Monday, December 31, 2012
I've lived in fear for years, fear of someone that I should fear the least, one of my children. He's attacked me, and other family members, on numerous occasions. In the past I could mostly fend off his aggression, but not now, he's nineteen, extremely muscular and he's on the autism spectrum.
His autism/asperger's has caused many of the problems, his rebellion the rest. He was away at Job Corps for about a year and it was peaceful at my house. I didn't have to sleep with my door locked fearing I would be stabbed, or clubbed to death, in the middle of the night. I've told his psychiatrists, and my therapists, for years of my fear and we've tried to come up with ways to keep everyone safe. Sometimes the plans worked and sometimes they didn't.
Most of the people that know him will tell you he's a sweet, kind soul. He's sociable and extremely polite. He is all those things, and much, much more. He's a talented guitar player, he's intelligent and can be a very hard worker when he wants to be.
There's also a dark side to him, an aggressive side, a side that comes in a blink of an eye. Sometimes we can see, or sense, it coming and other times it's instantaneous. Usually it happens because he's been told to do something that he doesn't want to do like clean his room, help with the dishes, or it could be as simple as being asked to lower his voice. Sometimes it just happens.
Since he's been home from Job Corps he's refused to take his medication and his threatening behavior and actions have become more frequent and more frightening. He's picked up bottles of wine, tea kettles, anything within his reach that he feels he could use as a weapon, and has advanced on his intended victim. Each time, luckily, we've been able to either diffuse the situation or get away. Sunday afternoon was different, he was serious, and he was ready to make his move.
He erupted because he wanted to watch a movie and was told no. I have a rule with him that he has to be up by a certain time in the morning, help around the house and control his behavior. If he doesn't do those things he doesn't get to play video games, have access to the DVD player, or play pool, etc.
He got up late, he knows the rules, and he wanted to argue the point. He escalated to the point that he was ready to attack. He made a move and we were able to hold him at bay while 911 summoned the sheriff. Security measures have been in place for years but now that he's older and much stronger he's capable of much more damage and his threats have become more than the mere words of a rebellious child, they've become something to be taken seriously, to be feared.
I was on the phone with the 911 operator when the police arrived. I hung up with her as I went to meet the deputies. A deputy went into the house to speak with my son while two other deputies interviewed each person that had been in the house when his switch was flipped.
When every one's story matched, except my my son's, the deputies decided to take him to a nearby location where he could calm down before returning home. They couldn't make him go to the hospital because now he's an adult. Before they left, one of the officers asked why he's been allowed to live in the house since he's such a danger.
It caught me off guard. Being a mom means helping your kids in every possible way, but the deputy had a point, everyone in the house was in real danger. I had been making phone calls and trying to contact agencies during the past month trying to find housing options for him. So far they've led to nothing but dead ends. He scored right at the cut off line when he was tested for adult disability services with the State of Oregon, so they've been no help. We were on our own and had to make a decision, it had to be made and it had to be made then.
After talking it over with the family, and hearing them voice the same fear I have, and talking to his father, the decision was made to take him to a teen shelter down town. It was the most heart breaking decision I've ever had to make. He's my son, he was adopted at birth, we've loved him, cared for him and tried everything to help him and nothing has worked to quell the aggression.
As his sister packed him a bag his father drove to pick him up from where the deputies had taken him. His dad brought him home, my son grabbed what he could carry in his backpack, I gave him some money, he then turned and walked to the truck to be taken away from the only family he's ever known. I paced, I cried and I was torn.
I knew it was the best decision for the family, but what about my son? Would he be cold? Would he be assaulted? Would he survive? He's naive, he would be alone and he would be scared.
I called my oldest daughter and asked her to call him. He told her he had been directed to a shelter for kids that are from 13 to 21. I also asked her to plead with him to call us, to work with us, to agree to stay on his medications so he could come home. He would have none of it.
My daughter stayed in contact with him until he had a bed secured for the night and then she reported back to me. That night had to have been the worst night of sleep I've ever had.
Today we had several conversations with a case worker at the shelter. She's going to work with him to find a him job and a place to live. She stressed that since he's over 18 he has to make the effort and whatever decision is made has to be made by him.
Wednesday I'll begin making calls about the possibility of gaining guardianship over him so we can have more control over his future and what happens to him. Had I had guardianship yesterday I could have had him admitted to the hospital. But he's now an adult and I have no power over what he decides to do. But then if I do gain guardianship will that push him over the edge, will it do more harm than good?
All of these questions but no answers, only heartbreak, tears and a different type of fear.