NAVIGATING THE TROUBLED TEEN INDUSTRY

As so many of us parents have found out the hard way, the process for identifying help for our children with attachment and trauma issues is uncharted territory. Along the way, many of us get bad advice, are offered well-meaning but ineffective treatments, spend huge amounts of time, effort, and money, and end up with older children with even bigger problems. Needless to say, this has devastating effects on our childrens futures and on our families wellbeing.

We usually have arrived at the choice of residential placement for our child, and specifically Calo, when we believe that we are out of options for keeping him or her safe at home and on-track to a happier future. This decision is never easy, and usually is arrived at accompanied by remorse, guilt, and sadness. (And sometimes followed by huge relief!)

In retrospect, I regret the lost years I spent trying behavioral charts, rewards and punishment, talk therapy, and other interventions that seemed to have no effect. It was a very long learning curve. What remains somewhat shocking to me is the lack of information and insight on the part of school professionals, psychologists, and social services people. What angers me is the financial and other obstacles put in the way of getting appropriate help for our kids.

In the absence of truly adequate mental health resources nationally, parents are forced to piece together fragments of information and assistance and then take a leap of faith. Unfortunately, there are many counseling, consulting, residential, and other services that represent themselves as specialists that can meet the needs of RAD kids.  Mostly, they cannot.  And we stand isolated and alone, trying to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak, in the troubled teen industry.

In my opinion, the onus is on us, the parents, to educate ourselves as well as others, and to press for change. Those of us in the Calo family can begin by sharing information amongst ourselves.  I look forward to communicating with other parents through the Attachment and Trauma Networks Calo parents network, which should be operational soon. And I believe that we have the power to translate the knowledge we have gained into advocacy for our own children and into making the journey easier for others.

–  Susan H., Calo parent