residential treatment center — 5 Minutes for Special Needs

residential treatment center


Seven years. Over a thousand hours at hospitals and specialist appointments. Countless interventions at home. And it turns out the most important word to help my daughter’s treatment is this:


No… we’re not doing a nineteenth round of medication adjustments. It’s time for hospitalization.

No… I won’t take her home from the hospital and keep doing the things that haven’t worked in the past.

No… I won’t take her home, period. She needs more help than we can give her. It’s time for residential placement.

No… We’re not going to let her case be assigned to an intern at your teaching facility.

No… No… No…

Why haven’t I said it – really said it – until this year? At first, because I trusted specialists more than my instincts. Then because… well, I still trusted specialists more than my instincts. I feared I’d cause my little girl more pain and suffering if I didn’t cross my t’s and dot my i’s. Or maybe I was just grieving and overwhelmed. Or afraid I’d “do it wrong.”

And now I’m done with that.

Saying no seems to be the biggest yes I can say for my daughter’s treatment, for her healing, for her future. It’s not comfortable to say it. It’s a little scary, actually, to look an MD/PhD in the face and say “No, I disagree.” But I’m doing it anyway. That one little word has brought more freedom to my family in a few months than years of yes ever did.

How are you doing with “no” these days? What hard words have you had to get comfy with as a special needs parent?


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Wounding Words, Wondrous Words

I almost couldn’t hear it when she spoke.

Words uttered under breath, understood loud and clear.

“You’re so late,” she rolls her eyes, clicks her tongue in disapproval.

I smile anyway, pass by, walk my daughter to class.

Fifteen minutes after the bell rang, we’re entering campus.


The words rattle me again.

But not just the words she said, since they were true.

It’s what I made them: “What a bad mom.”

Were those her words?

Or just what I felt?


The morning to that point? Fury-filled.

My oldest twisted in angst, missing her sister, angry at her absence.

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Balancing Journey vs. Destination Mindset With Our Kids

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters in the end.” – Ursula K LeGuin

I think we as parents of special needs understand this more than any other parents in the world. And even still, I fight this truth so much. As someone who’s good at getting things done, organizing time, and facilitating groups and projects, the journey mindset nearly drives me crazy. I’m the mom who, on a long car drive, says “no, we’re not stopping to go to the bathroom again. We’ve got to GET to grandma’s house!”

We all do this at times.

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Helping Siblings Handle Loss

Yesterday was a Labor Day my family won’t soon forget. It was the first weekend (and holiday) since one of our daughters was admitted to a residential treatment facility for mood and developmental issues. Sure, we did the usual Labor Day things: played games, bar-b-qued hot dogs and spent time with extended family. But it rained all day here (odd for a usually mild, dry climate), and that was exactly how I felt inside too – grey and drizzly.

grief as special needs parents

Grief is a normal part of life. How does your family cope?

I didn’t let it get to me, though, because our other kids needed life to go on, even in the midst of their own grief.

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When I Discovered I Was Part of The Problem

Ours isn’t the usual superhero story.

When I brought my daughters home from foster care I anticipated grief, health issues, tantrums (they were both toddlers, after all). But I didn’t think that 7 years later, one would be healthy and well-adjusted while the other seemed to fall apart emotionally and physically in spite of interventions. I never would have imagined that after thousands of hours of time and care, I’d be walking my daughter into a residential treatment center, and walking out without her.Raising special needs kids feels like a job for supermom... but is it?

Even more than the stress and challenges of raising a child unresponsive to intervention, is the realization that my own supermom tendencies made it worse.

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