Good afternoon and thanks for writing to JA.
I regret that I have a few more questions for you:
1. Has your son stolen from you in the past? Is this new behavior?
2. To your knowledge, does your son abuse drugs or alcohol?
3. Has you son changed his behavior significantly in the recent past? Has he dropped out of school or lost a job?
Thanks. If you could provide more information this would be helpful.
He has stolen things even from the store since he was 7-8. we even took him to the police station. Then about a month ago I noticed a gold charm bracelet was gone. He has moved out on his own and I wondered if he needed the money. I confronted him, but he denied it. He has just lost his job, started smoking and is hanging out at a coffee shop. He just last week, moved back home and today I noticed some more of my jewelry was missing.
To my knowledge he doesn't do drugs or alcohol
Thanks for the reply.
A couple more quick questions...
have you noticed any change in health: sleeping behavior, weight, appearance?
has he been incarcerated for theft in the past or avoided jail?
No he is quite healthy. sleeps normal hours. helps around the house. has never gone to jail
has he been treated for any mental illness that you're aware of? What was the diagnosis? What was the treatment?
He has seen a doctor for depression and ADD since he was in the third grade, about 8 years old. He is on Xanax (SP)
Well... I will say that this is quite unusual. My initial thought was that he might have a substance abuse problem.
I'm glad to hear that this is likely not the case.
Well, at least let's hope not
There is a possibility that your son has an underlying compulsion to steal or do other "sneaky things."
This could be an underlying disorder (such as OCD) or a more specific compulsion "kleptomania" to swipe stuff he doesn't really need.
Is there something that I can say to him that will get him to admit that he is stealing? He does seem to lie quite a bit too
If someone is going to lie, there's little we can do to get the truth...
I'm pretty sure it's not OCD. He is very messy. Doesn't take care of his room, car etc.
In some cases, the "tough love" approach (e.g., calling the police) will help establish boundaries and take care of the problem.
We have thought of that, but the evidence is gone. I have searched his room, his car everything, at the stuff is gone. How could we prove he took it?
Careful about that perception of OCD! (Lots of people have it...) Some of the worst OCDs I've known have also had the messiest rooms! (Most OCDs aren't "universally" OCD... more likely very specific areas of life... often that serves no functional purpose.)
The matter of your property, to be honest, is more a legal matter. You *may* need to contact the police. At least hide your valuables until you get to the bottom of this.
How can you know if it is OCD?
But the matter of your son's behavior persists and may warrant a diagnostic work up with a psychologist. It's both unprofessional and unethical to diagnose, third-party, over the internet...
I agree, thank you.
...but I *do* have questions about possible compulsive behavior, impulse-control issues, possible (but unlikely) substance abuse...
...there may be other matters that I (and you) couldn't know... but could perhaps be uncovered during a diagnostic interview (compulsive gambling? other financial obligations that you're unaware of? etc?)
In sum, I would agree with your instincts that your son is asking for help.
One approach is the police and legal processes.
Another is going to a psychologist to get to the bottom of this (which could be a requirement for his continuing to live under your roof... this is, afterall, YOUR home).
A third - is a combination of both.
Can you suggest one in Salt Lake City?
You deserve to protect yourself as well as your son. (Remember what the airline stewards say... "in the event of an emergency, put the Oxygen mask on yourself first before helping your child.")
I'm sorry that I cannot suggest a specific professional in SLC... but I would recommend you begin with your Children's Hospital. In all likelihood, they have an ADOLESCENT MEDICINE program that might recommend a good professional to work with someone of your son's age.