Our Journey Raising Two Children with Special Needs

This blog chronicles our life raising two children, Nicholas 14, diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome and Weston 17, diagnosed with Autism/Asperger's/ADHD. It's the ups, the downs, the joys, the sorrows and most importantly, the beauty of living a life less perfect, a life more meaningful.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Wes Dickens

"He's haunted by something he cannot define."

Weston is 17 and transitioning into adulthood. The built-in impatience and impulsivity that accompany an add/autistic profile make it difficult for him to tolerate the waves of emotion commonly associated with the over-production of hormones.

He is up, he is down, but mostly he is angry. We meet regularly with his long-time psychiatrist and have recently secured some in-home behavioral therapy. And although these interventions have been life-saving, to say the least, it is still difficult for Weston to identify and cope with teenage mood swings.

It was explained to us during his recent hospitalization that the process of communicating requires an ability to listen, comprehend, identify one's own feelings about the topic and express them appropriately. In Weston's brain there is a disconnect in this complex process making it very tough for him to tell us how he feels.

As parents we feel frustrated since we cannot address issues we know are bothering him.

To Weston it's even worse since he feels overwhelmingly helpless and abandoned, drowning alone in a pool of his own dark emotion.

Surprisingly however, at the hospital he met a young man, who like him, struggled with anxiety, depression and social isolation. The two became fast friends and found many common interests including a love of RAP music. Here, in the safety of the hospital setting, they wrote songs, developed "handles" for themselves and spotlighted their unique rapping styles in a production they shared with other patients.

Weston, alias "Wes Dickens" finally found an effective way to express his thoughts and emotions. In the RAP format, he was able to communicate. He purged a tangled-up ball of pent-up rage, releasing a mixture of emotion he had suppressed for many years.

 He healed.

He told me that he enjoyed listening to many RAP artists, like Cake and Eminem. I asked him what he liked most about this music?

"Mom," he replied emphatically, "Have you ever listened to the lyrics?

"No," I answered. "I don't really like Eminem's attitude."

"Yeah, that's why I like him," Weston replied firmly

"I'm not following you?" I asked.

"Everyone judges him, but nobody listens.....really listens. If they did they would hear his pain, the pain beneath the words. Some of the songs he raps really explain what it is like to be me."

He scrolled down his iPhone and read off some of the lyrics that resonated with him. I was astounded by the truthfulness of simple words that described a depth of pain.

Finally, I had a window into Weston's world.

And to the rest of the world
God gave you the shoes that fit you
so put em on and wear em and be yourself man
Be proud of who you are
Even if it sounds corny
Don't ever let no one tell you
you ain't beautiful