MHMRA of Harris County - Annual Report Fiscal 2013-2014 - Page 13

In addition, people with autism often have abnormal responses to sounds, touch, and/or other sensory stimulation.” 6 of her diagnosis, Eileen believed that there were no negative consequences for her behavior, and the behavior persisted. As a little girl, Eileen was bullied in school. Her adaptive and social skills were delayed. She also began to evidence behavior problems that included lying, stealing, changing labels on prescription bottles, and behavior outbursts. Later on, she developed a compulsion to physically pick up children and individuals of small stature. Every day she set a goal to pick up a certain number of individuals, which took most of her time and energy throughout the day. She also struggled with patience when among peers who spoke slowly or stuttered. Her response to this was to rush others to speak with gestures and verbal prompts. In April 2013 she was admitted to the Dual Diagnosis Services (DDS) of the Specialized Therapies and Rehabilitative Services (STARS) Clinic. She came to the DDS program to reduce what she called “an addiction” to physically picking up children. In addition, she had been hospitalized for depression and attempting suicide three times within a period of five years. Her peers from the Coffee House, an MHMRA program to assist individuals with Asperger’s in addressing their ability to socially interact with others, reported that Eileen’s behavior made them feel uncomfortable. As a result of her behavior, Eileen was banned from certain establishments in her community such as the children’s section of the local book store and the daycare of her church. She admitted to going to the parks and strategically physically picking up individuals after engaging the parents in conversation. Because of this she had brief encounters with the law due to complaints over her behavior. However, because she was never arrested, often times because The beginning of her journey in the DDS program was bumpy, as she had difficulty seeing the perspective of others and tended to care most about her own needs. Because her IQ falls in the “normal” range, talk therapy was challenging. She was unable to understand why the behavior was unacceptable when she found it pleasing. Eileen’s treatment required a team effort and a number of protocols to help her manage her compulsions. Shortly after biting a staff member resulting in Eileen’s last hospitalization in September 2013, Eileen’s psychiatric medication was changed, which resulted in a turning point for her. After returning home from the hospital’s strict boundaries and close monitoring, Eileen was motivated to return to the DDS program and committed herself to working towards attaining “a life like others”. The treatment team was reassembled and therapy began with a combination of psychotherapy, applied behavior analysis, psychiatric care, and psychoeducation provided by the DDS Clinical Team. She worked very intensely with the psychologist who provided Systematic Desensitization, a form of cognitive therapy, increasing her ability to manage her urges when exposed to children and individuals smaller in stature. After a few months, Eileen had showed a tremendous amount of progress. She currently attends college and volunteers at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Her family is beginning to trust her again. She was invited to a family event during the previous holiday season and was able to successfully manage her behavior. Although her journey is not over, she is still working on improving her verbal expression and anger management. To this day, Eileen maintains her commitment towards therapeutic selfgrowth by attending regular sessions at the ST IL