I often talk about Nato here. He has Down syndrome. Today I’m going to tell you that for the last 3 weeks or so, the Department of Human Services in our new home state, is investigating me for “adult abuse of a protected person.” I must be a very bad parent, let alone a very bad person, right? That’s why when his father walked away from his 5 children to concentrate his life around… what else, him, I carried on and haven’t dropped the reins yet. My children are now 38, 34, 32, 31 and 24. I’ll always be connected to them, but I didn’t expect to be doing intensive parenting at the age of 62!

In Montana, once an adult with disabilities qualifies for Med. Waiver services, there is a 7 to 10 year waiting list. Yup, seven to ten years. Apparently the operating belief is; if the disabled person is doing well at home, let them wait. Yet my son who’s been known to yell when upset, has been yelling with more volume and ferocity since we’ve moved. He was diagnosed with depression by the mental health agency I found here. I think he reacts in this way when he’s unhappy rather than depressed.    Nate's Heart

To give him a life here; I’m paying for him to attend day programs. Since we’ve increased his schedule- to make Nato happy, from 2 days, then to 3 days and currently 4 days, one of his siblings is helping to pay. He attends YMCA programs 3 afternoons a week; for an hour and a half each time. He is training for Spring Games, Special Olympics. He’s working with a great guy at Vocational Rehabilitation for the purpose of getting and holding onto a part time job doing what he loves; cooking.

Next week we meet with an Independent Living Counselor at a local center for Independent Living, so that they can help him learn “roommate rules,” one of which will be; don’t yell when you’re upset. So you want to know how/why I’m being investigated. The day AFTER a yelling spree that went on [and off and on, etc] over a whole day, I took him to the mental health agency we’ve been working with, to press them for some relief.  I may have said something that could be taken the wrong way. I guess I had my own little temper tantrum – after which I walked out in the hall and broke down in tears. Did I get help? No.

The local government agency’s rep. seems to be worried I’m not a good parent – and/or abusing my son. Frankly I think they’ve got it backward. He abuses me with his yelling/screaming. In disability circles we talk about re-directing our children’s behavior. This means trying to turn their attention onto something else. When my son is in this mode though, there is no way to redirect him. BirdInNest2014-2

Today I called the mental health agency and spoke with the director. You know for an agency that’s supposed to help us, I find it [cue up Twilight Zone music] odd to say the least, that Nato’s “care-giver” is the one indicting me and possibly his case manager was aware of the complaint before I was told. Meantime they want a meeting with us, but our schedule is too busy and I would prefer not working with them anymore given the “help” we’ve had so far !!!

Did I mention it was his “care-giver” who drove him to the secret meeting with the DHS woman? And he was in a room alone with the DHS woman- a COMPLETE stranger. Can you envision your child,  no matter their age, with significant disabilities, ALONE in a room with a stranger. Right. As if a person of standing has never done bad things to a child or disabled adult.

The DHS woman called me again today.  The home visit that lasted for an hour and half, digging into many aspects of my life  wasn’t enough… Accusing me of being a controlling parent – well what can I say? Of course I control our lives to a certain degree. And because I do, my son now finally, 6 months after moving here, a brand new place for both of us with a multi-year waiting list, despite all this, Nato has a full schedule that is making him happy.   N and Bob 2009

Oh and I devised a positive reinforcement system, to use with him, and he’s already gotten 2 games and a movie as a result. (He earns one when he’s had 3 to 6 good days). Since the mental health folks weren’t offering any help I researched and came up with my own solutions.

So, now this DHS woman says I can’t “control” Nato, in order to disassociate from the help we get from the mental health agency. What help? I asked. I’m doing it all. I’m finding other ways to work on this issue. I’m sorry I cannot trust someone who is supposed to have my child’s best interests at heart, then reports me as an abusive parent – because what? I’m supposed to sit at home and wait until they come up with a solution? Or allow them to MANIPULATE my son into a room alone with a stranger so that he can agree I’m an abusive parent?

Our spiritual leader found some assistance for me. Several hours of cleaning house did nothing to take away the higher blood pressure and headache caused by this morning’s judgment of me from the DHS woman. She told me she knows how a parent can influence a child’s decisions. So, another accusation against me. At any rate I called the number our Rabbi gave me, and spoke for almost 20 minutes with the state bureau chief of Adult Protective Services.

There’s some hope that this time I’ve been heard. Apparently he tells me they have 90 days to resolve this brou-ha. That leaves me about 70 days to find out if Big Brother has arrived, and they take my son out of our home together, or if we’re allowed to go our own stumbling way into the sunset. This is truly a nightmare.

Let you know, when I know.  (Photos; top, Nate’s heart, middle, baby birds in the nest, bottom, Nate on right with Bob) And yes, Nate stitched that heart all by himself!

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This morning I read a post about Emotional Pain and how to overcome. I picked at one point made by the author; Loneliness is a trap… that can push others away… etc, etc. I’ve written 2 comments to the article, and here’s one of them.   PowerOfTouch

[We can be] doing the work on ourselves that needs to be done- and I also firmly, and at bedrock, believe we can make choices.

I believe when I’m in an emotional state I need to figure it out. [1] Where did it come from and why am I feeling this way? [2] Can I find another way to look at the situation? [3] And if I’m feeling bad (angry, upset, sad) what can I do to change that feeling? [4] Can I respond differently in the future if something similar pops up and my reaction is the same?

When I feel lonely I make a choice to get in action; do some art, get out of the house, cook or bake something delicious, call a friend, etc.

So this addresses questions 3 and 4 above; What can I do to change what I’m feeling and can I respond differently next time. To answer question 1 is difficult, question 2 also. When feeling jealous, left out, angry… I’m dealing with my reaction to what I perceive. What if I’m interpreting wrong. Since I cannot read any other person’s mind maybe I can decide to put the focus on me. What do I need to feel well, healthy, strong-er, more complete? And that leads me to the next part of my comment;

When it is a BIG lonely I go visit friend, hug, maybe shed tears, tell stories, laugh together.

When I’m lonely there is a reason. I miss an intimate, loving relationship. When my older daughter was 16 and “dabbling” in sex we took a walk in a beautiful wooded park and I talked about intimacy outside of sex. Intimacy with someone we care about can be a friend, sister or brother, or such and not necessarily a partner.   Choice2-2012

Intimacy can be sharing our thoughts and feelings with this person and feeling rewarded when they understand and expand on it with their own feelings and ideas. That “rewarding” feeling, that sharing, the hug and shedding tears and telling stories and laughing together that I mentioned above [in green text] is an intimacy that for me fills the empty spaces. It reminds me I’m worthy of all those feelings we’re sharing. I’m not as alone as I allowed myself to believe.

My choice is to not dwell on what I don’t have, but find ways to fulfill my needs/wants- in as healthy a manner as I can devise. By exercising the making of choices.

There’s a bit of comment I made on the article from a second site that I want to share, which maybe says this more clearly; Loneliness for me isn’t a trap, but a bit of a warning; to call a friend, get busy cleaning the house, write a blog post, get exercise of any sort. If it feels heavier then I spend time with a friend. Get a hug. Pet the cat. Indulge in tears if so moved, laugh and talk and share stories together. And then the lonely cloud dissipates to leave me/my world sunny again.

My belief; negative or hurtful feelings can be seen as early warning so that we have a chance to change our reactions; get support, move in other directions, make healthier choices. For me living is about making choices that support me– to be the best I can, especially because I have another human being depending on me [Nate the Great, my son with Downs who shares home with me.]

I wish for all of you reading this; feeling fulfilled and cared for while finding the power of making choices enhances your well-being. My best to you, Lauren

Top card saying by Leo Buscaglia; “Never underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”  This card and all my artwork protected by Creative Commons license. Do NOT copy my art. Thanks.