Tina Szymczak

In 2010 our son Corbin was in crisis and needed to have a residential placement at the Child and Parent Resource Insititute (CPRI) in London Ontario. While he was there we were able to start the process of having him diagnosed with Bipolar disorder (on top of all his other diagnosis – Tourette’s, ADHD, OCD, Disturbance of Attachment, Autism, Sensory Integration Disorder and probably more I just can’t think of right now). His time at the residential placement ended prior to completing the assessment for Bipolar. Following his time at CPRI we transitioned him (rather poorly) to our local children’s mental health agency for ongoing services while we continued the assessment process and subsequently began trying medication to better manage his symptoms. So needless to say we asked the treatment centre for a little extra leeway as he had untreated bipolar disorder which affected him significantly throughout his day.

2004-10-31-181229

From day one Corbin had trouble with the Educational Assistant Jodi in the treatment school. At one point he tried to self-advocate by telling his case manager “it’s either her or me” , referring to the EA. When that didn’t work he begged me to homeschool him. To be honest I wasn’t happy with the treatment center as they had a very punitive behviour modification bent while I was advocating for positive behavioural supports and the use of Collaborative Problem Solving (Ross Greene). I had seen these techniques work at CPRI and at home but the treatment centre refused to get on board. Finally Corbin dictated the following:

It is hard in class because I am always getting Time Outs. I get Time outs because of things I can’t always control like sometimes I quietly talk to myself and Jodi gives me a cool it card. Jodi said that I can’t talk to myself because it is disruptive. I don’t mean to be disruptive its my leaky brakes. I think I need to go back to the brake shop because maybe then Dr.Dunc could explain it to Jodi and get her to understand.

 Also I hate the cool it cards. I don’t think its fair that I get 2 yellow cards then a red card and then I am in trouble and I have to leave the class. No one else has cool it cards, why do I?

At St. Al’s if I quietly talk to myself or I’m being disruptive I just get to leave the classroom to go talk to someone or do something else for a few minutes. I don’t get in trouble for it.

I am upset I have not been using my computer in class. When I tried to tell Jodi that I have a computer and I am supposed to use it I got a time out for arguing

The school work is too easy and not what I am used to. We don’t even have textbooks. We just keep doing coins everyday. I want to do Geography and Geometry and Science

And that is being a self advocate. Unfortunately the staff at the treatment centre chose to ignore his pleas and instead argued with him about the effectiveness of their techniques. In the six months he was there we could not get them to listen to him or to put positive behavioural supports in place. We ended up taking him out of the treatment program and have been out of the children’s services for mental health ever since.   It is amazing how much healing has happened in our family without the constant advocacy we were having to do within “the system”.

April 15, 2016

Self Advocacy

In 2010 our son Corbin was in crisis and needed to have a residential placement at the Child and Parent Resource Insititute (CPRI) in London Ontario. While he was there we were able to start the process of having him diagnosed with Bipolar disorder (on top of all his other diagnosis – Tourette’s, ADHD, OCD, Disturbance of Attachment, Autism, Sensory Integration Disorder and probably more I just can’t think of right now). His time at the residential placement ended prior to completing the assessment for Bipolar. Following his time at CPRI we transitioned him (rather poorly) to our local children’s mental health agency for ongoing services while we continued the assessment process and subsequently began trying medication to better manage […]
March 26, 2016

Compromise

I have always believed in inclusion. Long before I had my own children I worked with children with disabilities and I helped those families to advocate to have their child included. When I would meet a parent or professional that didn’t believe in inclusion I would be aghast. Doesn’t everyone want to be included, to join in, to belong? Even before I had kids I joined a local grassroots not for profit that was all about inclusion. Then came my own kids each with their own challenges. We chose our local Catholic board as they believe in inclusion unlike the public board (their idea of inclusion was to let some kids join their grade for gym or art and spend […]
March 10, 2016

Absent

I know I have been absent of late. It’s not because I don’t want to write or even that I have writer’s block. It quite simply is because I put my back out and between trying to find comfortable positions, popping Tylenol 3’s and attending Physiotherapy the writing has taken a back burner. I will be back soon, thanks for checking in.
February 8, 2016

What I Want You to Know About My Struggles with Depression

I want you to know . . . . . . I have struggled with anxiety and depression for most of my life . . . As a teenager I was hospitalized 11 times and one of the last notes in my medical file from that time indicates my prognosis was “poor”. . . . that through my 20’s we experienced several life stressors including infertility but I was able to stay healthy . . . when I don’t show up to group events it is because my anxiety has gotten the better of me and I can’t face everyone. . . . I feel anxious making phone calls, even to close friends and family . . . my husband […]
January 28, 2016

Overcrowded Mind

The words whipped around in my head. Over and over, multiple conversations occurring within my overcrowded mind. I closed my eyes and tried to will quiet in my brain. It didn’t work. The voices in my head mocked me for even trying. I was so desperate to not feel so hollow, so hopeless, so helpless. My hand in my pocket wrapped tighter around the pill bottle. If only, I thought, I was brave enough to end it all. Then the voices would stop and I would no longer feel like I was in the bottom of a very very deep pit. My heart raced at the thought of taking the pills. I tried to fight my way out of the […]
January 22, 2016

The Mighty

I have another post on The Mighty – check it out here I have realized that in my attempt to get my name out there and to share my writing, I have been neglecting the book I am trying to write. Nose to the grindstone from now on.