by Sally Matheny
|Share Hope with the Mentally Ill|
Years ago, one of my kindergarten students, “Cody,” exhibited bizarre and sometimes violent behavior. He wasn’t malicious. Yet, he consistently wrecked havoc among the five-year-olds, causing everyone around him great stress and concern.
No matter what methods we tried to encourage success for him, they only helped for a short time—a very short time.
My assistant and I felt all our efforts were hopeless. And school wasn't the only place of Cody’s erratic and raucous behavior.
One morning he came in with singed hair and no eyebrows. His crystal blue eyes remained as expressionless as his face as he told me what he did in the middle of the night.
The kindergartener snuck out of his home with an armful of toys. He dumped them in a pile in the front yard. Then, while everyone was asleep, he set them on fire.
I asked his grandmother, whom he lived with, about it later. She seemed a bit frazzled, but laughed it off and said the boy was constantly into things.
It took me almost an entire year to convince Cody’s grandmother and family doctor that something wasn’t right. He needed more help than his prescribed Ritalin could provide.
Around May that year, Cody finally received the requested testing and counseling. The results revealed Cody suffered from severe mental illness due to physical and sexual abuse. He was taken where he could receive extensive care.
Prior to Cody receiving help for his mind and body, I had the opportunity to offer him hope for his troubled soul.
It was on one of those many days when the P.E. teacher sent him back into the classroom because he was causing mayhem and harm on the playground. Cody flitted from one end of the room to the other. I was used to talking to him while he was on the move. Rarely did he stand still or even make eye contact.
However, that day, something unusual happened.