This may seem like a long story to get to the point that we need Guardianship to be easier when transitioning a person from a dependent 17 year old to the “age of majority” or 18 years old. I think you will see the difficulties that arise when you don’t have any control anymore because the kid is 18 years old. Read on and you will see the drama as it unfolded…
My son Wayne is an 18 year old boy with pervasive developmental delays (autism). His symptoms have leaned toward the Aspergers side of the spectrum of disorders. He was diagnosed at age 3 after experiencing severe speech delays. Wayne born at 23 week gestation is truly a miracle fighting the odds stacked against him. Born testing positive for barbiturates, amphetamines, alcohol, marijuana and cocaine he has suffered numerous disabilities none of which fall cleanly into any one category or diagnosis. I like to call this problem PND (Prenatal Neglect Disorder). Assaulted at birth, he has managed to learn to walk, talk with an extensive vocabulary, pass his high school graduation tests in 11th grade, skateboard like a pro and charm with a smile to beat the band anyone he has come in contact with. What he can’t do is utterly debilitating.
As of January 19th, his psychologist stated to me “you are expecting him to make a logical decision. Wayne is totally unable to utilize logical thinking”. In his letter also dated January 29th, he states “Wayne often does not consider the consequences of his actions and often has considerable difficulty understanding social expectations of behavior. Additionally, Wayne will likely need a more structured academic setting in order to be held more accountable to his actions.” On February 2, his Board Certified Psychiatrist stated “he needs to be institutionalized, but where?” He further went on in his letter dated February 3, 2010, “All this time he is showing an inability to take care of himself. He makes impulsive irrational decisions. This includes leaving home and school, wandering aimlessly in the community and is exposing himself to risk and abuse. He recently was picked up by the police and when he stated to run in front of traffic had to be tasered. The police were attempting to assist with hospitalization request of his mothers. I feel he needs adult protective services and he is unable to make decisions in his best interest and is unable to take care of himself.”
On December 16th, 2009 Wayne went missing from his High School. We looked for him from 12:00 noon until 11:30 PM when he showed up at home. That evening the temperature dropped to 23 degrees, was raining and Wayne was wearing nothing more than a T-Shirt. Our local Police were notified. When the police asked him where he was he said he was looking for a place to live. The officer asked how? He stated he was looking for a good culvert or bridge to live in or under. (Cold and raining) Why? Because Mom was going to be mad because he missed a class again. On December 17th, 2009, he once again came up missing. All day and all night. Minutes before the County Police put out a Maddies’ alert for him. There was no explanation upon his return except to say he didn’t know why? Upon further questioning the next day he didn’t make the “logical” relationship that just one evening before he caused people to worry and police to go crazy looking for him. That this was bad. He didn’t put together that this would be bad again. He responded with “I had a long sleeve shirt on mom!” Quite definite that he was prepared. This was also just a T-Shirt with sleeves.
I went into panic mode. Wayne has in the past been able to weight information and choices put before him and make some semblance of a good decision. Without the verbal Q’s he never did all that well. Now even when the information is placed in front of him and with reminders he still is not functioning at any level of competency. He is obsessing over a single thought or goal. He cannot or will not waiver from whatever that is.
For example: To test this theory I openly placed a large Hershey bar on my night stand. He saw it. There was only one and it was unopened. I caught him slipping it into his pocket and told him to put it back and that it was not for him and that he needed to ask. He didn’t ask. He just put it back. I then put it into my purse. I left my room for 8 minutes and the bar was gone. I found it under his mattress with the brown rapper part on top of his bed. I then asked him if he took it and he said no! (he went further to say I didn’t take your F…..ing bar). I said, you know I will find it. He dared to challenge me on this by saying “Go ahead!”. I walked into his room him on my heals so that they almost wouldn’t rise off the ground. I went into his room and picked up the brown wrapper. I said “What is this?” I don’t know but I didn’t take it! I then lifted the mattress and pulled the partially eaten candy bar out and showed him. His head dropped, he made a fist and he started to growl. I said “Why are you angry? Because you took the bar or because you got caught? Who are you angry with you or me?” He responded with “You F…..ing accused me.”
On January 21st Wayne was getting very upset in the house and I contacted his doctor who told me to call the police for help in getting him into the hospital. We had over the proceeding weeks tried to get 18 year old Wayne to sign himself into the hospital and he refused. I called the police and told them that the Doctor instructed me to get the kid to the hospital and to call the police for assistances. During the call which Wayne thought was to the hospital, Wayne pulled the phone cord out of the wall. This was right when the dispatcher was asking me if he was armed and dangerous. I quickly snatched up my cell phone and dialed them back clearly telling them he was not armed. I said “Wayne that was the police you disconnected.” He then hopped onto his skateboard and headed down the street. The Local and County Police started to look for him. He dashed here and there, in and out of the woods. In the mean time three local officers stopped by the house to examine the phone line.
Apparently, Wayne’s attempt to disconnect me from the hospital ended with a charge for interfering with a 911 call. Because this was a crime and now he was running from the police he was “evading” a police officer, another crime. Wayne was running from hospital transportation. The police at my home told me they were going to paper the charges and take him to the hospital after they caught him. After about 50 minutes, and three officers rushing from my house, I got a call from Local department telling me that the County Police tasered the kid because they were afraid he would be hit by a car or cause an accident. They then took him to the county lock-up. He spent a full 24 hours at the lock-up when I bonded him out (that is 12% of the bail amount of $2,953) and went into hock with a bail bondsman. If the kid does not show up to court on the 26th of February I am out the full amount of $2953. He also has to pass drug testing. After bonding him out we went to Hospital where through my pleading and tears I was able to get him 10-13nd to keep him at the ER. I was then informed that the evaluation could take a day and that finding a bed sometimes up to 5 days. I called Emory Hospital and managed to get him admitted that evening. He was transported under the 10-13 with the understanding that he would sign himself in or go back to the original hospital.
While at the hospital they put him on Depekote for mood stabilization. Once his blood levels were up they discharged against my wishes . I indicated that he was still very unstable and nothing had changed. Well he wasn’t kicking or screaming so it was OK to let him go. He returned home on January 28th where in the afternoon he proceeded to steal 6 dollars from 7 that I had in my wallet. I found the money that he said he didn’t take in his wallet on his person that he told me was ok to search. The very next morning two dollars of the 7 came up missing. I went crazy. I found it under his mattress. He also denied taking it getting very angry he was being accused.
Later that day I asked him what he was going to do with the $6 dollars. He told me quite matter of fact that he was going to buy marijuana. I asked him if he thought about the drug testing for jail and court. He stated he wasn’t thinking. I asked about the $2 dollars and he told me that he was going to buy a black and mild (small cigar). I asked him when the last time he had one of those. He said on December 15th. I said and how did you get that one. He said “You bought it for me.” “So why did you have to steal from me instead of just asking.” I said. He finally attempted again to steal $7 dollars from my purse but it was play money that he didn’t bother to look at. I told him to look at the money he stole when he got a chance and told him not to bother again he would never find my money. He ran down the hall to his room, lifted his mattress, pulled the play money out and said “F…K”.
Wayne has attended about 5 classes this week of the 16 he should have and I think it is actually less. I don’t know where he is from one moment to the next. I have contacted every agency and there is no help. I only make about $300 a week if that so I can’t afford the guardianship which is $560 for emergency and $560 for full. I am applying for a poverty consideration in doing the guardianship but it won’t be fast enough and the kid could end up dead before it is accomplished. I have contacted Adult Protective Services and they don’t do anything. I have little food in the house at this time (almost none – just rice) and the car is making some really bad noises. Our heat bill isn’t paid. I have an opportunity to improve our financial situation by attending training in DC but would be away from the house evening of March 8, 9 and 10th. I can’t because there is no one to care for Wayne. I am now being physically affected by this. I have passed out twice in my living room once cracking my head open and having to stitch myself up using a couple of mirrors, fishing line and a needle (I’m not kidding). I have no health insurance and can’t afford the debt.
Folks after all this I have come to the conclusion that I will go to the courts and again get him 10-13’d. I will also go for emergency guardianship on a pauper’s affidavit. The Paupers Affidavit needs a separate hearing before they even look at the guardianship request. Is it necessary? Absolutely. Should it be permanent? Probably. I say this because today he is totally at risk and when we get past this crisis he may be more competent. The problem is these issues will continue to arise over the life of the kid and you need to be ready.
Further there needs to be an easier process for getting care for these kids. For some dumb reason the courts and lawmakers think that 18 is some kid of magic number. I personally believe that if there is a doctors note and backing from the school, at 17 the kids legal age should automatically be extended to 21 and 18 should just pass unnoticed. With the years of history and Waynes track record, we have plenty of competent professionals who know that he needs a guardian. I should not have to go to court in this case so some guy in a black robe and tell me what I already know. It’s a waste of time, money and the childs security.
We know the system is broken. They know that guardianship is necessary for people like Wayne but it takes too long and costs too much. And the people who tell you to call the police, the Psychiatrist offices, crisis lines that all say if this is an emergency call 911 – they need to be slapped. I ended up criminalizing my kid for nothing. We are no further.
As an update to all the drama that lead us to this part of the article. Wayne attended all of his classes in school on February 5th. It was a great thing and we thought we were on the road to keeping everything on the positive note. However, I am home now, and I can’t wait until Monday, February 8th when I go to get that 10-13 and start the guardianship process. A day later, I don’t know where my son is. He went out to skate board and guaranteed his return to me before dark. It is very cold out and he is not dressed properly for this hour and the temperature drop. I don’t know if he is out smoking pot and recking his drug testing requirement. I don’t know if he is robbing a bank. All I know is he didn’t answer his phone and hung up on me once. He broke all the rules again and he is not using any level of judgement right now. It is scary. If I were his guardian, I would have been able to say…no you are not going anywhere after all we have been through and if he left he could have been carted back just like a 15 year old.