On 3/1/18, my autistic son Luke was placed in a group home. Luke is 25 years old and needed more support than his parents could sustain. I have shared past posts on my blog about Luke and his life. It is no small feat to navigate the Department of Social Services in matters of mental challenges and neurological disabilities.
Within the first three weeks of Luke’s move into his residential home, I noticed several problems related to lack of education among staff who were in charge of our son. By the end of April of this year, I was left with a feeling that measures may need to be taken to remove Luke from his current living situation, but the catch was I had a month-long trip to the east coast coming up. It was to visit my elderly parents and attend my youngest son’s graduation. The good news Luke and his dad were flying together to join me.
Luke did great on the flight and trip and returned to his group home May 10th. It was about that time I had a nightmare (not a joke) that woke me up with a vision of Luke hospitalized. I shook it off, but I was nervous of its meaning and hoped it was just my own anxiety playing tricks on me. It was not.
On May 17th disaster struck. Luke had a “behavior” which was the word used in an email and also in an incident report with no clear antecedent. The home decided after taking a few unsuccessful measures ( a bath, walk, and a medication) to call 911. I want to point out the home did not have a clear professional behavior plan in place by then as far as I knew although I was asking for it repeatedly. The police arrived and Luke escalated even more out of control. The police felt it best to call for an ambulance that transported Luke in four point restraints to the emergency room.
Struggling for 36 hours strapped to a gurney, Luke was eventually transferred to an involuntary psychiatric hospital. Although I was not home yet, I was getting updates from Luke’s father. I felt helpless, frightened, and quite frankly angry. After flying home, I went straight to the hospital. The unit was ready to release him. I met with his public defender who felt it was best to discharge him so that he would not be dragged through the legal system. She represented him not because Luke did anything wrong, but because a lawyer is put in place to protect his constitutional rights. This is when things got even more complicated…the state’s convoluted system would not allow release….. ( more to come ).
Today June 12, 2018 Luke was finally released from the hospital. If you want to come back for the crazy ride from May 17th – June 12, 2018, I will do a series on what happened and why the “system” caused so much turmoil. Perhaps Luke’s story can help others. Perhaps I will write to help myself , or perhaps Luke’s dilemma can bring about change in a system so wrecked. Whatever the reason, I will share and you can judge how hope for change could become a reality. God knows I hope.
For those of you coming back to read the story–please put a prayer in for our dear boy as he has been placed in a hotel by the state with care providers 24/7 except long weekends with his family due to staffing shortages. This is not ideal and I did not want this, but at least he is out of the hospital and can be outdoors to enjoy fresh air. WE all take that for granted don’t we? FRESH AIR.