Iowa family seeks treatment for 10-year old son - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa family seeks treatment for 10-year old son

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“When I’m mad, I guess I don’t think straight," says 10-year old 5th grader, John Michael Koch.

John Michael knows he is very self-aware. He also knows he needs help to control his sometimes aggressive and violent behavior.

What happens, on occasion, he says is this; “I’m just mad and I just do it.  I’m just going to do this I don’t really care what happens.”

His Mom, Brittany, says “He gets very angry, very easily.  Overwhelmed. Overstimulated. And that leads to trouble."

John Michael is an Orange Elementary School student, whom can be a very charming kid, but, he has trouble focusing and functioning in a large group environment, like school.

He has been a fairly good student. But, because of his ongoing anger problems and inability to focus, his grades have started to fall. Still, school is a place he truly enjoys and is a critical part of his life. The family says the staff at Orange has been a huge help to John Michael.

Referring to the Orange Elementary teachers and staff, John Michael's Mom, Brittany, says, “They are fabulous. I don’t know what we would do without the school, because they are our constant, right now..” 

The Koch's also speak very highly of the staff at Black Hawk-Grundy Mental Health. They, too, Brittany says, have helped her son improve and get a better handle on his anger issues.

They praise Family’s First, a local organization which has been helping the Koch’s, but those services have run out. The family says insurance stopped paying for John Michael's behavioral health services.  He still sees a therapist and is prescribed some medications, but needs his treatments to continue and be more local.

The Koch's say finding ongoing, local treatment for John Michael has been a struggle. They've had to travel to Des Moines to get help. Brittany adds, “We live in a well populated area. And, the fact that we have to travel hours to get him help is not ideal. We sat in the ER for 24 hours. And, when I spoke about that, I realized there are a lot of people who have waited a lot longer than us, because there’s no money for beds. No one is willing to put the money onto what needs to be there.”

The Koch's had to wait two years just to get on the mental health waiver, a community-based program which offers some services to families. But, finding help for John Michael when he has one of his temper outbursts usually causes the family problems.

“Safety is our biggest concern. We have a large family. Ultimately, we need to be safe. He needs to be safe, and we need to keep the rest of the kids safe.”  John Michael has 3 younger brothers and a sister. We found hospitals, but, we weren’t able to call them, because they didn’t accept children under the age of 12. So, that limited our resources even more, “Brittany says.

John Michael is the oldest of the family's five children. He has three younger brothers and a younger sister.

She add, “I try really hard to keep him safe at home and get him services so we don’t turn into an inpatient program. Because he’s 10, He needs his family. He needs his Mom. He needs his Dad. He needs his siblings. But, we need him to be safe.”  

“There are so many different dynamics when it comes to mental health. You can’t just medicate. You can’t just see a therapist. You have to have all of it. And, to find all of it locally to work together, it’s hard.  It’s not there right now.”  

John Michael says he often remembers a sign which hangs at school;. The sign reads: Anger is one letter short from danger.” This 10-year old hopes that will help him keep his anger under control and continue to make improvements, both at school and at home.

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