Feature: Tyler's Story
Publication > October E-Newsletter > Tyler's Story
While all children can be challenging or demanding at times, Tyler was so aggressive and angry that he would throw toys and hit caregivers when he was just 18 months old.
Matters got worse when he turned 3 and his little sister arrived. He became so jealous he would try to hit or injure her.
When Tyler’s parents Lisa and Chris realized his behavior was more than just a case of sibling rivalry, they started going for counseling and sought help from their Pediatrician.
Initially diagnosed with Oppositional Defiance Disorder, Tyler was put on an Individual Education Plan (IEP) in preschool to help with his social skills. In kindergarten, his aggression got worse and medications to stabilize his moods only worked marginally well. While Lisa struggled to connect with and calm her son, she relied heavily on Chris who was often the only person who could control Tyler’s behavior. Eventually Tyler was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, ADHD and Anxiety.
Tyler had a hard time participating in sports because he couldn’t take direction or accept any failure. He struggled academically because he saw any small mistake as a complete failure. Tyler’s mental illness took a toll on the whole family. Lisa and Chris barely got a break because they couldn’t leave Tyler with a sitter. Riley, Tyler’s little sister, was living fearfully wondering when she would once again bare her brother’s fury.
Over the next year, Tyler’s condition would improve and then deteriorate but finally reached a breaking point the Summer before 1st grade. While at camp, Tyler became so mad he threw a rock and broke a window. That episode was the final point when Lisa and Chris decided something had to change. They’d managed to keep their family together for six years but it was now clear that something needed to change.
The Child & Adolescent Inpatient Mental Health Program at Franciscan Hospital for Children was the program to which Tyler was referred by his Pediatrician. While hospitalized, Tyler spent 2 weeks working with doctors, nurses and educators trying to obtain some sense of normalcy. Family meetings took place each week. He learned techniques for coping with his emotions. The Psychiatrist working with Tyler was upfront but kind when delivering difficult information. The support staff always answered questions and even taught Lisa and Chris how to restrain Tyler in case he became a danger to himself or others.
For a while, things were better. Tyler would have loving moments; he could be helpful and welcoming to new friends. But some symptoms remained the same. He was a perfectionist and was extremely hard on himself when he couldn’t do something academically or athletically the first time he tried. He was afraid of failure and didn’t allow himself any room for error. He’d get angry and threaten to take it out on the dog, or worse, himself. Before long, Tyler was again spiraling out of control. This time, Lisa and Chris insisted on returning to Franciscan Hospital for Children.
Since that stay, Lisa and Chris have worked hard to find a balance for their family. Today, Tyler is attending a residential special education school where his needs are met and he is doing better. This past Summer the family got away to New Hampshire to spend a week together on vacation. According to Lisa, it ended up being a better week than they’d had in a long time. Although these disorders don’t go away, Lisa and Chris are hopeful that one day Tyler will be able to live on his own, hold down a job and more importantly, feel successful in life.
“The staff at Franciscan Hospital for Children, from the receptionist upon first entering the building, to the staff at the sign-in desk in the Inpatient Mental Health Unit, to all of the staff and especially Dr. Stromberg, are all amazing, professional, knowledgeable, and kind people. We'd recommend and only want our son to be at Franciscan Hospital."
Photos:Top left - Tyler during a visit from the Red Sox and Wally.