Where to go from here, preparing for the future...


I'm going to try to not make this into a novel while still including the pertinent info. Not an easy task with such a complicated situation...

difficult child is now 17 and attending a boarding school for kids with learning disabilities. While her grades are ok, her behaviors and choices are spiraling downhill. The latest is getting into (and being the instigator of) a fight at school the other day and ALMOST getting into another one yesterday (a staff member just happened to be there and was able to intervene). If she continues to escalate to the point of physical violence, she will be suspended.

Meanwhile, the latest testing that she did resulted in showing that while she is 17 years old, she has the mental functioning of a 9 year old (and in some areas, that is a generous number). The psychiatrist was very blunt and honest, saying that even as an adult, difficult child might be able to reach the functional age of 14, but she doesn't see much hope beyond that. She probably will be unable to function as an adult and tend to things like a steady job, paying bills

After a looooooong talk with this psychiatrist, she also has prepared an "official" diagnosis for difficult child (which for privacy's sake I won't mention the exact wording - I know my mother in law is googling). She came up with this diagnosis after I explained to her more of difficult child's issues - namely, people with difficult child's issues cannot learn from their mistakes, and they cannot control their impulses.

With these issues, combined with the very low functional age, we have a very serious situation on our hands. difficult child is VERY vulnerable to getting taken advantage of by anyone who wants to exploit her - the psychiatrist used the word "catastrophic" to describe the severity of potential danger - rape, drugs, alcohol, etc.

We have many decisions and Plan A, Plan B types of things to think about for difficult child's future. Her being of legal age is looming ahead of us - even though that is several months away, we need to be working on things now.

Complicating the matter even further is the fact that I CANNOT deal with difficult child living in my home anymore for any extended period of time. She is such a toxic, unhealthy presence, and I don't trust her around my children.

We are tossing around the idea of my husband trying to obtain legal guardianship of her for after she turns 18, mainly so she wouldn't be able to leave whatever school/program she may be at and go live with her bio-mom. I have mixed feelings about that.

I'd welcome any input that anyone has; I have to stop now because husband just got home. I can go into more detail later if needed.


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We have a son who is high functioing autism, but not ready to make all of his own decisions either. He is also very vulnerable. We did get legal guardianship of him with his consent and I am his payee again with his consent. He is also in a program for adults with disabilities. You can file for disability for her (sounds like she would be a shoo-in) and she will have service options attached to that as well as a monthly check and medical assistance. They may even find her a part time job that she can do so that she socializes and feels good about herself. My son has a lot of confidence in himself, in spite of being on the spectrum and he is a very happy young man.

We started out by contacting Aging a nd Disabilities in our county as our school counseling told us too and it went from there, very smoothly. I am very happy with my twenty one year old son's services and he is getting more independent every day. Your daughter may have a different type of path to walk, but if she needs services as a disabled adult, she can get them. As long as you have a diagnosis that says she is disabled and has a definite diagnosis, you can get a lot of much needed help. My son lives in his own apartment by his choice. There are group homes for other types of situations.

Wishing you good luck :)

in a daze

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Just like MM said,it's important that you apply for disability for her. This is the only way she will be eligible for government services for the developmentally disabled. Where I live there is a 2 year waiting list for group homes and supportive apartments. It's helpful if you connect her with a social service agency that has case management services. She will also be eligible for Medicaid, which you can use as a supplement to husband's insurance.


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Staff member
Greenrene, I don't have any practical advice for you since I don't know how the system works for your difficult child, I just wanted you to know I am reading along. It all sounds a bit overwhelming, but at the same time, now you really know what you're dealing with. Your strong boundary around difficult child NOT staying with you is a very, very good one. You have time to get everything in place and provide her with the resources she will need to be safe. Hang in there Greenrene, and remember to be kind to yourself and take care of you as you move through this new development. Sending warm hugs for you...........
I don't know much about your situation but my former step-daughter had some brain injury and when she turned 18 her mom transitioned her into a supportive group home where she lives very happily. She is low functioning so it may be a different situation. Maybe your state can help you look at all of the options?


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I forgot about waiting lists. True that. My son is currently paying $400 a month for a very comfortable, small one bedroom apartment that he likes very much. He can afford it, but it doesn't leave much extra. He is on a waiting list to be admitted to a really nice apartment complex for developmentally disabled adults of all ages and he already knows some people living there. It would be only 30% of his income, which would be considerably less and all his utilities would be covered. He has been first on the waiting list for over a year. There aren't many apartments and somebody has to leave before he can go. Sometimes there are longer waiting lists too so it's good to get your child on a waiting list ASAP.

Also, some assisted living apartments do not tolerate behavioral problems. They all do have rules. My son is very compliant and laid back, but I can see where it would be harder to have found him a future safe forever place if he had had behavioral issues or did drugs or partied, etc. You may have to look around and help the people who can help you. That's what we did, with son in tow.


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Greenereene so glad to see you back! Sorry your here but I am also glad your difficult child is getting the care she needs. Hopefully her anger and instigating don't mess it up.

I don't have advice since I don't have experience in that area but I wanted to say I am so glad you have found a way to raise your kids in a safe and healthy environment free of difficult child. Hows that baby?


Thank you all so much for your replies and support! This is all very overwhelming to think about, you guys are such a wonderful source of advice.

When should we apply for disability? She doesn't turn 18 until next September. We live in Florida, and what I've heard from just starting out is that services here are not that great, that there is a lot for the elderly but not so much for younger people.

She needs to be in an environment that is very structured with a very high level of supervision. She has no impulse control whatsoever, she thinks rules are there to make her life miserable and continually tries break them, she lies about EVERYTHING without even a shred of remorse, the only thing she learns from her mistakes is that she needs to be even sneakier the next time, and consequences mean absolutely nothing to her. She is also a major drama queen and thrives on negative attention.

Your strong boundary around difficult child NOT staying with you is a very, very good one.

Unfortunately, I do fear that this boundary is one that could be dishonored by my husband, in which case I need to have a contingency plan. I have had my feet firmly in reality concerning difficult child for many years. My husband and mother in law, however, have been slower coming - they actually blamed difficult child's issues on ME. When difficult child entered the TBS (before the school she's at currently), the main issue that was given was that "difficult child and her stepmom can't get along." Stemming from that was the notion that *I* was the adult, ergo, everything was my fault. While it was true that we couldn't get along (add in a healthy dose of my husband being very uninvolved and an alcoholic, plus a dysfunctional, enmeshed extended family), that was only a SYMPTOM of the bigger picture, and they couldn't/wouldn't see the bigger picture.

husband and mother in law pulled difficult child out of the TBS WAY before she was ready to leave and basically dumped her on me for the summer. Although their decision turned my life upside down, they never asked me how I felt about it, never asked my opinion about it, and I was completely left out of that decision. Since then, through different situations, I think they're coming around to seeing the situation for what it truly is. However, right now I still do not trust either of them.

I don't have advice since I don't have experience in that area but I wanted to say I am so glad you have found a way to raise your kids in a safe and healthy environment free of difficult child. Hows that baby?

The difference within my household without difficult child here is absolutely amazing. While we're very busy, my stress level is way down, and my boys are truly thriving. The baby is wonderful, he is very close to walking. difficult child has visited home for a weekend twice now, and both times there have been major issues. My biggest fear right now is that she is going to be kicked out of school and there'll be no where else for her to go. I cannot live with her anymore, it's just way too much.

We have been referred to a pediatric neurology program in another city, and we are taking steps to get her evaluated there as soon as possible. We're also trying to find other boarding school options for her, preferably all female because the presence of boys at her current school has been a major source of her trouble. If anyone has any other suggestions I am open to them.

Thank you all for being there.


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Ok...we were told to start planning for adult services when Sonic was 14. No joke there. We really didn't have any doubt that he'd get them. Certain diagnoses get them as does a qualified professional or two writing out an evaluation that states what kind of environment Child will need as an adult. Has your daughter ever seen a neuropsychologist? If not, they write awesome evaluations, very detailed, with suggestions and definite diagnoses. I assume your daughter's TBS has a psychiatrist on staff though who could write the diagnosis and suggestions for the future. I don't think it is as hard to get Disability for a child who has had chronic problems from early on, especially if cognitive issues are also part of the problem.

The services available to your daughter are not often spoken about, but I'm sure TBS knows what to do next. If not, I'd make an appointment with Aging and Disabilities to find out what is available and how to apply. Like all bureaucracy there are certain steps you have to take and it does get tedious, but it's really worth it.

I hope this house. Post again if you have other questions. To the best of my ability I'll try to help.