For those of you that haven’t read my previous posts I’ll give you a brief recap of why I’m here writing. I’m the father of a nearly 12 year old girl named Julia who is suffering from autism. Some fellow parents and friends of people affected by autism dislike that word suffering. But in my daughter’s case it is accurate. She is aware that she’s different. She can’t say more than a few words and you can see in her eyes the silent screaming thoughts that she’s trying to convey to you with a stare. Her communication aids have alleviated some of the frustrations but now she becomes frustrated with what she is denied when she makes the effort to request / demand it.
Julia has weird quirks and habits that make her stand out in public. In years past when some other child would tease her she would get teary eyed and move away from them, but recently her response has been more aggressive. Starting roughly 2 and a half years ago Julia started going through puberty. She suffered from body aches and pains that couldn’t be explained to her. She’d lash out at the teachers, therapists, and family members that couldn’t make her feel better. She’d disrobe because clothes were uncomfortable and might be the cause of her pain. Her suffering and violence became more intense one week of every month and after 11 months of this she had her first cycle. Armed with the fact that her worst behavior was during PMS and that she truly was going through puberty doctors finally agreed to suppress her hormones. It took 2 months but afterwards she was virtually back to her pre-puberty self… unfortunately she had learned some bad habits and realized that she could yell and intimidate people to get what she wanted if initially denied. For roughly a year her aggression was at a minimum but we saw a steady increase in her obsessive compulsions… She rearranged furniture, objects, people’s cloths and hair, people… interfering with this led to yelling and sometimes a pinch or hit.
Over the past couple of months her behavior has deteriorated, aggression increased, and she’s showing signs of puberty and pain again. Mother Nature can only be put off so long. Her special public autism school requested to move her to a private facility that is more hands on, I opted to take some time to think about it, and the following day her current school suspended her for behavior. Of course most suspensions are technically to punish the students, but parents are truly the ones that feel the punishment and by design are forced to consider what they can do about their child. I saw the writing on the wall. I knew that if I refused her transfer Julia would continue to be suspended until I gave in. So I chose another path.
For many months Julia’s developmental pediatrician has said that he has done all he can and recommended that she be placed in a pediatric and adolescent mental hospital that has the ability to safely house her while other medications are explored. Two weeks ago I started the process to make this happen and during this time she had one good week and then the next she got suspended again and spent 3 days at home. Every time I doubted my decision that aggression switch would flip and she would attack me or attempt to assault someone in public.
My doubts slowly shriveled and come this Monday when I drove her to the facility I was no longer questioning the decision. During the intake process she attacked me again and was only calmed by a visit to one of their play areas. Later as I sat with Julia in her room, in her home for the next few months, she was happy until I started to unpack her suitcase. When she saw her favorite blanket emerge and placed on her bed she starting crying out “home” and “dada” over and over … I walked out of her ward while Julia was held back by two people and with her crying out those words again and again. Driving away was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Hopefully they will find some medication that will help my little princess.