S3: Fine Line - Episode 22 - Cindy &

Episode Information

Fine Line: Mental Health/Mental Illness – Episode 22 – Cindy and Ray

[Intro Music]

Narrator:  Welcome to Season three Fine Line narrative histories about mental health and mental illness, a traveling exhibition and weekly podcast edited and hosted by Michael Nye, supported by Kronkosky Charitable Foundation. May you find insight and understanding in these voices. Episode 22, Cindy and Ray; parents of Dylan.

Cindy:  As Dylan’s mother, I feel like I’m his guide in this life’s journey. Dylan looks kind of like a angel guy with curly hair, blue eyes, and a very soft expression. When Dylan was born, we had tons of fun with him, and we were very excited. A baby smiles and starts to talk. Then after he had about six words in his language, he dropped like a curtain would drop. And of course, we thought that was odd. My husband took Dylan to McDonald’s, and this gal standing in line said, oh, he’s got autism. And Ray came home and told me about this woman. And I was angry at Ray for even considering that that was plausible. That was, of course, very shocking. I went immediately into denial.

The the characteristics of autism that he has is hand flapping by his ears. And, uh, verbal sounds like I made like a dove sound or some kind of bird sound. And then, uh, socially unacceptable body space. Like if we’re out at a restaurant, he might go over and take a french fry off of somebody’s plate, not think that that’s unreasonable. Dylan rarely initiates, uh, contact every once in a while. Like, tell me you love me . Yeah, he doesn’t do that on his own. I, um, he’s, he has, uh, an exceedingly good memory for if we go out of town to a condo and then weeks, months, a year later, he’ll know exactly where to go to that same spot. W Dylan’s been tested for placement in school, and his marks are horrible. And they would be inferring that he is retarded, and he’s not, they haven’t developed a test yet. That truly reflects what Dylan can do. No, he doesn’t talk about his dreams. I always hope that people would give individuals who have autism a chance past staring or looking, because there’s a lot of intelligence inside of autism. And even though there’s strange movements, there’s still a desire to be addressed or acknowledged or included. I’m proud of Dylan’s presence. He exudes something that I don’t quite understand, but I feel calm around him.

Ray:  I want to know what caused Dylan’s autism. I mean, that’s, that seems to be my mission on life now. It’s like what caused this little boy, my son, to lose his language? I’m a, um, health behavior disease prevention researcher who looks at, who looks at disease trends. I am looking at autism and, uh, aging. Why people age differently. The stages you follow are similar to that of any grieving process. You know, at first there’s denial, then there’s anger, and there was, there was a lot of crying. I’m not really sure you ever come fully come to acceptance. Your love for your child is unconditional no matter how they come out. Dylan makes funny noises. His body posture is odd. He mostly stays by himself. He laughs easily. Dylan is curious, but he doesn’t know how to respond to that curiosity. He has profound feelings. He cries easily more from emotional pain than physical pain.

He’s aware of the space around him. I wonder what he’s thinking about. I wonder what he’s dreaming. My wife and I have come to the realization that instead of trying to change, doing, you know, making him not autistic is that road was, was very frustrating. We’re accepting this, this person, um, for exactly who he is right now. Of course, we’re gonna, we try the latest medicine, try to keep him up, engaged in remedial reading lessons, things like that. But it’s not our end goal really to cure his autism as much as it is to enjoy every day that we, we live with him.

Ray: What, um, Dylan, who am I?

Dylan:  Daddy?

Ray: Who’s that?

Dylan:  Mama.

Ray: What color is the sky?

Dylan:  Ooh, blue.

[Outro Music]

Host:  I’m Michael Nye. You can go to my website, michaelnye.org/podcast for Cindy and Ray’s portrait and transcript. Thank you, Cindy, and Ray and Dylan, for your presence and your wisdom. These narratives are about understanding every person, every place is a map to somewhere else. Thank you for listening.