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Missing Pieces: Garrett's journey from Shadow to light--Family Meeting

March 14

The family meeting. Family meeting; what is the picture that that conjures up in your mind? Parents, children, and others talking about structure supports for their loved ones? Possibly. For me today the family meeting consisted of was myself, the doctor and the social worker. I brought Scott’s blessing and concerns, the children’s love, and the family’s hopes with me to the meeting. We discussed my sweet Garrett.

Warm waves of love spilled out of my heart and filled my words as they painted the picture of innocence, kindness, and goodness that is Garrett. I described the artwork that is interwoven to his very being. His ability to look at boxes, tin foil, tape, paint or clay and create life like creatures. His ability to draw life with the stokes of his pencil, pastel, charcoal, crayon, or brush. We talked about his younger years, his youth, and now his coming of age adulthood and what the possible outcomes might be. I was able to share what he is like at home and in his other settings without my heart giving away my sense of loss. I asked them with tender voice and shining eyes if they thought he would be able to return to my sweet Garrett? The room was quiet and peaceful for a while. They booth felt that Garrett will be able to return and yet he would be different. To this my heart felt the truth of the reality, and had a skip of hope with it. Things would be different but not too different if we keep to the plan and monitor, support and accommodate as we see his needs arise.

I then shared my experience of what he has been with me during my nightly visits at Shoal Creek. I recalled with a quivering voice the harder times of watching Garrett feel so sad, so agitated, and so terrified for his life from the “evil one--the nightmare.” I described the light that has filled his eyes for a few moments, and then the grey dark shadow that crosses over his face that leaves him exhausted and empty. Together we looked at the extreme ranges of behaviors and psychosis that we have witness Garrett experienced since March 2nd--twelve days ago. They also shared what they know of Garrett based on their time with him at Shoal Creek and agreed about his light and his shadow moments.

Then we all took a big deep breath and finally talked about what we are looking at in the future for him. We talked about what medications he has now and how to help maintain them. They discussed treatment plans and ideas to support him behaviorally and socially. I expressed my concern with going back to school too soon and want to give him another week at home then start half days or a modified schedule to help find a routine that his fragile mind can handle. We all smiled and fell silent for a bit because that is just it, what will he be able to handle and cope with? None of us know. I will keep to putting together strong routines and predictability for him, and with the balancing of the medication, we might find a way to cope with life again.

Near the end of the meeting the six of the family was discussed and the shock of the amount of children on the Spectrum was also discussed. Once we got into the depths of the family, the doctor interrupted me and asked how i knew so much about social skills, behavioral support, and the “lingo.” I smiled and shared with her what I do. She lit up and became very relaxed. She was very hopeful with the supports I was talking about to support Garrett--that they might actually make the recovery for him seamless. That was very kind of her and I could feel myself blush, but at the same time, it was like there was a flashback to all the years of hitting, biting, nonverbal---screaming only of communication to doing ABA therapy, speech therapy, the creation of Spectrum Academy, OT therapy, and the supports at home and watching him develop into the most amazing Garrett ever.

We all smiled and felt that sweet Garrett had great supports to begin his recovery. If at anytime he might need support again, they would be there Shoal Creek for as long as we needed them. The meeting was positive and I felt that I could bring Garret home on Thursday to try again.

I then went to visit him. We embraced, and I shared with him the good news and for the first time truly in 12 days I saw Garrett, my sweet Garrett again. He sang 6 different songs to me: Bambi, Jurachi (pokemon movie), Sleeping Beauty, Mulan (I’ll make a man out of you and A Girl worth fighting for), and Moana. Then he was exhausted. He curled up and laid in my lap for a few minutes. The the gentle chime sounded and signaling that my visit would be over in a few minutes. I gave him a hug and told him again that after lunch I would be there to pick him up. He smiled again hugged me. I left him with a prayer and I watched him slowly walk back to him room.

I sat in my car thinking about all the unknowns: how will respond at home, at school, at church, with his family, or with the community at large? Will I always need to monitor him? How will he do with his siblings? Will his new habits of singing and sleeping bother them? Will his lack of communication inhibit more success at school? Will he be able to return to school? Will I be able to build into our days full supports, then fade as he showed progress to minimal supports? Will he sleep? Will he eat and drink? Will he continue to want to hide his fluids around the room or house? Will he enjoy his art again? Will he draw to create or will he be stuck in his circle of 1 cartoon or one story? Will his room or old routine trigger anything? Will Garrett be able to tell me when he feels the shadow coming on? Will he be able to tell when it is coming before it hits him?

The answer to all of these questions? I don’t know, but I have a glimmer of hope. It is a bit of a guessing game and we will have to do our best. To be continued….eventually.

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