April 6, 2016
Your series has been disturbing to those of us who found nothing but trouble with our developmentally disabled children in the community setting, and finally had found some peace and hope at Rainier School. Think of being the parent to a retarded, autistic adult child, diagnosed at the 3 to 4 year old level, being called in the middle of the night to come get that person because she had become frustrated and torn up a bedspread. Then that same adult child being dropped off at Harborview to await a bus to Western State Hospital with nothing more than her father's work phone number pinned to her coat and a plastic bag with her belongings. Think of visiting that adult child in the Western State setting of mentally ill patients, who is scared because she does not fit in there in any way, and the wait of 2 to 3 months to find another placement for her. Think of visiting her in another community placement where she was drugged so heavily she could not respond to us and spent the entire visit shaking her head trying to shake off the drugs. That institution also sent her to Western State Hospital, so we had two sessions of that. Think of visiting her every weekend at another community placement, being told every time that she was doing just fine; then getting a call from a hospital psych ward that she had been dropped off there because she had torn up a pillow. Her autism makes it impossible for her to vent her frustrations and she will occasionally tear property - usually her own clothing. The trouble always seemed to be when she tore something that was not hers.
The hospital stay saved us; they worked to help us get her into Rainier School, where she has a job that makes her feel productive, friends in the same cottage she has lived in for years, can self transport around campus, including going to the canteen for her beloved can of pop. Her behavior issues have improved considerably because they work with her, and they keep her medication level to the lowest possible level. This is reviewed annually and we are notified immediately if there is a problem and given the opportunity to work with the school; however, we are never threatened with her not having a place to stay and she is not sent away. Her father has died, and I continue as her guardian along with my daughter. She is glad to see us when we come, but ready to go back to her home after the visit. That is the best we can hope for.
Community placement is undoubtedly good for some DD residents, but not for all of them. Destroying places like Rainier School would be a terrible disservice to residents like my daughter and others like her. Please find a place for this information in your investigation, and give us a voice.