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DSD2 (16) constant lying(28 Posts)
DSD2 (16) is really struggling socially in year 11 and I'm looking for some advice. I'm sorry- it's quite long.
For background, DSD2's parents split when she was 3 months old.
From 6 months of age, DSD2 has had the same consistent 2 sets of parents (Mum & Stepdad, plus Dad & Stepmum).
Age 6 months to 10 years was spent 50/50 care in both homes.
At age 10, DSD2 moved to sole care of Dad and Stepmum, with contact currently at 2 hours per week with Mum. The reason for care change was DSD2's escalating violence (since age 2/3) towards Mum/ Stepdad/ Siblings in Mum's house. Since moving to Dad's house, contact with Mum has been sporadic over the years, with periods of several months 2 hour visits per week, ending abruptly with a violent episode; resulting in several months of no-contact at the insistence of either DSD2 or Mum, before restarting contact again.
For history, DSD2 has a long history of CAMHS involvement from around age 3. Late to talk, so SALT intervention. Frustration from lack of speech we initially believed led to violent tantrums, but once speech issues were resolved the violent behaviour continued at DSD2's mum's home (until present day). Physical violence from DSD2 towards Mum/ Stepdad/ 2 siblings in Mum's home occurs to varying degrees of severity at every single contact time. Physical violence from DSD2 towards Dad and Stepmum has occurred just twice since toddler-hood, and never towards 2 siblings in Dad's home. However, the over-riding daily issue is DSD2's lies and fantasies, which are stopping her from functioning normally in all aspects of her life.
Over the years, both parents and step-parents have attended numerous parenting style classes/ "parent child game"/ TAC meetings/ School intervention groups/ Group family therapies/ most recently NVR group (Sep 2017) etc.
DSD2 has attended anger management/ parent child therapy/ 4 different teen counselling services/ outward bound style confidence boosting trips/ personal counselling with CAMHS worker. She was diagnosed with ODD at age 8, and then un-diagnosed at age 12 when the CAMHS family therapy at that time resulted in a decision that anxiety was the correct cause of her violent and dishonest behaviour.
DSD2 has gained and lost 2 part-time jobs after just a few weeks due to making up awful lies about new colleagues.
She makes friends very easily, but has never kept a friendship longer than 2 months as she tells so many different lies to so many different school and hobby peers, that she is always found out and ostrisized from social groups. She bounces from one social group to the next, until eventually she has annoyed so many that she is left alone. She was expelled (managed move) out of her first secondary school in year 9 due to causing daily/ hourly issues with the lies she made up about nearly every pupil in her year group.
Within a few months of her new secondary school, the lying behaviour re-surfaced, and so we made a renewed referral to CAMHS in the hope that we could try to pinpoint if it was anxiety/ some kind of attachment issue/ an undiagnosed SEN that was causing her destructive/ almost self-harming behaviour. After an 18 month wait, we were accepted back to CAMHS in November 2017/ allocated a new case worker/ had both child and separate parent interviews, and a neurological assessment should be taking place in the next few months. Over the past 18 months DSD2 has been excluded or in isolation countless times, has been involved in physical fights with peers outside of school resulting in police visits at our home, has stolen numerous peer's property, has started to display reckless sexual behaviour. She has had a complete sleepover ban since year 9 (due to lying about her whereabouts), and a complete internet ban since year 10 (due to her lying or bullying peers over social media, and her seeking out older strange men on social media).
No drinking/ drugs, and never disobeys curfews or groundings, but without fail refuses to leave for school until she's sure everyone will have gone in to class. Will put herself in isolation or stay with school counsellor during break times and after school. Occasionally will be verbally abusive (1x 2-3 hour meltdown per month) to Dad and Stepmum in response to being grounded. Perfect sense of right and wrong when something untoward is aimed at her, but absolutely no outward signs of guilt/ empathy/ comprehension of the suffering she has caused to others. Genuinely doesn't seem to understand some social ques- often misinterprets facial expressions or believes people are screaming when just using low authoritative tone. Never ever admits to a lie- will insist that teachers/ police/ peers/ peer's parents are lying instead for their own agendas. But she's also funny, quick-witted, clever, charming to older relations, caring and loving, generous and kind to her younger siblings, thoughtful and sweet with random favours and treats to Dad and Stepmum, hard-working in her animal hobby, mostly happy to lend a hand with chores, never demands money or favours, is appreciative of lifts and special treats.
It's like she's a Jekyll and Hyde with the different ways she acts around either her Dad's family or her Mum's family or her school environment- all 3 environments agree that they cannot "see" or imagine her acting in the way that the other describes as they are completely different characters.
However, the current issue is that her latest lies have caused such uproar at school that DSD2 has been kept in isolation for the latter half of last week whilst the school investigates. DP and I have been asked to attend a meeting tomorrow lunchtime to discuss the school's concerns. DSD2 has only 4 months left until her GCSE's finish, and so although we are hopeful the school will have a plan of how to handle DSD2's destructive behaviour for the remaining time period, we equally fear that the meeting tomorrow is to inform us that the daily issues are so detrimental to the rest of the year group as they approach their GCSE's, that the school may wish to manage move DSD2 out yet again as her impact on the other students is simply unfair to them at such an important time in their education.
I'm not quite sure what I'm asking for- perhaps any insight if any other parents have dealt with persistent lying, or how to handle the school tomorrow, or what education laws I should be looking up. I know DSD2 is entitled to an education, and if she had a diagnosed SEN or a statement/ IEP then we could request adjustments to help her, but with just an undiagnosed destructive student while we're waiting on CAMHS, I feel we don't have a leg to stand on. I'm really worried and I don't feel we're supporting her to the best of our ability.
Just a really hopeful bump...
DSD2 continued with her normal lies/ fantasies all last week, and as a result has now been physically assaulted today by a group of her peers that she lied to/ made lies up about.
School are investigating and sanctioning the students involved.
DSD2 is thankfully not badly hurt, but very shaken up and angry at her peer group's behaviour.
I'm just really worried about her and looking for any advice please.
This sounds such a difficult situation OP, for all of you. I have a teenage son with a 'flexible aporoach' to the truth - it's very wearing and worrying so I sympathise.
For my son I think it's connected to his dyslexia and other issues (v mild ASD traits, obsessive behaviour etc). He also has found it hard to read people and situations at times and it's an ongoing process to help him socialise whilst giving him enough freedom to not feel smothered.
If you think your DSD has any kind of academic difficulties could that explain some of her behaviour? It can be a real vicious circle because of how the shame that so often goes hand in hand with education difficulties impacts behaviour, with knock on effects on friendships, school etc.
Anyway, just an idea. If you think reading might be an issue there is a really informative website called 'children of the code' which explores (amongst other things) the psychological impacts of reading problems.
Let me know if you'd like more details and best of luck to you all - it sounds really tough
I really feel for you OP, it sounds like you’ve had years of stress and strain on the family over these issues. Well done for still managing to have a good relationship with Dsd and see the good in her.
I don’t have any great words of wisdom, just that I work in a PRU and we have several young people that have similar issues to your Dsd, some diagnosed, some not. Sometimes it’s almost like they sabotage any good things that happen to them. It’s very sad to see.
In regards to the meeting at school, I don’t know how serious it has got so I might be way off the mark here but if they do want Dsd to leave and they offer her a place in an alternative setting such as a PRU don’t panic. Obviously look into the options etc but some PRUs are fantastic places that get the best out of young people who can’t cope with a mainstream environment.
If the school feel they cannot not meet her needs, and there is no other educational establishment able to take her on, is having a tutor at home an option?
Although DSD has no official diagnosis I would give NAS a call and discuss, they can talk through what options are open to you.
It feels to me that DSD has multiple issues and this is probably why it's hard to get a diagnosis. There may be neurological issues like ODD (as previously diagnosed but then undiagnosed), attachment issues and mental health issues. As any parent or person involved in these areas will tell you, you have to push (with a capital 10ft high P!!) to get help these days.
Hope the NAS are able to help, and that the meeting tomorrow gives you at least an idea of where to go from here.
Oh wow, thank you so much for the responses!
Whyiseverynameinuse , we don't believe DSD2 has any academic difficulties but will definetely bear it in mind for asking questions at next school meeting.
DSD2 loves reading and has done from a young age. She is an average student in English & Maths, but excels in hands-on subjects such as Science & Food Tech. However, her grades have nose-dived since year 9 from being expected 7's (As), to only achieving 3's in Jan mocks.
School are adamant that she has the ability and knowledge, but spends so much time verbally abusing others in classroom and/or refusing to enter classrooms that have ex-friends inside, that she is obviously not accessing the content of lessons.
She was also removed from the exam hall during 2 separate exams due to her verbal abuse of nearby students.
Your experience of "giving enough freedom to not feel smothered" rings true, in that we have restricted a lot of freedoms over the past few years due to safeguarding concerns, and attempts to reinstate them have resulted in even more worrying dangerous behaviour.
I feel like we are smothering DSD2, and with her turning 17 at the end of this year, it really feels like we should be opening up her world rather than trying to contain everything.
But her behaviour cycles and thought processes just aren't changing/ she's not learning from the consequences of her own actions/ it all just repeats on a daily or weekly basis without her understanding she simply can't be so abusive or untruthful to people without them being annoyed with her.
*bellylaughs*, thank you for your insight into PRU's- that's really helpful.
We actually live practically next door to a PRU (beginning with Q?), which is well-regarded. We did broach the subject of a PRU with her previous secondary school when they expelled/ manage moved DSD2- we felt that she was struggling (at that point in year 9) to deal with her peers appropriately, and was obviously unable to break the cycle of lying about everything and everyone, and we were worried that moving to this slightly rougher secondary school might not be the correct path. The previous secondary school felt that the local PRU was purely for physically aggressive students (DSD2 is always verbal, but only occasionally violent), or for extreme school-refusers which she is not.
However, tonight I've looked up the admittance criteria for our local PRU and it clearly states that it also accepts students who need additional physical medical needs that can't be accommodated in mainstream, as well as students who are emotionally vulnerable- which I'm thinking might encompass what we're dealing with?
DSD2 definetely sabotages anything good in her life. Any friendship that she has ever had is thrown away on the slightest whiff of disloyalty, and whilst they last for their short time she constantly tests them to see if they will leave or hurt her by engineering fake messages or situations to see what they do.
DSD2 will enjoy a rare moment of laughter with her older sister (my DSD1), but then abruptly end it with a horrible comment designed to hurt DSD1- almost as though she can't handle having a good relationship/ good times with DSD1 as it's outside the norm of how she deals with her.
DSDs' mum reports that she experiences the exact same behaviour, as though once DSD2 realises she's having an enjoyable contact time with her mum, she will viscously stop any niceties.
Her part-time jobs that she was so excited for, were also sabotaged within days by the vile things she made up about her new employer's to her brand new colleagues.
In the height of her verbal arguments with DP and I, she will literally tell us we should be throwing her away or putting her in foster care, or she should kill herself to save everyone the trouble of dealing with her- it is beyond heartbreaking.
I think I will talk over the PRU idea again with DP, and then discuss it with the welfare officer at school for her insight. We've had daily phone calls so far from the welfare officer re the latest non-compliance or verbal argument, or indeed today's physical assault, and she seems to be on the ball with most aspects of our worries.
And yes, it has been years of stress and strain, but she really is a good kid- genuinely. I feel like I'm failing her by not obtaining the support she needs, and I can see her future being far bleaker than I would wish for her if we don't get some help on board.
She just continues to make such poor choices and it's just so frustrating to see her not changing or adapting or learning from them.
I fail to see how it can be neuro-typical to continue these behaviours without learning, and with each and every lie she tells and is found out for, her loathing of the people who found her out grows, and her fear of rejection and anger at "everybody" being against her or mean to her for no reason increases.
Sorry you're having such a hard time
Have a look at borderline personality disorder, I have a family member diagnosed with this and was very similar to your dsd at her age.
A private tutor would be beyond our financial means, and we are unable to make her revise or do homework at home. She will do it, but only when she decides to- if we physically tell her to revise she will lie on her bed and stare at the ceiling instead. But she will happily revise off her own back for 2 hours, so long as she's not told to do it. Therefore, I'm certain that home-schooling is not an option for us, irrespective of the fact I would struggle to answer questions, let alone teach her at GCSE level myself.
The school meeting was actually last Monday, and the result was that they are currently planning to keep DSD2 in school until her GCSE's are finalised in June. They say that they will deal with her lesson refusal by moving her straight to their isolation block, but that if she also refuses to go inside isolation they will be out of options.
DSD2 already holds a fairly good relationship with the school welfare officer (although she also lies to her- Kitty & Dad have thrown me out/ I went to Australia for Xmas/ I had an abortion last night etc), and school says they will send emails to CAMHS highlighting the difficulties DSD2 is creating/ experiencing in her peer relationships.
DSD2 refused all morning lessons today and instead went into isolation. However, at lunchtime she re-entered the general school population, and that is when she was assaulted by a group of her peers. Regardless of how the school sanctions these other students for their violence against my DSD2, the situation is fast becoming untenable as DSD2 has now burnt so many bridges with the lies and fantasies she's told, that there are no classes she wants to attend for fear of reprisals. DSD2 doesn't acknowledge that they are reprisals; she is adamant that everybody is lying/ people hacked her phone to send abusive messages or phone calls on her behalf/ the lies she's told are true so there's nothing wrong with being truthful etc etc.
A previous CAMHS case worker around the age of 8 said that DSD2 was "very complex" and that we wouldn't get a definitive diagnosis until she was older. From my research into attachment disorders, I think you are definitely on the money there- regardless of the outside appearance of stability in her 2 sets of parents from near birth, she never had a primary caregiver in her formative years, and she has always had 2 (3 if you include maternal grandmother who'm she spent a great deal of care with) sets of house rules/ expectations etc. Couple that with leaving her mum's home and drastically reduced contact from age 10, alongside the loss of the majority of her mum's family side through that action, plus the years of failed friendships, and I think anyone would have attachment issues.
I will contact the NAS tomorrow to discuss- that's incredibly helpful advice, as I wrongly assumed it was only suitable for diagnosed individuals.
Thank you so much.
blackcatsarebest thank you for replying.
I have previously looked at BPD, and felt very worried that her behaviour looked very similar to the diagnosis criteria.
I'm hopeful that this time around, CAMHS will be looking at her behaviours in general/ using the planned neuro assessment to look at other possible diagnosis rather than just the Autism line that they concentrated on in previous years.
If you don't mind me asking, what was it that struck you as seemingly similar with your family member? And were they diagnosed via the CAMHS route?
My cousin was diagnosed at 19 through a psychiatrist, no CAMHS then. She displayed reckless sexual behaviour, unstable inter personal relationships and friendships, stealing, lying, a fantatist, violent outbursts, self sabotage. Put her parents through absolute hell . I can see you're doing your very best to help her.
Hi again OP. Good to hear that academics are not an issue. At secondary the demands on students step up a lot so any niggles tend to get exacerbated.
Does she get any 1 to 1 therapy via CAMHS? Her risky behaviour would seem to warrent it. We had camhs input for a while which had some positive results. Is private individual or family therapy an option your daughter would consider and you could all support/contribute to?
You sound amazing in the support and care you are all showing her. Don't give up - when she matures she will know that you were all there for her, even if she doesn't realise it now
Sorry, just read your update more carefully. Hope the broader review with camhs does the job.
Just an update in case anyone might have any more advice they wouldn't mind offering.
CAMHS case worker phoned late Monday night and invited us to a meeting this lunchtime (Thursday).
I mentioned the latest school assault, and confirmed DSD2's continued verbal abuse of her peers via text messages. Case worker felt that although we have allowed DSD2 a basic text/ calls mobile for the past year (since internet ban), that having a phone was causing her more issues/ endangering her safety, more than it was keeping her safe by giving her a means to call if she was in trouble. She recommended complete removal of any phone, and asked us if she could discuss the issue with her safeguarding lead (who she felt would agree with her phone removal idea), to see if she had any further suggestions. We obviously agreed.
Case worker also asked our permission to make a referral to Children's Services, should her safeguarding lead recommend doing so. She stated that although she felt we were doing everything in our powers to protect DSD2, that maybe SS might be able to offer fresh ideas or different support for DSD2 and us as well. We agreed obviously to the referral, but after the phone call I feel irrationally uneasy- I think it's just the idea of SS being involved, as though we've failed and this is a last resort. But then I guess it is- we're not changing her behaviour patterns and I'm genuinely worried for her future. So the more help the better is a positive? They may well be able to open doors to other counselling/ therapy etc that we are unaware of?
I know we arrange our whole lives to ensure the safeguarding of not just DSD2 from others or from herself, but also continually forward-thinking the safeguarding of her younger and older siblings from DSD2's behaviour, as well as DP & I's safety and mental strain of dealing and coping with DSD2. So I shouldn't be worried, but it does feel a little unnerving.
Also, was called in to another school meeting yesterday morning.
Although the school have sanctioned the 3 girls involved in DSD2's physical assault last week, they are concerned that they are unable to guarantee her safety throughout the school day.
They say that they feel able to monitor and disperse verbal/ physical altercations from and to DSD2 during actual lessons, but are unable to do the same during the unmonitored breaktimes, and as that is when the majority of the issues occur they would rather minimise DSD2's social/ breaktimes for the remainder of her time with them. They say they don't have any completely secure areas of the school to keep DSD2 in during breaks, and not only would they need a member of staff assigned to her, she would have the issue of getting to and from such a place past her peers anyway.
So the school are suggesting a revised timetable
Sorry, posted too soon.
The school are suggesting a revised timetable of only attending 12.30 til 3pm each day, therefore cutting out lessons 1 & 2 (which DSD2 generally refuses to attend each day anyway), along with tutor time (20mins), break 1 (15mins), and lunch break (30mins). This will leave her with just lessons 3 & 4, with a 10 mins break in-between which the school says they can arrange a staff member to stay in classroom with her.
School were keen to point out that DSD2 would have been permanently excluded by now, if it were not for DP & I pushing the CAMHS path that we're on/ discussing each incident over the phone with our viewpoint that DSD2 is mentally struggling although undiagnosed/ dropping everything to attend last minute meetings and doing early pick-ups when requested etc.
The school says they are concerned about dismissing DSD2's behaviour as plain naughty when it could well be an underlying condition. The welfare officer and deputy head in attendance at that meeting stated that in all their years of experience in secondary school education, they had never before witnessed the level of lying/ fantasising/ self-sabotaging behaviour that DSD2 presents- I think that speaks volumes?
School asked me to discuss with DP overnight and call them today to agree to revised timetable or tweak it as we see fit, with the understanding that the school is only feeling able to keep her safe during actual lessons.
DP and I are concerned at such a reduced timetable, because not only will the action of doing so play into DSD2's idea of her being a victim of bullying like she's currently telling everyone (but then again she is being assaulted, but only because of the vile things she's saying to people, but then again physical violence should never be the response to verbal abuse?), and she will be bouncing off the walls excited about only doing 2.5 hour days from now on- is that because she's a naughty kid who's got her own way, or is it because she'll be so relieved that the stress and anxiety she is experiencing with not coping in mainstream is going to be minimised so it's like a weight has lifted?
Also, what about her upcoming GCSE results? Although to be fair, that's one of the least of our worries if she's mentally not coping.
Also, should we just be requesting a dual placement move to our local pupil referral unit if her current school are unable to keep her safe throughout the school day? But then regardless of her being emotionally unstable, she is abusive to other students, and the local PRU is split into 2- aggressive & school-refusers educated separately from the high medical needs & emotionally vulnerable, so would she be lumped in with the "aggressive side" as it would be unfair on the other side to have her? And the local PRU only takes students up to end of GCSE's anyway, so even if we acted quickly she would only attend for the remaining 6-8 weeks of her school life?
I'm just so confused about which path to take.
I'm hopeful that the CAMHS meeting in an hour or so might give us some more focused direction.
Thank you for reading if you made it this far- I'm sorry for waffling on, but it feels kind of therapeutic to get some of my worries more clearly written down.
I guess it depends on your circumstances. Would she be home alone? Would that be a problem? Would she be given work to keep her busy in the mornings, to keep her up to date?
My gut feeling is that if school is such a challenging place for her, she won't be learning much anyway. Would a reward system work to get her to work at home? Something along the lines of phone access or cash. Sounds mercenary but might be worth it if you think she'd respond well.
Another one here for personality disorder. Many of the traits she exhibits, the lying (out of curiosity can she explain why she lies or is it compulsive?), fairly to maintain personal relationships, violent outbursts, risky sexual behaviour, sudden changes in mood, failure to hold down a job, the ability to be quite charming when she is in control, failure to hold down a job, difficulty empathising, what seems to be relatively high intelligence, refusal to admit to lies/Tale responsiblity difficulty conformingyo social norms all are common symptoms of various personality disorders. Other questions you want to ask yourself is does she have an explosive temper? Is she unreliable or unpredictable? Is she manipulative? You say that she doesn’t have a problem with substance abuse but would she if she had access? Does she exhibit any other escapist tendencies (you mentioned that she reads a lot for example. What is she reading? How much? Why? Does she read a lot of fantasy/romance type novels? Does she read more when she is having a hard time with life?). How does she see herself. Is she arrogant/self confident? Is she the opposite? What about other family members? Is there a history of strange behaviour or mental illness? Why did her parents split up? Why do you think her relationship with her mother is so different to her relationship with her father?
This definitely isn’t just run of the mill naughtiness or her being bad. You know her best and you clearly think that it warrants investigation and at least an attempt at diagnosis. Follow your gut. Don’t let them fob you off with SS referrals. Go for a private evaluation if you must.
Thamesis thanks for your reply.
Our circumstances are currently DP working full-time with a fairly understanding employer, and myself on a career break.
I was due to return to work in Jan 2017 after taking my full 1 year maternity leave for DD2, but we instead chose for me to take a career break due to needing a parent at home to deal with DSD2's daily issues.
I'm very lucky to be able to take up to 5 years career break due to my previous service length.
Prior to having DD2, my DP worked nights and I was part-time days, and we therefore always had a parent at home to field the phone calls/ chase up appointments/ run up the school as needed. Although we're lucky to have good employers, there is no way they would allow the amount of last-minute leave that DSD2 currently requires.
So yes, our circumstances currently allow for DSD2 to be home/ on limited timetable, as she wouldn't be alone and the school advises they will email work over to us as replacement for the missed lessons.
Only downside from a home point of view, is that it limits me being able to nip out (DSD2 too unpredictable to be left home alone), and she doesn't respond to reward systems (no interest in cash as no-one left to socialise with/ phone already permanently removed etc), so will only be revising or working if she feels inclined to do so.
There's also the irritation of knowing she will be telling her teachers & peers that the reason she's only attending afternoons is (for example based on previous lies)...because she's moved house so it's 4 hours travelling every morning/ she's a young carer for an elderly relative every morning/ she's having chemo every morning/ she needs to look after her new baby etc etc.
But the school at least are no longer phoning us with safeguarding concerns when she tells them her latest fantasies, as they've wised up to it all, but it's still frustrating to know that allowing her to be on revised timetable will cause her to have yet another thing to lie about, and in turn that will be yet another lie that her peers think she's a bad/ horrible/ sick individual for making up. And these are the same peers that will be attending college with her, so it's not as though her reputation will be forgotten by September.
But I agree that if school is such a challenging place for her, then she isn't learning much anyway. That's pointless and all she's doing is getting herself in more trouble and enciting more abuse and violence towards herself.
So keeping her closer and safer at home feels like the right decision.
OutyMcOutface thank you so much for your reply- a lot of what you've said really resonates.
From my limited research into personality disorders, I agree that many of the traits she exhibits/ you've listed, are common symptoms.
In answer to the questions you think I should consider...
Her lies are not explained by her in any way- they are always refuted, on an incredulous level that she cannot believe that you simply don't see her version of the truth.
Even when presented with irrefutable evidence, she will have an answer or reason for anything no matter how ridiculous (the phone call wasn't my voice; it was a voice changing device used by someone else/ someone else hacked my phone to send those messages supposedly from me/ the teacher is lying because they're covering up their own failings in their career etc etc). If at any point she fails to have a response or reason, she will either go completely silent (and will then run or verbally abuse if you continue to push the conversation), or will get aggressive and verbally abuse you on an unrelated issue to divert the conversation.
We assume it is either compulsive lying as she is unable to explain her actions as she doesn't understand them herself, or she is fully aware and excruciatingly embarrassed and therefore tries everything in her arsenal to avoid discussing what she has done.
Yes, she has a very explosive temper. She can go from appearing relaxed and happy to spitting with venom in seconds, from just a single text from a peer/ her mum, or a raised eyebrow or incorrectly worded statement from DP & I.
Once riled, her temper is frightening to us let alone her siblings. For that reason, if we are able to predict that we will have to have a potentially explosive conversation with DSD2 we pre-arrange siblings to be with grandparents etc to minimise what they witness.
Her temper can last from 30 mins long (and then completely chilled and relaxed and chatty as though she didn't just wish everyone dead/ confused as to why everyone else isn't chirpy with her), to 3 or 4 days long (in which time she alternates literally wrapping herself tightly & silently in her duvet for hours/ bursting out to run downstairs for food/ slamming her way back upstairs to get back under her duvet- any attempt to talk or check on her during a period like this will be met with a viscous prolonged verbal attack).
She is completely unreliable with her own time-keeping, but immediately furious if others are just a few minutes early or late. She is unreliable to do homework/ chores without constant reminding/ lock up bikes or houses/ remember school books or kit/ even to practice for her animal hobby pursuits that she loves.
She is vastly unpredictable in that you never know which way she will take a sanction or a reward. She may explode at a sanction that she has previously accepted unfazed, or be extremely unhappy with a reward that she now views as a horrible new change rather than the previous delight that she felt it was. She is however predictable in her charming nature towards elderly relatives she sees infrequently- you can always rely on her to be attentive/ chatty to their ramblings, and is polite/ well-mannered/ helpful towards DP's work and sport colleagues, should she have infrequent reasons to be around them.
She is manipulative. That sounds absolutely awful to state it as a fact like that.
But she is, and in order to work out whats going on, we are having to be as honest about the child we have raised as possible.
I have never experienced such artful manipulation in any individual before.
She will co-erce, control, blackmail, threaten, charm, plead in any manner or form to obtain whatever she requires. She is extremely astute at logging people's weaknesses and using them against them (either subtley put across in a caring manner to change a person's thinking or actions to her advantage, or used with venom at the height of an argument she feels she isn't winning in order to de-rail the conversation by blind-siding you with a threat of your worst fears).
She manipulates friendships and peer groups to do her bidding, or to fight amongst themselves on the cleverly crafted photoshopped screenshots of photos or messages she presents of supposed cheating or stealing etc.
At the height of her internet issues, we discovered that she was running multiple intricate social media accounts/ personas, to create "sock-puppets" to back up her lies and fantasies to real-life school peers.
After losing her sleepover privileges, she quickly manipulated her maternal grandmother into covering for her pretending to sleep at her house whilst she continued her overnight walking the streets with randoms. Her grandmother is a sensible grown woman who should have known better, but through a careful backstory and subtle threats of ending their relationship, DSD2 managed to convince her to send fictional texts to us to cover for her.
I'm not sure about the substance abuse if she had access to it, but my thinking is yes she would.
With escapist tendencies, yes she has another- her animal hobby, which I might as well just say is horse-riding. Her grandmother owns a horse, and she spends an inordinate amount of time mucking out/ training/ revising for dressage and showjumping etc. We have always been grateful for this hobby and this connection with her maternal grandmother, as it is a constant in her life regardless of the periods of instability in her contact with her mum. And it also gives her a purpose, a drive, competitions to aim for etc. Whenever she is experiencing hard times in life, she will hack out for hours at a time and lose herself in her horse.
The books that she reads are fairytale type fantasies (mores suitable for younger than her years), or romantic novels, or real-life style crime fictions. She reads near daily, but escapes to her horse and the empty fields more as her release from people and real life.
Thought I'd just update again, even if it's just to keep a running log of events for myself, although I'd obviously really appreciate anyone offering advice.
CAMHS meeting was at Thursday lunchtime. Case worker went through the Autism assessment that had been ongoing, and said that although DSD2 displays quite a few Autistic and OCD traits, she failed to reach the cut off for an autism diagnosis.
Case worker said that she had discussed with her team, and they have chosen to refer DSD2 for Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT). They can offer a 10 week decider course starting in May, but they are unable to offer a full DBT course at this time as they do not run them in the South East. Case worker said a couple of her colleagues have been fully trained to deliver DBT, so she felt they would be offering a course at some point in the future, but that it might only become available after DSD2 has been discharged from CAMHS once she turns 18 in 20months time. Case worker said we would then need to request DBT via our GP/ get DSD2 to request it as she'll be an adult.
I told case worker that from my small research into DBT, it appears to be the primary treatment for borderline personality disorders, and asked if this was the thinking behind it- are CAMHS now thinking that's what we're dealing with here? Case worker said DSD2 displays a lot of personality disorders traits, but that as personalities are not yet set in teenagers, then the NHS are reticent to diagnose in teenagers. Case worker said she could refer DSD2 for an assessment for personality disorder if we really wanted her to, but the cons of diagnosis might surpass the pros. She said a diagnosis would limit her career choices, might cause her to use her diagnosis for an excuse for bad behaviour, wouldn't help us in requesting allowances for DSD2's behaviour in college, and wouldn't overall change DSD2's legal or moral responsibilities in life. Case worker asked us to consider our choice over a few days and then get back to her.
Case worker also stated she felt DSD2 was roughly 3 to 4 years emotionally immature, and that we should try dealing with her on that premise. She said she's not an assessor for personality disorders, but it could just be that her emotional maturity needs to catch up and then she'll act differently in the future. Although that might also be true/ something else that's affecting DSD2's behaviour, it felt a real down-playing of symptoms/ behaviours that we're dealing with- some of her social or friendship or temper issues could be explained with that thinking, but surely not the skilled manipulation/ lying/ sock-puppeting/ blackmailing/ threatening behaviour?
I also asked if DBT is effective on an individual in denial, as DSD2 is so adamant that she doesn't lie or be abusive/ only picked on by everybody for no reason, that I'm not sure DBT will work? Case worker said the skills involved in the decider group will help DSD2 to think about and challenge her own behaviour, so should help to open her eyes to what she's doing?
Case worker also said she hadn't yet had a chance to discuss our concerns with her safeguarding lead, and therefore discuss the idea of making a referral to Children's Services for support. She felt that Children's Services will probably be unable to take our case on, as DSD2 is being safeguarded adequately, and that will be their primary objective, rather than SS being a hub for further avenues of therapy etc.
We came out of the meeting feeling deflated and unsure of our next move.
Arrived home to phonecalls from school stating DSD2 had been in an abusive verbal argument with 2 peers, she'd been put into isolation, and they requested she leave early for the day, and start reduced timetable immediately rather than the planned next Monday. DSD2 arrived home fuming that the school "are not protecting her from the bullies", but pleased that she no longer has to go there so much "as they're obviously incompetent and need reporting". Waited for her mood to simmer down, and then later that evening tried discussing with DSD2 re the reduced timetable being put in place due to her own poor choices and behaviour causing the school to not have the facilities to contain her outbursts/ the time to be constantly dealing with the fallout of her lies/ the staff to protect her from the reprisals of her abuse to everyone. DSD2 went ballistic with verbal abuse, stating none of it's true- she is a victim of bullying and the teachers are making it all up to cover their safeguarding failings.
Following morning (Friday) and DSD2 is awake from the early hours watching TV. Refuses to do any work/revision and instead tries to leave to go down the stables; stating she'll head to school for the afternoon when she's finished down there. Angry outburst when told no, and then laid on bed staring at ceiling. Reminded several times to get ready for afternoon school/ eventually left late.
After an hour, DSD2 returned home again an hour before school finished.
Says she put herself in the isolation block as she had an argument with a peer/ didn't want to continue in lesson, but then an angry teacher came in the isolation block and told her to leave the school premises/ go home immediately. Told her that she shouldn't have just walked out of her lesson and walked into isolation block; was probably told by "angry teacher" to pack it in and go to her lesson. But DSD2 said that no, actually she was walked to isolation by another teacher although it was her own choice to go there. Then DSD2 said that actually it was all 15 students that were in the isolation block that were told to leave school immediately, along with some students from the main school campus, so chances are it was a fire evacuation that wasn't explained properly, or a teacher taken suddenly ill that was the real reason.
Feel like banging my head against a wall.
Rang school and emailed welfare officer/ head of year, but no answer to calls/ response to emails.
Guess we'll be waiting til Monday now to find out what really happened.
There are limits to what you can do. You are not failing her at all, you are doing your very best to help her in a situation that is not your making. Actually you sound like a fantastic and caring step-mum
Some fairly random responses to some of the things you've said..
Some parts (not all) of what you are describing sounds a bit autism-spectrum/PDA-ish to me - the unpredictability and manipulation are more common in PDA than other ASCs. But I agree it could also be personality disorder or attachment disorder or none of the above. There may not even be a single diagnosis that makes sense of everything, so you could pick and mix anything that helps.
she will be bouncing off the walls excited about only doing 2.5 hour days from now on- is that because she's a naughty kid who's got her own way, or is it because she'll be so relieved that the stress and anxiety she is experiencing with not coping in mainstream is going to be minimised so it's like a weight has lifted?
She may well feel both of those, plus a huge sense of personal failure which may kick in a bit later and she may act out to resist it. Some of her lies may be about trying to make the world the way she wants/needs it to be because she can't cope with feeling bad about herself (something a bit like the "Aspie bubble") But realistically that mix of reactions and feelings can't be helped. Sometimes there is no ideal solution and all you can really do is the least-worst.
It sounds as if whenever she feels under pressure and reality is too painful or scary then whatever comes out of her mouth is nonsense. Some of her lies - not all of them - sound like a much younger child in trouble and in a panic, denying the obvious.
I would not worry too much about learning from consequences. She is probably not fully able to connect her behaviour to the consequences of that behaviour, especially not when she is feeling upset or agitated, which by the sound of things is a lot of the time.
Her temper can last from 30 mins long (and then completely chilled and relaxed and chatty as though she didn't just wish everyone dead/ confused as to why everyone else isn't chirpy with her)
Heh - my DS (ASC diagnosis, lots of anxiety and temper but different in many other ways from your DSD) used to do this. I saw it as an empathy/boundary issue - "I have fully vented my feelings and now I feel much better so why is everyone else unhappy?" He didn't really remember what he'd said or done while he was in the temper state, or associate it with how other people might feel about him.
Maturity may well make a difference to her. One thing people say about youngsters with ASCs is that they operate socially and emotionally at about two-thirds of their actual age. It's not so much that they suddenly catch up as that they make progress but more slowly.
so will only be revising or working if she feels inclined to do so.
Then can you put her in control of revising and working? She seems to need control. I had a deal with my DS: I would only nag him if he wanted me to. But in exchange he was not allowed to snarl at me when I nagged. So I would ask him "do you want to be nagged today?" and "when shall I come in for a nag?" and respected his answers. Letting him decide helped.
later that evening tried discussing with DSD2 re the reduced timetable being put in place due to her own poor choices and behaviour
I understand what you are trying to achieve but these are probably not connections that she is capable of making, or at least not in a productive way. She is very vulnerable and she would feel attacked and accused and either melt down or start lying to make it OK in her own head. You could just say that the reduced timetable is put in place because you all agree it's best for her, end of story.
Told her that she shouldn't have just walked out of her lesson and walked into isolation block;
Again, telling her what she should have done is probably one of the points where she loses touch with the truth. She starts trying to make what she did the same as what she should have done, and that need trumps everything else and off she goes to la-la land. If you want maximum truth (though total truth may be outside her reach) then go for uncritical listening "I see" and "mmm" and "what happened next?"
Have you looked at Ross Greene's ]] book? Quite a few of us on MumsNet have found his approach useful for managing difficult kids who don't respond successfully to consquences.
You are doing an amazing job.
Kleinzeit - thank you so much for your reply- a lot of what you've said makes sense.
I researched PDA a few years ago and realised that DSD2 displayed a lot of traits. We have therefore over the past few years used many of the techniques recommended in order to get DSD2 to comply with some sticky safety and hygiene issues we were having. We use careful language choices to change our requests from demands (which DSD2 will go out of her way to not comply with), to simple statements or limited choices (which DSD2 will generally comply with as she feels it's her own choice to do so), but we have been unable to get the same response to alter her damaging or deceitful behaviour by employing PDA techniques.
For example, if you tell her to run herself a bath and wash her hair (as it's been over a week without), she will run a bath and sit on the bathroom floor for half hour, before draining the bath and wrapping a towel round her head to disguise her dry hair. When you realise what she's done, if you ask her why she'll calmly state "You didn't ask me to wash myself in the bath, only run one" (this is also an example of her black & white thinking that was picked up on the Autism assessment).
So if you ask her to have a bath and wash her hair, she will get in a bath and wet her hair with her fingertips. When you realise what she's done (because the shampoo hasn't left the bathroom cabinet etc), if you ask her why, she'll calmly say "You told me to wash my hair which I did with water- you didn't mention to shampoo it".
If you say, please have a wash in the bath with soap and don't forget to wash your hair with shampoo, she'll get immediately verbally abusive and ask why you think she needs the procedure spelled out to her like a child, and will then either refuse to do any of it, or will sit on the bathroom floor/ wrap dry hair in towel again to disguise it again.
So, the only correct language to use is "Don't forget you're doing xyz tomorrow night, so if you get a chance later today you might want to fit a bath and hair wash in, as you won't have time tomorrow". Then she'll do everything as she feels it was her choice to do so.
It's frustrating, but using different language does work 50% of the time, but DP & I seem to be the only ones she does it for- school/ mum/ Nan all report the change of language away from direct demands doesn't obtain results for them.
It was and continues to be a difficult parenting style to use, as our instinct is to lay down the law as you would normally when your child is being abusive or destructive. But normal parenting techniques simply don't work/ result in daily abuse, and so we have adapted over time to using whatever works/ keeps home-life as calm as possible. It is also hard to explain to relatives that we are not just letting DSD2 get away with everything, but using different methods to maintain a careful control. It's hard to explain to others, as indeed on a daily basis you wonder if you are still in control, or whether your child is just walking all over you.
I agree that I feel she displays a mix of many different issues (Autistic traits/ OCD/ PDA/ Attachment/ Personality disorder/ Anxiety etc), which is why different methods work well at different times, but it's very hard to know which to try in the moment as DSD2's mood can swing rapidly between vehemently needing to be in control of everything, to needing to be shown there's strong boundaries in place to make her feel safe again.
I had wrongly assumed that CAMHS would assess DSD2 and come up with whichever possible diagnosis they felt fitted best.
But our experience so far has been separate assessments for different behaviours (Autism when younger/ then ODD/ then anxiety as young teen/ now Autism again), and she either fails to meet the full criteria, or is diagnosed but then undiagnosed by a different professional. But at no point do CAMHS seem to want to take all the info and work out what it is? As in, the latest autism assessment showed a lot of OCD/ attachment/ personality disorder traits, but CAMHS aren't suggesting off their own back that they should now assess for these issues; just referring her for a preliminary DBT course in a few months, with no guarantee of the real intensive DBT ever being available.
Not sure I'm explaining myself properly.
For example, if you had a severe prolonged headache you'd perhaps have various assessments to rule out migraine/ eye problems/ jaw muscle problems/ brain tumour etc. But in this instance, they rule out migraine and don't seem keen to look for what else it might be unless you pester for it, even though you're still suffering daily with the headache.
Just seems such an odd method of dealing with it, as we must surely be taking up more time and resources on the NHS by them not looking at the overall picture/ getting the diagnosis/ getting the required treatment and/ or lifestyle adaptions.
Definetely yes to your perception that she feels both elated at getting what she wants (with school reduction), plus feeling relieved at genuine stress she was feeling, plus sense of personal failure- I can see all these in her, so I think you're right that I shouldn't assume it's as clear cut as just one reason only.
"Some of her lies may be about trying to make the world the way she wants/needs it to be because she can't cope with feeling bad about herself"- this is very accurate, and the way that we have felt her logic behind a lot of her lies has been for a long time. Yes, the majority of her lies are such breath-taking nonsense that you truly feel you are dealing with a younger child. They occur daily but then we think she feels under pressure daily to conform to what she thinks everyone expects from her, and so yes the reality of the truth is on a daily basis too scary or painful for her to admit to. The lies fall out of her mouth without thinking, just as a small child will blame the stolen chocolate on the cat as its the first thing that pops into her head.
DSD2 appears upset or agitated the majority of the time (perhaps for half an hour every other hour, unless she's in a 72 hour solid meltdown stage). I think it's interesting that you feel we shouldn't worry too much about her learning from consequences- I completely agree as she never seems to be able to connect her behaviour against it, but where we are heading towards so far near-missed police assault/ online bullying/ harassment charges against her (levied by peers), it feels really really worrying that she isn't learning, and we aren't going to be able to save her from the legal implications in the very near future due to her age.
Definetely yes to this: "I have fully vented my feelings and now I feel much better so why is everyone else unhappy?" That is exactly what it's like, and I agree is an empathy/ boundary issue. Easier for us as parents to cope with though, than her siblings who find it very difficult to be the happy people she needs them to be half an hour after scaring them.
The latest CAMHS worker mentioned the social/ emotional maturity operating around 3-4 years younger in DSD2, so it's heartening to hear a possible gradual progress in time.
DSD2 already has control of her revising and working- we have no choice in this, as although she will go to her room if she's asked to revise, she will lie on her bed if she doesn't want to do it- you can't physically make her read and write etc.
With the revised timetable, we have told her the work will be emailed home for her to complete, and that she needs to decide for herself how she'd like to fit it into her day. We explained she has to stay at home during what would have been her normal school hours in the morning. If she decides she doesn't want to do her work in the mornings before afternoon school and would rather read/ watch TV, then that's her choice but she'll need to do the work in the evenings after school instead- up to her, and we won't be pestering her to do it unless she does nothing whatsoever.
She was quite happy with this plan, and it worked well on day 1 (Thursday) with her fully engrossed in revising in her room all morning/ heading off to school that afternoon quite cheery, but on day 2 (Friday) she decided she'd rather go out for the morning rather than stay home as required, and made plans to go out for after school too stating she'd do extra work the next Monday. Was very annoyed at not being allowed to go out in the morning, so did nothing/ behaved badly at school that afternoon due to her mood from the morning's loss of control.
We'll see how it goes next week though, as perhaps she was just testing the boundaries and will now know for certain that she's unable to leave the house during school mornings.
"later that evening tried discussing with DSD2 re the reduced timetable being put in place due to her own poor choices and behaviour-
I understand what you are trying to achieve but these are probably not connections that she is capable of making- vulnerable and she would feel attacked and accused and either melt down or start lying to make it OK in her own head."
-Yep, completely agree that it was a pointless conversation/ point to make as she did react in exactly that way for those reasons, and just made her deny her responsibility all the more which is frustrating for us to hear, and made her compound her altered reality more in her own head.
I regret trying to get her to comprehend the situation to my adult level- it's not normally how we deal with getting her to understand things, but it feels so much like we're allowing her to believe her own lies/ we're not parenting her correctly by condoning her behaviour/ we're running out of time to get her to cope with education facilities before she moves to the much less-empathetic and forgiving college in September. But she's not ready or capable of making the connection, so there's no point and you're right that it just leads to frustration and resentment on both sides.
"Telling her what she should have done is probably one of the points where she loses touch with the truth. She starts trying to make what she did the same as what she should have done, and that need trumps everything else and off she goes to la-la land. If you want maximum truth (though total truth may be outside her reach) then go for uncritical listening "I see" and "mmm" and "what happened next?"
Yes, exactly right again- this is precisely what she does with altering the truth to fit. And we daily use the uncritical listening responses you've listed, before then contacting the school/ her mum/ whichever other relative she's upset to find out the truth out of her earshot/ placate the injured party/ come up with a solution to the abuse or damage she's caused.
I think this week we've broken out of some of our normal techniques in sheer frustration at the escalating problems we're dealing with, but it's best we go back to our normal methods that give the least-worst results as you say.
Feeling really low and so so tired of dealing with it at the mo- today has been a whole other story of verbal abuse and more fractured family relationships due to DSD2's continued poor choices & behaviour, and the fall-out of today will be waiting for me as soon as I wake up in the morning, which is just such a depressing feeling of no light at the end of this tunnel.
I'm sure we'll get a lull in her damaging behaviour soon like we often do, so we'll perk back up again to carry on, but I continue to be so worried about her future. Thank you for listening- I really appreciate the support.
It's hard to explain to others, as indeed on a daily basis you wonder if you are still in control, or whether your child is just walking all over you.
The Ross Greene book might strengthen your confidence because he has good explanations for why conventional discipline can fail and why different approaches can work better for some children. Some of what you are doing sounds pretty similar to his approach. He also has a website Lives in the Balance. The MumsNet special needs groups can also be a very good source of support - there are some parents of children without diagnoses there.
CAMHS would assess DSD2 and come up with whichever possible diagnosis they felt fitted best.
That's more or less how CAMHS handled my DS - he had a multidisciplinary assessment from a developmental paediatritian, clinical psychologist and SALT. They triaged other things, then homed in on the ASC but with DS it had all come out of a blue sky when he started school so they were starting from scratch. The psychologist did say "he might not tick all the boxes for Asperger's but let's call it that, I like to be creative" (!!!) Your CAMHS worker is kind of right that it's partly a matter of going for the diagnosis that brings the right support - e.g. the Asperger's diagnosis got DS referred for the social skills help that he urgently needed, which he might not have got with a different or no "label".
Just seems such an odd method of dealing with it, as we must surely be taking up more time and resources on the NHS by them not looking at the overall picture/ getting the diagnosis/ getting the required treatment and/ or lifestyle adaptions.
Maybe it's like one of these weird long-term physical things like ME that no-one quite understands or knows what to do with. There isn't hard and fast objective test for any of these psychological conditions, it's all professional judgment etc.
Is there one senior person "in charge" of DSD's case who you could ask for an overall review? We had a paediatritian and a clinical psychologist who we could poke for that kind of thing. Though for us it was more asking for therapies (another round of social skills sessions or a behaviour group, etc)
"You didn't ask me to wash myself in the bath, only run one" (this is also an example of her black & white thinking that was picked up on the Autism assessment).
My DS also has that infuriating combo of literal-mindedness and self-servingness. Much more literal-minded about things he doesn't want to do!
So, the only correct language to use is "Don't forget you're doing xyz tomorrow night, so if you get a chance later today you might want to fit a bath and hair wash in, as you won't have time tomorrow".
Very much the way I talk to DS, I haven't given him a direct instruction in years. I also have "we need to do X, shall we do it now or in 10 minutes?" which still works (he always says "in 10 minutes") though he's 19 and mostly living away at university.
it feels really really worrying that she isn't learning, and we aren't going to be able to save her from the legal implications in the very near future due to her age.
I really do sympathise. It's funny - although your DSD doesn't have a diagnosis, she still seems less able than my own DS, who was diagnosed with an ASC at age 6. At 8 years old (and despite being a very academic articulate child!) his only strategies for dealing with social problems were scream, scream louder, kick, kick harder. He kept his safe bubble by blaming other people - the one time when his literal-mindedness gave way to fantasy! - and then he couldn't go back, just dig himself in deeper and deeper. But even by 16 my DS was a lot calmer, more flexible and much better able to navigate social situations safely without blowing up. His development was more in line with the demands on him. But your DSD may still have a hard long haul ahead.
So try to find time to look after yourself too. You are a great mum seeing the good in DSD despite all. Happy Mother's Day.
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