It’s a crisis so many families in our state are facing, lack of services for children with severe mental health problems.
Action News has received dozens of calls and emails from parents saying they have nowhere else to turn. Talia Blum was one of the most extreme cases, exploding in violent outbursts while her parents beg for someone to help.
“We were told, we’re sorry we’ve called all over and nobody will take her,” Michelle Blum said.
She says she’s tried everything to get treatment for her 17-year-old daughter with autism.
“I was blown away by the lack of support there is, there is such a fine line between the normal population and these kids that are falling through the cracks,” she said. “Especially autistic children who are nonverbal and have other disabilities – they just don’t have the ability to take them.”
Blum and her husband adopted Talia when she was just two years old from Azerbaijani.
She says they sensed something was different when they first met her but felt this was their calling.
“It wasn’t until puberty hit that the downhill slide came and it came fast- it was almost as if a switch had been turned on,” Blum said.
That’s when she says Talia began erupting in violent rages.
“Sometimes it can come out of nowhere and she will start screaming at the top of her lungs – she will hit herself, she’s gotten to the point where she’s bloodied her mouth, she’s hitting her forehead, she’s scratching her mouth, punching and if you try to step in to stop her, the attacks come on you,” she said.
But Blum says the hospitals turn her away and she’s told time and time again that Talia doesn’t qualify for the Medicaid waiver to receive treatment from the state and the family's private insurance also won't foot the bill.
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says they can’t comment on any specific case or individual due to confidentiality requirements.
“I am so disgusted with the process, I am so disgusted by the way it’s handled,” she said. “I mean we have a healthcare system in place now that’s supposed to be there for everybody – but for some reason these children still don’t have that right.”
Talia’s Psychiatrist David Villanueva is just as frustrated as Blum watching his patients fall through the cracks.
“We don’t have these programs anymore, they have closed,” David Villanueva, M.D. said.
But a Mother’s love fuels Michelle’s fight, determined to give her daughter the treatment and therapies she so desperately needs.
“I want her to lead the best life she can possibly lead, I want her to be as successful as she possibly can be,” Blum said. “If she can’t talk I have to do it for her, I have to continue fighting for her because nobody else is gonna do it.”
Since we shot our story, Talia's violent outbursts have only escalated, leaving the Blum family in a crisis situation.
Blum says the state is still refusing to help and now she's fighting for her private insurance to pay for Talia to go to a treatment facility in Maryland which is something, she says, they're still not willing to do.