What happens when an autistic teenager becomes unmanageable at home?

The Benedicts still find happy moments in their home. Sometimes they play Uno together. Sabrina is brimming with excitement when she sh...


The Benedicts still find happy moments in their home. Sometimes they play Uno together. Sabrina is brimming with excitement when she shows off her mom’s ballet moves or talks about upcoming vacations, her favorite meals or her day at school. Or they flip through photo albums, remembering vacations on Assateague Island.

One afternoon last year, Sabrina sat at the kitchen counter, drawing an intricate plan of a house where she imagined one of her teachers lived. When Crystol arrived home, Sabrina ran to greet her. Then she collapsed on the sofa in anticipation of a massage. Her mother knelt beside her. Crystol pretended to make pizza on his daughter’s back – kneading the dough, spreading the sauce and sprinkling the cheese.

But within an hour, Sabrina would be overwhelmed with disappointment, frustration, or some emotion she couldn’t name. She stamped her foot, hard. And start moaning.

“Do you need help?” her father asked, his voice even, his eyes averted.

Between moans, Sabrina announced, “I’m crazy.” But she stopped her parents’ efforts to talk to her. “I hate you,” she said. “Leave!”

At times like this, her mother encourages her to breathe in and out. “Smell the roses and blow out the candles,” she says. And his parents are there, frozen, waiting for the continuation.

When Crystol first saw Sabrina, asleep in a crib in the hospital, she cried with happiness. It was July 2008. Unable to have a baby on their own, she and Jeremy had become foster parents, planning to adopt. They brought Sabrina home when she was only a day and a half old.

They weren’t intimidated by what the fostering agency told them: Sabrina’s biological mother and father both had developmental disabilities and the father had been arrested for sexual assault.

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Newsrust - US Top News: What happens when an autistic teenager becomes unmanageable at home?
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