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Father hopes state can help mentally ill child

Posted at 11:45 AM, Mar 01, 2016

A family in distress over a mental health system without answers is reaching out to Action News in a final plea for help.

Christian Holman, 7, was born with a long list of physical and mental problems.  When his mother was pregnant, she smoked, drank and used drugs.

The cognitive damage is severe and so is his violent behavior- now the only father he’s ever known says he’s left with absolutely nowhere to turn.

“My son is special needs, he didn’t ask to be born this way, he didn’t ask to live this way,” Doug Holman said.

He says Christian attacks him daily and the black eyes are just the beginning.

“Locks on all the cupboards, removing knobs on all the stoves so he couldn’t turn it on, no lighters round, no matches around- plug covers,” Holman said.

Still, he says, Christian burned down their last home, has stabbed the dog and threatened to do even worse.

“I have to restrain him pretty consistently,” he said.  “He’s not able to stop, he’s not able to calm down.”

He gave us documents showing that while Christian’s mother was pregnant, she drank a fifth a day, smoked cigarettes and crack, used heroine and took lots of pills.

“His biological mother is now deceased from a drug overdose, she was found on the side of the freeway in Detroit,” he says.

Holman knew Christian’s mother and wanted him to have a better life, so he put his name on the birth certificate though he’s not his biological father. Holman has worked the past seven years to give him all the help he possibly could. 

“Physical therapy, occupational therapy, behavioral therapy, sensory therapy, in home supports,” Holman says they’re all treatments he’s found for Christian.

He receives three-on-one schooling and a caretaker is with Christian every minute he’s not at school, but Holman says the violence has become too much.

“I’m asking for a residential placement, when I say residential- I’m not looking for hospitalization, I’m not looking for a psychiatric hospital,” he said.  “I’m looking for my son to go into a group home, some kind of residential home that is set up specifically for the neurological repetitive therapy that he needs.”

Holman says he’s been told time and time again that Christian is too young, too violent or too cognitively damaged.

“Medicaid is a medical model and they want to fix [him],” Macomb ARC Executive Director Lisa Lapine said.  “Well there is no fix for this, this young man is going to be this way so how do we get him help and support it?”

It’s a struggle Lapine says she’s seen.

“The mental health system is structured in such a way we deliver services in the home for the individual and their family to wrap around so we can keep that child in the home as long as we possibly can,” she said.

She says though there are tens of thousands of dollars being poured into treatment for Christian every month, what Holman and other families in the same situation are looking for, still comes down to funding.

“The reality is that mental health services is severely underfunded in Michigan, in Macomb County and without additional resources I’m not sure we can address the issue,” she said.  “Right now there is nothing in Michigan that addresses that 18 and younger population when the home is no longer safe for the other individuals living there.”

Holamn says he’s been told if he leaves Christian at the hospital for more intensive care, he’ll be put into foster system.

“When Christian came into my life he kind of saved my life, he gave me meaning and direction,” he said. “I don’t know how them stars lines up, but they did, he’s my son, he’s my son and I love him.”

Still he lives in fear, trapped in his home, afraid it’s only going to get much worse before someone finally hears his cries for help.

“Does he have to kill somebody? Does he have to kill an animal? Does he have to run outside the home and get run over by a car?” he said.

In the weeks of reaching out to Community Mental Health and the governor’s office- Christian was brought to a mental health facility for an evaluation.  Holman calls it a start, but vows to keep fighting for his son and the other children whose families have nowhere to turn.