Thursday, January 24, 2008

Jonah Is Gone

Last Thursday, Andy and I drove Jonah to the hospital he'll be staying in for the next six months, or maybe longer. We've been waiting for a spot to open up on this unit for four months, ever since Jonah was expelled from his new school after only seven days. The doctors and therapists at this hospital include some of the greatest autism experts in the world. Andy and I know this is our best shot at extinguishing the aggressive behavior that has been Jonah's biggest problem since he was two years old.

Still: how do you explain to your autistic son that he can't, as he so desperately wants and asks all the time, "go home"?
And: how do you explain to your autistic son, whose conception of time is such that, since Labor Day, he has been asking a dozen times a week, "First June, then waterpark?" then proceeding directly up to his room to change into his bathing suit and wait for June, how do you explain to this boy what "six months" means, or "maybe longer"?

We've been speaking to a nurse or to Jonah's behavior specialist every day, and the report is that he's starting to get used to it. He's started developing relationships with the aides on the unit - which doesn't surprise me at all. The other kids are, for the most part, very low functioning. There are two boys whose arms are wrapped with some kind of padding because they are so self-injurious. There are kids Jonah's age and older who wear diapers, who are completely non-verbal, who seem almost catatonic in their affect. As tragic as it is to see children with such profound disability, it did provide some degree of relief, to know that Jonah would get a lot of attention and affection from the aides, who have some say in which patients they work with.

The drive is not so far, about two hours, so we'll go down to visit at least once, sometimes twice a week. Jonah has been cleared to leave the hospital for four hour stretches, so on Saturday, Andy and I will take him out - maybe to an indoor pool, or the zoo, or, maybe, if we really want to make him happy, we'll find the nearest wholesale club and let him climb in the tires, slip into the freezers, and pick out whatever gigantic sheet cake he wants.

1 comment:

texaspatrick said...

Well, bless you guys. My son has autism also and good for you on finding something and someone that you will help.

All the best.