Saturday, July 08, 2017

Dealing with Special Needs

I've mentioned my step-daughter, Char, before. She has a mental disability due to a grand mal seizure when she was an infant. Learning is hard for her. Her memory is impaired and she seems as if she is 12-14 years old. However, she did marry once - to an older man who emotionally and mentally abused her. As if she can change, the way she is. He really did a number on her self-esteem and while he was too lazy to work, she had to. Obviously, if learning is an issue for her, jobs had to be easy minimum wage jobs. She started out cleaning at a Gym. Then she worked as a daycare helper. She finally was fired for forgetting where the children were. She has a limited attention span. 

It has always bothered me, that her family has basically lied to her. Telling her, "You can do anything." when in reality, she is unable. I understand the positive encouragement but for those who are intellectually impaired,  it gives them a false sense of assurance and sets them up for more failure. Char, cannot do everything. Yes, she can do some things and those are what we encourage in her. I believe in telling her the truth. No sugar coating it. 

I have been her social security payee - since she has been here in California. While in Washington, she was not on any assistance for her disability. I helped to plug her in, here in California and she has blossomed. She now is not under any delusions that she can be a teacher or a veterinarian. Last month, I turned over the payee reins to a 3rd party agency through our county. The Social Security is deposited in a joint account where they are the administrators. They dole out the funds to her. Meanwhile, they turned us on to another agency, that comes twice a week, after she gets off work, to help her with learning the computer, filing her records, getting organized and other life skills. Once a week, there is another agency that drops off a free meal for her to cook - the box includes the recipe, the ingredients and she does the cooking. She is learning to follow a simple recipe. 

At age 36, people assume she is like them. Recently she went to the dentist and they told her she had the beginnings of gum disease. She scares easily and can be intimidated. Instead of doing what she was told (she forgot) she got all flustered and paid for the service, using a credit card. Over $2000. Her caseworker called me and also told me, she used a credit card to pay for over $700 worth of car repair. No one was mad at her. Just concerned, and so much so, that the agency contacted the dental clinic (for more information)  It was good to know that others have her back as well. 

She has a job that is well under what she can legally make without losing necessary services. She works at a Thrift Store that employs the disabled. She loves her job. But now, she is in debt. She also has an apartment. She is trying...

I don't know if I should trust her with a credit card - she is supposed to run these BIG money decisions by the 3rd party money people or me. Like her caseworker told me, "she wants so much to be independent and make her own decisions."   Unfortunately, that won't ever happen as her memory continues to decline. That is why I turned everything over to an agency because I'm getting older and it was hard to get her to understand. It was frustrating to me. Plus, we're not always going to be around. 

It's hard dealing with someone who is as mentally impaired as she is. I don't want to get mad at her - but I do show frustration and she sees that in me. 

Bless her heart. She is a dear. Sweet as can be, but gullible, too trusting and believes everyone is her "best" friend. 

It's hard. 


  1. It's great you have a third party resource. Georgia which is one the United States "third world" states; resources are so limited. This is why I am the caregiver to four people. I have no choice. I could not stand what would happen if I walked away. Plus it is isolating.

    That said, you have to face doing the dirty work. I don't do it unless I have to. But you do have to tell people their limitations and options. If you are able, go to the dentist with her. It's amazing how much better she will be treated with you.

    I face the fact that I will be able to do what I do forever. But for now, life is good for them. For me, I have never seen someone have a better life running away from their responsibilities.

  2. I cannot imagine how hard this is! I am guessing she shouldn't have a credit card. It sounds like she can be easily taken advantage of. That is sad! Good for you for recognizing that she needs more help than you can give. And I like that you don't sugar coat it. I hate sugar coating to anyone. I think that is why we have so many millineals that think they can do anything!!

  3. Thank God she has you!

    Can you get a cc with a low limit for her?

  4. That does sound frustrating. I agree with you about false hopes. Good on you for helping and understanding.

  5. I wonder how she got a credit card to begin with. You were wise to turn over being the payee to a third party. I was the payee for my daughter and I do remember the amount of paperwork I had to do. when it was suggested a third party take over, I was very glad to relinquish the role. It can be challenging to be an advocate for a special needs person, especially an adult one who is also a family member.


  6. Oh my goodness, reading this made me think of my own daughters the oldest two have learning problems and yeah they can do many things but there is many things they cannot, they just can't get their head around some things, daughter number two wanted to be a hairdresser but try as she did there were many thinks she couldn't understand. I have always told my girls all you can do is your best but you need to accept that there are limitations to what you cad do, some things you may not be able to get accept that and focus on what you can understand and what you can do.


Comments are good - I admit, sometimes I don't respond back, in time for a dialog. I bad! I will TRY and do better. Thanks for understanding.

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