psychiatric hospital won't let child out

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by whatamess, Sep 22, 2009.

  1. whatamess

    whatamess New Member

    12 yr old difficult child with autism was raging and grandma (guardian) called 911. They took the difficult child to an pediatrician inpatient unit at local hospital. Now the hospital won't let the guardians (grandparents) visit or release the child. There may be a lot of details I don't know, but can a hospital hold a child against guardian wishes? They say they think he is a danger to himself because he keeps hitting himself (he's stressed, he hasn't seen family in days).
  2. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Yes, if he's a danger to self or others they can hold him. However, there will need to be a commitment hearing before a judge but the requirements for that will depend on your state law. They pertain to how old the child is and if the child is staying willingly, what the psychiatrist recommends (which goes a long way), and what the law says about how long a psychiatric hospital can hold the child. The guardian/parent is allowed to be a part of the hearing unless it's a situation of abuse.
  3. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    klmno, I don't think it matters at all whether the child is staying willingly unless the child is above the age of consent, which varies from state to state. In Virginia, the age of consent is 14. Not sure what state the poster is from, but the child posted about is 12.

    And yes, if the child is a danger to self or others, a psychiatric hospital can hold the child against guardian wishes.
  4. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    SW is right. Normal first commitment is a 72 hour hold but can be longer. I think in NC they can up it just by psychiatrist alone for up to 12 days before going to a judge. I seem to remember that when Cory was in the state mental hospital he had to sign a voluntary agreement before day 12 to avoid going before the judge. A patient advocate came and saw him to make sure he understood this. He did. He said he would rather stay in the psychiatric hospital than come home and deal with me after I fought so hard to get him
  5. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    Most of the hospitals my son was in (even as a very young child) had specific visiting times - usually one evening during the week and then one or both weekend days. The times were limited - usually 1-2 hours. If my son was extremely unstable, they would not allow us to visit.

    The guardian in the meantime should be involved with the treatment plan and discharge planning. She should be talking with, at least, the therapist involved in her grandson's treatment, if not the psychiatrist as well. Given the circumstances involved in the admission, I think a lot of focus needs to be put on discharge planning and outpatient resources for the family, especially if he rages again once he's discharged (crisis team, etc).

    It's very frustrating to have someone saying a child cannot be discharged, but the goal of inpatient treatment is stabilization.

    Sometimes it's very hard to communicate effectively with- staff during these crisis situations. I would highly recommend guardian contact therapist and explain how the grandson reponds to stress. It should be possible to hold a family therapy session (outside of usual visiting hours) to hopefully reassure grandson *and* treatment team.
  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    If they feel he is a threat to himself or others or that the guardians are abusive, yes. The guardians shouldn't call 911 if they don't want this to happen. Often those who come for the child do not understand. Autistic kids sometimes do hit themselves, but it's rarely fatal.

    Onto hospitals: Sadly, I've seen psychiatric hospitals abuse their authority. An autistic child has no business being in a psychiatric hospital at all and quite often the staff can jump to conclusions about guardians that aren't true. It's scary.

    I may add that adults can be forced to stay in psychiatric hospitals against their will as well. I've been in a psychiatric hospital three times and once they put me in solitary. Without going into details, there was no real reason for them to do that except in their own minds and I was literally forced to remain in one room with one bed until I said the things they wanted me to say to them. I had no say so about this. I was not raging nor did I threaten to kill myself. THe doctor just thought I was bugging him too much about my medications, which I felt were giving me side effects. This was fifteen years ago so I hope things have changed.

    I still believe, all in all, I got something out of the rest of my stay, but I'm not autistic.
  7. whatamess

    whatamess New Member

    The child has been in for going on 6 days. I think they had a hearing. The family hired a lawyer. They're sick about not being able to see him or bring him home.
  8. Star*

    Star* call 911


    I am sorry about the child being in the hospital. No one ever ever likes to see one of our kids go in.

    Here's what I can tell you about my own son's (and mine) experiences with psychiatric hospitals and why. Maybe this will help the family AND save them some money ie: lawyers.

    When a child is a danger to himself or others - and taken into a psychiatric hospital - it's for a reason. There is an adjustment period of time that needs to be respected for the sake of the CHILD - NOT for the sake of the parents who are worried about the child. This is a VERY difficult time for the CHILD. The transition is hard enough without Mom standing there. Whether she's crying or not - if she's there - The child will WANT to go home with her. Crisis is over - TIME TO GO. He/she will NOT understand why he (For sake of typing) can not leave with Mom and Dad. It makes it 100 times HARDER ON THE CHILD to see the parent and watch them leave. NOTHING is accomplished and it's like starting all over again with intake.

    However - if the parents really want him to do well, get stable and allow the hospital to do their job? They'll let them do it, be satisfied with calls from the staff and psychiatrist and allow the child to settle in. Not allowing a parent to see a child and vise/versa is pretty normal for up to 30 days in most Residential Treatment Center (RTC)'s, Group-homes and in a lot of psychiatric hospital's it's usually 14 days - 30 days average depending on the child's behavior and mental state.

    My son was kept from us in one facility for six months. I hated it - but if that's what they felt was best for him? I was willing to do it. A lot of these places use visitation as barganing chips. Sometimes it's all they have to see if a child CAN behave, WILL behave or can't maintian and need are greater than the care they are getting. You have to be willing to let them do their job. He's there - they should be calling them on the phone or provided contact numbers and available at least every other day with progress reports. There should be a staff phone also where you can talk with the staff - BUT - no phone calls to Him just yet. NO visitation.

    Not because they don't want reunification - but because they are trying to see where HE is - and what HE needs. Honest -

    If you absolutely POSITIVELY - want him out of where he is - you can get him out on something called AMA - Against Medical Advice. You don't need an attorney for that. You just sign a form and demand he leave. BUT be advised - if you do that once - and he's out of control ever again - they won't take him back. So you're shutting a door for good that may be the only placement that can help.

    Think about it - long and hard. I've taken my son out AMA twice in two placements due to staff abuse - reported to me by my son. In one place the staff member was immediately fired. In the other - I dared the staff member to meet me off the property - and they kept him locked in the office. Lucky for him - my son was 12 - and I'm 5'9", 250lbs - and a former boxer. ;)

    I hope this helps.
  9. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    I think it would make a difference what degree on the spectrum of autism this child is.

    My S/O's daughter is autistic. She would NEVER understand what a hospital is aiming for, would rage and rage unless drugged to oblivion, out of complete terror at the surroundings and lack of her mother. A psychiatric facility is no place for a girl like S/O's daughter. Now, if it was a matter of EXTREME violence and a hospital stay is required for a substantial medication control issue? That might also change things. If she was dangerous to herself and/or others to a degree it cannot be controlled safely in the home and it was thought that a safe place for a medication change that could achieve a more calm and less aggressive child? It might be necessary, although granted it would feel traumatic to the child and parents to have to go through that.

    I agree with what others said, about parents being a bargaining tool IF the child can understand and can reasonably comply (as in, has control over themselves or could reasonably learn that control and understand the dangling carrot). I also understand that seeing parents will normally lead to the child regressing instead of progressing, wanting to go home etc.

    What a tricky situation and sad for everyone. I guess more information would help make a better insight, however if this is a qualified hospital with well intentioned and educated staff making the decisions? I'd think that it is likely that the family didn't envision this and is in shock. It is sometimes hard for protective parents of our special children to know when it takes something severe to ensure nothing drastic down the line.

    I hope this child is well enough to go home soon. :(
  10. whatamess

    whatamess New Member

    Thanks for all the advice. This difficult child is a former classmate of my difficult child. I think the grandparent's thought he would be out in 72 hours and now he isn't and they feel like because of his autism he won't be able to comply with the behavioral expectations. I feel bad for all of them.
  11. Star*

    Star* call 911

    Mattsmom said it very nicely - I guess after a while you forget what a shock it is to go through this the first time. Yes, it is...quite a shock.

    Please let them know from us - that if they want to ask any questions or need advice or help or a shoulder - we're here. We're a nice group. We're a caring group and we really have fought very hard for our children for a long time. And we've fought for other children with disabilities for a long time as well.

    They aren't alone - they need to know that - tell them from us - they are not alone anymore. Also let them know that what they did, by calling 911 is not a BAD thing - it was a VERY GOOD THING. It will get that child the help that he needs and assistance that they are not trained to get him or themselves. AND _ RESPITE. EVERYONE needs a break from mental illness. EVERYONE.

    Hugs - you're a very good friend for coming here and seeking out information and posting even when it was so painful to do so.