Thursday, July 14, 2011

Gabe's Story - part 2

When people tried to talk with Gabe, he would either try to avoid them, or he would often shout lines from movies and stories at them. It became clear that he did not understand the meanings of phrases and words. When we were visiting he would often hit my daughter or grab items from others. His parents set up a short list of rules for him. He memorized these rules.Then he would run and hit my daughter or another child and then shout "Don't hit!" Sometimes he said, "you know the rules, don't hit". It soon became obvious that he thought that those were the words you say when you do those things. He did not understand that you don't hit others. In fact the hitting and shouting seemed to be a game that he enjoyed. The other children's reactions and the instructions from near by adults meant nothing to him. Sitting him down brought on lots of crying, but still he did not listen. When adults tried to talk and explain he made lots of noise and shut them out. His frustrated mother said, " he knows all of the rules, but just shouts them at people and then breaks them all! I'm trying, but what do I do?"
Another issue was that Gabe did not seem to understand the meaning of you and me or I as well as mine and yours. Anything that he saw that he wanted very quickly was declared "MINE!".
To complicate things, Gabe's (adoptive) Mother found out that she had cancer about a year after he joined their family. She recovered after surgery and chemotherapy. She was often tired but continuously tried to help Gabe understand the world around him.
As Gabe's mother grew stronger his (adoptive) father began to have more health issues. There were trips to the hospital at all hours. It was hard to be on a schedule. During this time it seemed that Gabe became even more challenging to deal with. His father died just after he turned 5.
Gabe's mother struggled to pay the bills and keep the house. About a year after the death of her husband she discovered a sore on her foot that was not healing. It was determined to be cancer and was removed by surgery. Still it did not heal. During this time the bank forclosed on the house and they had to move. Six months after the first surgery she had a second one. the doctor said that they got all of the cancer. He was sure that it had not gone to the bone.
Even though the loss of the house was not what she wanted, Gabe's mother used the move to his advantage. Gabe had become increasingly more addicted to movies.At church or other outings he would cry continuously and say, "I'm sick, I have to go home and go downstairs." The TV was downstairs. He would make the outing so miserable that she would give in and go home. I do not know if he went downstairs or to bed. When they moved, certain items did not go and some habits were broken. She used the simple logic of "we can't do that here." It seemed that Gabe had many compulsive behaviors that could be very annoying and distracting. These behaviors significantly slowed down accomplishing anything that involved him or even cleaning house.
Potty training was also very difficult. Gabe's mother had given up on it during his fathers illness. Now more than a year later they had made some progress, but more was needed. He was still in pull up pants in the daytime. During this time another relative from Tenn died. It was decided that Gabe would not know about the death. he would just be told that his mother and Uncle had to go on a trip. They would be back in 4 days. At this point in time Gabe was wearing 'big boy under ware' but still having many accidents. I quickly realized that he was too busy watching his movie to go to the bathroom. I told him that if he peed or pooped in the living room that there would be no more movies for the rest of the day. Those were long days. He was used to movie after movie, but he blew it during the first one the first 3 days at my house. He made it to the second movie on day 4 before we were cleaning up and changing clothes.
The reason that Gabe was not told about the relatives death was that he had begun to obsess over the death of his father. He would tell every one, even total strangers in the store that his daddy had died. He would do this with such emotion that people felt sorry for him and thought that it must have just happened. He became quite the little actor, turning on the 'sympathy machine' at the drop of a hat. It had started of course because he was greiving and did not understand what had happened to his Dad. But it really seemed to turn into an attention getting act, that was hard to stop. Because it was all in public his mother was hard pressed to know what to do. If she said anything she appeared hard hearted and cold.
About a year later Gabe and his mother moved out of state to KY. Once again additional items did not go with them and she also insisted on certain behaviors being left behind also. At this point she was able to get the 'sympathy machine' toned way down and eventually stopped. She found other doctors and therapists in her new town who seemed to be more helpful.
Each time that we saw Gabe over the next few years, we could see noticeable improvement in his behavior. However, certain compulsive actions and phrases hung on. He had an unquenchable need to vacuum. He would walk into any ones house and loudly (and embarrassingly ) declare, "this place is a mess. We need to vacuum!" During one visit to my home he was so obnoxious about it that it was nearly impossible to visit. He was sent to a chair in the kitchen and instructed to sit quietly. He cried and cried. He was repeatedly told that he needed to stop crying and get quiet to get off of the chair. He was left there 'by himself' and eventually stopped crying. When he was allowed off of the chair he walked back into the living room and demanded to vacuum. He was told that he was not to mention the vacuum again, but he remained persistent. He was soon back on the chair crying his eyes out. 
A little more than 2 1/2 years after they moved to Kentucky, cancer struck Gabe's mother again.

1 comment:

  1. Visit to see other pictures of Gabe.