Just a follow up! I said that we have had to deal with all sorts of people that has really made our journey that much more difficult. I closed the blog talking about a little boy that came up to greet Dylan and just shared his love and acceptance of Dylan, just the way he is. That little boys’ mom should be very proud of him. She is raising him to love and not hate, to accept people with differences! Bravo to her. I also want to share an amazing and humbling event that just took place about two hours ago. This helps to restore my faith in mankind even further. As Terri, Dylan, and I were leaving Wal-Mart, I was approached by a gentleman with two young daughters. I thought he wanted my cart, which I would have gladly given to him, but that’s not what he wanted. He says to me, “Hey, I want to let you know, I understand how difficult it is raising a child with special needs. I have a daughter who is special needs herself. I want to give you this.” He said handing me something from his hand. I actually wasn’t sure what he was giving me, but, then he said, “Please have dinner on me tonight.” I thanked him as he and his two beautiful little girls walked towards the entrance of the store. I stood there in amazement for several seconds, before I looked at the bill in my hand. I was both humbled and overwhelmed. In my hand was a brand new 100.00 dollar bill. I felt the tears well up in my eyes. I continued to stand there dumbfounded for several minutes. I slowly put the bill in my pocket and got in the car. Terri noticed right away that something was wrong, so she asked me. A few hot tears began to streak down my face. I was at a loss for words. I finally said, “Give me a minute. I regained my composure and fished the 100 dollar bill from my pocket and placed it in her hand. She looked at me shocked. “Where did that come from?” she asked. I told her what had just happened and the tears began to well up inside me once again. She said that she noticed the man looking at us as we were putting Dylan into the car. We snapped a picture of his truck! This is why I continue to hold out hope. It is these type of things that restores my faith. This man was truly an Angel in every sense of the word. He didn’t know me, or my situation, but he felt compelled to help us. That is the real meaning of tithing. That is what God truly expects from us. To reach out to others to give anonymously expecting nothing back in return. There is no doubt that this man will be blessed tenfold. For the stranger that gave of himself freely, I want to say thank you and may God bless you abundantly.
The Real Superman Part XIX
By Jeffrey King
Dylan is 12 years old and as I have explained in previous blog posts he still wears diapers. We were putting out a lot of money on diapers, wipes, etc. We were actually thrilled when we discovered that Medicare would pay for his diaper supplies. It has saved us thousands of dollars over the years. Without that help there is no way we could afford to keep him in diapers. Before he began to have seizures Terri and I and his teachers at school all were trying to potty- train him. We were having some positive results, until he begin to have the seizures, which have robbed him of so much cognitive abilities. He has regressed so much that everything that he once learned or knew has long since disappeared.
I know that there are plenty of special needs parents out there who experience the same things that we have to experience on a daily basis. It never fails when we’re out and about, Dylan has to go in his diaper. We have a small Hyundai Sonata and there are many times that we have to find a parking lot to change him. I usually pull into the back of a parking lot away from any parked cars. I pop the trunk, which I leave it opened to actually block the back window. I grab Dylan’s Superman Backpack and take out a diaper, some wipes, a plastic bag and some hand sanitizer. If it has been hot out, the wipes are usually hot, so, I usually keep a bottle of water up front with me to cool down the wipes, and of course in the winter the wipes are cold and quite often frozen, therefore, as you can imagine, not a pleasant feeling. Regardless this is a necessary evil that has to be taken care of, because we don’t like to let Dylan sit in a dirty Diaper. One afternoon while we were out Dylan done his business and I pulled into a Wal-Mart parking lot. I drove to the back lot by some trailers. I popped the trunk retrieved the materials that I needed to change him. As I was changing him, suddenly a car pulled up; of course it was a police car. The officer got out and approached our car. Terri rolled down the window to greet the officer. He immediately asked her if everything was okay. She explained that I was changing my son and explained to him our situation. He was very kind and told us to have a nice day. I knew one day that this would probably happen. We have had other people ride up on us. I guess they are trying to be nosey. It is a shame that even though most malls and department stores have family restrooms where you can change your child; the changing tables are only for infants and small toddlers. Companies really don’t take into consideration families that have special needs children, or family members that they need to care for; that includes toiletry needs. It is my hope that one day this will change and companies will begin to take into consideration these people.
Two years ago we took the family to a theme park. I will not disclose the name of that park, but I will say one of its roller coasters has the name of this titled post. We had Dylan in his Wheelchair/ stroller and we were going to the rides. I have to say I was impressed how they accommodated Dylan and all special needs individuals when it comes to their amusement rides. They allow people with disabilities and handicaps to get on the rides first and let them come through the exits, so as they do not have to wait in line with the crowds. We were having such a good time and we decided to visit their water park. I took Dylan in the bathroom to change him, but was shocked to find out that they didn’t have any family restrooms with any changing tables. I had to take out a sheet that we keep folded in his diaper bag and had to lay it on the floor right by the sinks, because there wasn’t any room in the stalls to change him. Luckily there wasn’t anyone in the restroom at the time and one of the security guards came in. He kept everybody out until I had finished changing Dylan. What a great person he was and I thanked him several times.
After we finished at the water park, we decided to go to one of the shows that the put on in their outside theater. This particular show was a Wild West stunt show. We entered into the arena, which had posted on the outside on a sign “No Strollers allowed in the seating area” I didn’t think anything of it, because Dylan’s chair was actually a wheelchair. Anyway while we were headed to the handicap seating area a security worker came up to us and said, “I am sorry sir, but you cannot bring the stroller in here, it has to be left outside.” I was furious I immediately left and went to find the customer service building to complain about this policy. I got there and told them that this policy was wrong and that this chair is considered a wheelchair. The manager agreed with me and gave me a coupon book with free food coupons. He apologized and called the theater. They sent the security worker up who promptly apologized to me and took me and Dylan back to the show. They brought us up front and we watched the show and all the stunt actors came up after the show to personally greet Dylan and my two other children. They made good on a mistake and I was very pleased with their handling of this situation. I did an online survey about the incident. On the form they had a place where you could enter a comment. I entered this. “I was pleased how your organization handled this situation. I really have only one concern. I would wish that you would consider installing special needs bathrooms for people with special needs.” I added some other things, but that was the most important thing I felt needed addressing.
AS I said before I know there are plenty of families that know our experiences. There are also others that don’t have to consider what we have to actually deal with on a daily basis. It is my hope to bring awareness for parents and families that have children, or family members with special needs that have to deal with these type of issues. I know many companies have stepped up their game to accommodate us folks, and we surely appreciate it, but there is still work to do. We still have other issues that have to be addressed. You see on the daily news about people being brave and standing up for issues that they believe in. We are hoping that people will stand up for people like Dylan and others like him. We have to be their voice, because many of them don’t have one. We have to be their advocates. Please stand up with us! Thanks! AS always, the Real Superman will continue! Until Next time!
Good afternoon everyone. My name is Jeff King and I have a son who was born with a rare chromosome disorder. I call it 3X15C. There is no real name for it. He is only one of about a hundred known cases worldwide. This is a triplication of Chromosome 15. For anyone who knows chromosome 15 duplications are common in children with autism. My son has a triplication of that chromosome, therefore, he has autism and was actually diagnosed as severely intellectually challenged. At the age of seven-years-old he began to have intractable epilepsy. He is now 12 and although he is on medication and has been fitted with the Vagus nerve stimulator, he continues to have severe seizures. My wife and I have just recently started a blog dedicated to him. It is about his journey and ours as well. We have titled it “The Real Superman.” because we truly believe he is not only super, but our hero! We are looking for parents, family members, friends of people with special needs and also Sped. Ed. Teachers and people who work with our children. It is our hope that the story that I am telling will not only encourage others, but also offer inspiration and hope. Please come check it out and join our blog page and feel free to leave a comment or two. We are also looking for people to join us at Parents of Children with Disabilities. We only have 3 members and would love more. That is at https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/107339921749944736766
The Real Superman Part VII
As a parent with a child who has special needs it is sometimes a very difficult journey. When you find out for the first time there is a process that you go through. As psychologist like to call the 5 phases of grief. At first, there is denial. You just don’t want to believe it. I liken it to losing a loved one. You just can’t believe that your child has something wrong with them. All the hopes and dreams that you had for them seem to vanish. I know that I kept playing every scenario over in my head. He wouldn’t play any sports, I could envision him playing football, or baseball, but then suddenly the reality came crashing in. Dylan would not be able to play any of those sports. As a family, we all are very sarcastic and have very dry senses of humor, but that shared sarcastic humor would be lost on him. What was also hard for me to come to grips with was Dylan and I probably wouldn’t share in those coveted father and son talks or those father and son moments that every father looks to share in with their son; those rite of passage moments wouldn’t come for us. It saddened me to think about those things. I also thought about the fact that he would never experience his first kiss, marriage, or children, or any of those things parents look forward to from their children. I was left with a feeling of despair and actually felt alone, like no one could know the depth of my despair. What a cold hard lonely feeling.
It didn’t take long before the feeling of denial and isolation turned to bitterness and anger. This was the time that I would blame my wife, myself and my God! Those were the times when anger and frustration crept in and darkened my thoughts. I asked myself, “what in the hell did I do for Dylan to turn out this way, had pissed God off, did I commit such a dark sin that this was my retribution for it?” “Maybe this was my wife’s fault, maybe something was wrong with her?” Those thoughts were soon replaced by blaming God. “It was all his fault!” I told myself. “God has caused this!” “What father would impose this sentence on one of his own children?” I continued to ask. I was angry at God and I was going to let him know just how angry I was! I felt like Job, I wanted to question him; hell I wanted him to come down in the flesh so that I could personally confront him. I would fight him man to man. I issued that very challenge to him.
The tears of sorrow that I cried, were soon followed by tears of anger and frustration. I was bitter! I was mad as hell at the world, at myself and at God and wanted everyone to know it.
I soon started trying to bargain with God, “God if you would please help my son to be able to walk and talk and understand. I will do anything.” I also thought that maybe if we only knew sooner that something was wrong with Dylan, maybe there would have been something that we could have done, or tried? I was definitely trying to bargain with God.
Then slowly depression came creeping in and I don’t know what my wife felt, but I truly felt like the weight of the world had been cast upon my shoulders. The dark abyss of despair heavily surrounded my soul and my very heart felt as if it was going to break. I began to feel sorry for myself, “How am I going to raise this child?” I stammered. “I am not worthy of this task. It will be incredibly too hard for me. I started feeling sorry for Dylan. “He is going to have such a hard life, other people will make fun of him. What are we going to do?” All these feeling of doubts begin to invade my mind and cloud my thinking. I would lie awake at night and ponder all of these questions.
Then finally a peace came over me when I saw Dylan doing his daily struggling trying to sit up, or to crawl, or to grasp a toy, or to stand. Watching him fall continuously, but never giving up. Always getting up and trying it again. He would fall, then up again. I thought, “My God I probably would have given up by now?” He didn’t. He wouldn’t. It wasn’t in him to. I was witnessing firsthand what a true fighter; a champion was made of. In a moment of selfish reflection I saw all the struggles in life that I had went through thus far, growing up in a poor neighborhood. Raised by a single mother who had to take on menial jobs to try to supplement the welfare and food stamps we received. The struggles I had to endure in the projects of Baltimore. I didn’t have a father around to teach me or to share in those father and son moments. I had to struggle to get up out of the poverty. I couldn’t quit. Failure was not an option. I had forgotten that. Dylan taught me that lesson that day. He showed me what it was like to be a warrior! I was humbled. God had used my little man to teach me such a powerful life lesson and I felt humbled that Almighty God would chose Terri and I to be the parents of this Real Life Super Hero! I had finally accepted the fact that we were chosen for such a special task. That was the day I stopped feeling sorry for myself and for Dylan and saw things for what they really were. (To be continued)
The Real Superman Part I
By Jeffrey King
Why do we consider Dylan the real Superman you may ask? Well if you knew Dylan and children like Dylan, you would see that they really are super! Do they have the power to fly, or bend steel, or are they faster than a speeding bullet? No, but the everyday struggles that these precious children have to endure is nothing less than super. Many people look up to athletes, police officers, fire fighters, soldiers, etc. as heroes, and they definitely are; however, my biggest hero is Dylan and let me explain to you why. In 2003 my wife was pregnant with our third child; which was Dylan. This was a child that we were uncertain that she would be able to have, because in 2001 my wife nearly lost her life due to a medical surgery that went wrong. The doctor ended up cutting a bile duct while he was removing her gallbladder. She was hospitalized for over a month and I was left to care for my two small children who were 2 and 3 years old at the time. I lost my job, due to having to miss so much time caring for them. I won’t get into too much detail about that dark time in our lives.
Time warp to 2003. We found out that my wife was expecting, we were actually shocked, because the doctors said that they didn’t think she would ever be able to have another child. She had a very uneventful pregnancy with no complications. All of her pre-natal check-ups were fine and she did exactly whatever her gynecologist told her to do.
Dylan was born on March 25th 2003 at 5:49 AM. He weighed 8 pounds 9 ounces. He seemed healthy and my wife was fine. No complications. The next morning, he was a little jaundiced, therefore they put him under an ultra violet light overnight. We were discharged the next day, but were told to bring him back to check him out in 3 days, because of the jaundice. We took him back and were given a clean bill of health.
Almost right away we noticed that Dylan was different than our other two children. He had a difficult time sucking his bottle, he couldn’t seem to focus his eyes on anything. He wouldn’t follow my wife’s voice. He was very stiff and floppy. At three months old he couldn’t hold his head up, didn’t smile and couldn’t grasp objects. This was difficult on my wife, because, she felt that something was wrong, but family members just said that she held the baby too much and didn’t let him develop on his own.
We were very concerned that Dylan wasn’t meeting any of his milestones, so we took him to his pediatrician to voice our concerns. He was a little over three months old. She examined him and told us that he just may be developing slower than normal and told us to give him another few months and bring him back if there were no changes. She saw him again when he was six months old and he still was having a developmental delay. She then made us an appointment with a geneticist. It took us several months to get in to see the geneticist and he examined Dylan and did some blood work on him.
Several weeks later we received a call from Dylan’s pediatrician who told us that we needed to go and see the geneticist right away; he had the results of Dylan’s blood test. We called to make the follow up appointment with him and he saw us right away. He brought us into his office and he explained what was going on with Dylan, who was now nine months old. I will never forget the conversation. He told us that what Dylan had, he had never seen anything like it since he became a doctor. He went on to explain that Dylan had a triplication of one of his chromosomes, chromosome 15. He explained that this chromosome had made two copies of itself; the original, the second copy, which was inverted and a third copy of itself. He went on to explain that this was what was causing Dylan’s developmental delay and that there wasn’t anything that he could do to fix it. He told us that Dylan would probably need extensive services to try to get him to develop. He would need physical and occupational therapists as well as a speech therapist. We asked what should we expect and his reply was exactly this, “You can’t put Dylan in a box, I am not sure what he’ll be able or unable to do, but it is better to start these services early to benefit him as much as possible.” He also went on to tell us, “Since I have never seen this condition, I really don’t know what you can expect and if I were you two, I would go do your own research to see if you can find any other children with this rare condition.”
Terri and I were devastated! We felt like we did something to cause our boy to be like this. We saw a child in a wheelchair who was severely crippled and was twisted up like a pretzel. Excuse my description, but that is the only way I could describe him. Terri looked at him and began to bawl uncontrollably. I grabbed her and pulled her to me. I told her, that we didn’t know if Dylan would end up like this, but even if he did, we will be the best parents that he could ever have…… (Continued Later.)
The Real Superman Part II
We went home and together sat at our computer, we googled triplication of chromosome 15 at that time there wasn’t anything written about it, however, a few things did come up in our search one was duplication of chromosome 15, or Isodicentric chromosome 15 syndrome. We began to read about it. For more information you can read about Idic 15 at the following websites http://www.dup15q.org/understanding-dup15q/what-is-dup15q-syndrome/
By reading this material we had a little better understanding of what Dylan was going to be like, but these were duplications of the chromosome and not a triplication. We read that 1 in 30,000 newborns are born with this. We read about the developmental delay that the children have, behavioral difficulties, mental retardation, autism, seizures and just so much more. It was truly overwhelming. We stumbled on an organization that was called Unique The Rare Chromosome Disorder Support Group. They were based in the United Kingdom. We wrote to them about what the geneticist told us about Dylan.
Several days later we received an email back from them and they informed us that they believed that Dylan had Idic 15. They signed us up with their organization and sent us a welcoming package that had names of other families who had children with rare chromosome abnormalities. There were families in the United Kingdom, and even many in the United States that had children who had Idic 15. We didn’t feel quite so alone anymore. We would identify Dylan’s disorder with Idic 15, however, he didn’t have a duplication, but a triplication of the 15th chromosome, so we still didn’t really know what to expect?
We contacted the Maryland Infant and Toddlers Program and was entered into Child Find. The sent out a team of assessors to see if Dylan qualified for this program. We shared with them all of Dylan’s health records. After the initial assessment it was determined that he qualified for help and right away they set up home visits from physical, and occupational therapist. These visits would go on once a week and they were not fun for Dylan and made us have to go outside on several occasions. The therapist would come in and ask us a slew of questions before they began to work on Dylan. This was done by twisting and pulling and contorting his little body in every way imaginable. He would scream and cry; it was heartbreaking for us as parents. They brought in a giant exercise ball and would place Dylan on it and roll him around on it. By doing this it helped to loosen up his tight muscles.
Dylan’s therapy went on for several excruciating months. He didn’t like whenever the therapists would show up, because he knew that they would make him work his body. We didn’t like to hear him crying in pain, but it was a necessary evil. I probably was the father from hell towards the therapist, because I would yell at them. They would always make me leave the room. I did start to notice that Dylan began to be able to do things that he was unable to do when before the two therapists showed up. He could now crawl, grasp items and then, he was able to sit up.
Dylan seen these two ladies twice a week for a year and the results were amazing. In the meantime, I had begun blaming everyone for the way Dylan was born. I never told her at the time, but I was sure it was my wife’s fault, perhaps it was the doctor’s fault, or even God? I then started blaming myself and beating myself up over it. It is hard to explain the darkness that some people go through when something like this happens. The tears that I cried and the anger and bitterness that was eating me drove me further away from my wife and my other two children.
I continued to angrily question God, “Why in the hell would you allow this to happen to this child? What kind of cruel God are you?” I’d scream through bitter tears. It was in one of those tear-filled rages that I looked at Dylan. He had now been able to pick himself up off the floor and navigate himself around the room using the furniture for balance. Then the words I heard echo inside of my ears and stabbed me right in my heart! “Stop feeling sorry for yourself! Look at your son, he is awesome! He is a champion. No matter how hard it has been on him he hasn’t given up. He has fallen down thousands of times, yet he still gets back up!” That day my 16 month old son taught me the most valuable lesson I have ever learned in my entire life and if I could share this with anyone this is very important. Never, ever give up! If you falter, or fail a thousand times, a million times; keep fighting the good fight! It was at that very moment in time my whole life changed! Dylan hadn’t given up on us and I would be damned if I would give up on him! (To be continued)