Saturday, December 27, 2008


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Today is my son's birthday. He was born at 10:05 am. 23 years ago and has come a long way. He was born underweight, underdeveloped, had to be reanimated twice and doctors figured he would be better off being placed. He looked like ET, scrawny body with a large head on a thin neck. I was terrified that his head would be hit since he had no bones covering his brain. They eventually grew over the next 6 months, but those first few months were terrifying.

The first years were a long uphill battle with various developmental hurdles. He had laser surgery on both of his eyes to correct a rather nasty strabismus at 2 years old. To activate is speech center, we resorted to using a combination of sign language and speaking at the same time so he could associate the sign to the word. He finally spoke his first clear words at the age of 6. He finally started to walk at 3 and a half using a push toy to steady himself. At the age of 5, they tried to tell us that he would never mature past the age of 2 emotionally and maybe age 8 or 9 mentally. I didn't believe them and took him home and proceeded to teach him the things he would need in life in order to survive and not have to depend on others. He has very little short term memory so anything he learns has to be done over and over again until it becomes a long term memory.

He was extremely clumsy because of the neurological delays, his fine and gross motor control sucked big time. He couldn't run or skip or throw a ball. He was an easy target at school for all kinds of bullying, abuse and general put downs. He was a walking bruise at times. Throughout his years at various schools, he had speech therapy to help him with stuttering and articulation problems. Some schools were better than others and I'll leave it at that.

In time, he learned to cook simple meals, sew a seam, a button, wash his clothes, wash dishes, buy groceries, vacuum, and generally take care of himself. At the age of 15 he went out and got himself a job at a local garage. He didn't want money, he just wanted to gain experience and convinced the garage owner to give him a chance. The owner finally agreed, gave him a pair of workboots, coveralls and lunch each day that he showed up for work which lasted all summer. He learned how to take a car engine apart, how to change the oil, how to keep a shop clean and organized and how to change a tire. For a boy whom I was told would never progress beyond the age of 8 or 9, that wasn't too bad now was it.

I am proud of his accomplishments despite all the set backs along the way. The only thing he will always need help with is figuring out the value of money. To him 100 dollars is the same as a 1000 or a million. It's a lot of money. Thankfully he has a worker from the local Salvation Army who comes over each week and helps him, making sure his rent is paid, cellphone and laundry money isn't gone and groceries are done.

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