Autism & the sacrificial lamb

D. Spurgeon

The third child of 3 within as many years, I never bonded with him, he wouldn’t cuddle, I could do nothing to comfort him, and he never seemed to need sleep. Handing him over to his father, I mothered my one and two year old already in tow. They were so much easier to manage. Besides, his father, it seemed, was the only one he would interact with so I left him to him. Then one night Daddy didn’t come home. The rambunctious baby boy stopped talking even what few pieces of gibberish he had, and all potty training had been forgotten. Ignoring what I told the Doctors about his hypersensitivity to what seemed everything and inability to comprehend pain or danger, my Son’s regression was blamed on the traumatic loss of his father and the fact that the man hadn’t actually died but was left with severe brain damage due to moving a parked truck 5 feet with his face.

The 4 year old child was prescribed Tegretol to help me manage his outbursts, a drug reserved for the most violent offenders and he was pretty much sedated through his early childhood years, misdiagnosis after misdiagnosis I gave up on the doctors who had done little more than sedate him and try to convince me to give up on what I knew my son was capable of. Unable to read or meet the expectations of most classrooms, it was an exhausting battle I fought alone, demanding that he be taught anyway. Barely escaping felony Battery charges more than once before the age of 12, I am blessed that it was at the same age that he last choked me. I had been told that puberty would only exasperate his behaviors and institutionalizing him was probable, perhaps even inevitable.

At times, going days without any sleep, to everyone else he was just the quiet boy in Special Ed that didn’t like to be touched and just happened to look like a young rock star. Unable to sit through a haircut, his long blond hair and deep dark eyes made up for the fact the boy rarely smiled or made eye contact. Although he worked very hard to keep what made him so different a secret, his indifference to following social requirements whose ever changing rules were beyond his grasp made him acceptable to others nothing like him but who still managed to at least pretend not to care that they didn’t fit in to what was acceptable among their peers. He had learned to avoid being touched, always in fear of the next meltdown and the consequences it would bring. Without abstract thought he was just too cool for corny jokes and found his humor in the most peculiar things. Rules rarely were understood but he did what he was told or at least how he perceived the expectations of others. His inability to foresee consequences made him look fearless and his extreme tolerance to pain, tough. Unlike most teens on the Autistic spectrum, his antics, quirks and funny use of Language showed him to be a lot of fun to the wild inner city kids running the streets of our neighborhood and there was always food at my house and a grown up to talk to.

I knew it was just a matter of time before some girl would dig her fingers into him and I feared all that would come with his venture into sexuality. And dig, one did. I guess you could say a confused young girl showed him a touch that didn’t sting so much and he formed the first bond he had ever known except for the one created years before with the family Rottweiler that had taught him empathy. Unfortunately for the rest of us, empathy seemed a concept that to him only applied to the dog and for a time the girl. You see, even I had been his enemy, forever set on unveiling and correcting all that he worked so hard to hide. So I was thrilled as I watched him create relationships I had once believed he would never be capable of, despite the fact that had he been a normal teen I would have forbid him to see the friends that he had made. Naively, I thought I could continue to manage the teenage him as I had the autistic child he had been.

Development that had been slow began to progress and I watched him begin to conquer limitations that had held him back for so long. His was a battle that I was warned may or may not last his lifetime. Echoing in the back of my mind was one Dr.’s prediction that one day his development would cease altogether, leaving him forever at whatever level the child managed to reach. Remembering the Doctors who had painted such a grim picture of his future in their attempts to convince me to give up on what I had hoped for him, what I saw in him, what only I knew him to be capable of, is what gave me the strength to endure all that came with those teen years. I prayed a lot and demanded even more. I fought so hard for him and with him for so long that I wore myself out and when the time came to start letting go, I really had no idea how to go about it.

Unfortunately for all my children I had become preoccupied with an abusive man. The boy with his limited ability to communicate tried to tell me what was going on but I wouldn’t see it for what it was, even an order from child protective services regarding contact between my son and the man wasn’t enough to open my eyes, that is until the man went after my older son. Like many abusers things got really freaky when I tried to end it and a year of Stalking and 911 calls began. The terror escalated until one night the predator was caught sneaking into our home uninvited and the then 17 year old and his wayward friends stood to protect his momma. I was already on the phone again with 911 when my youngest son cried out that he had been stabbed. I can still see the blood all over the walls, but was unaware at first that it was the blood of our attacker and not that of my son, thankfully. Unfortunately for my son the pain medication erroneously prescribed caused some pretty radical behaviors I was still too traumatized to handle and a week later he was involved in a hit and run that I insisted he be prosecuted for despite the victim’s reluctance to charge him. We endured another year of the abusive mans threats before being humiliated all over again in court, watching as the evil man was acquitted based on his lies and the victim’s inability to communicate the sequence of the events of that night properly, only because of the victims disabilities and the fact that the District Attorney had let 2 years pass before the trial even began.

At 15, he had begun smoking pot and I hospitalized him twice trying to make him stop. Illiterate, I knew he didn’t need any more strikes against him. Finally one of his many therapists convinced me to loosen the reigns and give him the space to sink or swim, so reluctantly I let go and to my surprise he began to float, though he wasn’t quite swimming, it was more like a struggle not to sink. No longer afraid of disciplinary actions if I caught him high, he stopped avoiding me and one afternoon we held the first real conversation between us in his life.

Within 3 months he was no longer taking the medication he had been on since his childhood to control his behavior, his sleeping pattern was not so sporadic and the meltdowns and impulsive behaviors seemed to cease. In time he was able to communicate to me that smoking pot slowed his mind down without all the side effects of the medicine he was prescribed that never did anything but sedate him. It wasn’t until he was almost of legal age that he could sit through a movie and understand the story without having to watch it several times. His vocabulary has since grown and now he will start conversations on his own, where once all I could hope for was that he might answer a question. He still has some tics but not to the degree he had when he was younger and he has found more socially acceptable ways of satisfying what he calls the itch of his Tourette’s, a high pitched dolphin call, so obscure some people don’t even notice it.

Proving that criminals are created by society, his record is getting pretty long, He isn’t violent by any means and is respectful of authority in spite of the ill treatment from them he has received. Often accused of public intoxication because he is just too handsome to be developmentally disabled so he must be drunk. His desire to be independent like his older brother and sister in college has created even more obstacles that he doesn’t have the tools or money to maneuver, yet he keeps plugging away trying to live in a world he still doesn’t completely understand. Therefore, I was assigned him as his payee when he went from being a disabled child to a disabled adult on his Social Security Disability Claim.

It is documented that autistic children are often exceptionally attractive and this definitely is the case with Louis. Peculiarly young girls swarm around him, the more indifferent and uninterested he is, the more he is pursued. Naive and easily exploited but still a hormonal young man, it should have been no surprise when it was claimed that he would be the father of twins before graduating high school. What was a surprise was that the mother to be was an older young woman with a child already, whom I had forbid to see my son when he had still been a minor. I lost him the day his baby girls were born and I confess that for as scared as I was for him I welcomed the relief. Ignorantly believing that I was turning him over to another mother, I abandoned him. Within 6 months, the autistic boy I had known became a confused young man left alone with twins. A blessing in disguise because of the fear that the courts would demand him to pass a UA to win the custody fight, My son quit smoking the pot and sought med management, to better deal with his issues. Back to trial and error, Tenex seemed to help him cope for a while, but recent circumstances have caused him to feel even medication is hopeless.

To add to his misfortunes life had really knocked the wind out of me, After that hellish year of being stalked and worse, and another living in fear of the evil man’s threats, I lost my job of 9 years at BC BS because I was barely able to keep my own responsibilities straight yet alone his too and I neglected to pay a fine my son had incurred and his license was suspended, not because of his actions but because of my negligence. Unaware of his illegal driving status, he drove another person’s car. He was pulled over and ticketed for the suspended license and no insurance, although he carried an insurance card in his wallet. Positive that I had taken care of everything relating to his driver’s license, I told him it was all a mistake and we would take care of it at court. The next week he was pulled over in someone else's car again. In court he tried to explain that I was at fault for his suspended license, but the judge didn’t care. The following week he was in court again, this time alone and didn’t understand all he had to do was pull his proof of insurance out of his wallet, and although the judge had been made aware that he was disabled the judge encouraged him to plead guilty without any kind of advocate to help him understand the consequences of his plea.

Having often been stopped and harassed by neighborhood police accusing him of being intoxicated , I had told my minor son not to take Sobriety tests his disability wouldn’t allow him to pass and call me ASAP, if and whenever the situation repeatedly arose. Although that advice was my attempt to protect my son when he was still a minor often accused of intoxication by those unaware of his disabilities, once again following my advice has proven detrimental to him. Sober, he made the choice of driving a drunken young girl’s car to save her from doing so and was pulled over. He refused the breath test the owner of the car had failed and has been charged with DUI and is now considered a felony habitual offender basically because his payee screwed up and so he is facing jail time.

In his attempt to become a productive member of society in spite of all that he has overcome, he is now enrolled in the coming fall semester to learn the trade of Welding, a goal he is capable of achieving. That is, as long as the system doesn’t label him a felon and send him off to jail to pay for his terrible crimes instead. Crimes, due more to lack of proper representation and understanding in the court room, my poor attempts to protect him and incompetence as his payee than actions of his own.

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