindness but don't knowing about it.

Sorry I can't give good advice. Hope you can find answers from others who have dealt with this.

Has he ever gone to rehab for the weed?


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I can only speak from my own experience and point of view. I would feel just like you do. Afraid and over my head.

I live in the USA.The ages in which young people reach young adulthood seem to differ from country to country. Assuming you are in the USA, you and your husband are still responsible for your child until 18. But that does not mean you should be in danger.

If you live in Canada, and he already emancipated there are programs for mentally ill adults run by the County. He could hypothetically be admitted to one of these.

If you fear that his poor decision making is putting him at risk and you too, I would call the authorities--whether that this the Residential Treatment Center, the police, or child protective services, but it is not right that your son be running around getting into drug deals that may involve guns, and bringing that trouble almost to your door.

You are clear that you are afraid. He has already been away from home because of his issues. Job Corps (USA program) accepts young people as young as 17. With disabilities. It is free. The kids are housed and fed. They are taught a marketable trade. Maybe this is an answer.

Your son has myriad issues that may require specialized housing and support throughout his life. Or maybe not. I think I would apply for SSI for him now, before he turns 18. (Again that is in USA) on the basis of mental illness, his history and his diagnoses. I would also broach the idea of Job Corps.

It is not clear if he is somebody you can reason with or not. If he is not, you will have to deal with authorities, Social Security, the School System, Job Corps, maybe, Child Protective Services. And explain to CPS that your son's poor judgement and other illness are putting him at real danger, and putting others in danger (namely you). If you really feel like you cannot cope (who could) I would ask if there is a therapeutic foster home that he could reside in, pending placement in a longer term facility.

You cannot deal with this alone.


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thank you all for replying!!!!!
We live in southern Cal. He is not on disability and he will be 18 in a few weeks. I don't know if he is able to be independent. It is hard - I don't know how honest to be with authorities. It is - you know - a crime to sell weed. Less so, thankfully, after legalization here, but its more punks I fear than police.
He refuses all medications except marijuana. He is adamant he won't get a job.
Oh, and yes, he has been to treatment centers. Various diagnosis's, the one constant being cannabis dependency.


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You have to provide medical records for Disability. They go by diagnosis, if younger school records and capability of holding a job. Yet you can be on disability and still make $1100 here working at least in mid Wisconsin.

Many addicts are on Disability for being substance abusers...never heard you can't get Disability if you smoke pot, especially I'm guessing if its legal where you live. Your son will need funds for his, Medicaid and other supports if he is as impaired as you presented...and in my opinion it is unfair for you to place your own life in danger.

It is sad how so many disturbed adults kids refuse to take any helpful medication but cry out the healing miracles of chronically relying on another drug, that they deny is a drug...marijuana. Healing what? Your motivation?



Roll With It
Oh, yeah, I totally know how little CPS cares if Mom or Dad is in danger from the kid. But with what he is doing, he is likely a danger to your other children, esp your 15 year old. This means that you could be charged with not keeping your 15 year old safe from the dangers your 17 year old presents or brings to the house. been there done that and it all got ugly. Ours was years ago, and my daughter was very young, elem school age. The whole thing was a mess. If our kids had been teens, it could have been much worse.

I wish I had more advice for you. I will say that at 18, if you want to force guardianship, and then maybe force some sort of assisted living and SSI situation, that might be a possibility. I don't know though if the pot dealing would be a deal breaker, because that is still illegal on a federal level. I do know that if he is bringing dangerous people to the house, then he may have to be out at 18 to keep your minor daughter safe. But how you do that without resources, I have zero idea.

I truly hope someone, somewhere has some ideas. Maybe someone needs to ask the folks over at NORML about this type of thing? Aren't they one of the big legalization of pot groups?


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i don't know about NORML. I am very into legalization. Then venders don't chase other venders with guns, etc. :/ I will go to the website, but not sure what i would find.

I am not sure what his disability is. Autistic traits is not even a diagnosis. Alexithymia I don't know if that is one. Oppositional, or conduct disorder? Being tragically stupid?

He is at his dad's now. I think I will talk to the county therapist he saw twice. I know they are mandated reporters and I don't want my son arrested. You can't control what happens once you say anything.

Again - THANK YOU ALL for responding. I just wonder how to keep the inevitable from happening.


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oh, even tho he is going to be 18 in a few weeks, should i see a disability lawyer? If he can quick file as a child, if he qualifies, is it worth it since he almost isn't?


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All those diagnoses put together plus his inability to get a job and keep it or use common sense (because of his disability, not his own choice) is possibly more than enough to get disability. Autistic anything will get him on the radar.

Your son is truly not doing these things because he is a bad person. He has serious problems that may even get him labeled cognitive disorder not otherwise specified. I have little problems too and a normal to high I Q and still have a secondary diagnosis of that because all together I struggled to keep jobs.

Your son needs help, not discipline. Take him to somebody new for a diagnosis. One of your other kids is diagnosed with autism. He may have real autism too, not just traits. Autism is hereditary. Dont give up.

Don't get a lawyer right away. Apply. We never needed a lawyer. See what happens first. Save your pennies unless he is turned down. Do show the Disability people his records from Residential. The more they have the more likely you are to get disability for him. He needs it. You may want to apply to be his payee too if he is unable to handle money. Less money for pot too, if you dole out his money.

Hugs and sending warm vibes.
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thanks SOT!! He is just great in a lot of ways. Very deep minded, philosophical, (actually a huge stubborn believer in conspiracy theories) well, I will stop. But there is a huge disconnect. He has so much knowledge of marijuana, but no understanding of gangs, drug territories, danger.
Copa said to apply. Maybe I don't need to get a lawyer, maybe just applying is enough to get the clock started? Think about a lawyer down the road?

You are all such a lifeline right now!!!


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He is still in Special Education. I was going to let him drop out of school, but maybe that is something that will help me?


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You don't need a lawyer unless you are turned down.

Of course your son has wonderful traits. He just needs more help than the average young adult. So what? Not his fault and nothing to be ashamed of. Not for him or you.

I have a spectrum son. He is very afraid of drugs and gangs but is very childlike in some ways. Even with Disability, he works two jobs, lives in his own and is a happy young man
He is my hero. I don't care that he needs a bit more help than other adults. He is beloved by all who know him for his lovely soul. I value that above all else. We all adore him.


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Special education will help you. The school should help you too. Go right to the head of Special Education and say you want to work on services for when he graduated. They helped me tons. They have to help you too. I'm surprised they did my tell go talk to them and do the talking and be firm. Don't let son drop out!!


Active Member
oh. he can drop out at 18, he can opt out of Special Education. well, i will see what i can do. i sort of doubt he would qualify for conservatorship.


You might might want to find out more about the terms of mandated reporting. Where I am drug dealing wouldn't be a mandated reporting thing- just abuse is.

But if he's about to turn 18, it's the last moment when you can call on law enforcement and not have it go on his permeant record.... just a thought.