The Child Adolescent Bipolar Foundation (CABF)is a stellar resource for parents of children with bipolar disorder. During our early years following Amanda’s diagnosis, I relied heavily on the list serve parents in this organization across the country: they were the ones that told me about NAMI and Family-to-Family, about various docs, about things to watch out for that I hadn’t thought of and gave tons of support.
I continue to look to them as a resource both for my writing and for random questions that inevitably pop up. Our family is proud to be a lifetime member. On a regular basis, they hold chats. Today’s chat focused on transitional youth (18-25) and the special challenges faced by both young adult and parents. The professional at the helm: Cinda Johnson, Ed.D.
As you probably know, I am passionate about this topic and it is the subject of my soon-to-be completed (as in revised 80 billion times over and completed at One Writer’s Place) young adult novel and Amanda’s accompanying screenplay. Listening to this chat today inspired me to pass on resources that Cinda most excellently offered.
Two points really stuck out as “take aways.”
First, the evidence-based characteristic that helps young people cope with mental illness that could happen later in life is self-determination. Cinda gave this definition of self-determination: “Define and reach goals based on foundation of knowing and valuing oneself” (Field & Hoffman, 1998, 2006).
Cinda points out that starting this skill-building early is essential. It seems to me this is a tool necessary for many purposes, mental illness or no. But how to teach this?
“Model it. Help the child know their strengths and barriers.”
One example Cinda gave was gaining the confidence to interview therapists (or any authority figure), a process that takes time and skill-building. The earlier you start teaching these skills, the less you have to jam in that senior year of high school!
The second point. Why not proactively get an Advanced Directive? When children turn 18, parents are not able to help them because of various state and federal laws which strive to effect privacy, but often just result in disaster for the compromised individual. If a child turns 18, gets into a car accident and sustains a brain injury, his parents would be limited in the help they could give that child. But if an Advanced Directive were in place, that could be avoided. (The Advanced Directive is a legal document in which an individual designates another person to make health care decisions if he or she is rendered incapable of making their wishes known. http://www.medicinenet.com/advance_medical_directives/article.htm)
Just do this proactively for your child and make sure to initiate when they are thinking clearly so they understand the importance of this collaborative process.
Mostly what I liked about the chat was uncovering the mother/daughter team of Cinda and Linea Johnson behind the scenes. It’s like we have new stigmabusting friends! Healing happens when we are able to share and through sharing, help someone else along their journey.
Resources for transitional youth (18-25 years)from Dr. Cinda Johnson:
Summary of transition services for students with IEPs
PACER is the Minnesota Parent Training and Information Center, funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs.
This Web site was built to help you plan for the future.
Adolescent Health Project: http://depts.washington.edu/healthtr/
University of Washington project, transition and students with health care needs
Full Life Foundation: http://www.fulllifeahead.org/
Connecting students with life after high school
Wrights Law: http://wrightslaw.com/
http://www.wrightslaw.com/nltr/10/nl.0316.htm (latest publication on preparing kids with disabilities for life after high school)
P.A.V.E : http://www.washingtonpave.org/