Families learn how to adapt and deal with the challenges of living with a handicapped child. The parents and siblings alter their lives and attempt to live as normal of a life as possible. It is just part of what you do when you welcome a disabled child into a family. You love them and find them the best resources available to help them achieve their full potential.
That is what we did in our family. Once we realized at three years old that my sister had a learning disability, my parents enrolled her into a local school specializing in special education, where she could get the best training and guidance. We all hoped that she would “catch-up” and be able to live a normal life.
It never happened.
And as the years went on, my sister’s behavior became more difficult to live with. She was hyperactive to a point of insanity. She never sat and was in constant motion. She also never slept. My father spent many a night in front of her bedroom door watching over her telling her umpteen times to “go to sleep.” Often, he would fall asleep from exhaustion and she would step over him and come into my room. I never slept, either.
The doctor gave her Vistaril, a tranquilizer to help her with her anxiety and to aide her in sleeping. It worked for awhile, but then she built a tolerance to it. She was always looking for something to do that demanded our attention. If we ignored her, she would scream or tear something apart. She was sweet, but a terror. I called her “The Tender Tyrant.”
Really, there was no rest with her. We were all exhausted. We lived this life for ten years, until one day after my father almost put his fist through the wall of Lisa’s bedroom, they had to consider sending her to another school in an attempt to control and help her learn new behavior. My parents were on the brink of divorce. I was a nervous wreck and my grades were slipping. I had no place where I had calm. My life was filled with arguing parents, a screaming rambunctious sister and long hours at school.
I was miserable. We all were. My parent’s began looking into a place called Devereux, at the time the best school for the mentally handicapped in the country. Located in Pennsylvania, it was a long way from Chicago, but something needed to be done to save ourselves. This is the issue that families at some point may have to address to save the other members of the family and insure the proper care for a disabled child.