I learned a lot of this stuff the hard way. There’s no reason you should. Here’s who and what has helped us:
Dr. Anthony D’Agostino of Amita Behavioral Health in Hoffman Estates, Illinois. When no one would work with us – and that other nasty, never to me named child psychiatrist told us to put Tim in foster care – Dr. D was our savior. He listened. He collaborated. He told me to go ask my network of moms for their input and come tell him what they said. He helped us get Tim into residential treatment when Tim really needed it. He answered pages in less than 10 minutes at all hours of the day.
If there’s a way to nominate a doctor for sainthood, Dr. D would be our hands-down nomination.
The Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health. They exist solely to help parents like us. Call them.
Wrightslaw.com. Bookmark it NOW. Literally everything you need to know about IEPs and 504 plans. They even do trainings for parents.
The Illinois Individual Care Grant. I’m not gonna lie, getting one is almost as hard as splitting the atom, and if you get one and the state has no budget you probably will have to threaten people to get services, but if the stars align, it can save marriages, families, and lives. We lucked out. Took three tries and a lot of letters and sitting in offices, but Tim had an ICG from age 15-20.
The Balanced Mind Parent Network: Back in the day, they were the Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation, but the virtual support groups they provided kept me sane, and helped me get Tim the right treatment and the ICG grant. No one knows better how to raise a child with a severe mental illness than another parent with a child struggling with the same.