two healthy sons were four years and two years of age our third son, Gary, was
born. He was a placid pleasant baby who only cried for food. While he was well
fed he was content. But I worried. The health visitor and the nurses at the
clinic told me that I should be happy to have such a beautiful well behaved
went by our beautiful boy was slow to reach the developmental milestones and was
unsteady and unco-ordinated in his movements. Still I was told not to worry
as not all children develop at the same rate. He was four years old when I
visited my GP to have a fourth pregnancy confirmed. The doctor noticed that Gary
was walking on his toes and made arrangements for him to be seen by a specialist
to determine if he was spastic. The specialist diagnosed the cause as being
mental not physical. I was told that he was ‘mentally retarded’ and would never
talk or do much for himself. This proved not to be the case because he did
develop speech (though not clearly) could perform simple tasks, obey
instructions, feed himself and dress with supervision and some support.
time of diagnosis Jack and I were devastated by grief and despair. Our lives
were changed from that day. Knowing nothing about mental handicap we were at a
loss to know what to do. We needed to know more so set about finding out by
contacting the local society for the mentally handicapped where we were assured
that we would be contacted by the relevant people in due course.
pregnancy continued almost without my noticing while I did the rounds of
doctors, specialists, hospitals, social services and educational psychologists.
When our daughter was born our happiness at having a girl was short lived
as it gradually became obvious that she required my constant attention.
Jack started to feel neglected because all my time and energy was centred
on the children. Our two eldest sons by this time were at school which, luckily
for me, was right on our doorstep. They were good boys and made few demands on
me, which was just as well because their handicapped brother was accident prone
necessitating frequent visits to hospital, while both he and their sister had
health and behavioural problems that needed constant attention. Nowadays, our
eldest sons are married with children and living in the midlands. They are both
in managerial positions commanding high salaries with wives who also have good
steady jobs. We visit as often as we can within the limits of our circumstances.
These being for them the time available between school and work holiday periods;
for us the state of our fitness and finances. Jack and I are both retired and
taking life easy. Our daughter, now aged 38, still lives at home but is making
preparations for eventually living independently. She is a good help to
her Dad and me, patient with our shortcomings, frequent forgetfulness and
infirmities which, fortunately, are not serious (yet). Towards her own future
benefit she has taken on a large part of the daily chores, does her own
shopping, manages her own money and is making great strides in learning to
become less dependant on me. Occasional words of comfort and reassurance boost
her confidence and keep her from worrying too much.