Billy's Journey Through Life

by Kimberly S.
(Iowa, U.S.)

When my youngest son, William... he's always been Billy to us and answers to no other name... was two, he woke up one morning in a very bad mood and nothing would change it. The tantrums, which had been inexplicable and infrequent up to that point, turned into aggression that day. I dropped my kids off at my sister's to be watched and went to work for an 8 hour shift, expecting his bad mood to even out during the course of the day. Well, it didn't, and my sister had lots to tell me when I picked up my children that evening.

He had decided he didn't like my sister's live-in boyfriend that day. He bit him, kicked him, pulled his hair, and screamed whenever Rodney came into the same room with him. From that day on, and still to this day 4 years later, he hated Rodney. That day seems like it has gone on forever.

It was about a week, maybe, after that that I started calling doctors, trying to find out what was going on. Up to that point I had been telling myself it was the "terrible twos", that it had come early and was just severe. Anyway, because Billy didn't speak, doctors wouldn't even see him... not play therapists, psychologists, not psychiatrists, no one. I couldn't get his pediatrician to refer me to anyone due to his age and his nonverbal state.

About a year and a half later, during the Christmas holidays, we spent the night at my mom's house. It was me, Billy, his two brothers, and his grandmother in the house. At around 2a.m. the smoke alarm went off and woke me up. I came out of the spare room and saw Billy huddled on the floor in the middle of the hallway with his hands over his ears, rocking. And then I smelled something burning. My mom came out of her room and started yelling. The kitchen was on fire!!! We'd ordered pizza for dinner and the leftovers had been in the fridge, still in the box, and Billy had placed that pizza box on the stove and turned on two burners, setting it on fire. The fire had started

to spread some. My mom and I put out the fire. My mother, stark naked, ran outside to throw the burning pizza box in the snow in her backyard. Why, I will never know, I guess she wasn't awake and didn't think to use the sink, but anyway we got it put out. It took about ten minutes or so to ensure there were no hotspots and get the mess cleaned up, and during that time my son didn't do anything except huddle in the hallway, rocking, with his hands over his ears.

Due to the holiday I had to wait to contact a doctor. I called a psychiatrist's office I had previously spoken to, and they again tried to tell me he was too young... and I said he set my mom's kitchen on fire two nights ago and described what happened. Their tune changed suddenly, they would see him THE NEXT DAY!!! We saw a psychologist, who observed Billy for about an hour and had me fill out paperwork about him, behaviors, skills he did/didn't have, stuff like that. Another month to get him in to see the psychiatrist, time for the psychological report to be written up and processed... and finally the day came to take him back in. Only the psychiatrist wasn't alone when we went into her office. She had another woman with her, who she explained she wanted to "sit in" on our meeting because she needed her to see this, to see it first hand.

IT? Wait... what is IT? "Autistic Disorder (classic Kanner's Autism), and SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder)." All that time, wondering what was going on, and diagnosis was almost a relief. Finally, a name to put on things, something to fight against. Today, three years later, there is no closure. My child still must be watched very carefully, there is no cure for either disorder, and it's frustrating. I wanted to share this with other parents, share a piece of my child's life, a piece of my heart. My bleeding, broken heart that endures much on a daily basis for love of a small being burdened with so many issues he can't do many things that others take for granted.

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