by Barbara Coppo
American Reporter Correspondent
October 23, 2007
MY WONDERFUL, AMAZING AND AUTISTIC SON
VALLEJO, Calif. -- Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in a world shrouded in a mask of vocal inability and your only communication was through guttural sounds? Imagine the fear and frustration surging through your body when you felt pain or needed something but couldn't express it to those around you, so you instinctively take your frustrations out the only way you know how - on the people who love you most!
That is the life many children and adults like Kenny Coppo face daily. Kenny is an autistic 29-year-old boy in a man's body. He was once a happy, healthy toddler who was curious and content, but turned into a distant and unmanageable child I could no longer control after receiving his DPT (Diptheria - Pertussin - Tetanus) immunization at 19 months old. Like most parents, I had simply followed our doctor's orders and governmental guidelines, believing I was protecting my baby from childhood diseases with these immunizations.
As Kenny's behavior became increasingly bizarre and were coupled with devastating seizures, I turned to professionals for help. They only encouraged institutionalization, and said his autism would worsen with time. They warned the likelihood of non-verbal, autistic individuals to improve socially, or any other way, was discouragingly remote.
Although they were so right in many ways, I refused to believe he was as "retarded" as I was constantly told, and I searched endlessly for therapies and programs. In spite of a major communication breakthrough at the age of 17, where his thoughts exploded with the magic of Houdini and the innocence and honesty of the boy trapped inside, his intense compulsions became even more difficult to contend with as he grew older. In spite of the continuous challenges facing us daily, our love for Kenny is never-ending.
He constantly surprises us with his uncanny abilities, which go way beyond the normal. Several incidents stand out in my mind.
Kenny has to have a routine, to put it mildly. In fact, he is obsessed by the idea that things that have to happen at a certain time. Each evening when his dad took him for a 6:00 p.m. drive, it had to be the same route, going in the same direction.
But on one evening when his father was about to enter the freeway where he always does, Kenny started grabbing the steering wheel, pulling at my husband's arm, and made it very clear without being able to tell him, that he did not want to take the familiar ramp. His dad, utterly surprised, had just enough time to turn onto another street.
When they got home my husband turned on the news as always. Shortly thereafter, a special report came on telling about a terrible accident involving many cars. It was at the same location, and at the same time, when Ken and Kenny were about to enter the freeway. To this day, my husband feels Kenny saved a possible disaster from happening to the two of them.
Sometimes during the night, Kenny will bound out of bed, and cry out, strip off his clothes, and we can't get him back in bed. We have documented that at the same time this happens, someone he knows is having out of the ordinary problems.
Kenny has a sing-song way of making the phone sound, "huh-ha," seconds before it rings.
At times, when his dad is showering him, he suddenly tries to push open the shower and wants to jump out, somehow knowing he is missing a neighbor pulling up or a child walking by the house. There is no way he can see or hear this happening. Sure enough when I look out the front window, I see exactly what he knows is there.
Many times in the shower my husband has thought to himself, "I need to go to the store," and Kenny will say his sound for the local grocery, Raleys - "Ra Ra."
A favorite aide who did a lot of the questions and answers with Kenny was upset about a boyfriend from her past who had called her. She was thinking about him and asked Kenny if he knew what she was thinking about. He spelled out, "Will," the boyfriend who called her. She had never even mentioned his name.
There is a whole chapter in my book about Kenny's abilities. It is a tragically ironic, innocent, and amazing phenomenon.
This mysterious son of mine can read minds, has ESP, and can look at an incredibly hard math problem and in seconds point to the correct answer. But if our house was burning down, he wouldn't have the sense to get the heck out of there, and would fight our help tooth and nail!
Recently, in a department store, Kenny had enough of shopping with his aide, who was in the lingerie section. He decided to put an end to it by pulling down a rack of women's bras, then lay down in a tantrum, throwing all the bras up in the air, while a frantic clerk tried to catch them.
While I cry over my worries for him, he makes us laugh with his silly antics. No one ever forgets Kenny once they meet him. He has taught me the true value of what is really precious in life and worth fighting for. Once I was told by a doctor of medicine that I would eventually grow to resent my son, but the truth is, I love him more each day!
For parents feeling skeptical about their child's routine vaccinations, here are some precautionary measures to follow based on data from the National Vaccine Information Center. Although there were no predetermining factors in Kenny's history, this list can be helpful in preventing a negative outcome for your child.
There are victims of vaccine damage from bad batches, mercury levels and babies whose blood-brain barriers were not mature enough to deal with the toxins in the shots, so it is important to discuss all of these items with your child's doctor.
Barbara Coppo is the author of The Boy in the Window (Morgan James Publishers, Nov. 2007)