To the editor:
I am using this forum because for the past three years all other options known to me have been exhausted without resolve.
I am a 53-year-old single mother of one daughter and grandmother of four. In 1997-98, while in preschool, it was noticed that my oldest granddaughter seemed to have unique behaviors, attitudes and needs. After consulting counselors, physicians, organizations, etc., it was determined that she had learning disabilities. The following year, when she was in kindergarten, her uniqueness warranted further testing, consultations, etc. She was diagnosed with something called ADHD, and it was recommended she be put on a drug called Ritalin. Refusing to put her on drugs, I began exhaustive research on the Internet, phone conversations with doctors from Plattsburgh to New York City and everywhere in between, and phone consultations with expert physicians in North Carolina and Chicago, searching for someone that would spend more than 45 to 90 minutes with her before making a diagnosis. We finally found a place in Albany to do an in-depth evaluation, and after three months of testing, observations, evaluations and interviews with family members and teachers, my granddaughter was diagnosed with Asperger’s, a high-functioning form of autism.
Throughout the next eight to nine years, I was the primary caretaker of my granddaughter. She received services through various organizations, and she attended special-education classes. She was progressing so well that she was integrated into mainstream classes and functioning very well.
In 2006, when my granddaughter was 12, it was established in Jefferson County Family Court that my daughter was using drugs, and custody of my grandchild was given to her father. The last time I was allowed to see or even speak to my granddaughter was Dec. 31, 2006. Her father and stepmother decided that she should no longer associate with me and have, in fact, deliberately turned this wonderfully unique child, whom I loved and cared for for 12-and-a-half years, totally against me. Although I knew what they were doing was wrong, I didn't know how to explain it other than to say they were brainwashing her and telling her lies about me. I didn't know what to call their behavior other than cruel and abusive. After much research, I now know that there is a name for the behavior that has caused my relationship with my beloved grandchild to be destroyed. My granddaughter’s father's behavior is now known as Parental Alienation, and the effects his behavior has had on my grandchild is called Parental Alienation Syndrome. I would like to urge all of your readers to investigate this form of emotional child abuse and do whatever they can to put an end to it.
I would also like to encourage our lawyers, judges, law guardians and family members to educate themselves regarding this behavior so that they can be aware of this behavior and intercede when necessary. This form of child abuse is devastating to not only the child but the entire alienated family, and oftentimes the damage to the child is irreparable.
I would also like to invite anyone with a similar experience to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Knowledge is the key to stopping this form of abuse against our children.