I opened a can of worms with my last post, and if our family is going to be a vehicle for change, I feel like I have to share the rest of our story.
Yesterday Matthew attended a great camp program for children with special needs. This program keeps him busy, which he loves, and allows me and the other boys some time to do errands and connect with each other. While the boys and I were out, I received a phone call that 4 Winds had a bed available for matthew, but it was on a unit with 13-18 year olds. You know that life is bad when you have the option of getting help for your child, but in a place that may be more unsafe for him than home. Because of Matthew's disabilities he is 11 but acts like he is 5. One would never put a 5 year old on a unit with 13-18 year olds. Was I right to turn down that bed? Was I over thinking it? What would he learn from 18 year olds in a psychiatric hospital? Would he get hurt?
I was unaware that Matthew had been reporting to the staff that he had been stealing a lot, and when I had tried to talk to the staff in the morning about it to get some help, they had been busy, so I figured I would just talk to them at pick up time.
When I came to pick Matthew up, the director came to see me and filled me in that she and Matthew had made a plan to help him have good behavior at home that night at our New Years Eve Party and to help with his stealing. She reported to me that they had gone sledding for the day and had gone to the dollar store to pick up a toy for the program and Matthew and she were telling me all about what they bought and sledding when I saw the telling bulge in his pants pocket. As I asked him what was in his pocket he quickly got upset. He threw himself to the ground and denied anything was in his pocket.
I reached in his pocket and it was filled with candy from the dollar store. Matthew started to rage- throwing shoes at me, kicking, screaming, cursing, out of control. The director and I tried to calm him, but he was uncalmable. he knew at this point that the New Years Eve Party would not be an option for him, and he was not able to move forward.
The director and I left the office thinking that we could give him some space, and he raged after us, throwing things, yelling, screaming, scaring the other kids. The other staff and I took the other kids and D and J to another room while Matthew raged with the director. After 10 minutes the director called, she could not get him to calm down and he was a danger to himself and to her, she was recommending calling the police and the mobile crisis team, I told her to do whatever was needed.
All of this time David and Jacob, other kids and I were coloring, but we were able to hear what was going on, for Jacob, David and I this was torture. Jacob saw the police come into the building on the tv screen and his panic increased. My heart sunk to my stomach. I was being asked to stay out of the room where matthew was for fear that he would get more angry at me. I was torn between being with David and Jacob and offering them whatever comfort I could and being with my Matthew- my poor Matthew who is so lost in his own head that he had no control. He spit at the police, he threatened the police. He lunged at the police, the police took him down to the ground. I will be forever grateful that I didn't have to watch my baby be taken down by the police.
After about 30 minutes my father came to get my other boys and I was told I could come back upstairs where Matthew was. He was calm and the police were ready to call off the mobile crisis team. The director did not want mobile crisis called off for fear that Matthew would get upset again, and I agreed they should still come. I went upstairs and found a manic matthew. Chatting with the police about what was for dinner. Asking about their uniforms. Unaware of the drama his behavior had on so many around him. The staff from mobile crisis came and talked to the police and then talked to the director and me and then talked to Matthew.
The mobile crisis team was determined to help.....
Was there a bed at 4 winds? I told them no, just the one on the teen floor, which they and the director immediately thought was a bad idea.
Had I called his psychiatrist? I had, she saw no reason for a med change on New Years Eve.
They called Healy house, a short term respite program. Was there a bed? NO.
There is a hospital 2 hours from home, there may be a bed, but now he was calm. Did that make sense? no one really thought so.
He could go to the Emergency room. They would give us a place to stay for the night. He could sleep there and I could sleep in a chair next to him. Did that make sense? NO
The mobile crisis team acknowledged that we needed help, but in the end realized there is no help. I thought maybe they could at least call the hospital and get us higher on the waiting list, but they can't do that. They recommended counseling but agree that for kids with Fetal Alcohol counseling is not really the most helpful thing. You see, Matthew knows what he did was wrong, he told us all about it, in a flat, detached manner. As if he had watched it on tv. But in the moment, right and wrong don't matter. He can't control himself. He is like a different person. Totally detached.
I am going to look for a counselor for Jacob, David and I, the boys need someone to talk to so that they feel safe. Hopefully that person can help on some level with Matthew. I am going to keep my fingers crossed that the 3 week wait that I was told was likely at 4 Winds ends up being wrong. I am going to tighten our support group so that if we need help, I can call multiple people and someone can come get David and jacob quickly.
I am going to do my best to keep the house calm, that should help Matthew. I am going to hope that my families story is a vehicle for change.
You should never be in a place where you feel your son needs help and there is no help available. There should never be too many kids who need help and not enough beds. We need more options.
They say that if you put all of your problems and everyone else's problems in a pile we would all take our own problems back. Last night, I wasn't so sure. Today I am more determined to be a voice for those with mental illness. I will tell our story, we will make change. Please help me get our story told to those who can make a difference for all of the Matthew's of the world.
- I am a single mom of three amazing boys! All three of my sons entered my family through adoption. All three of my boys have developmental disabilities. My oldest son, Matthew has been diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Bipolar Disorder. David, my middle son, has a genetic condition, he has a duplication on his 15th chromosome which leads to autism like symptoms, seizures and learning challenges. My youngest son, Jacob has learning disabilities. Each of my children bring unique challengs to our family and also bring their own personality and joys to our everyday life!