Monthly Archives: October 2013

Thoughts of a 10 Year Old Girl – “What I Would Change”

One of our families shared with us the writing of a 10 year old girl, whose older sister has bipolar disorder.  We were so moved by this story that we thought we’d share it with you. Image

The first day when my sister went to the hospital, I felt bad for her and I was scared what was going to happen.  And then I started feeling left out.  Sometimes people would give me presents to make me feel better, but it didn’t really help, because they don’t realize that I don’t need presents, I want their attention.

I feel like I don’t get a chance to “stick out” in my life.  Because everyone is busy with my sister’s problems and no one cares about what I have been through.

I’ve been through some horrible scenes like when my sister is screaming at my parents and running away, calling people swear words. My sister puts me down a lot: she calls me names and makes fun of me. When she does this, I feel sad and it makes me feel like she doesn’t care about me.  She’s always focused on what she’s been through but she never realizes what I’ve been through.

Whenever there is a severe meltdown, it scares me a lot.

I wish that I would have a sister that would play with me and not be too busy for me, and that would be nice to me.  I feel lost because I always wanted to have a friend in the house but I do have my two cats.

Living with a sister with a mental illness is hard because other people don’t go through what I go through and I have to get used to it.  It’s hard to live with because sometimes you just can’t take it anymore.  Because you have just had enough and you want all the yelling and loudness to stop. It feels like living with a bully in the house and it feels like they don’t care about you and they only think about themselves and what they have been through and not what me or my parents are going through.

Sometimes at stores when she has a fit, it is really embarrassing and I try to run away.

One day I hope that all the siblings will have a day or a chance to stick up for themselves and be able to get more attention and have a lot of time to have fun with their brother or sister.

If I could change something I would change that my sister would pay more attention to me and let me have more attention than her sometimes.

Am I working with a licensed Mental Health Professional (MHP)?

It’s a simple enough question, but there are many types of therapists and counselors out there, so it’s a good idea to check the credentials of the therapist who is working with your child or family.  Here is a list of most credentials that are used in Minnesota:

  • LMFT – Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
  • LICSW – Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker
  • LPCC – Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor
  • LP – Licensed Psychologist
  • MD – Psychiatrist

Don’t be afraid to ask.  It’s your right, and in your child’s best interest.

When “Best Practices” Aren’t Good Enough

Recently, my son’s special education teacher assured me that she employs researched “best practices” for his social skills class as well as his transition planning.  When I began to question how effective each of these elements actually are, she reiterated the phrase “best practices,” to shut me down.

What I wanted to say was this: How are these classes and plans actually helping him move forward in gaining the skills he needs to navigate his adult life successfully? How much research actually backs up these “best practices?”  The answer is “Not much.”  

In fact, the ways we are preparing students who have IEPs and/or mental health issues for life as an adult are falling short.  The IES recently conducted a study (not available today because of the government shutdown) that suggests that little is known about the effectiveness of various transition and life skills programs.  As Disability Scoop put it, 

Overall, however, the researchers indicated that a lack of meaningful studies meant they could not make broad assessments about what types of programs are best equipped to help students with disabilities make successful transitions to work, independent living or further training or education after high school.

We know that people with mental health issues and disabilities are less likely to succeed than their peers in post-secondary education and employment environments, so whatever we’re doing right now isn’t working.  So, please, don’t tell me it’s “Best Practices.”  Maybe call it “Best Guess Practices.”  And maybe, just maybe, professionals could be more open to new ideas and the suggestions of parents about better ways to prepare our kids for the world.