Friday, May 30, 2008

Adopted Teen with history of Mental Illness

MSNBC News is reporting on their Site in an article posted at Noon today defense attorney, Paul Pfingst representing Heather D'Aoust the 14 year old San Diego girl who killed her mother in an attack with a hammer last Sunday was adopted and has a history of mental illness.

"I think there will be another opportunity for the district attorney to reexamine whether this young girl of 14 years with psychological roblems should spend the rest of her life in prison," Pfingst said.

The prosecuting attorney in the case, DeputyDistrict Attorney Kristen Spieler, said the case deserves to be in adult court.

As I wrote in my last Blog on this subject Mother Killed with a Hammer by her 14 year old Daughter, it will be interesting to learn about several things in this case. For all of the families parenting children with mental health issues and psychological problems some parents know these words mean a lot more then the few letters they take to write.

It is politically correct to use nice words like "History of Mental Illness" and "Psychological Problems" Anyone parenting a child or teenager with any of these politically correct "PRE-Labels" knows that under these nice terms average people have never had to use these words daily. Some of us know under these nice terms may be a laundry-list of ABC's and everything is relative to the actual story.

I want to know more, and find out some details, such as what the history has been, how old Heather was when she was placed for adoption and what the details of her History of Mental Illness and Psychological Problems really have been. I think the average person hears these terms and thinks the girl may have been moody or suffered some depression... Which very well may be true. However, I personally have a gut feeling that these are the same "Code-Words" I have needed to learn how to use--and they stand for a whole lot.

I want to know what mental health services Heather has needed, and what her diagnosis have been?... I want to know if this family has found as little help as many--most--of us have found for some of our children who have a history of mental illness and psychological problems.

This story to me is about the Failure of our system today--not only for children with mental illness and psychological problems but, for the parents trying to do the very best they can in a world that defines unreal events with nice politically correct terms.

We would not want the REALNESS of parenting under these circumstances to ever violate the privacy of our children, so--we all use these nice terms. At least until we find ourselves looking at 14 year old little girls facing life in prison for some of the very real things some of us know could be true.

Not only has the mental health system, the public school system and child protective services failed to offer any aide to children and families living with mental illness and psychological problems but, society wants to think it is all about a neat label and bottle of pills. Or that for whatever reason the parents failed. The truth is that No One can listen to the reality and often what people do know or see is not as simple as these short little words might make someone think.

People really do need to start discussing the fact, that right now parents are being offered very few effective interventions and services to help children with these needs. My experience has been one "Service Plan" after another each with lots of promises up front, and little results in the end. Services offered for fixed periods of time, with multiple goals this way when it ends and I ask about why something wasn't delivered--someone can point out the other things that had been.

Ironically, in many cases I have been unable to pick the "things we need" and seek them from the provider who offers what our family needs most as a real goal in service delivery--because in many situations only one service plan may be in place at a time and every provider offers different services. That is when parents are told, well they would be a great place to go for services when we finish this plan.

Which leads to starting the new service plan and then hearing, "Your other plan should have provided that." And, a new list of way too many goals--most of which are the same as the last list was....

In the end--parents are the ones home with the child on Sunday mornings...


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