She receives excellent care and always has.  Yet, her parents have slowly slipped into the pit of alcoholism.  After She is in bed, they drink themselves to sleep.  Because of the late night calls I’d received a couple of times, I felt that abuse of alcohol was becoming an issue; but I could not imagine that this family had fallen into that deadly trap.

Finally, the other children called asking my advice regarding She‘s placement in a group home.  Father was in the hospital and the medical professionals were recommending that Dad be placed in a nursing home.  Mother, who is experiencing symptoms of dementia, was asking for help.

I worked for several days feverously trying to find a home.  After one was found, I heard nothing.  Weeks passed.  The father was released from the hospital and came back home, rather than a nursing home.  Mother’s symptoms seemed to stabilize.

During my conversations with the other children, I’d learned that my suspicions of alcohol abuse were true.  Didn’t this throw me into a new dilemma?  Both parents are home now.  When does the parentss abuse become abuse for a child with a disability?  From the outside looking in, these are model parents.  Yet, alcohol is robbing them of their dignity and their good sense.

Today, I was told that the family has decided to take the placement for the daughter and She will move this weekend.  I’m relieved for them and for She.  However, I realize that now I won’t have to decide when or if I should make a call to the abuse hot line.  However, I am questioning.  Are my concerns ever appropriate?  How do we determine when the parent’s abuse of alcohol or drugs is spilling into abuse of a child who is developmentally disabled?  What about a parent who becomes too sickly or frail to take care of their child appropriately?  Should there be an intervention?

Have you faced a similar situation?  Do you have any answers?  If so, I’d like to hear your solutions.

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