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Mom Loses Custody Of Teen For Refusing To Give Her Antipsychotics

Illustration for article titled Mom Loses Custody Of Teen For Refusing To Give Her Antipsychotics

A Detroit mom's refusal to give her daughter antipsychotic medication has touched off a police standoff and swirling controversy — but now officials say the teen may not need the drugs in the first place.

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According to the Detroit Free Press, Maryanne Godboldo says her 13-year-old daughter begin having behavior problems after a series of vaccinations. The girl's aunt Penny Godboldo elaborates: "She began acting out of character, being irritated, having facial grimaces that have been associated with immunizations." So Godboldo took her daughter to a center for at-risk youth, where she was told to give her an antipsychotic medication, reportedly Risperdal. But Godboldo felt the drug was making her daughter worse, and sought holistic treatments instead. Child Protective Services then said she was "in denial about her daughter's mental health issue," accused her of neglect, and tried to remove her daughter from her home, resulting in a "ten-hour stand-off" during which Godboldo fired a gun (her lawyers say she wasn't firing at anyone).

The girl remains in CPS care, at a local psychiatric hospital — but now, officials say there's "no immediate need" for her to be on drugs, raising the question of what the whole dispute was about in the first place. Making matters even worse, the girl's father now says she has tested positive for an STD, which he believes means she was sexually abused while at the hospital. Maryanne Godboldo says her daughter never should have had to leave home, arguing that "they took her unlawfully." And the doctor who was directing the girl's holistic treatment program says, "The treatment [Godboldo] was using was helping her daughter much better than the treatment (Child Protective Services) had recommended."

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On one level, the case is clearly a conflict between traditional and nontraditional medicine — especially since Godboldo says her daughter's problems were precipitated by vaccines, an issue hotly debated in the autism community (there's no evidence Godboldo's daughter has autism). But ultimately, whether holistic treatments were a better way than Risperdal to help the teenager may not be the biggest issue here. Rather, a child seems to have been removed from her home solely because she wasn't getting a medication she may not even have needed. While parents shouldn't be allowed to jeopardize their children's physical or mental health, Godboldo doesn't seem to have been doing either — and, in a terrible irony, the removal that was supposed to help the teen may instead have harmed her. Without knowing more about the girl's ailments or the nature of her treatment, it's hard to say what would've been best for her. But taking her away from her mother doesn't seem to have been the answer.

Officials: Detroit Girl Taken In Standoff Doesn't Need Meds Right Now [Detroit Free Press]
Ten Hour Siege, A SWAT Team... And A TANK: How Police Dealt With Mother Who Refused To Give Her Child Medication [Daily Mail]
Detroit Mom In Standoff Puts Spotlight On Medical Care For Kids [Detroit Free Press]
Physician Who Advised Detroit Mother Says She Was Right To Refuse Psychotic Drugs For Daughter [MLive.com]
Girl Being Held By State Tests Positive For STD [ClickOnDetroit.com]

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DISCUSSION

kca915
Moses Hightower

This article is filled with terrible, terrible reasoning.

"She began acting out of character, being irritated, having facial grimaces that have been associated with immunizations."

As well as numerous other disorders not associated with vaccinations. This sounds to me like vaccinations are again being scapegoated for a different, more unpopular diagnosis; possibly a mental health issue, which are highly stigmatized in the black community.

Making matters even worse, the girl's father now says she has tested positive for an STD, which he believes means she was sexually abused while at the hospital.

That's a weird conclusion. Was she tested for STDs before she went in the hospital? Seems more likely she's just been sexually active without the parents' knowledge.

And the doctor who was directing the girl's holistic treatment program says, "The treatment [Godboldo] was using was helping her daughter much better than the treatment (Child Protective Services) had recommended."

What's he supposed to say? "Yeah, that was a good call by CPS, I'm a quack." Of course he's going to say that whatever he was doing was working.

And of course, the laughable conclusion: Without knowing more about the girl's ailments or the nature of her treatment, it's hard to say what would've been best for her. But taking her away from her mother doesn't seem to have been the answer.

"We don't know much about what's going on, but we're taking the mother's side anyway."

The article doesn't (and shouldn't) contain any of the actual diagnoses of the girl; not the original diagnosis, not the more recent diagnosis from the psychiatric hospital. These seem to be the key to understanding what's actually happening here.

My guess is that the daughter started exhibiting strange symptoms. They took her to a doctor who diagnosed a mental illness, or similar condition. The family didn't like that diagnosis, so she went on the internet/went diagnosis shopping and found information that led to a more convenient scapegoat, vaccines. The child probably continued to exhibit significantly troubling behaviour, most likely violent behaviour, bringing CPS into the situation. When they talk to the mother, they find out she is refusing to give the child the prescribed medication. Situation escalates, child ends up in psychiatric hospital. New psychiatrist sees child in hospital, decides on new long-term course of action, hence "there's 'no immediate need' for her to be on drugs."

I'd say "we'll see," but I doubt the follow-up will get the pageviews necessary to be considered newsworthy.