Our oldest son has cerebral palsy, but he was never an upbeat, loving child like some kids with cerebral palsy. Over a decade ago, when Cody was about 12, he began to hit his little brother in the back for no reason. He tried to stab a kid at school, and he would hit walls.
We tried to find help for him.
We took him to several doctors. They all said the same thing: With his type of CP, this is normal. The last straw was when he got in trouble with the law a second time. We had two more boys at home—one of whom was a newborn who also had special health care needs. I was afraid of what Cody might do to his baby brother.
So I took to the Internet and called every place that I could find that would take boys and might be able to help our son.
There was no place that was equipped to take on a 12-year-old child with a disability who is in trouble with the law (except in Ohio at a children’s mental hospital). I was not sending my son that far away. I continued to search.
Then Cody got into trouble with the law again.
This time, he was taken to a youth facility. They tested him and found out he had Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). The judge sent him to a facility near Odessa.
That place helped him so much. While he was there, he made grade level in every subject and did really well. After that, he went into a foster care program that dealt with his type of challenges.
I love my son with all my heart, and if I could have, I would have kept him home. But we could not. I have been told that I should be ashamed for not fighting to keep my son at home, that I should not have given up on him.
I did not give up on him. He needed help that we could not give him at home. We were not equipped to handle his needs or to help him handle his life, and there was no program to help us keep him at home. He needed more than we could provide.
The stress level in our home is now at a manageable level. Cody got the help he needed, even though it had to be somewhere other than home. It was the best decision to make for our family, no matter how hard.
Learn more about navigating the juvenile justice system on this website.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we asked parents of children with disabilities and special health care needs to share their tips and stories about caring for their children during difficult times.