We had just been trapped for 45 minutes in the parent’s lounge of the Pediatric Psychiatric Ward of the hospital while our child hit, kicked, screamed and cried at us from the other side of the door. It took multiple staff members to remove our child to his room so that we could exit safely. We needed to attend the mandatory safety meeting to help us begin the process of bringing our child back home.
Holding back tears, and shaking like a leaf, we went to the meeting. We sat through discussions of what to do with sharp objects, weapons and medications at your home before your child can return home. None of this applied to us. It might one day, but for now, this was not our situation.
We had been told, “Bring up your safety issues during the meeting.” And so we did.
Our child doesn’t try to hurt us with objects and doesn’t try to hurt himself. Instead, it is his body he uses. To kick you, hit you, bite you, anything that can aid in the mission to get that coveted object. Something with a screen or more food. When my Husband is home he can protect us. I can no longer just pick my child up and put him in his room when he has a meltdown and starts acting out.
Our safety plan for my daughter and I to get into a room and lock ourselves in until he calms down. The problem is that because he is now bigger and stronger, he punches holes in the doors. It won’t be much longer until he can physically break the door down. Unlike the Children’s Psychiatric Ward, our house isn’t made of safety glass and industrial doors.
Our question for the professionals was, “What do we do to protect ourselves?” The Therapist’s reply-
“That’s out of my area of expertise.”
That’s all that she said. That is where she left our question. That is where she left us. We just wanted help.
As a parent, this leaves me in a terrifying position. How do I protect one child and myself, yet still providing boundaries and other needs for my other child?
When they released our child, one of the documents they sent home stated that they hadn’t seen any of the behavior issues that had led to him being admitted. Did I just imagine those 45 minutes being trapped in the parent’s lounge with my Husband? I must have imagined all those kicks to the door and screams. Did I imagine the staff’s instruction to not come out until they had a plan in place for our son to be safe that he would agree to? Knowing that just an hour earlier he had an earlier meltdown which also required multiple staff to remove him from my body as he desperately tried to get to my phone?
My child is not always like this. He is not always trying to hurt us. He can be loving and kind.
These are the situations and dilemmas that parents of special needs children face. This is what our lives can be like. We each have our own individual situations. We each have our own issues. But we are in need of help that is often just not available to us.