8-Year-Old Autistic Boy Is Suicidal And Homicidal, And The System Is Failing Him
“My 8-year-old son is trying to kill me,” Natasha Robinson wrote for MLive.com, a Michigan news outlet. “For the past few months, his homicidal and suicidal actions have sent us to the emergency room about 10 times.”
Her son, Isaiah, has been diagnosed with several conditions, including autism, anxiety, attention deficient hyperactivity disorder, and disruptive mood dysregulation disorder.
Robinson, 33, says that her son is complex, protective, and loves fiercely.
“Isaiah is a beautiful boy with lots of light and joy in his soul,” she said.
But he’s also violent and unpredictable, lashing out physically and threatening violence against himself and his mother when he becomes upset. Robinson says that her son and children like him need and deserve “proper, timely mental health treatment.”
Over the past several months, Isaiah’s behavior has become increasingly volatile as his medications have become less effective. It’s hard for him to sleep at night, and his sleep deprivation negatively influences his behavior during the day. He has told his mom multiple times that he wants to kill himself.
His anxiety is so intense and constant that he struggles to sleep at night. He has frightening visions that he can’t control, and he’s afraid that someone will break into their home. He’s terrified of being in his own room, so he sleeps on the floor of his mom’s room. But his paranoia and anxiety isn’t limited to nighttime — he struggles with it during the day, too.
Robinson is worried about her son’s mental state and his safety, as well as her own.
“His mind keeps tricking him into believing there are things set to harm him that aren’t,” she said.
She is trying desperately to get her son the help he needs. But, she says, the system is failing families like hers.
“I decided to go public on this highly sensitive, personal topic to illuminate this gross, systematic dysfunction,” Robinson wrote, “because I cannot do what I need to do for him as a parent until the system of care becomes more responsive to the needs of Isaiah and others like him.”
The family has a variety of integrated mental health services available to them and several associated services. Isaiah receives ABA (applied behavioral analysis therapy) four days a week, and visits with a psychiatrist as well as a psychotherapist. Robinson herself has 12 hours a week of Family Support Training. They have also had other services at other points in Isaiah’s treatment.
But this has never been enough, and funding and services continue to fall short for Isaiah. There is no concrete safety plan in place for him.
Isaiah is consistently admitted to the hospital when he becomes a danger to himself or others. Shortly afterwards, once he’s medicated, he is discharged, with no further plan in place to address his overall safety.
According to Robinson, there was one incident where he tried to hang himself with his backpack in the emergency room and was discharged 20 minutes later because they’d already medicated him.
Robinson feels that inpatient therapy would be the most beneficial to him.
“He’s on medications and participating in therapies that are not working effectively outpatient,” Robinson said. “Medical professionals in an inpatient setting would be able to safely wean him off of his medications, monitor for complications, and capture a baseline for his behavior that would inform his treatment moving forward.”
However, there is only one state psychiatric hospital for children his age in Michigan, and space is limited. On top of that, Isaiah’s behavioral needs require one-on-one staffing for inpatient services.
Robinson fought to get him on a waitlist for the lone psychiatric hospital, Hawthorn.
Isaiah was finally admitted to get inpatient help in September.
“I do not believe my son needs to be institutionalized permanently,” Robinson insists in the video below. “I don’t. I would never want that for him. He’s bright. He has a lot to contribute to the world, and I know that about him.”
But having access to this inpatient therapy will help her son in ways that outpatient therapy simply cannot.
Robinson created a fundraiser on Facebook that is ongoing to help her pay her bills and stay afloat.
“In all of the brokenness that I feel in dealing with this, I am pushing because there has to be a better solution for my child,” Robinson said. “It’s going to take collaborative, actionable conversations with impacted families, medical professionals, social workers, and elected officials to make things better.”
Hear more from Robinson in this video.