Sunday, January 16, 2005

A strange personal story...

Consider yourself warned.

A few months ago, an ex-bf from high school contacted me after something like 12 or 13 years. A few days into an awkward correspondence, he asked me to share something more personal about myself. I wrote him the following:

My eldest child, Robert, was stricken with a rare form of autism late in his 7th year.

He was 7 yrs 9 months, actually, when I noticed that he wasn't talking as much. He'd previously, as recently as the previous month, been a real talker- frequent chatter- and he had one of those really high pitched little boy voices, so there was no ignoring it.

Upon reflection, I realized that he'd become withdrawn also. He hadn't pestered me to visit his playmates. I got chills a day or so later, when one of his friends showed up at the door- I recall Robby seeming like a little ghostly figure- he kind of floated into the room & just drifted away.I started thinking that maybe it was environmental, he was too isolated. I was homeschooling him, and I began to work hard to connect with other homeschoolers more purposefully, though in my gut I didn't think that was the issue. I simply didn't know what the issue was.

A couple of months later, he began to develop debilitating fears. He could not be left alone. He could not fall asleep alone- not even with us in the next room. He would scream in terror at things we didn't recognize as frightening. He became even more silent, was not making eye contact, was not initiating interaction, would not respond when spoken to.

A psychologist we finally consulted (we didn't know what else to do) began to treat it as a family problem. We were to never speak for Robby, just wait for him to respond to others. I did not know how to make him understand that it was more than just some kind of wallflower syndrome. It was something else and whatever it was had stolen my happy, laughing, forgiving little boy and replaced him with a silent image of himself. I remember being terrified.

One day, about 9 months after I first realized something was different, Robby woke up talking more than he had in months. He was about 8 years 5 months old. He was more animated also. What he was saying did not make sense. It seemed as though he was trying very hard to tell us something, and he seemed to grow somewhat anxious, then agitated when we didn't understand. I remember one of the things he said: There are 2 Robbys, the high Robby and the low Robby. If the high Robby goes away, then the low Robby will go away. Then the trees will go away, and the grass will go away, and the cars will go away, and the houses will go away, and all the people will go away, and everything- will- be- gone!

His voice had grown more insistent as he spoke, and he cried and raged when he finished. He became more agitated as the day progressed and we made increasingly frantic calls around the region trying to find out what to do when you fear that your 8 year old is having a nervous breakdown. We finally were told, in the 5th call to our pediatrician, to take him to the children's hospital ER. We bundled him and our 1 year old daughter into the van and drove in silent fear. We only had to stop twice to settle Robby down and to keep him from striking his sister. He was admitted to the hospital that night.

It was awful.

He later reached a plateau of sorts. He began to exhibit baseline behaviors that remain today. He looks like an adolescent with moderate autism & several accompanying behavioral issues. Unless you knew about the onset of his condition, there would be no way to know that he absolutely had not been born that way.

I was 4 months pregnant with our second daughter when his breakdown occured. Had I known what was to come, I think I would have only one child.

Had it occured without my husband, neither Robby nor I would have made it.

I recently acknowledged that fact to myself & to my husband and I believe it to be absolute truth. We (my husband and I) are only recently coming to a point where we are beginning to fathom the depth and significance of the intimacy we share. We have been through so much together.

I believe that God Himself brought spouse to me because He knew Robby and I would need him. Spouse saved a woman and a child. Our family just doesn't work without spouse. I hope he always knows that.

I don't have room or need for a correspondence with an ex-bf from high school. I expect no further contact from him.


Blogger WarWagon said...

God's plans are pefect and I'm glad your family is letting him work in and guide your lives. Thank you for being an inspiration to us all.

7:38 AM  
Blogger Martyr73 said...

Thank you for sharing... That was a truly touching story.

8:06 AM  

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