I have to apologize for my absence here on Grounded Parents. Between a move to a new house, work, and helping my kids deal with the fun house (un-fun house?) of adolescence, I’ve been either too tired or too scatterbrained to write.
Once of those un-fun house issues that we dealt with was another flair up in my stepson NK’s history of mental health issues. As I’ve written about before, he has issues with social interactions, especially when it comes to girls. The last time he become obsessed with a girl he ended up in the hospital several times because of either suicidal thoughts or an actual attempt. That was over three years ago. He has since moved to a alternative school where he has done really well. There haven’t been any more incidents, until just recently.
About a month ago, my wife and I returned from babysitting her granddaughter in the early evening. We had only been home for a few minutes or so when my wife received a text message from one of NK’s friends telling us that we needed to take him to the hospital because he told him that he was going to kill himself. I went to his room and knocked on the door, but got no reply, which made my heart drop into my stomach. I quickly opened his door. He wasn’t there.
We thought at this point that he must be out walking. He often went for walks when something was bothering him. His mom texted him and called him, but got no reply, so she contacted his sister and asked if she could try getting in touch with him. Thankfully, he answered his sister who told him to contact his mother.
It was now dark and NK didn’t really know where he was. You have to remember, he is on the autism spectrum and things we would take for granted, like keeping track of where we have just been or the things around us just don’t naturally occur to him. His mom asked him to describe what was around him. We thought that we’d be able to figure out where he was by what he was seeing. Unfortunately, what he was seeing didn’t seem to fit anything in our area. She asked him if there was a cross street that he could see. He found one up ahead of him and told us the street names. It made no sense at all to us because the cross streets he gave us were miles away from where we lived. He verified that, yes, that was the actual cross street he was at.
He was 100 blocks away! We asked if someone had given him a ride. He said no. We asked him when he left for his walk. He had left 6 hours ago! I fired up the GPS and we finally managed to get to him in about 15 minutes. He was tried, aching, and thirsty, but otherwise no worse for the wear. He was also in a pretty bad part of the city, alone, at night. We were really shaken up, obviously.
It turns out that he was crushing on a girl at his school. She had been his friend until he had started texting her obsessively. We had known about this as it had happened. He had promised that he wouldn’t text or call her anymore because it was making her uncomfortable. We explained why this wasn’t acceptable, that the unwanted attention made her nervous. The fact that she had a boyfriend, which NK knew, made it even more creepy to her. We thought that after a long talk about it that he understood why he needed to stop texting her. He seemed to get it. Just to be safe, I also blocked her number, on the off chance that she texted him, even by mistake. He didn’t need any reminders, it was hard enough for him that he still saw her at school everyday.
He ended back in the hospital again because he said that he wanted to die. Fortunately, after a few days of therapy and medication adjustments he was feeling much better and came home.
The reason why he walked all that way was because he found out her address and was walking to her house to talk to her. This was bad. Real bad. This was creepy stalker bad.
We are currently working with his therapist to address this so that NK can understand why these types of obsessive behaviors are bad and can have serious consequences.
In my next post, I’ll be discussing what can be done for kids like NK, who are caring, kind, and have the best intentions, but just don’t have the ability to judge the consequences of their actions where romantic love is concerned. Given the heightened awareness of sexual harassment in society today, I think this is an important aspect to investigate. Anyone with ideas, experiences, and/or resources on this subject please leave your comments in the comment section here.
Featured image by @lattefarsan
Since the girl had been his friend, are you acquainted with her parent(s)/guardian(s)? (Rhetorical question)
If so, letting them know you’re aware of NK’s unwelcome behaviour, are working with him to address it, and that you’re willing to listen if something comes to their attention that they feel is relevant, it might help you all navigate this situation with NK and [girl] a little more confidently.
This would obviously be very dependant on the specific relationships with all concerned – wouldn’t want NK or [girl] to feel like you’re monitoring them or breaching confidences – but if NK did show up on their doorstep (for instance), their knowing they can contact you directly for immediate collection would surely take a measure of ‘what the heck do we do now? Is he going to sit out there all night? Should we call the police?’ out of the situation.
This sounds really tough for all of you. Thinking of you, and hoping you can get through this together. NK is lucky to have such hardworking, understanding, and caring parents.