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The Journey to Residential Treatment

There are two types of children. There are children who can be in the room and are so quiet you never know they are there. There are also children who are in the same room, equally as quiet, but they still produce such an enormous amount of energy that everyone around them is exhausted. I have two of each, one girl and one boy from each category.

From an early age, my oldest was definitely in the latter category. He hit the floor running first thing in the morning and even when he was quiet, he was energetic. He has kept me busy, and taught me many amazing things as a Mommy. He has also exhausted me!

As he aged, he became more energetic and less manageable. His behaviors turned from assertive to aggressive. His tone of voice also changed from assertive to aggressive. He went from a little guy that I could easily manage and redirect to a little guy who was no longer manageable. He continued to move through a continuum of anxiety induced behaviors reaching a point of explosive tantrums. These tantrums were often directed towards his younger sister and me, more often than not ending in bruising, destroyed property, and tears from all involved.

At some point, things went from bad to worse. The aggression was to such an extent that our 2nd child was hiding between the toilet and the bathtub in the mornings. She was the primary target of his physical violence. When he was unable to reach her, he would kick holes in the walls, break out windows, and knock over anything not nailed down, including turning over the couch.

We had tried several different types of counseling for D. We had tried play therapy, sand therapy, and talk therapy. We had been through several different counselors and finally we were able to be matched up with an Intensive In-Home Therapy Team. One of three ladies came to our home, on a rotating basis, 2-3 times a week for individual and family therapy at our home. They were also our crisis response team in case we had explosive tantrums. Unfortunately, while they were nice, they were not really equipped to deal with the magnitude of our situation.

When we had exhausted the In-Home Therapy services, we realized that we needed to do something to ensure he was safer, to himself and to everyone around him. We started researching residential treatment centers (RTC). We were not quite ready for this, so we tried to use hospitalization. We started with a respite program for students with Autism Spectrum Disorders. He was there for 1 week and came home with no medication changes. The day after he came home from there, we placed him in the hospital again for very dangerous behaviors. He stayed in the hospital around 11 days. The psychiatrist said he was as stable as he could become and sent him home with the recommendation that we consider RTC. He was also in the hospital at least 2 other times, plus many trips to the ER only to be told that there were no pediatric psychiatry beds available in the entire state.

After researching and visiting multiple RTCs, and applying to the select few we did like, we found the RTC that we chose for our son. It was such an emotionally draining decision to make, and to have to make. As difficult as it was, we made it and we made it through.

This post is the first in a series of posts about traveling the journey through residential placement for our children. With the blessings of Julia Roberts, I look forward to sharing the logistics and the crazy emotions that are involved in this process. Also, if you have any questions at all, please join the RTC group or send me a private message through my profile on Support for Special Needs.

Editor’s note: If you click on Lena’s profile page and then “activity” you’ll be able to see the other contributions Lena has made to the site.


About Lena Herrington

With the help of a wonderful husband, I am raising 4 wonderful kids. D (9) has High Functioning Autism, SPD, & possible mood disorder (though this is being ruled out by his pdoc). He is transitioning home from a residential treatment center where he spent 4.5 months receiving intense therapy. Spike (4) has a speech articulation delay and PTSD from dealing with her brother’s reactive/aggressive behaviors. Pouty (3) has seizure disorder, possible PTSD, and will rule the world with her determination. Samoo (18m) is the cuddliest, sweetest baby with amazing ability to understand language, but severely delayed expressive language. He is quite possibly the most comical, expressive kid I have, even without his words. My M.A.Ed in Special Education may not have taken me back into the classroom, but it sure helps me to “Embrace the Crazy” at home!

Lena’s blog is and twitter is @luvmycrzylife

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  1. November 29, 2011 |