Tuesday, September 16, 2014


I was going to write on this subject, but a Twitter friend did a much better job than I (The Connor Chronicles). Intending to limit my discussion on the subject to my response, I liked it so much I'm using my response for my own blog entry :)

My son is 14, my daughter almost 12; both are on the spectrum. My son in particular has grown increasingly violent over the past year and a half. He attacks me, mainly me, because I step in to prevent my wife and daughter from injury. He also self-injures, mostly by head-butting.

As his behavior has spiraled out of control recently I have had to take him to the ER numerous times. Same situation plays out every time. Because my son was taking psych meds for his behavior, medical floors won't admit him, "it's a psych issue". Because my son's meds were prescribed by a neurologist, not a psychiatrist, psychiatric floors won't take him, suggesting that it's a medical issue. He was admitted twice for some tests but only because I got a little intense and called a couple of doctors on the carpet for their condescension. At discharge both times we were urged to contact a slew of social services for help. I was given a sheaf of papers toward that end.

We have had Children's Services involved in our lives because our house occasionally gets a bit out of control. Pretty easy to do, actually, when you are getting beaten on a regular basis and have no time or energy for cleaning. "Children's Services does not exist to take your children away but connect you with the appropriate services you need." Umm, yeah. That's why after one home visit I haven't heard from them again. And likely won't, unless someone else complains who has seen our house one time without any attention paid to context.

My emotions have been at the brink of collapse many times. I end each day wondering how the hell I can keep going on. I get desperate. How does a person like me get help to handle the desperation? Is it from counselling? Children's Services? Respite? A group home for my child? How would someone tell counselling that their emotions are stretched tighter than a rat's ass over a barrel? They are required to report anything that smacks of the possibility of child endangerment to Children's Services. At that point, Children's Services will definitely exist to take your child away, and appropriate services be damned. The service agencies listed on the manifold sheets of paper, if they are not location-specific, require intake forms, and committee meetings, and home visits, all of which require weeks, and at any time these services can be revoked if someone decides that the funds would better be spent on midnight basketball for city council members and their families. Where are the people that exist to help a family navigate through the maze? And are their services available without the clerical equivalent of rolling the rock of Sisyphus up the mountain of paperwork, only to have the rock roll back down again when you didn't dot an I or cross a T right?

The point of my diarrhea of the keyboard rant is this: it isn't always as easy as people think to get help. I need help for my son right now, not a week from now, not a month from now, not when he turns 18, RIGHT NOW. But the only way to get it would be to sign away parental rights to the county. Yeah, not gonna happen. I have to watch what I say with my counsellor. A statement as benign as "I get angry when my son kicks me in the knees" could be misinterpreted a hundred ways. Certain therapies aren't covered by Medicaid, and without insurance coverage, they can be godawful expensive. I have not been able to work for several years because the needs of my children require my presence at home; my wife could not handle things by herself.

The answer is never to harm your child. But what is the answer apart from that? Is the answer in pithy 140-character hashtag Twitter wars? What is the best way to get #JusticeForIssy? Is it to lock Kelli Stapleton behind bars making license plates for the rest of her life, until the next incident actually occurs and the focus goes away from #JusticeForIssy to the next hashtag du jour?  Could the answer be preventing the next incident of someone harming their special needs child, by more readily-available services or intervention?

Tell me, what is the answer?


Blogger Unknown said...

Could the answer be BOTH that Kelli needs to serve a sentence that sends a message that Issy isn't "less than", AND that we need to find ways to provide meaningful useful support to caregivers too? The online wars have been very polarized towards one of these or the others...

7:51 PM  
Blogger The Man said...

I've seen the polarization, that's why I left it kind of open-ended, because there is merit in both sides of the discussion. For the record I agree with you.

7:59 PM  

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