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Article Archive >> Community

Dad Finds Support for Son and Builds Stronger Relationship

Dad Finds Support for Son and Builds Stronger Relationship

(ARA)-Dr. Joel Weinthal never imagined that he would face the parenting of two teenage children alone. With his wife Patrice by his side, he'd been free to pursue his rising career in pediatric hematology and oncology from New York to Los Angeles, to his own large practice in Dallas, Texas. But two years ago Patrice died from a brain tumor. A stay-at-home mom, she'd tended to the children's daily needs, especially the needs of their son, Jeffrey, who had been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. Dr. Weinthal provided the happiness that comes from long term security and together the two made a great parenting team.
"I had an incredible ally in Patrice," says Joel. "She was an amazing wife and mom. She took care of everything for the kids and for me, while at the same time dealing with the day-to-day stresses of parenting a disabled child, and of parenting in general."
With the loss of Patrice, the family suffered from incredible grief. Already struggling to deal with his disability, Jeffrey was overcome by the loss of his mom. "The bottom really fell out for him, and he'd lost all touch with reality," says Joel.
The family knew that Jeffrey would need grief counseling that would fit with the treatment he needed to manage his Asperger's syndrome. There were programs that helped with different aspects of Jeffrey's needs, but no one seemed able to manage all his care. "I needed somewhere I could trust to see the potential in my son and not give up on him just because his needs were great," says Joel.
With the help of an educational consultant, Dr.Weinthal found Montcalm Schools, a private residential treatment program of Starr Commonwealth serving children ages 12 to19. "We had tried other places and they ended up with a phone call to me saying, 'Dr. Weinthal, please come and get your son.' Jeffrey's been successful at Montcalm Schools because it's a place where he can thrive," he says. "I really don't think there's another place like it in the country."
As for Jeffrey, he agrees that Montcalm Schools has been good for him. In a mature voice he shares that his previous school just "wasn't the right fit."
"At first I had some troubles here, as most students do," he says. "But now I know that I am in a safe environment and I have my peers to support me."
Jeffrey is a tall young man with dark hair and an eagerness to show that he's growing up. As he talks he pays attention to his posture, straightens his suit jacket and sits leaning slightly forward, his hands in his lap. He talks of his concern for the environment and his dedication to recycling as well as his love of the arts, especially, he says, videography, film, and poetry. His favorite poet? His mom, he says. "She was never published, but we are all proud of her poems. I keep some of them with me here at the school."
And what about his dad?
"My relationship with my dad has grown in ways we never expected," says Jeffrey. "Dad is really understanding and when we talk to each other we are building a relationship based on trust. It may mean watching movies together, or just chatting about something. I'm learning to accept that because he is my dad, I need to treat him with respect, but I can also be very close with him."
"I've seen tremendous growth in Jeffrey," his dad adds. "I take my hat off to the people at Montcalm Schools and I'm indebted to them. They haven't given up on him and I hope that means that someday Jeffrey will have the future I've always dreamed for him."
Starr Commonwealth is a nationally and internationally recognized private, non-profit organization serving more than 5,000 children, families and professionals a year from locations in Columbus and Van Wert, Ohio and Albion, Battle Creek and Detroit, Michigan. Services range from foster care to residential treatment and from in-home counseling to programs that help young adults learn to live independently. Starr has launched a bold new initiative called No Disposable Kids consisting of three multi-faceted training programs that help schools identify their strengths, analyze their weaknesses and utilize practical, prevention-oriented tools for creating safe and productive school environments.
For more information on Montcalm School for Boys, call (866) 244-4321. For information on Montcalm School for Girls, call (866) 289-9201 or visit www.montcalmschool.org or www.starr.org.

Courtesy of ARA Content

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