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Tuesday, 23 September 2008


By Claire Jean

Clairjeanbadge He had the bluest eyes of any baby she had ever seen. She found it was often difficult to keep from glancing in the rear view mirror while driving her car as he sat behind her in his child’s seat; gorgeous eyes wide open, mesmerized by what was on the other side of the glass.

Although this adorable baby boy was difficult to handle, she believed he would eventually outgrow many seemingly eccentricities. There was hope.

His sister, a few years older, was fine and right on schedule according to all the baby books. But, this other child was a boy and boys are different. However, as time went by, she began to wonder how much longer she would be able to continue to trust that this was yet just another stage to get though and then everything would be fine.

Preschool was one thing, but soon her child would become part of the public school educational system. This was enough cause to finally open her eyes wide and take action. She would make an appointment with the chief neurologist at a very respectable children’s hospital before he stepped one foot into that communal domain.

Tests results indicated that this little boy had something called, at that time, minimal brain dysfunction, but the name was soon to be changed to Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity. She was advised by the neurologist that things would not be easy. Medication for a long period of time would be essential. School would especially be the greatest challenge of all.

Also, she had to decide whether to take direction from him or from the educational system. He explained that many years of experience taught him that though well-meaning, the system did not fully understand this disorder and, therefore, any input from them usually did not work. He knew what he was talking about. She would stick with him. There was hope.

Now equipped with a diagnosis and name for the illness, she would do the necessary research to educate herself and the family. Books would be read on the subject; support groups would be attended and the system would provide all that was required to help this child become educated. She would see to this and she did!

However, to be a strong advocate for your child when dealing with grown-ups is one thing, but to ease the hurt brought forth from other children is quite another matter. She realized and understood everything intellectually, but emotionally there would be scars for a lifetime. Of this she was certain, however hard she tried to rationalize the insensitivity of others.

For twelve years there were countless meetings with teachers, administrators, etc. Private tutors were hired, special programs were attended and, when necessary, a change of school was made. After grueling days, months and years of instruction, graduation day finally arrived. During most of the ceremony, she was ecstatic, filled with a new sense of hope even as she witnessed the look on his face at the very end.

While others all around were tossing their caps high in the air, laughing with much jubilation, and hugging friends, he stood in their midst stunned and very much alone. Still, she had hope.

At twenty years of age, he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. At thirty she has no hope.

“As for me, you must know that I shouldn’t precisely have chosen madness if there had been any choice.”
- Vincent Van Gogh, 1889, in a letter to his brother, written while he was involuntarily confined in the psychiatric hospital at St. Remy

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


What a painful story. It is so very difficult to see your child suffer and not be able to fix the problem. I feel your profound sadness and I pray that you will find hope in the promises of science as they work to find more effective drugs for your son's illness. And I pray that you will find hope in the promises of God who loves you and that special son of yours.

Claire Jean,

I suppose the most important thing to remember here is that this young man,your son, had parents who loved him dearly and struggled every day to give him the best life that his condition would allow.

My very best to all of you....

Yesterday I was scared. Today I am sad.

So terribly sad. There are no words to comfort her, I am sure, otherwise I'd say them.

How very sad. My heart goes out to you and i wish and hope for you the best.

Words of comfort are appreciated. However, what's most important is to see mental illness for what it is..an illness.
Thanks to Ronni's blog, I learned and was able to pass along the information regarding Congress voting to override Presidnet Bush's veto of the Medicare reform bil, HR6331. Congress has decided mental health belongs on par with physical health.
We need places for these "sick" people other than the streets and/or prisons when parents are no longer around.

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