To start off, I’d like to say that I am very sorry to hear that you are going through this right now with your grandson. The additional details you provided speak to the fact that you are dealing with some serious issues and challenges. I hope this answer is genuinely helpful to you in terms of providing information and resources.
I need to start by letting you know that at justanswer.com we are not permitted to provide any kind of assessment or diagnosis. Besides, it’s really impossible to provide any serious case-specific clinical or counseling advice on this kind of online question and answer service.
What I can do is provide you an answer based on my work as both a program psychotherapist for kids with serious emotional and behavioral problems in residential treatment programs and treatment foster care. I’ve also worked as a school board wide behavior consultant.
The first thing that came to mind as I read your postings was home-based behavioral treatment and parenting support. For example there are 2 evidence-based programs for youth that have been shown to get excellent results in improving behavior in the home and community, and to improve academic performance at school.
These programs, which have also proven incredibly effective in the treatment of youth substance abuse problems, also get lasting results in keeping with follow up studies where the youth is checked up on years after the intervention.
These programs are heavily government funded and are very often provided free of charge to families who participate. They usually start to get positive results in a short period of time and last on average 3-9 months.
The programs I’m referring to are called Multisystemic Therapy or “MST” for short and Functional Family Therapy of “FFT” for short.
This is what I mean by MST: http://mstservices.com/
This is what I mean by FFT: http://www.fftinc.com/
Here are some excellent links that explain each of the programs in good clear language. Each of these websites also has a program location page:
Both of these programs are well respected by the youth criminal justice system because they are proven to drastically and lastingly reduce re-offense rates and substance abuse behavior. It may be very helpful to you to contact these programs directly, either through the websites or in your area specifically. If you don’t have an MST or FFT program in your area asking program managers or program psychotherapists about good “evidence-based” treatment/support resources in your area, may also be very helpful, time and cost saving to you.
As it turns out, any advice I would give to a family or client in my private practice about the kind of situation you have described, would necessarily involve the same basic assessment, treatment and behavioral parent training practices that are applied in these programs.
For example, it may be very helpful to set up a regular/daily home school communication process in order to get real time feedback on attendance and social and academic performance.
At home these programs would likely set up a positive discipline and behavior change program. One example of positive discipline is to start with a “clean slate” as far as access to privileges go. That means the youth starts with no privileges because of recent behavior problems, but quickly begins to earn them back by following through on specific behavior change goals.
These programs are also considered “evidence-based” ( http://mstservices.com/index.php/what-is-mst/evidenced-treatment ) because they tailor their interventions based on the youth’s actual behavior rather than on abstract or secondary clinical assessments, that are often based on opinion rather than on the facts of the youth’s behavior and its sources.
Also, every effort is taken to reduce unsupervised time with an anti-social peer group (kids who also have these kinds of problems and need specialized treatment/support themselves) – at home, in the school and in the community. In fact, behavior change is targeted in all 3 of those environments at the same time, for the best results.
I would strongly suggest talking to your grandson’s probation officer about these programs as well. Being in this kind of program (MST or FFT) can really help with minimizing harmful legal consequences, like incarceration or group treatment settings with other behaviorally troubled youth.
In cases like the one you’ve described, it’s so important to try and get professional help. I wish I could give you specific advice or a step by step plan to follow, but that could actually make things worse because I am not there to monitor behavior or assess intervention needs. Sometimes things you would never think of might be contributing to a behavior problem like dietary issues, environmental sensitivities or other medical aspects of a case.
There may also be more complex mental health needs in a given case that would not be apparent to the untrained observer. Here is a great online resource to help caregivers to identify signs and symptoms of mental illness. I’m not saying this is the case, but it is something that should be explored with mental health professional should you see any of these: