I met Child A at a University in St. Louis. I walked into the waiting room, and observed a distressed family anxious to see me. I could tell by the relief within their eyes as I called the child’s first name. The cutest child ran to me and behaved as if he was familiar with me, but I had never met the family. While interviewing this family, the child walked around my office space exploring my toys, treasure chest, books, as well as me!
Child A was very curious about who I was and asked me a lot of questions.
The family shared that Child A seemed “psychotic” to them, and they were interested in psychological testing for Child A. After an extensive structural clinical interview, I agreed to assess Child A’s intelligence, academics, and behaviors. After the interview, the Clinician within me knew that there was far more to the family’s story if there are claims of psychotic behaviors. However, the history shared by the family alluded to Child A having more of a Specific Learning Disability (SLD), as opposed to a psychosis, or relevant psychotic behaviors.
Child A’s self-perceptions of their own behaviors appeared normal. Over the next couple of weeks as we worked together, the only thing that stood out about Child A was some academic difficulty within the area mathematics. Together, Child A and I determined that we would discuss with Child A’s parents the grave difficulty that Child A experienced in all areas of mathematics. I recommended that the parents discuss Child A’s results with their special education team at Child A’s school, to determine if special education services were warranted.
After Child A left my office, I did not expect to see the family again.
Or so I thought…
The problem with School Psychology for me about 23-years-ago was that after I tested children, I did not see them, or work with them again until their triennial evaluations. At the time, that was hard for me and there were many things that I did not understand during some of the evaluations. For example, why was there a gap in intelligence testing between the Caucasian children that I tested, versus African-American children? Or, what could be done in schools to assist hyperactive children, as opposed to them being eligible for a Behavior Disorder? I had so many questions which is part of the reason why I decided to obtain a doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology. Most importantly, for kids like Child A, I wanted to provide more services which were limited in School Psychology.
Child A was my client at the University after my post-doctorate training. I had been practicing at the doctorate level for roughly 6 years, and I was well-trained in psychological disorders of childhood. I was the one clinician that had the school psychology background combined with clinical psychology
which meant that I could also conduct psychotherapy.
Approximately about a year later, I resigned from the University and accepted an offer to work for a mental health center. This agency was by far one of the best that I have worked for, and I was very blessed to work with a fantastic Director. One day, a family made an appointment to begin psychotherapy with me
and low and behold guess the family?
Yes, It was Child A’s Family
Child A’s family searched for me for quite a while, according to the mother. Child A ran to me and gave me a big hug; I was happy to see this family again as well. Remember, I did not have this opportunity in School Psychology, so working with this family again made me very happy. But, I looked very
different to this family because I was now 6 months pregnant.
My pregnancy is a very important part of Child A’s story.
As we updated information, Child A exhibited the same curious behaviors as previously mentioned, and the family still reported that Child A appeared “psychotic” due to the following behaviors:
• Talking to self
• Talking to things that were unseen
• Unable to sleep at night
• Yelling at something in the closet
• Will not sleep with the closet open
• Needed the light on at night
• Refused to enter the basement
• Stating that something is in the hallway walking
• Following unseen things around the room
• Something following Child A to school
• Telling parents stories about visions
I conducted an interview with only Child A. My philosophy is to determine what is happening to a child from the child’s perspective, psychotic or not, and have the child assist in all parts of the interview. Rapport was very easy with Child A especially because I was not a stranger. For every therapy session, I
learned something new about Child A.
Child A asked me to come over to the window and see what was outside. I did not see anything outside, and Child A explained that it is demons outside of the window.
What? What do you mean that there are demons outside of the window?
As we looked out of the window, excitedly, Child A explained the following:
• Look Dr. Lisa, there are demons outside!!
• Oh my God, there are 2, 3, 4, 5, oh no there are so many of them!!
• Dr. Lisa, you cannot go into that building (building 2) because it has so many demons in it!!
By this time, I may have internally freaked-out but I knew how to control it on the outside of my body (LOL)! Child A and I sat at the window while as Child A told me all about demons, and what was happening inside of building 2. My company owned buildings 1-4, and I was initially housed in building number 2. We were in the process of renovating Building 2, and there were plans to move us into that building prior to my child’s birth, which was in December.
If I recall correctly, this family must have found me around October.
It was getting cooler outside, and I can recall the leaves on the ground.
As Child A explained demons to me, I noticed that there was a spider on the window. There was a glass widow and a screen on the window (storm windows). The spider was on the screen part of the window. Sometimes, I needed to validate this stuff for myself, so I asked Child A,
How do I speak to them?
Child A told me to just talk straight to them and then Child A would tell me their response. That is exactly what Child A did, but I was still skeptical because remember, Child A’s parents continued to believe that their child was psychotic. Out of my own curiosity, I said to the window,
If you are truly a demon, I cannot see you.
Prove to me that you are real and move the spider,
up the window…
What do you think happened?