Mental disorders among children are described as "serious deviations from expected cognitive, social, and emotional development.”
I get a call from the school. My five-year-old child has tried to strangle another student. She has left marks on his throat, and his parents have been notified. When asked why, my daughter says she wanted him to pass away. I am horrified, but no more so than the teacher relaying the story. We are all aware that my child is struggling, but this situation is beyond explanation. She is, of course, suspended, but because her actions are driven by her disorder, no consequence is going to fix this.
I watch my seven-year-old child race down a busy street, barefoot and screaming, and I pray to anyone listening that she doesn’t run into traffic. Paralyzed with fear, I attempt a calm voice and appeal to her desire for the cupcakes that are being served behind me at the soccer party. I dare not chase after her, since she is more likely to impulsively run into traffic. She screams again but turns around, and I hold my breath.
I receive a text message from my daughter’s teacher, who wants to talk about the field trip the class went on today. I call her with feelings of trepidation and exasperation, knowing that some kind of crazy story is about to be shared. I pray no one was hurt. Bizarrely, I pray especially hard that if someone was hurt it’s my own daughter, because being the parent of the child who hurts others is especially troubling. The good news: her teacher tells me no one was hurt. The bad news: my daughter stripped off all her clothes in the very public bounce place because she was angry. I shake my head and think, “Of course she did.” I am not sure what her teacher wants from me. I think she has to call to assure me the situation was handled in the best way possible. Is it bad that my only thought is better you than me?
No public place is a safe place. Is there a bubble you can wrap your child in? Maybe one with a sign warning people of the impending doom? Whether it’s the screaming, the hitting, or the full-on meltdown, you dread every outing. But life as a hermit isn’t really an option.
The fear is real. The desperation is real. I worry every minute of every day. Even when my special-needs child is having a good day, I worry. Will it be the last good day in a while? Will the good days eventually disappear? I treasure the good moments. I hold on to them and promise myself they will get us through to the next. But sometimes they seem much too fleeting, and the hard days are determined to take over. But I still have hope. I must have hope, because this little person is depending on me. I am her lifeline and her vehicle to success. I breathe, and then maybe cry a little, and then pick myself up again and keep moving forward. I will succeed, because failure is not an option.
§ One in five children have, or will suffer from, a debilitating mental health disorder.
§ Eighty percent of chronic mental disorders begin in childhood.
§ Suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15- to 24-year-olds and the sixth leading cause of death for 5- to 14-year-olds. Attempted suicides are even more common.
My EARS 2 Hear was founded to provide help to the families of children suffering from mental health and other disorders. Please help us educate the community and raise awareness of this silent disease that is affecting our children. Help us reach more families whom we can connect with resources and the services their children desperately need. Please donate today so we can be the lifeline these families need.
Give five ($5) to change a life. Even the smallest donation can impact a child’s future.
Your donation will connect children with the programs and services they desperately need, aid parents and caregivers through support groups and respite care, and help tell the story of these children to bring awareness to our community.
For more information about the programs offered by My EARS 2 Hear, please visit our website at www.myears2hear.org.
- Joy Fields
- Diane Johnson
- Alice M
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