“You’d better come in and sit down, Mz Weathers,” said Ted Renver. “This is going to take long enough that my legs and back are likely to start playing up.” He opened the front door wider and stepped back to let the older woman inside. “The dining room is probably the best place. You know the way.”
The dining room was focussed on a rectangular table set with ten chairs. The polished wooden surface was graced by a large lace doily surmounted by a vase containing a dried flower arrangement. By mutual agreement the two of them sat sensibly opposite each other across the width of the table. Ted spoke first. “In answer to your question, Mz Weathers, yes, someone who lives here has been hitting Yollie. That’s one reason I’m helping her go away from here.”
“Why haven’t you reported the abuse to the police or to us?” The social worker tried to keep a neutral tone.
“It’s not an adult who’s doing it and I don’t think a legal path is going to help.” Ted rested his hands on the table. “I admit I was aware that a number of my younger siblings who are verbally challenged can be rough in their communication methods. I’m also more aware now, as I’m sure you have been since you did your case assessment of Karla, that because she’s the only neurotypical one of us kids, people tend to treat Yolli as an extension of our parents or an additional carer instead of a kid with her own development and support needs.”
“My focus in this family has always been Karla,” Mz Weathers admitted, “so I’m aware that the girls share a room and that Yollie sees to Karla’s needs that arise in the night.”
“Karla’s usual method of waking Yollie for help is to hit her. It’s how she usually gets Yolli’s attention if they’re not actually talking to each other. Unfortunately, Yollie isn’t allowed to show that she’s upset or hurt when that happens because Mom and Dad are so convinced that de-escalation is the way to handle our individual outbursts.” Ted sighed and his tic worsened again after having calmed, “Aside from Yollie’s issues it’s come to mean that Karla, Aubrey and Tim think that they’re not hurting her because she doesn’t get angry or upset with them.”
Mz Weathers took a deep breath. “So what do you see as being Yollie’s issues? Aside from being beaten up by her siblings, and not being allowed to react appropriately to that.”
“She has no withdrawal space,” replied Ted. “There’s nowhere she can go when she’s had enough of people and needs to be alone. That also means that when she’s trying to withdraw to de-escalate, she’s got nowhere to go. There are too many of us for the bathroom it be a good place for privacy; because she shares with Karla and can’t lock Karla out, she can’t go to her room; and often if she goes for a walk to destress, Mom tells her to take of us with her so we can get some fresh air – often it’s the one person Yollie is trying to get away from. I think Yollie is that close to snapping,” Ted held up a hand with the thumb and forefinger almost touching, “If she starts hitting back and doesn’t stop, which is what I’m afraid of, then someone winds up in hospital and Yollie goes to jail.”
Mz Weathers sat back in her chair and folded her hands in front of her. “I agree that is a suboptimal situation. So your solution is to send Yollie away while your parents aren’t here to intervene?”
“Yes,” Ted nodded just that bit more vigorously than he’d intended. “Now she’s finished high school they think she’s going to work at the grocery and give them her wages, help out with the others, and maybe do a few night courses – if she can be spared. I want her to have the same education chances Mom and Dad have worked to give the rest of us, but they seem to forget she needs then too.”
“Your parents have always been very focussed on getting you and your siblings all the help they need,” agreed Mz Weathers, “but you think that they overlook Yolanda’s needs?”
“I think they’ve got her in a box that says ‘neurotypical therefore doesn’t need help’,” replied Ted. “One of the things I want for my little sister is that she gets to think about what she could do without the people who are now telling her what she will and must do overtalking her thoughts all the time.”
This is now followed by Null and Void 4.