I want to shift to a subject that thirteen years ago I never thought I would have the knowledge of or inclination to speak about. It was at 1:15 p.m on Sept 6, 1995 that my life radically changed. At that moment, the first of my twin boys was born. His name – Marcus Ellington Torres. Fifteen minutes later, my second twin, Nathan Armando was born.
They were beautiful, healthy boys. Their development seemed quite normal the first few months of their life. Around month five or six, however, I began to see traits in Marcus that concerned me. Many times, he would become rigid as a board when I picked him up. He sometimes cried for an hour straight as if he was in pain. It seemed nothing would calm him. He seemed afraid to crawl. In fact he didn’t crawl until around seven months. He wouldn’t walk until fifteen months. I thought, “I hope these delays are not signs of a bigger problem.” I continued to watch him closely. As he began to grow into a toddler, I became less worried. He was very active, and he played on his scooter with his twin. He laughed with his siblings. He would jump up and down and say “Hi daddy” when his father came home from work. In fact, his verbal communication skills seemed to be on track. I told myself, “I think he is okay.”
Marcus’ behavior began to take a sudden turn around two-and-a half. Our family moved from northern to southern California. To this day, I feel that move symbolizes Marcus’ move into a world I couldn’t tap into. He became fixated on objects. He would hold a stick, for instance, in his hand all day and stare at it. He began pacing up and down hallways. He lost all form of verbal communication. The glaring signs of Autism were in my son’s demeanor. In those days, my attitude was that he would get better. I would give him the early intervention he needed. I would give him speech therapy, occupational therapy, he would go to school. I thought that if I provided these things, my son would come back to me. This was not to be our journey. After that sudden turn – for the last eleven years – our family has lived with Marcus and his severe autism.
This blog is the beginning of another journey. This is a journey of, through writing, the exploration of how his life has affected all of us who know and love Marcus. In addition to reflecting on my family’s struggle with autism, I also hope to encourage and educate others who are in a similar position, as well as those who are curious enough to read this blog. So ciao, until I blog again…