Finally they were a family. Theresa and her husband had adopted an infant daughter, and two years later they adopted two-year-old Cody. Now they had two toddlers the same age. Everything had come together so well, except…something seemed wrong.
“We started seeing that our experiences were not the same as other parents with children the same age,” Theresa said. “Cody was growing increasingly hyper and impulsive.” Unfortunately, both children began to have behavioral problems. Theresa and her husband were able to get a diagnosis and help for their daughter. But with Cody, the cause and a solution remained elusive.
Year after year they sought advice from one doctor after another, even some neurologists. Eventually, each doctor said they had done all they could. At least one doctor pointed his finger back at Theresa and her husband. Years of therapy did not help either. Even for two educated, professional parents—one a social worker and one a school teacher—the search was overwhelming and hopeless.
As Cody grew older, his problems got worse. His impulsiveness became more difficult and dangerous. Theresa received regular calls from school. She and her husband finally reduced their workdays to halftime in order to home-school Cody.
“Our family couldn’t do the normal things that families do, like go to restaurants or on fun outings, because Cody’s behavior was so out of control. As he got bigger and stronger, it required both my husband and I to restrain him until we could get him calmed down.”
Around the age of seven, Cody’s behavior had reached the point where his family seriously discussed hospitalization or a group home. But the thought of him moving out of their home was heartbreaking.
Finally, a colleague recommended Dr. Mark Edelstein, medical director at Uplift Family Services, and his team. Dr. Mark is board certified in psychiatry and child and adolescent psychiatry and epitomizes the agency’s “do whatever it takes” approach.
“He really just understood Cody,” Theresa said. “Dr. Mark never stopped looking for an answer. He trusted my parental instincts and never indicated that my husband and I were the problem. We were part of the team!”
Dr. Mark was tenacious until he found a diagnosis: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). “No one had discovered the ASD before,” Dr. Mark said. “Cody’s problems were not necessarily due to ADHD and anxiety, but to the ASD. Now a course of treatment could be personalized for maximum effectiveness.”
Since then, Cody’s life has improved dramatically. He’s been able to join in regular kids’ activities. He participates in 4-H and takes Tae Kwon Do and archery lessons.
“We were so close to having to put him in a group home because we had simply exhausted every other option,” Theresa said. “But the family can stay together. He’s living a life with us now.”
Dr. Mark Edelstein leads one of the largest teams of child psychiatrists and psychologists in California.