I am a pediatrician on the northwest side of Indy. I have just joined MCCOY’s Early Intervention and Prevention Task Force. One of the things MCCOY is working on is bringing together needed services in one location that is accessible to people near their homes. As a private pediatrician with an interest in psychosocial issues, I have encountered many, many patients over the years who have taught me about the high costs of early childhood trauma, neglect and abuse. When I was invited to be a guest blogger, I decided to share some of the encounters, although for the sake of honoring patient confidentiality, I have changed names and specifics. For today’s post, I will just share one.
Ralph is 15 years old. He was my patient when he was in preschool but didn’t come in for visits for 10 years. He returned because of school failure, conduct disorder, juvenile delinquency and anger issues. He had been diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) as a young child but never followed up and never received treatment. He had a terrible relationship with his grandmother, who lived with Ralph and his mother. Ralph’s grandmother was harsh and emotionally abusive.
Ralph discovered at the age of 15 years that his biological father was a rapist and was being released from prison. His mother finally disclosed to him, once he found this out, that his grandmother hated him because of who and what his father was.
Some of the services which could have helped this situation:
Mental health services available to mother and grandmother after the rape that resulted in his birth
Care coordination and health care services available near his home to ensure ongoing treatment for ADHD
Mental health services available to Ralph when he found out about his father
Some of the costs of this psychosocial train wreck now include:
Cost of neuropsychiatric testing to sort out Ralph’s current diagnoses
Cost of counseling and medications to treat current symptoms
Cost of using the juvenile justice system
Emotional cost to Ralph of his grandmother’s hatred of him
Waste of educational resources since his ADHD, anger and juvenile delinquency have prevented him from taking advantage of the education available to him
Increased likelihood of depression, repeat juvenile offenses and later adult criminal activity because of the extreme damage done to his self-esteem over the years
I am sure there are many other resources which could have helped this situation. I am sure there are many more costs I haven’t mentioned. Ralph is just one example of the many, many children and teens who struggle because of violence, abuse and neglect.