Admitting a Child to Inpatient Psychiatric Treatment: A Parent's Perspective
Four years ago, I admitted my then-six-year-old son to an inpatient psychiatric hospital. Much has changed in four years, but reading my thoughts from the time brings it all back. It's an experience I wouldn't wish on any parent; one I hope I never have to live again.
From my personal blog, January 2008:
I have a call in to a local children's psychiatric hospital about admitting Bob on the acute-care unit in the very near future.
Things have been getting worse over the past couple of weeks. The last time I picked him up from (his father's), he was a snarling, angry, hateful little boy who kept talking about his dad going to jail and it being my fault, and he was going to hit me in the stomach for it. He started repeating the same annoying sound over and over again and when I asked him to stop, he gave me a mean laugh and said "daddy told me to do that." And so on and so forth.
The weekend was rough. He spent a good part of it in time out for one transgression or another. He frequently growled and yelled "I hate the world!" and "I hate all humans!" and "all mommies should shut up and go away!"
Yesterday, the principal called at noon. Bob was being suspended for the day. When I got there, he was pacing the office like a caged animal. He refused to come with me. It took both of us to remove him from school and get him into my car. I then had to physically hold him in his seat for 45 minutes to keep him from getting out and running off. He kicked me, tried to bite me, and slapped me (hard) across the face. I took him to my office where he snarled at me until (husband) came to take him home.
Today, he said he was ready to go back to school. We met with the principal and he apologized and said he was ready to do better. I emailed his teacher around 1:00 and found out today hasn't been much better, and the other kids in his class are becoming afraid of him. I suggested he not go to art class (he doesn't like the teacher) and got a reply back that he'd slapped another kid and was back in the office, and wouldn't likely be going to art.
I don't know what to do. Therapy hasn't helped. The courts haven't helped. Psychiatry hasn't helped, because you can't spend 10 minutes a month asking a 6-year-old how he feels and expect to get the whole picture. There's only so much I can do, because in Bob's mind, I'm the problem. And he cannot go on this way.
Which is why I made the call.
The thought of taking my baby somewhere and leaving him, even if only for an overnight or a few days . . . Jesus. It's killing me.
McClanahan, A. (2012, January 17). Admitting a Child to Inpatient Psychiatric Treatment: A Parent's Perspective, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 20 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/parentingchildwithmentalillness/2012/01/admitting-a-child-to-inpatient-psychiatric-treatment-a-parents-perspective
Author: Angela McClanahan
I lost my job last year (and truck and home) due to her "passing out" 20 plus times a day and having to place her in a wheelchair for her safety. After having her baker acted after 3 months of this, I was told it was behavioral and she never had an episode or used the wheelchair again. She then began cutting, baker acted again. Told my son she drank antifreeze, baker acted again! One night she pushed her little sister down the stairs and because she wouldn't stop crying she hit her with a hammer breaking her arm but telling me the dog knocked her down the stairs. At the hospital the little sister told the truth about what happen. Authorities were contacted and she was arrested for battery and placed on probation. She has been kicked out of 3 schools in 2 years. Last school was she brought a knife to school and claimed someone stabbed her in the stomach in the hallway, she stabbed herself in the bathroom. Now her current situation is seizures. She has had 7 in the past 3 weeks. Always at school or on the bus, never at home. Nothing medically can be found wrong with her. Baker acted twice in last 3 weeks. I am at the point that I cannot have her home with the 2 younger sisters for their safety.
She has a doctor, psychiatrist monthly, therapist 2 times a week, targeted case manager, and counselors at school who are more then willing to help her and every one say the same thing, she needs placement in a facility asap. However there isn't an opening until end of October. Any suggestions of what to do with her? I am over it and scared she will hurt the littles.
Have you tried just talking to the special education department at your school? Sometimes a simple conversation is enough to straighten out any misunderstandings and have everyone get on the same page. However, if you have real fear that the school is trying to exclude your daughters, you may need to take a more proactive path. Assuming you are in the U.S., the school has no right to ask for your girls' medical records. While I cannot offer any legal or professional advice, parent-to-parent I will tell you that if they are not already, you should immediately get them on a 504 or IEP (Individual Education Plan) for their disabilities and request accommodations for their medical issues. (You must do this in writing.) If this is a public school, they also can't really kick them out for their absences, especially if a disability has been identified. You may want to contact your local NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) for references regarding local resources. If necessary, you may also want to contact an advocate. Many times special education advocates provide free initial consultations. This might give you the information you need to protect your girls. Good luck.
I'm sorry to hear that your son is having such difficulties and how it is affecting your whole family. To answer your question, if you are asking if it is time, it probably is. And, if that seems like an overwhelming decision to rest in your hands, be assured that you will not have to make it alone. Over the years, my two daughters have been hospitalized a half-dozen times in nearly as many hospitals. While the process differs a little from place to place, basically, the decision-making is made by a team. I'll give my information to an intake worker who analyzes it for the hospital criterion for admission. If it looks like my child qualifies, the paperwork goes back to either a psychiatrist or a team (the psychiatrist, therapist and social worker might be on the team) and they then decide on admission and a treatment plan. Usually, my daughters were admitted, but one time I was referred to an intensive outpatient program where my child attended sessions daily from 8-4 Monday through Friday. From my girls' experiences, I would say that both types of programs offer good tools for both my child and our family. Finally, I would encourage you to err on the side of action. I waited too long to admit my youngest daughter and put her and our family through much more distress than was needed. For me, inpatient care seemed so drastic that I just didn't want to go there. Once I finally did, I kicked myself for not getting my daughter the help she needed earlier. Whatever you decide, Tiffany Marie, I wish you the best on your journey and hope that you find the support system your son and your family needs.
I agree with Melissa--do not beat yourself up. You have enough on your plate. In addition to Melissa's wise suggestions, I might add that you may want to contact 1-800-4-A-CHILD. This is a hotline providing help and support for victims of child abuse. In addition to the hospital, this resource can direct you to the help both you and your son need to navigate this issue. Good luck to both of you and I am glad that you've taken the first step on the road to healing.
Have you tried talking to your local NAMI organization? NAMI is the National Alliance for Mental Illness and has chapters all over the country. You can find a number for them here on HealthyPlace.com on their "Resource" page. You might also want to try calling 211. This is a referral service for Health and Human Services. They often have a list of resources in your community and hotlines that you can call immediately. I'm so sorry to hear that you are having such difficulties and hope that you find some help for your son very soon.
If he's making suicidal statements, I would call 911 or take him straight to the hospital. Otherwise, have you talked to the school about an IEP? In most places, if a child is on an IEP for an emotional/behavioral disorder, they have to take far more steps before suspending that child and need to institute many more accommodations to help. I don't know where you're located, but if you're in the U.S., definitely talk to your school about an individualized education plan (IEP). If he already has one, they may need to up the hours of support he receives. Does your child have a psychiatrist? That person may know of good referrals for day programs or residential treatment as well. Look into your local National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), they usually have better local resources. Otherwise, definitely keep your appointments for the neuropsych eval. Might as well put it on the calendar now, even if it is a long wait. I'm really hoping your school will have more options for you. I've been there. I know it's rough. Best of luck.
What I wish for my son is that he can get to a place of self-confidence. I would love for him to have a real friend and be a happy little boy. I don't want him to be afraid all the time. I hope that one day he will be able to navigate his world with success. He is my only child and I just want to see him grow up into a happy, productive adult. Right now, thinking this far ahead is depressing. I worry about who will be around to take care of him (and love him) after his father and I are gone. He will be all alone and at the mercy of a terribly stigmatizing illness. Even his doctors cannot give me hope for a successful future for him.
I'm so sorry for the painful position in which you find yourself. You are right, it is such a difficult journey when our kids suffer from mental illness. Your son is lucky to have such a concerned advocate on his side, and it sounds like you are doing all you can. As far as friends are concerned, have you tried joining the local NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) group in your area? They have meetings for families and this might be a good place to meet other families whose kids are dealing with similar issues. I believe you'd find parents who understand your situation and are more tolerant of your son's behavior. HealthyPlace.com has numbers for NAMI on the Resource Page of this site. Additionally, NAMI might offer you the support you need as you journey with your son--it is much easier when we have an ear or two to listen. My son was placed into a non-public school when he was in middle school. It changed everything for him. The small size (8 kids to a classroom) and supportive setting allowed him to make lots of friends and really feel like he was part of something. It really changed our lives. Finally, you may want to look into some financial planning for your son's future. Some providers allow for free initial consultations. It might relieve your mind to begin creating a plan for your son's future. I wish I could offer you more, but do know that there is support out there. My thoughts are with you.
What do I do. This has been the most stressful year ever. Please help!
The only thing that worked for us when my son was 8 was that, the moment he started hurting us and talking about ending his life, I took him into the emergency room. He was hospitalized, and that started a whole series of helpful events. It's an unfortunate part of our system that, sometimes, we have to hit "rock bottom" before we get the help we need. So hopefully that's not the route you have to go.
pregnant and when he is mad he purposely kicks my stomach. He wakes up at 3am and raids the house and gets into whatever he can! We have a safe to keep meds and sweets in and he still finds a way in, picking locks. We have a home security system and seem him wake up with thos bozarre behavior. We have tried everything and it wont stop! If we put him in is room he busts holes in the wall on purpose and breaks things... chews holes in shirts... breaks windows! I have hit rock bottom. I need help!