One of my favorite things Ryan’s dad did through the years was a little vengeful, and maybe even a little mean. Whenever Ryan did anything extraordinary, Frank sent an email to the psychiatrist who diagnosed my son. He’d inform her of the new and wonderful thing Ryan just accomplished, which she said could never happen. My husband has written a several e-mails to her over the years. I included one of them below. She never answers, but that doesn’t stop him from sending them. These emails continue to be very therapeutic and part of our family’s healing. But more important than that, we want this expert to learn that kids can recover before she pronounces another life sentence on a family. I can’t wait until Frank sends her a copy of my book.
Sent: Friday, May 4, 2007
Subject: My son, Ryan
Dear Dr. Goodman:
This is an update on my son Ryan’s progress. You diagnosed Ryan with PDD-NOS at the age of four. You told my wife and me that he would need special schools, be unable to deal with people, and had a good chance of ending up in an institution or group home. And if we were lucky someday he might get to work in the basement of some company where he wouldn’t have to talk to anyone.
Ryan is now eighteen and a senior in high school. Ryan was one of seven students from his high school out of a class of 560 (if you do the math, that puts him in the 98.75th percentile) selected for this Celebration of Excellence honor. The award was not for running a computer or memorizing inane facts (as YOU might have predicted), it was for SOCIAL SCIENCE.
I’m taking time out of my day to write you, not because I have a lot of time on my hands. You see, next week we get to go to Ryan’s end of season track banquet where he will receive a letter in track for running the 800 and 1600 meter runs. This award will go well with the letters he earned in Cross Country and Track from last year. The week after that, we attend a dinner at the Reagan Library, where Ryan has been selected as a Ronald Reagan Library Scholar. In the middle of this, Ryan is taking four AP exams. Of course, that is not unusual for him, having taken three exams last year, scoring two 4’s and a 5 (out of 5 possible).
He graduates in June and his schedule doesn’t let up. Ryan will continue helping out at a local nursing home and start a summer job to earn money for college. Oh, I forgot to mention that Ryan was accepted at Santa Clara University, the University of Southern California, Loyola Marymount University (with Honors), California Polytechnic University (San Luis Obispo), and the University of California, both Irvine and Santa Barbara campuses.
Ryan chose Santa Clara University both because of the outstanding engineering program and the fact that they along with Loyola offered him the most scholarship money of the THREE schools that offered him MERIT-based scholarships. Did I mention that Ryan had to interview for these scholarships with university alumni and staff (you know, the kind of people he shouldn’t be able to talk to)? He’ll miss his best friend (surprise, Ryan has friends) who’ll be attending UCSB, but he’s already met some great kids at Santa Clara University.
Have I left anything out? Oh, yeah, my wife and I would like to thank you once again for making us so angry with your diagnosis/prognosis that we were determined to prove you wrong. I assume you won’t respond to this e-mail just as you have failed to respond to all of the others.
NOTE FROM MARCIA HINDS – Megan and Ryan’s mom:
Ryan became an aerospace engineer, because he received proper medical treatment combined with behavioral, and educational interventions. To preview my book, “I Know You’re In There – winning our war against autism” go to Amazon or my website www.autism-and-treatment.com
Contact info for Marcia:
Phone: 805 497-8202 Email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
There is more info to help on my website.