I apologize that I cannot answer everyone individually or respond to the messages of love, support, advice, etc. I want you all to know that I have read them all….(I think) and it means the world to me. I figured that I would try to generalize on my blog in order to answer and respond to questions comments etc. I will do my very best.. so grab a coffee.. this could take a minute.. ;)
First of all let’s start from the beginning. My son Preston is currently receiving treatment after a year of trying to get help. He was admitted into the Great Lakes Facility for Autism which is 2 1/2 hours away from me. Preston has been there for over a year. How is he doing? Well for starters, I love my child and I post pictures of him on my facebook. Those pictures depict a happy smiling boy who is thriving. There is a lot of truth to that. Preston IS thriving for a multitude of reasons, those being:
1- environmental factors~~ Meaning there is no additional stimuli like trips to the grocery store, windows that he can break, access to appliances, dishes, television, computer, etc. No pictures. No stimuli. Period. Preston lives in a room with very small windows at the very top of the ceiling that he is unable to reach. If he does find some houdini”ish” way to reach them they are special windows that are “unbreakable”.
2- Consistency~~ 24/7 consistency. Something that I am unable to provide to him for a multitude of reasons. I’m not talking general consistency and routines that a child needs like bedtime is at 8:00, do your homework, brush your teeth, etc. I am talking about minute by minute consistency and structure. Right down to how much toothpaste is used on his toothbrush, the type of toothbrush, the brand of toothbrush, the brand of toothpaste, the temperature of the water, how we brush his teeth (assisted because he is unable to implement personal hygiene tasks independently) how long we brush his teeth, etc. and that’s JUST brushing teeth. Now go through that scenario with washing hair, body, getting dressed, dinner, getting ready for school, for bed, etc. Seeing the pictue now? Overwhelming thinking about it? Try doing it.
I’m exaggerating, right? Yes. I attempted and as Kelli would put it, I epically failed. I DID not and was not capable of doing such routines. Nor is the treatment facility because…..ITS NOT HUMANLY possible!!!!! However, with breaks, and different staff, and constant hands on care, they are doing better than I could do as a single widowed parent who tried to maintain friendships, her sanity, a “social life”, school, work, and , teacher, doctor, friend, Speech therapist, occupational therapist, psychologist, and lastly mother to Preston. It was a bit overwhelming and I “failed”. As ANYONE WOULD!!!!!
SO now that we have that out of the way…. Yes, Preston is “thriving”, meaning he is happy as far as I know for the most part. (remember he is non verbal) I can only take the staff’s word on how he is doing. There are no cameras. I see the bitemarks, bruises, scratches, and scars on his body. It really sucks and it’s hard to bare. As a parent, I can say he is mostly safe and obviously, I am too. The biggest accomplishments of Preston being at the facility is that he is safe and so am I. PERIOD. He is not learning to communicate any more than what I have taught him at home. I am still the only one that understands him, it’s as if we have a secret language to outsiders. The treatment facility is not some magical place where miracles are happening with severely autistic children. In fact the therapist there that works with Preston has stressed that if the plan is not followed to a “T” it significantly affects Preston’s behaviors. So my question that I constantly ask myself is: How do we rigidly follow his behavior plan and execute it like a trained and experienced brain surgeon with precise hands and skill? Answer: We don’t know. It remains a puzzling paradox. Probably always will.
You see that is what is frustrating and overwhelming. We must learn to accept what it is. We must accept that our children will grow into adults who will eventually live in a group home without us to advocate for them. They will probably more than likely be medicated and their bodies will ultimately start shutting down… and then well… you know. (thinking one flew over the cuckoo’s nest? Me too… :-/ )Now I am not saying ALL children, but children like Preston. There are many.
Which brings me to this: yes I was on Dr.Phil show. I was there to express the best I could in 20 minutes or so how a parent could reach their breaking point, how we can lose hope. I am not a hero. The truth is, my story is not an original one, it’s not just our story, it’s a whole plethora of people’s stories. People I love and people that share these common traumas and concerns on a daily basis. I am not proud of what Kelli did. However, I am proud of her because she decided that she did not want to put her children through any more struggles and now she pleaded guilty and will take whatever punishment is given to her. I wonder, do people really think that her going to prison is going to help ANYONE? I don’t. Hasn’t she suffered enough? Haven’t we all? If you all only knew the stories I read in a group I belong to of those that struggle daily. It’s heart wrenching. I feel guilt that Preston is in a facility and I am safe as I read how my friends are not. It’s awful. I spilled my innermost shameful experience on national television in hopes that others would be brave enough to do the same. To let others know that in this society, there are so many that need help. Help that is not always available. I think of one woman who recently came out of the “closet”, so to speak. She posted pictures on her social page of her injuries. I’m proud of her, and I’m proud that I was a person that influenced her to do so. I want her family and friends to see just how severe and dangerous her life is. I hope and pray every single day and night that my friends get help. I pray for lenience in Kelli’s case.
In closing, the show was hard. the biggest question I am being asked is what did “I get” or Preston “get” from being on the show. The physical answer: A coffee mug and a hard cover book and an online book that was printed for me with an autograph. I did not get paid in any way shape or form. Not that I expected to. Obviously, the show was about Kelli and helping Issy. We were not offered therapy, or additional treatment. Am I disappointed? Of course a little, I will not lie. However, in the big picture… I am grateful for a wonderful family, God, friends, and my attorney.
Christenson & Fiederlein P.C. @ http://www.cflegal.net/ Although I will take this opportunity to say that even though I am a badass, sometimes you need assistance from the legal aspect to get your child help, this attorney is pretty damn good…and continues to help my son remain in treatment and receive services that he is entitled to… feel free to seek their services for your child. Mention my name and I am pretty sure they may give me a coffee mug to add to my collection, you’re welcome;)
I am grateful for the ongoing support that has been there for many years. Multiple fundraisers and prayers. I am EXTREMELY thankful that my son is in a facility. I mourn for him. I miss him. But we are safe for the most part. Which is the #1 reason I needed him to be in a facility. So I cannot dismiss that we have met the number one goal… “SAFETY”. We are still working on happiness and health. Aren’t we all? My story is not original. It’s OUR story. If you are in a similar situation…. suicide is not the answer. You and your child deserve to make the best go you can. It’s not easy, but life isn’t easy. YOU and only you have the capacity to change your mindset and turn a horrible and depressing life into one that you focus on the positives. Even the smallest bit. Today, I’m thankful for safety. I’m thankful for you. I’m thankful my son is here and so am I. I would not be where I am if it weren’t for the help and support from everyone that fought along with us. The letters to Dr. Phil, the complaints filed to the state, the support, the fundraisers, etc. Let’s not forget Kelli and her friends. They played a huge role in seeking services and literally saving my life and my son’s life. Forever grateful….forever indebted. I love you all so much!
Lisa and Preston of the InSain Asylum