Parenting Special Needs - Talk About Marriage
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-03-2016, 10:17 PM Thread Starter
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Parenting Special Needs

I need some advice. I am going to counseling and following my counselor's advice but I'm not sure what to do, or if I should even do anything, or if I even can.

2 years ago I met my husband. He has an adopted daughter (he did not share custody of her) from foster care. Her birth mom abandoned her and then his wife at the time abandoned her. So she obviously has a lot of hurt from women. He didn't remarry until me (six years later). She is now 12 and calls me mom. He pretty much abandoned most parenting to me and I am with her 24/7. She has been diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder, Autism, and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and may also have Oppositional Defiance Disorder. She is on 4 antipsychotic medications. Needless to say...she has a lot of behavioral issues. For the past 1-2 years she has been trying to push me to my breaking point. I know that I am an adult and in control of my emotions, but I finally just gave up. I gave up on allowing her to hurt me or try to push my buttons. Sometimes that means I ignore the behavior she is displaying for attention. Sometimes that means I send her to her room when she is out of control or I need to protect my 2 boys. She has gone to her dad twice in tears saying that she thinks I don't like her and her feelings are hurt.

My husband pulls me aside and says that I am not nice to her and I don't treat her like the other kids. That I am very short with her and emotionally distant from her. All of this is mainly true. I am short and distance because I don't know how to act or respond to her. She is borderline abusive when he is not home and then is super sweet when he is home. I definitely feel like she is trying to manipulate him the way that she tried to manipulate me when she would say that her dad is always yelling at her, that she's scared of him, and isn't a good dad (when we first got married). I almost believed her. Now it is my turn and I feel sick about it.

I feel sick because my husband will always believe her to the point of discounting anything I say. That I don't feel supported. I am unsure of what to do or even say because when we do have a conversation it ends up in a huge argument.

To my husband's defense. I have a really hard time with K sometimes. I am constantly on edge and my defenses are up. I don't know how to parent her. My counselor told me that I am unable to parent her because that isn't what she wants or needs, but for me to love her and care for her, but put away all ideas that I will ever be "mom" because that's not what she wants. Ever since I have done this she has been way better and I am way less stressed. Until now when all the sudden she is trying to push another button. It is possible that she may believe that I don't like her and that makes me feel terrible. But I also don't appreciate her trying to abuse me when I wasn't putting a wall up.

I am so confused now. My husband is so mad and I have tried explaining what my counselor said, but it's like talking to a wall. He doesn't get it.

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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-03-2016, 10:31 PM
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Re: Parenting Special Needs

Is this the same husband that insults you with pig noises, complains about your taking baths, basically forgets your birthday and calls your son an a$$? Yep. He doesn't get it.

This --> He pretty much abandoned most parenting to me and I am with her 24/7.

You need to force him to resume the parenting role. Whenever something comes up, them him that HE needs to deal with it.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-04-2016, 02:43 AM
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Re: Parenting Special Needs

My daughter was diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) when she came to live with us at age 5. Similar story, abandoned at birth and then her adoptive mother passed away after a 2 year long illness, this is also viewed as abandonment in the mind of a young child.

I had help from a therapist (she & I went together) who specialized in treating RAD children. The parenting techniques used for a RAD child are quite different than those used for a normally attached child. And, the techniques are not intuitive.

You also need a support system, a friend who is familiar with the situation who is willing to take the child into their home for a day (or more) in order to break the child out of extreme destructive cycles. And, to give you breaks because parenting such a child is emotionally exhausting. My support was my best friend and her husband who were a sort of aunt and uncle to my daughter.

In simple terms, a RAD child is terrified that the current parental figure in their life is going to leave them. The child never feels safe, it is a constant fear. Therefore, they will attempt anything they can think of to push you away before you abandon them. Resisting the natural tendency to love a parent (becoming attached) is their mission in life. The RAD parenting techniques are designed to make the child feel safe and ignore (or redirect) their reactive behavior.

Is your therapist a RAD specialist or can she refer you to one? Also, I have never heard of a RAD child taking antipsychotic medication, is it for some other co-morbid condition.

I can give you advice on parenting techniques if you wish, however I don't know how the medication she is taking is playing into the situation, nor do I know much about autism.
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-04-2016, 02:55 AM
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Re: Parenting Special Needs

Just wanted to add that my husband did not believe me either. I understand and it can make you feel like a nut-case.

A RAD child can change their behavior and facial expressions in a nanosecond when another person enters the room. The only person who actually sees their destructive behavior is the parent with whom they are trying to "resist" attachment.

In my situation, it took two years of therapy and 5 years total with the RAD parenting techniques. My daughter became "normally attached" by age 10. It was a gradual process. The great thing was that after that stage she became the easiest teenager that any of my friends had ever heard of.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-04-2016, 09:30 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Parenting Special Needs

I would love to pick your brain. She is on meds for numerous things...mainly ADHD, depression, and impulse control. I would like to take her to get a second opinion from the psych. She was put on all these meds before I met her and honestly I think she is on way too many. But I'm also not a doctor. But I did express to my husband that I would like to take her in for a second opinion because this is just way too much for a 12 year old. But at the same time when she forgets a dose of meds it is the scariest thing ever. Completely out of control...almost manic behavior.

I am just getting mad because when a child in our house "does something" (for example: cuts the leather seats in my car) I get "reprimanded" for calling it to her attention and getting upset about it. Or if someone does something in the house and I KNOW it is her he gets mad that I am asking about it.

I am really starting to HATE my husband. There are times when I love him to pieces, but most of the time I want to run for the hills. I don't feel support in any way and he has just given up on parenting. She is out of control and I'm trying not to let her behavior get to me so I ignore the attention getting crap and when I do that apparently I'm being "mean".

This house doesn't feel like it is ours. It feels like it is hers and my husband's.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-04-2016, 11:14 AM
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Re: Parenting Special Needs

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Originally Posted by Katiemelanie View Post
I would love to pick your brain. She is on meds for numerous things...mainly ADHD, depression, and impulse control. I would like to take her to get a second opinion from the psych. She was put on all these meds before I met her and honestly I think she is on way too many. But I'm also not a doctor. But I did express to my husband that I would like to take her in for a second opinion because this is just way too much for a 12 year old. But at the same time when she forgets a dose of meds it is the scariest thing ever. Completely out of control...almost manic behavior.

I am just getting mad because when a child in our house "does something" (for example: cuts the leather seats in my car) I get "reprimanded" for calling it to her attention and getting upset about it. Or if someone does something in the house and I KNOW it is her he gets mad that I am asking about it.

I am really starting to HATE my husband. There are times when I love him to pieces, but most of the time I want to run for the hills. I don't feel support in any way and he has just given up on parenting. She is out of control and I'm trying not to let her behavior get to me so I ignore the attention getting crap and when I do that apparently I'm being "mean".

This house doesn't feel like it is ours. It feels like it is hers and my husband's.

Pick my brain!

It's highly unlikely she's really got all that she's diagnosed with..and frankly, it doesn't sound accurate. What's likely happened is that she's been diagnosed based on a bucket list of observable symptoms by marginally qualified people, rather than having a thorough evaluation by competent and experienced professionals. Has she had psychological and neuropsychological testing? Who's doing the medications and how often is that being evaluated? What about therapy? Her? Day treatment? Your family, including hubby? What about school? Is she in a special school, or is she muddling thru mainstream? All of this is crucial, b/c accurate treatment is determined by accurate diagnosis, which is determined by accurate professionals. Her symptoms seem the result of poor evaluation and poor treatment, not so much her inability to accept parenting.

I'd work with hubby around your mutual understanding of the seriousness of these symptoms...surely he recognizes this, if only for all the meds she's on...and most especially...as she enters the most explosive phase of her life....and side step the bogus kid allegiance issue. You and he need to work on problem resolution, not finger pointing. And you're going to need to work with a good therapist, too.

You have much work to do here, I'd start with the things you and he agree on, then both of you should begin by taking it to your counselor, and then her for a competent set of evaluations and start over based on an accurate understanding of her real situation, and the required treatments. Which will include him.

Good luck, this is a very tough one.
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-04-2016, 12:29 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Parenting Special Needs

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Pick my brain!

It's highly unlikely she's really got all that she's diagnosed with..and frankly, it doesn't sound accurate. What's likely happened is that she's been diagnosed based on a bucket list of observable symptoms by marginally qualified people, rather than having a thorough evaluation by competent and experienced professionals. Has she had psychological and neuropsychological testing? Who's doing the medications and how often is that being evaluated? What about therapy? Her? Day treatment? Your family, including hubby? What about school? Is she in a special school, or is she muddling thru mainstream? All of this is crucial, b/c accurate treatment is determined by accurate diagnosis, which is determined by accurate professionals. Her symptoms seem the result of poor evaluation and poor treatment, not so much her inability to accept parenting.


I'd work with hubby around your mutual understanding of the seriousness of these symptoms...surely he recognizes this, if only for all the meds she's on...and most especially...as she enters the most explosive phase of her life....and side step the bogus kid allegiance issue. You and he need to work on problem resolution, not finger pointing. And you're going to need to work with a good therapist, too.

You have much work to do here, I'd start with the things you and he agree on, then both of you should begin by taking it to your counselor, and then her for a competent set of evaluations and start over based on an accurate understanding of her real situation, and the required treatments. Which will include him.

Good luck, this is a very tough one.
Yes and yes and yes! She is a mainstreamed class with resource room 1 hour a day. She definitely needs a neuro examination. Most of her diagnoses happened before she was 6 years old. Also, I agree 100% that she has maybe 1-2 things going on but they just haven't figured out exactly what that is. Her birth parents have a list of mental illnesses including schizophrenia, Bipolar, OCD, Depression and alcoholism. I have talked to her dad about getting a neuro evaluation along with picking a different psychiatrist. The neuro is set to cost $2,000 and I believe it is worth it. He isn't there yet.

I am super concerned because she starts junior high in the fall. Before she was in school with me (I taught at her elementary school).

I am definitely going to do all the things you suggested. I also believe that we need to be in this together. I have been going to counseling and doing everything suggested and it would help to have that support.

Thank you for lending and ear and giving me great advice.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-13-2016, 09:43 AM
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Re: Parenting Special Needs

I wonder: what's the father's relationship like with the daughter? It seems like a cry for his attention to me.
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