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My manipulative nephew fakes special needs

Kscotch's picture

Soo.. summer of 2017 my husband's nephew moved into our home. His mother is an on again off again druggie and after her last split with most recent boyfriend she lost her home and started going couch to couch (not our couch because we are the "stuck up" ones that don't condone that lifestyle)  nephews father has been incarcerated his whole life. After struggling through the summer months with behavior issues we finally put him in school and after raising one daughter who was salutatorian of her graduating class I figured I would have his grades whipped into shape in no time. In the past he had usually failed classes and also had to do community service for truancy. Most of this I blamed on his home life. After a few months of school I got a note home to come to an IEP meeting. Come to find out the boy was considered "special ed" and had been taking medicine for add. I knew none of this and would have never thought that about him. After his first semester I felt that he was probably not slow or suffering from any disorder because he was passing regular classes and never acted like he had attention problems. He finished last year with a 3.2 GPA which is a B average and I was happy with that. He did have some behavior issues at school, several calls home about drawing penis on paper and rolling eyes. Of course he was punished. 

The problem I am having is this: Even though nephew is passionate classes and his behavior has improved he still gives off a very sneaky vibe. In the beginning he was stealing money out of my purse, change jar etc.. smoking pot, lying and sneaking around to talk to kids we had told him to stay away from. Instead of being slow or suffering from a disorder I feel he is just sneaky and manipulative. For years he flunked grades and acted out in school, throwing horrible tantrums and making bizarre threats and I feel like it was all an act. He was lazy and didn't want to perform in school so he allowed himself to be labeled. As soon as we lay down the law, all of a sudden he can miraculously learn like all the other kids? I am very suspicious of him. 

Any thoughts?

Rags's picture

Call the cops on him when he is stoned.  He also needs to be officially pegged as the fraud that he is.  He is consuming services that legitimately special needs kids should be getting.

Rub his nose in his toxic crap.

elkclan's picture

Hey mate - I usually like your straight talking approach - but this is a kid who has been raised in chaos. Some school probably got sick of dealing with his awful behaviour and got him an IED. He probably did have attention issues - I don't know this kid (and neither do you) but he may or may not have real organic ADD - but he almost certainly had problems organising his life and schoolwork because there was nothing at home that helped him learn how to be organised. The kid didn't make up his own evaluation, the kid didn't fraudulently create a certificate. 

It does sound like he is now on a much better track. And it sounds like he is being helped to get his life in order - thanks to OP and her DH. He may well have no intellect issues (doesn't sound like it), but he may still have ADD and medication may be helping. 

Now does he need the special education needs listing lifted? Maybe he does. In my jurisdiction, people get added to the list but they rarely get taken off which is a drain on resources. But that doesn't mean he's a fraud. It may be that he never had special needs just an awful home life - that also doesn't make him a fraud. Since he's had this IED in place since early years education, it seems incredibly unlikely that he understood the system well enough to perpetrate such a fraud. 

Gimlet's picture

You and I are usually on opposite sides of the fence, but I agree with you completely on this one.

This statement "he almost certainly had problems organising his life and schoolwork because there was nothing at home that helped him learn how to be organised" is spot on.  Unless you have experience being raised in that kind of chaos, you don't understand the output of it.  I've seen this first hand with my younger niece - the constant moving, the neglect, and the instability of an addicted home compromised her ability to learn and skewed her ideas of "normal".  It's quite possible that he does have ADD or some sort of learning disorder, and that the meds and the structure of OP's home are helping his performance.

Now, that's not an excuse for bad behavior and I think OP is right on the track she is on, and Dog knows she has more patience than I probably would.  The structure that she is providing is likely doing him a world of good, and I hope that he chooses to make the most of her help and not revert to behaviors that would (rightfully) no longer make him welcome in her home.

Rags's picture

I understand that there are virtually infinite variables that influence the unstated side of what many OPs bring to StepTalk.  There is a reason why I rarely ask or even consider what those variables may be.  I don't have the emotional capacity to delve into that much hurt.  I hope that this kid is legit.  I hope that his improvement does get him removed from the list. Particularly if he should have never been on it.  If he was legitimately on it his progress should be energetically celebrated. I meant to compliment the OP on the help they provided to this kid regarding his school work. But.. it fell through the cracks and I did not include it.

I was commentiing on the OPs perpsective regarding the situation.

In my personal life I find that many labeled kids have no significant evidence of underlying issues. I will present my nephew as an example. (SILs eldest).  He claims to have all kinds of issues.  Reading and writing being a couple of them.  When I am with him the kid can read an encyclopoedic tomb without any errors. When mommy shows up... he turns into a slobering idiot.  He does have a speech problem but his parents won't get him help because they don't want him to feel different.  smh

Dash 1

They have crappy parents who are lazy and would rather get their kids drugged and labeled rather than stepping up and actually parenting.

I don't want any kid to have to suffer from either underlying developmental issues or crappy parenting.  Either way, their behaviors need to be addressed and they need to be held accountable for their behavioral choices in an age appropriate and developmentally appropriate manner.

This kid is using drugs in the OPs home.  If it is an issue for the OP and the OP and their SO cannot effectively confront that behavior, the OP needs to call the police.

IMHO of course.

elkclan's picture

oops IEP not IED -though I can imagine his behaviour is sometimes explosive -  I don't live in the US anymore. Here it's a SEN. 

fourbrats's picture

things you need to let go of. He didn't "allow" himself to be labeled. His PARENT and the SCHOOL labeled him. He has an IEP which means he was given multiple evaluations for different learning disabilities and conditions and was found to be in need of services. I would spend some time researching both learning disabilities and ADD. My own youngest child has learning disabilities and maintains a 4.0 GPA. She also has an IQ through the roof. She still struggles and spends extra time completing assignments. 

This child was not given a chance to have a normal upbringing and is acting like a child who was raised by a homeless drug addict. He is doing what he knows and is improving as his home life has improved. Counseling, a medical evaluation for ADD and some time spent looking at his previous IEP and what was found then is in order. 

fourbrats's picture

that I suspect he was always capable but while mom was out drugging herself into oblivion, no one was working with him on his school work. Kids with learning disabilities (who are not slow BTW) often get frustrated with school work and then they fail to do the work, they become truant, they act out etc. You are working with him now and he has improved. There is someone who cares now. 

So some changes in thought for you...he may very well have some learning struggles and those need to be addressed as stated above. Also, kids with learning struggles are not slow. They usually have higher IQs than their peers and just struggle in some aspects of learning. 

Kscotch's picture

Well I have attended several IEP meetings since the first meeting and I must respectfully disagree that "most" special education kids have higher IQ than their peers. Perhaps that is true in your case, but definitely not the "norm" in my experience. I have no doubt he has a perfectly normal IQ and a perfectly normal attention span as basic parenting has seemingly " cured " him of his special needs. I do blame the school system and his mother as professionals should be able to spot a child whose lack of effort might initially look like lack of ability. The simple act of actually attending class every day and being forced to complete all assignments would not take a special needs child from failing every class every year to B average immediately. 

fourbrats's picture

with learning disabilities. There is a broad range of special needs and it sounds like his was for learning disabilities. Kids with learning disabilities do have higher IQs on average (hence the large number in highly capable classes) and are not slow nor do they have developmental disabilities. They also improve their grades with regular class attendance and someone actually caring about their schoolwork. So please educate me on special education and kids with learning disabilities. Not only do I work for a school system I have also raised a special needs student for all of her 15 years. 

You lack experience and the knowledge to know the differences in special education. Special education does not mean slow at all. Also, kids with a bad home life are often diagnosed as ADHD and with attention problems because they lack both attention at home and stability (housing,meals etc). He also could have outgrown many of his ADHD tendencies after puberty. 

Kscotch's picture

Maybe I'm wrong but I am assuming here that if a child can maintain a B average in regular classes with his peers with minimal personal effort that they do not require special services or medication for school. I always pushed my own child to perform to her full ability in school and I expect nephew to perform to his. Far from needing special services I believe if he would crack a book Every once in a while and put a little effort into his work he could make straight A's. With that being said I find it odd that he has failed year after year but still been promoted to the next grade year after year because he has been "special" ed.. Sorry!! All of a sudden he can pick up right where his peers are and successfully pass all classes??? After NEVENEVER testing to grade level on ANY standardized test??? Ever? Seems ludicrous 

fourbrats's picture

my own child was in SPED pull out for five years for her learning disabilities. She made little progress. We change schools and got her into a different program and ended all SPED services. Within a year she was at or above grade level in every subject except spelling. She will never be at grade level in spelling but that is what spell check and adaptive spelling programs are for. We found a school that met her needs and yes, she miraculously improved her understanding and grades. Well, not miraculously. It took work but SPED did not meet her needs and we had been working within SPED to no avail. 

My entire point was not to dismiss your nephew as faking it. Even if he doesn't have special needs, someone at some point told him he did and he didn't know differently. That is not a manipulation or being sneaky on his part. 

Winterglow's picture

Don't dismiss the meds so quickly. They may be the reason that he is now doing so well. This could be the first time that he's taking them regularly...

Kscotch's picture

I didn't make myself clear..  Since I had no idea he supposedly had any disability and there was never any medication mentioned at all, not even during his first IEP meeting, he has not been on any ADD medicine and although I mentioned it around Christmas break last year when he had to see a  new pediatrician for a stomach bug. Same pediatrician my daughter used that I trust and she told me in her opinion too many kids were diagnosed ADD and he seemed to be doing fine without any medication and the side effects of the medication that she told me seemed a little drastic to give him that when he didn't seem to need it. So.. I have a now 15 y/o boy who has lived his entire life misbehaving and underachieving and now all of a sudden he makes this miraculous recovery and is totally normal. I feel like he's been playing these people and the only reason for the change is that he is constantly supervised and living the good life on the condition he makes good grade. Seems to me he can do anything he wants to do.

tog redux's picture

It's probably a combination deal - having an unsafe and unstable home life can contribute to school failure, acting out, etc.  AND, being held accountable in your home also helps, as well as the stability that your home offers him.  I wouldn't say he was just manipulating and faking.  Look at all the people on here who have skids that do horribly in school because BM can't be bothered to be a parent, and allows them to be late, absent, miss homework etc, with no consequences. My SS is far more capable than he appears to be, but BM has allowed him to be a slacker.

He may not have ADHD - a lot of traumatized, depressed and anxious kids get labeled as ADHD, especially if they are oppositional in presentation.