Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Haunting Story

I have been meaning to write lately and got caught up in the everyday whirlwindish quality of our life.

I have to share the article I just read in The New York Times magazine dating back to the February 5th issue of the paper.

The article haunts me.

It is the story of survival of the mother of a special needs child name Iyal, who was affected by FAS also known as Fetal Alcohol syndrome. The side effects of this terrible diagnosis are multifaceted and variable. For the most part, Iyal born in Russia and adopted by a family in Atlanta, Georgia, had to endure and will have to endure a plethora of symptoms ranging from: "being intellectually impaired, and at high risk for a range of secondary disabilities, including poor judgement, impulsive behavior, social isolation, limited academic achievement, unemployment, drug and alcohol abuse, imprisonment, mental-health problems including suicidal ideation, inability to love independently and inappropriate sexual behavior."

For his parents, no medications nor therapies can help, nothing is deemed effective

After months and years of being part of the "universe of special-needs families, Donnie, Iyal's mom put aside her production carreer. Friends of theirs wondered what their lives would have been like if they hadn't adopted Iyal. His parents couldn't even fathom the idea of dissolving the adoption. On the contrary, they said they "couldn't bear imagining their son growing up without them."
"we fell in love with our son." still Donnie admits: "staying in love has been trickier. People with brain injuries aren't able to reciprocate love in the ways you expect. You're struggling with this cluster of emotions toward your child -- love, but also anger, bewilderment, resentment, frustration and yearning."

There is no real outcome to this story, for Iyal's parents and Iyal himself are faced with a never ending journey, the last resort his mother found was a service dog agency placing autism assistance dogs with children.

I was amazed to read how sensitive dogs can be, Iyal curls up under his dog's paw in order to "come to self-mood regulation". Specially trained dogs can even anticipate mood swings or tantrum, as if they had a sixth sense. They bring so much to these kids for unlike their peers, they hold no grudge, no judgement. " The absolutely nonjudgemental responses from animals are especially important to children." The latter can let their guards down. "The performance anxiety this child may feel all the time is absent when he's with his dog. Suddenly he's relaxed he's with a peer who doesn't criticize him."

A dog can not only bring comfort, it is also an ice breaker, it can increase social interaction. The dog will not cure Iyal, because despite being an amazing service dog, he is a dog. yet, he can "mitigate the disability."

I am in awe when I read about Donnie's hardships, how much she has to endure.
But I also welcome her to the wonderful circle of special moms.

Iyal's dog is named Chancer. "Chancer doesn't know that Iyal is cognitively impaired. What he knows is that Iyal is his boy. Chancer loves Iyal in a perfect way, with an unconditional love beyond what even the family can offer him. Chancer never feels disappointed in Iyal or embarrassed by Iyal. Beyond cognitive ability or disability, beyond predictions of a bright future or a dismal one, on a field of grass and hard-packed dirt, between the playground and the baseball diamond, you can see them sometimes, the two of them, running, laughing their heads off, sharing a moment of enormous happiness, just a boy and his dog."

I had to share this most inspiring story. I feel that dogs can help anyone, or cats for that matter, or horses. Animals are amazing.
When Zoé rides her horse this Friday, I will look at Sweet Pea in a different way. With a new set of lenses.

I welcome any thoughts or ideas or comments on the blog, as you know, for it is what brings it to life.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I had a very dear friend who is no longer with us who had a son with physical and mental disabilities. When the boy was 5 years old, she brought home a black lab and within 6 mos., the boy and the dog became inseparable. It was as if the dog brought great self- esteem and confidence to the boy.
My friend always said " animals ask nothing and truly are devoted friends and members of a family".

The moral of her story is that animals give so much and ask nothing of humans.

I hope you will consider adopting a dog for your family?
You, David and Zoe will not be sorry!