Saturday, October 27, 2012

Boy Scouting for Pedophiles

Three Strange Tales
I still remember the first time I felt uncomfortable about an adult scout leader. At age 14 I was with a group that was spending a week working at a scout camp to get the place ready for the summer camping season. One of the adults, a single guy in his early 20s that had been involved in the organization as a youth, was promoting some activities that I thought were pretty edgy.

It all appeared to be in fun. For example, the man tried to get some of the boys to pretend like they were making out with him as a joke on other scouts. This guy generally related well with the boys and they liked him. But the way the whole episode played out felt creepy to me. I left the area rather than participate in the activity.

This guy wasn't all bad. I heard some shady rumors about him, but I never saw anything happen that would warrant legal or scouting sanction. In fact, as an older teen I occasionally worked for the guy helping with his mobile disco business. (Yeah, that dates me.) He was later excommunicated from the LDS Church for illicit activity (with a female), but he was re-baptized a few years later. I lost track of him after that.

During this same period I knew an older youth through scouting that had a serious problem with pornography. He introduced a friend of mine to porn. It turned into an addiction that he battled for years. The older youth became an adult and then left the area for a couple of years. When he returned, he finished his degree and then got a job working for the BSA as a district executive. It was rumored that he was inviting selected youth to his apartment to view porn. He changed jobs right after that.

Eventually this guy married a woman that was much older than him and had kids that were half this guy's age. They moved out of state. But I ran into the guy on a couple of subsequent occasions. One time he was at a mountain main rendezvous with a handful of 13-year-old boys that were running around in nothing but breech cloths and tennis shoes. I never heard what became of this guy after that.

When I was 17 I spent the summer working at a scout camp. One of the adults on staff was a single man in his mid-20s that related well with the boys. There were a few occasions when he discussed matters that made me feel somewhat uncomfortable, but I never saw anything 'happen.' The following summer while he was working at a different camp, I heard that he was 'kicked out' of the BSA for something that was kept very hush-hush.

A few years later this guy was married and was somehow again involved in scouting. By that time I was an adult and had been through the BSA's youth protection training, which was a fairly new program. From this perspective I noted a number of things about this man that made me uncomfortable, so I kept my eye on him. Somehow it didn't surprise me at all when he was sent to prison for rape of a teenage boy that had been left in his charge by a somewhat dysfunctional family. An acquaintance that had reason to know about the case said that prosecutors had evidence suggesting that this fellow had had well over 100 victims starting from the time he was a young teen.

I note these instances in light of the recent release of the older portion of what has become known as the Boy Scout perversion files (click link to search and view actual files). (See the BSA's site that discusses abuse in the organization.) This article is similar to hundreds of others that have been published about the release of the files. I checked these files in vain for the names of the men mentioned above, since most of the incidents I cited occurred well before 1985, the last year covered by the current file release. (Files covering recent more cases will be released in the future.) Could some of these guys be involved with the BSA today?

One might think from the stories above that I think of the Boy Scouts as an organization filled with pedophiles. The linked article quotes psychiatrist Dr. Jennifer Warren who reviewed the files with a team of graduate students as saying that the files show that the rate of abuse in the BSA was "very low" in comparison with other organizations that deal with youth.

My personal experience as a youth and as a volunteer covering decades of membership in the BSA comports with Dr. Warren's findings. For every child abuser that has wheedled his way into the leadership ranks of the BSA there have been hundreds of other upstanding men and women that have simply been volunteering their time and efforts to improve the lives of boys. The three cases I cited are notable because of their exception from the norm.

Youth Banks
Organizations that serve youth are magnets for pedophiles. The infamous bank robber Willie Sutton wrote in his memoirs after his release from prison that his policy had been to "Go where the money is...and go there often." The reason that schools and youth organizations attract pedophiles is because that's where potential abuse targets can be found in rich abundance. Thus, pedophiles go where the kids are and they go there often.

For this reason, youth centered organizations need to be extra wary and impose protections for youths just as strong as the protections banks employ to prevent theft and robbery. As a scouting leader I have learned to carefully watch the men that relate with boys on a peer-to-peer rather than an adult-to-child basis. The boys like them, but these guys are the most likely to abuse youth. They should never be allowed to be with youth without a trusted adult present.

The Cover Up
The need to protect youth the way a bank protects money is the basis for concerns voiced by some of the BSA's critics. While the rate of abuse has been low in the BSA, the files reveal a clear pattern of covering up crimes involving abuse of youth by scout leaders, as well as a pattern of inadequately protecting youth.

It's not like it was a concerted top-down effort. Rather, the pattern shows up in myriad decisions made by local scout executives, law enforcement, and political leaders that felt that it was more important to maintain the squeaky clean BSA brand rather than see justice done. This flies directly in the face of being true at all times—one of the main values promoted by the BSA.

It is possible that some officials' actions stem from a general poor understanding of child sexual abuse and the discrete manner in which our culture once handled such matters.

The BSA's youth protection policy has evolved slowly during my decades as an adult volunteer. Adult leaders have been required to take youth protection training for nearly three decades. But until recently the requirement has not been rigidly applied. "Two-deep leadership" (having two qualified adults present with youth at all activities) has been required for nearly as long. But leaders still often end up alone with youth due to the challenge of getting enough volunteers to be where and when they are needed.

Going Overboard?
The BSA only began requiring mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse two years ago. I have mixed feelings about this. Right after I was trained on the policy I attended an event where an 18-year-old young man (technically an adult) and a 14-year-old boy acted far more affectionate toward each other than is normal. To me it looked like the older boy was following the standard abuse pattern of grooming the younger boy to be his victim.

Per the reporting policy, I reported what I had seen, being careful not to infer more than I actually knew. An official later contacted me to get more information. I was aware that other adults were also interviewed. Later I was informed that law enforcement officials had been involved but had declined to pursue action. However, the young man was disbarred from the BSA and was informed that he will never be permitted to register with the BSA in the future.

Admittedly, I don't know everything that the investigation revealed. I only know that it didn't rise to the level of legal action. But it almost seems as if the BSA has gone from being careless about abuse to being overly cautious. It may be that any adult that is suspected of abuse or even potential abuse will be permanently booted out of the Boy Scouts to prevent even the appearance of evil.

It's important to protect youth members of the BSA, but is it proper to permanently brand an adult on the basis of very little evidence?

Honesty Is the Best Policy
The Boy Scouts has been under fire for its insistence on banning openly gay activists from its ranks. The revelation that for years the BSA failed to adequately protect youth from abusers in order to protect its reputation adds fuel to the organization's detractors—some of whom would have us believe that Eagle Scouts are one of the greatest threats this nation faces.

It appears to me that the cover up methods employed by the BSA for decades have ultimately led to worse damage to the organization's reputation and brand than would have been the case had instances of abuse been made public when they originally occurred. It is also arguable that keeping abuse quiet likely led to more victims being abused.

Everyone that is interested in the value of the Boy Scouts should also be interested in weeding out the bad apples in the organization. The BSA insists that, despite past failures, it is now handling youth protection seriously and appropriately. But it seems undeniable that the organization's brand has been seriously harmed by its own lack of integrity.

The first point of the Scout Law is trustworthiness. The way to earn trust is to act consistently trustworthy. The BSA has not done so when it comes to child abuse. Trust once broken is not easily regained. You can't just snap your fingers and magically gain the trust of others. It takes time and consistency.

One Bad Apple?
The question is whether the cover up of the abuse (even if it was a low rate of abuse) by the BSA means that the organization is irredeemable. As one that has loved scouting and that benefited much from the program as a youth, I have to say no. This glaring blemish does not counteract all of the good that scouting does.

The high ideals and values promoted by the Boy Scout program are still as valid as ever and are needed by society more than ever. Destruction of the program is not the solution to its flaws. Rather, living true to scouting ideals is the way forward.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Missionary Embarks

I sat in front of my computer at home working on a problem that had stymied me for two days as my eyes shifted from the clock to the phone. How in the world could the optimizer "optimize away" the pointer to the object being executed?

For non-programmers, I'll explain that all computer programs create electronic garbage, which optimizers intermittently remove to maintain efficiency. Unfortunately, in this case the optimizer was identifying the critical element currently being executed as garbage. Perhaps a joke by Microsoft's compiler programmers? If so, their brand of humor eluded me.

Actually, that's not important. My mind wasn't as focused on my work as it should have been anyway. I kept looking away from the center of my screen to the clock in the lower right corner of my computer screen and then to the phone, which maddeningly failed to ring, regardless of how often I repeated this cycle.

The last we had heard, our son was leaving the MTC that morning and planned call us from the airport before winging his way overseas. My boss had graciously allowed me to work from home until after the blessed communication before driving to the office. But we weren't really sure our son was leaving the MTC. Our last communication suggested that he didn't know if his group's visas had arrived. Maybe they would stay at the MTC another week or so.

Finally the phone rang. I glanced at the caller ID. Nope, just a distant out-of-state number—probably either a political or telemarketing call. I let it go to the answering system like I do with all such calls. As usual, no message was left. (It's worse when their insipid technology blathers some message I don't want to hear because it can't detect that it's attached to a machine rather than a human.)

More time. More difficulty focusing on work. I couldn't help but notice that the time we figured our son's flight would leave was rapidly approaching. Wouldn't he have already been at the airport for some time by now and already have had plenty of time to call us? Maybe it wasn't happening that day.

Amid this fog of thought, the phone rang again. The caller ID read "PAY PHONE." I didn't even know such devices still existed. My wife and I answered simultaneously from different rooms. Another son that was at home picked up as well. I was relieved to hear our missionary son's voice on the line along with various background noises. And, whoa, he had ... an accent. Can that even happen when learning a foreign language in Utah?

Our son was happy and excited. He had enjoyed his time at the MTC, but now it was time to go out and do the work for which he had trained for two months. Missionaries headed to several different countries would be on the same flight for many hours before splitting up at an airport on the other side of the globe.

I briefly chatted with our son in his newly learned language, since I am fluent in a variant of that language. I switched to English for the sake of the others on the line. We reported to our son on his girlfriend's efforts to apply to serve as a missionary herself. She may return home before he does. Our son gave some advice to his brother that will soon be entering the MTC.

Six and a half minutes after the phone rang, it was all over. It will likely be the last time we get to chat with him on the phone until Christmas. There will be emails and letters in the meantime. As I drove to work I felt like I should be worried, or concerned, or something. But I felt strangely at ease.

I awoke to my alarm in the wee hours the following morning. My first though upon looking at the time on my alarm clock was that the final leg of my son's flight should just have landed at its destination and that my son would likely soon be enjoying lunch in a foreign land that will be his home for the next 22 months.

At least we suppose this is what happened. I assume that we'd know by now if anything went wrong. We eagerly await our son's first email from abroad, although, we have no idea when that will happen. My mind keeps wondering what he is doing. I am suddenly aware that that the few paragraphs I sent home in weekly letters when I was a missionary many years ago really didn't provide much information about what I was doing as I went through my days.

But that is the way of life. Our children have many experiences when they are away from us in which we can only marginally share—especially as they mature and go out on their own. Though our lives are intertwined with theirs, many things are experienced in a personal way that can never be adequately communicated to others. At this point, the best tools available to me as a parent wishing to help my missionary son are prayer, email, the postal system, and monthly payments. It seems like it's so little, like it's hardly enough. But with proper faith, it will be.

Within days we will begin this process all over again as another son becomes a missionary. We have the potential of repeating this cycle three more times after that in future years. Maybe it gets easier. At least, that's what I plan to tell myself.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Grateful for Stress?

I'm not kidding when I say that life has been somewhat stressful lately. While it's a wonderful thing to send a child out as a missionary, it can also provide new challenges. We have been quick to try to respond to our missionary son's requests before he wings his way overseas. There have been many mailings.

Just before this son went into the MTC, his brother received a mission call as well. We anticipated that they would be in the MTC together for a few days. Accordingly, we made preparations for our next missionary son to serve. Three days after our son's farewell, our stake president called late in the evening to tell us that our son had been assigned to a different mission and would be entering the MTC a few weeks later. The stake president had no idea which mission the call entailed; he only knew that a new call would arrive in the mail within a day or two.

Our son had difficulty sleeping that night. My wife noted a blurb in his original call packet that said that his call could be changed at any time to suit current needs and developing conditions. The mail, which is usually delivered early in the afternoon, arrived late in the day. Our son anxiously opened his call, but with considerably less excitement than when he opened his original call. While accepting of his new call, our son wishes that he didn't have to wait any longer to enter the MTC.

My son and I each reviewed Elder Ronald A. Rasband's April 2010 talk about how mission calls are made. I certainly felt better after that, and I believe my son began to feel better about it as well. He still feels like he's in limbo.

In the meantime, we have spent a significant chunk of money getting all of the stuff our sons have needed to prepare for missionary service. This is not an inexpensive process. We have also been chunking in the monthly $400 for each of these sons. We will be forever grateful for the family members that have generously stepped up to cover some of these monthly costs.

Following President Monson's announcement of the changes in ages for missionaries, we have been chatting with a young lady friend of our first missionary. She has met with her bishop and may well serve as a missionary too.

While all of this has been going on, we have been dealing with other new challenges. Our son that grapples with a chemical imbalance has enrolled in a program to help him learn coping skills. Can you say, "Ka-Ching!"? But as a parent, you do whatever you can to help. You work, you pray, you pay, you set aside other things, and you hope it is all worth the investment.

Among all of these stresses, regular life has had to go forward as well. We've tried to help our kids with the subjects with which they are struggling in school. We do our jobs, our church callings, and handle our household and family duties. I try to do my scouting jobs. And we try to get enough sleep.

I must admit that I have always struggled with the scriptural and church leader admonitions to be grateful for all things, including our trials. By reason, I know that I will someday find great value in life's past trials. It's just hard to be grateful when you're in the middle of it all.

But even among trials there are some silver linings. After driving to early church meetings and driving boys around to collect fast offerings on Sunday, the vehicle refused to start when it was time to go to church. The electrical functions seemed to be normal, but the starter motor did nothing whatsoever. While chagrined, I was grateful that the vehicle was parked in our garage at that moment and that we had other vehicles to get us where we needed to go that day.

Yesterday we towed the dead vehicle to an auto mechanic shop. To our great surprise, they reported that the battery had gone bad, and that it was still under warranty. Thank goodness for tender mercies. I don't feel too badly about not detecting the failed battery. The mechanic wasn't able to detect it either until he hooked it up to a computer. The symptoms did not seem to denote a bad battery.

My prospective missionary that is in limbo referred to the copious notes he made of the recent LDS General Conference and suggested that coping with trials was one of the major themes. I remember some of the talks that referenced that subject because I paid fairly close attention during the conference broadcasts. But maybe it wasn't close enough. I am now trying to methodically read through the talks online, although, the time I have available for that task is quite limited at present. Sometimes it's good to sharpen the ax before trying to cut more wood.

Life is not bad right now. It's just somewhat more stressful than usual. And although we are experiencing the discomfort of juggling our finances and changing our priorities, we are also experiencing many wonderful blessings daily. These blessings are easy to see when I take an opportunity to pay attention to them.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Dealing With My Unkind Thoughts (About Other Drivers)

Let me first stipulate that I am not a perfect driver. I like to think that I'm fairly alert while driving. But occasionally I notice another car while doing a routine mirror check and I realize that I have no idea where that car came from. I certainly should have seen it during the previous mirror check, but I didn't. That kind of thing humbles me.

I also know I have some bad habits, like calmly hurling sarcastic invective at other drivers. "It's the long narrow pedal on the right, ma'am. I'm sure your car has one. Do you need instruction on how to use it? Or maybe instruction on how to use the gray matter between your ears?" "Look at how high he has that truck jacked up. You think he's trying to compensate for something?" "There's an idiotmobile. Some people are content to let others wonder whether they're idiots. Others have to broadcast it with their subwoofers." The other drivers can't hear me and have no idea that I'm addressing them.

I do have to be careful with my wisecracks, though. One day I was in the passenger seat as my son came up behind another vehicle. The back window of the Jeep ahead of us carried various pirate insignia. The rear wheel cover declared, "Pirate Gal." I remarked, "I wonder if that means she has a sunken chest." My son nearly lost control of the car.

My wife knows that I also generally consider the number on any speed limit sign to be the minimum speed limit. I'm pretty cautious about not going so fast that I'm likely to be pulled over. But if I'm at or below the speed limit, I feel like I'm going too slow.

Most drivers have pet peeves about other drivers and I am no exception. There are a series of driving habits that bug me. One of the biggest is the phenomenon known as rubbernecking. Why in the world is it necessary to slow down to look at the aftermath of an accident or even just a car that has been pulled over by law enforcement, especially when everything is already being handled by professionals? You can't help at that point.

My personal policy on rubbernecking is simply, DON'T. My driver education teacher (a retired cop) many years ago taught that the safest thing to do is to let the passengers ogle the scene while the driver studiously pays attention to the task of driving. That's what I try to do. It's not going to kill me if I keep my eyes on the road ahead of me instead of looking at the tragedy. But some (many) people seem to never have learned this simple lesson.

Last Friday afternoon we left the house in plenty of time to arrive at an engagement. But the freeway traffic seemed much heavier than is normal for a Friday afternoon. Not being a sports fan, I hadn't realized that many college football fans would be headed to the USU-BYU game. (Note to self: check with sports fans before planning to drive on the freeway in the evening.)

Before long we came to a stop in a long line of traffic. Then the traffic started moving bit by bit. Eventually I could see flashing lights on the other side of the road, across two dividers. Traffic on our side of the road flowed freely after that point. When we got up there I kept my attention on traffic. The riders in my car informed me that there was a minor rear end accident on the other side of the freeway. In other words, hundreds of cars had to slow down for nearly ten minutes simply so that some drivers could look at the minor accident on the other side of the freeway. Totally idiotic.

People tell me that Utah drivers are the worst. Oddly enough, I've heard that local drivers are the worst from people just about everywhere I have driven. I've seen those studies that purport to rank the relative badness of drivers in various areas. I think they're pretty much bunk because there are too many factors involved to arrive at an objective conclusion. And besides, the margin between the best and the worst is probably so small as to make the measurement meaningless anyway. The fact is that drivers everywhere have a pretty low opinion of other drivers around them.

As I teach my children to drive I tell them that they will not find in any manual the #1 rule of the road that they must absolutely obey in order to be safe. That #1 rule is that the idiot ALWAYS has right of way. I teach my children to ALWAYS yield to the driver doing something stupid. Upon learning this, one son opined, "That means that if I drive like an idiot ...." To which I replied, "Then you lose your driving privileges."

It's a fact that if there are vehicles driving on the road, there will be drivers doing idiotic things, like driving with a live animal on their lap. (See John Branyan's take on this in the following video clip.) Why not learn to deal with this inevitability?

Yielding to the idiot does not mean confronting the idiot. I explain to my kids that while it might be necessary to report a dangerous driver, it is not their job to enforce the traffic laws or road etiquette rules. There are crazy people out there that have no problem pulling out a firearm if they feel that you have insulted them on the roadway. It isn't worth taking that risk to satisfy your ego or sense of justice.

After all, since none of us is a perfect driver, we sometimes play the part of the idiot driver too. Hopefully this leads to humility and self correction rather than more stupidity.

Now, I don't think of myself as unkind when I insist that people sometimes drive like idiots. That's simply reality. It's good to learn to deal with reality in a healthy manner. Where I could use improvement is in the cutting remarks I privately make about other drivers. It's OK to note driving mistakes. But I doubt Jesus would take guilty pleasure in employing sarcastic wit or character assassination while doing so.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Dealing With My Child's Suicidal Thoughts

I saw one of my former Boy Scouts a few months ago at an event that involved our kids. He is an engineer and a fine family man. It's difficult to describe how good it made me feel to see him doing well.

Back when this man was one of my scouts, I knew that he took medication for bipolar disorder, a problem that was common to several members of his family. His case was somewhat mild, but he admitted that his medication helped him cope. He could get by OK if he missed his meds for a day or two. Another member of his family, however, became utterly dysfunctional if she missed a single dose.

A couple of my children have been notoriously moody. They probably come by it honestly, because I was a moody child. Just ask my Mom. (For that matter, my wife might tell you that I've been a moody adult.) The older of my moody children eventually seemed to even out, gaining some mastery of his emotions. (Or at least their public display.)

I have been long aware that the other child of which I speak has had mood swings. But I really didn't think the problem was too far out of the ordinary until the day told me that he wasn't sure that he could bear to continue living.

My son had been having a pretty good day, I thought. He had been playing with friends and seemed happy. After a lot of jumping and running around, he came in the house and lay on the couch to relax. After a while he made some kind of expression that made me think he was tired. He explained that it was more than that. He just didn't feel like living any longer. No, it had nothing to do with his friends. He said that he just sometimes felt that way.

I sat down and tried to do the calm dad thing on the outside while freaking out on the inside. I gently tried to get my son to tell me when he first noticed such a feeling and how often he felt that way. His answers gave me to understand that it was a relatively recent development.

Before long my son met with a psychologist and then a psychiatrist. (No, they're not the same thing. The former focuses on counseling, while the latter diagnoses and treats mental conditions.) The consensus was that my son had bipolar disorder that required both counseling and drug therapy.

Bipolar disorder seems to have genetic, physiological, and environmental roots, impacts, and/or effects. The drugs that help are aimed at controlling the physiological aspects of the condition, which can help mitigate the impact of social and emotional triggers. Counseling is designed to help patients develop coping mechanisms for dealing with a permanent condition.

I was initially quite opposed to drug therapy. We have too many kids doped up on drugs in an effort to force them to fit well within our increasingly sit-down-shut-up-memorize-and-regurgitate school system. (Don't be too surprised when this methodology fails to turn out the next generation of highly skilled engineers and innovators—or even capable clerks, for that matter.)

Despite my reluctance, my son began taking the prescribed medication. It took several weeks, but it clearly helped. After a while, however, he experienced stomach problems, which are a common side effect of the drug he was taking. He had to be weaned from the drug and then remain unmedicated for several weeks. Those were tough weeks. He eventually started on another drug. It has some side effects too, but it seems to work to a degree.

It's difficult to effectively regulate drug dosages for growing youngsters. They can have growth spurts seemingly overnight that can leave them undermedicated. Vigilance is required.

Even with drug treatment, my son's case presents challenges. Since a significant portion of the underlying cause appears to be structural, the condition can only be managed, not cured. Thus, my son will face challenges throughout life.

My son can actually be quite entertaining during manic episodes. During recovery following a recent surgery he had my wife and the recovery nurse in stitches. The nurse, who sees many recovering patients daily, said she'd never seen anyone talk that humorously in recovery. Unfortunately, my son can also be obnoxious during manic episodes. Sometimes he becomes chatty and just won't shut up. This causes problems at home and at school.

My wonderful wife has done the lion's share of dealing with my son's condition. It's not uncommon for our son to slide back and forth between mania and depression several times each day. To me, the depressive episodes seem worse than the manic episodes. "Feelings of sadness, anxiety, guilt, anger, isolation, or hopelessness" as well as "problems concentrating; loneliness, self-loathing, apathy or indifference; depersonalization" are common during these times.

Dealing with my son's bipolar condition is challenging for us as parents. When he is belligerent about doing his homework, for example, where does the malady end and his controllable will kick in? To complicate matters, this line of demarcation differs from episode to episode.

I recently accompanied my son on a two-mile hike with his scout troop. I went along because my son was being belligerent about hiking. He dislikes hiking, probably even more than I did when I was a kid. But I felt it was important for him to support the troop. Besides, I know from my current perspective that hiking builds character and helps youth develop resilience.

During the hike my son's bellicosity crossed the boundaries of the tolerable. I let him know in very clear terms that he had crossed that line. He took off and soon surpassed the foremost hikers. But after we rounded a bend in the trail, he was nowhere to be seen. I discovered him behind a stand of scrub oak after a few minutes of panic and searching by the four adults on the hike. By then he realized that he had done a very dangerous and foolish thing. He was surprisingly cooperative the rest of the evening.

I wondered before and during the hike whether making my so go on the hike was the right thing to do. Was I helping him develop useful skills or was I being a tyrannical parent? In hindsight, I still think my wife and I were right when we insisted that my son go on the hike. But exactly what the correct approach is in any given situation with my son is far from clear. Do we have to continually walk on eggshells? With how much do we let him get away?

Going back to the initial symptom that started us on the path to diagnosis, it is chilling to note that one-third of those diagnosed with bipolar disorder attempt (or complete) suicide. I occasionally had suicidal thoughts in my youth. But I never got to the point that I could have actually done something about it. Some people that deal with depressive disorders clearly can get to that point. Family members are left wondering what they could have done differently that might have prevented such an outcome.

Seeing my former scout as an adult that has thus far successfully dealt with his bipolar condition gives me hope for my son's future. At present it's just really hard for us as parents, as I'm sure it is for my son. It's very challenging to help him progress in positive ways while swimming in a sea of negative emotions and behaviors that impact the whole family. It will take a lot of years before we know how well we have done.