Excerpt: Handling the Worst of Times

Making Peace With Autism cover

After the incident at the train station, we knew we had to do more for Nat than we had been doing. I called our psychologist to talk about temporary hospitalization and residential placement.

“I can’t believe I’m having this conversation,” I said dully. “How can I send him away?” I imagined Nat, packed up in the car, pleading, “Go home, go home. Go home. You be good.” I could not stand the thought.

“Think of it as the best way to help him,” our psychologist said gently. “If he needs a higher level of care than you can provide, then this is what you should do. Besides, you ought to know that if you’re thinking of placing him in an adult residence after he turns twenty-two, then you often have to start with such a placement much earlier, like in his early teens.”

“Oh God! This is too much! I have to go.” I hung up and immediately called Ned at work. Sobbing, I told him about my talk with the psychologist.

Ned said, “I don’t know, it sounds like overkill to me.” I started to calm down, but then he added, “Maybe Nat does need more, though. We’ll have to deal with the fact that he is extremely difficult to manage and that one day he will need to live in a residence.”

How can we send him away? I wondered. But, how can we continue to live like this? I called my parents. “They’re recommending that we send him away,” I cried. “I can’t do it. I just can’t.”

My father said calmly, “You don’t have to send him away; you know what’s best for him. You and Ned. He’ll be all right. Try him on that medication your doctor mentioned.”