Confessions of a Special Needs Dad: I don't think I can live with my son anymore -

Confessions of a Special Needs Dad: I don’t think I can live with my son anymore

What I’m about to share with you is a deeply personal confession.  The reason I’m sharing this is because I want anyone else out there, that may be going through something similar to know they aren’t alone. 

Believe me, I know this won’t paint me in a good light but truthfully, I don’t really care anymore.  I’m too tired and overwhelmed to worry about what others think.

Rather than drag this out or beat around the bush, I’m just gonna come out with it. 


I’m finding it nearly impossible to live with Gavin anymore. 

For the record, this has nothing to do with him being Autistic.  Autism is something I can deal with.  While it’s not easy, I’ve found it to be manageable,  at least in our lives.

What I’m struggling to deal with is the other mental health issues. 

The most challenging is by far the Reactive Attachment Disorder.  That impacts every single person in our family and slowly erodes away my sanity and my health.

Gavin’s long time psychiatrist has told us that if Gavin were 18 years of age, he would be a sociopath (or someone with antisocial personality disorder).  Reactive Attachment Disorder is sorta the step before becoming a sociopath.  In Gavin’s case, the only reason he’s not officially diagnosed as a sociopath is the fact that he’s not 18.

The reality however, is that he’s every bit of a sociopath already.

In my opinion, that in and of itself doesn’t make him evil or a monster.

Does he hurt people? He absolutely does…

Does he thrive on hurting people? That’s a much more difficult question to answer.  I would like to think that he doesn’t enjoy hurting others but I don’t know that to be true.  He certainly seems to thrive on the chaos that he creates. 

His favorite thing to do is spit people or create tension and pit two people or groups against each other. If this were considered a talent, he would be considered very gifted.

The problem is the fact that he simply has no regard for how his behaviors or choices impact those around him. He simply doesn’t care.

His brain is just not wired to have a conscience or natural sense of morality.  While this is certainly not his fault, he is no less responsible for his actions than anyone else would be. 

There is no way that I can accurately convey how living with a sociopath impacts the lives of each and every person in our home. 

One of the biggest things I struggle with is the compulsive lying.  Gavin lies about everything. He lies about big things and he lies about little things.  He even lies about things that are so obvious, there’s no question he’s lying. 

How do you live with someone you can’t trust? Let’s take it a step further.  How do you live with a child you can’t trust?

This is where I find myself. 

I can’t take the lying and the head games anymore.  We have all the right doctors and therapists but there isn’t anything we can do. 

Gavin never and I mean never learns from his mistakes.  There’s never a lesson learned, despite our exhaustive efforts. There is nothing we can do to truly hold him accountable because he simply doesn’t give a shit.

We can take things away but because of Schizoaffective Disorder, he will simply live inside his imaginary world.  We could send to his room for a week and he wouldn’t care.  He would just play with his visibly challenged friends.

What’s the point anymore? Nothing we do makes a difference.  Nothing we say makes any sorta impact…

Gavin can do some really amazing things.  Unfortunately, anymore it seems like any positive is drowned out by the all the negative. 

I used to hold out hope that we would be able to work through this with him but I realize that’s not likely to happen. In fact, all of our efforts have come at a very high cost.  Elliott, Emmett and Lizze are very much affected by Gavin’s behaviors.

As for myself, I try to ensure everyone’s safety and wellbeing.  I try and keep the household as stable as possible.  Mostly I try to simply keep the peace because everyone is so stressed out it doesn’t take much to send someone into a downward spiral.

Unfortunately, we have reached a point where we are absolutely out of options.  We simply have two choices.  One, we can hunker down and try and endure until he’s 18 and we can try to get him into a group home. Two, we get him into residential treatment and hope that this gives him a chance to have a slightly brighter future. 

Neither of these options are easy and none of them are without overwhelming and possibly insurmountable obstacles.

I can’t imagine trying to live this way for another 4 years.  That’s really not even close to being realistic.

Residential treatment is our absolute best bet. Unfortunately, there is an enormous amount of red tape to cut through before funding is possible.  We’ve tried this several times over the years and have never been able to secure funding. 

Before you ask, it’s really, really expensive.  We’re talking about $800/day.  That’s just what insurance doesn’t cover.  That’s out of pocket… Funding is essential and yet in our county, nearly impossible to obtain. 

It’s really important to understand that this isn’t about love.  It’s about reaching a threshold of human limitation.  There’s only so much that a person can take.

Hope is gone and we are in survival mode. 

I’ll share more on these options in another post because this one is long enough for now and I’m ready to call it a night…

This site is managed almost exclusively from my Samsung Galaxy Note 3. Please forgive any typos as auto-correct HATES me. 😉

Update: If you like this post, check out these as well. Click —–> Here <—– for my Top Posts.

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Hi. I’m sorry to hear about your troubles. I just came across your blog for the first time. I am wondering if Gavin has tried using an iPad to communicate. I have seen amazing results when children with autism are presented with an iPad, which they can use as a communication tool at home and at school.

Jen Lee

No judgment just enourmous amounts of empathy and sympathy for what you and your family are going through. hand in there dad doing what is right for your family should never be this hard hey.

Jen Lee

that should read hang in there dad, not hand in there dad sorry

Lost and Tired

I figured that. Thank you Jen for your empathy. ☺

Lost and Tired

Thank you so very much everyone.

Pammy Pam

i’m so sorry to hear about your struggles. i pray you get some relief soon.


You’ve got 2 children and a wife who have anxiety disorders that go hand-in-hand with their autism. Then you’ve got 1 child who thrives on exacerbating the anxiety of ALL of those people, making their autism even more of a challenge for themselves and for each other. You know this to be true–Gavin will not improve. You know this to be true–Elliot, Emmett, and Lizze are all capable of improving. They need the chance to do so and you know what needs to change in order for this to happen. The heart loves to mess with our minds and complicate matters, but take your heart out of the equation and you know what the answer is. I know you’re struggling with this decision because your heart is involved for obvious reasons–you love your son. But the world is revolving around Gavin right now and all of you are suffering because of it.

Canadian Mom

as parents we often feel we’re supposed to be able to provide the best care for our kids with mental health issue. Yet if a heart transplant was needed we’d not hesitate to entrust their care to professionals. I feel that despite our best intentions and relentless guilt – in some cases making a relinquishing parental rights and making a child a ward of the state – where funding and resources are available – is truly the most unselfish choice. There have been a number of cases in the news over the last few years of beleaguered parents placing their child in the hands of social services agencies as a very last resort. I’m not condoning or condemning the choice – not my place to have a judgement at all.
We’re in Canada though – not sure what the options are in USA


And referring to some of the other posts… honestly school is for the masses and it’s about edging above the awful average. We are about to embark on the american school system with our emotional 5 year old. And at the orientation of our perfectly lovely, small and friendly school the other day, I wanted to bring my kid screaming out of the building saying “I’ll never make you do this”. but we have to, because of the social aspects and because we don’t have the money to be home and effectively home school and compensate for the lack of social skills. BUT, we won’t be putting a heavy reliance on the school system. We know in our hearts he will not thrive in it and we will have many teachers’ meetings and struggles to complete assignments. And I don’t actually care. School IS overrated. It’s for conformists and the masses for sure. Any child that is having struggles is going to struggle harder in school. Maybe Gavin’s teacher looked at him the wrong way (per another post) and that is why he didn’t look for help. Maybe he just hates the teacher. I feel like Gavin never gets to call the shots and maybe it would be interesting to let him try a few times.

I always think of the George Carlin quote “Proud Parent of a child who has resisted his teachers’ attempts to break his spirit and bend him to the will of his corporate masters”. 🙂

yes I know I am talking out my ass.


I couldn’t pretend to know what you are going through. I came across your blog a couple of years ago, and I’ve lost sight of it for a while. Recently found it again. So I don’t pretend to imagine what your days are like. Very hard I would imagine. BUT it does sound to me like you have reached all kinds of limits and that everyone is suffering. I am sure money is difficult but is it possible, that as a family, you could all just go away for a week or two weeks, just somewhere quiet. Remove from the daily life that you currently have… try to breathe. Bring the video games or whatever you need.. but basically remove yourself from the routine that is so hard. and try to recover what is wonderful about everyone, Gavin especially. I don’t remember “this” Gavin when I read your blogs a few years ago. We have a very emotional child…. there is no doubt but he is more emotional when we are stressed and unable to contain our own burdens. Kids are kids. 14 is still a child. He may have issues but I also think his head must be destroyed with this therapist and that therapist. Could he go somewhere… and just BREATHE. Take a break from people trying to analyse and examine his every move. My 2 year old asked me to cut off my finger with a tree lopper yesterday. Just so he could see the blood. Kids brains just work differently. The consequences are not real and Gavin is surely struggling with much of this. Even make the short break about him, what does he want to do (all has to be safe). I don’t know… everything you are writing about him sounds resentful. I can completely understand it. I understand how hard it must be and how i am effectively talking out my ass. I just feel so awful to read the updates. It feels like you are on a downward spiral if you don’t mind me saying and I wish there was literally some light for you. Wishing you peace and strength.


Rob, I, too, reached this moment in my life with my RAD kid. Thankfully, a very helpful social worker knew just what to do (and she was the one who recommended it to begin with, but I balked for several months) and helped me get her into a treatment center. She was there almost 2 years. I’m not going to lie and say things were awesome when she came home…they were not, but they were a little bit better. She fought/never accepted treatment, and was also diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder while she was in treatment, but she did mature a little bit and that helped until she was old enough to move out of my house for good. I love her dearly, see her about once a week when she comes over to hang out with the family, but I will never have her live in my home again. Hugs to you, I know it’s very hard, and I know people will judge you. Ignore them, they have no idea what it’s like!

Lost and Tired

I can so absolutely relate to this.. There is no way for us to be a healthy family with him living under the same roof. What you are doing is where I pray we are able to end up someday. Great job managing this…

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