About Marcus

In Autism, Blog by darlene4 Comments

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My fifteen year old son, JT, ran cross-country last year as a freshman. For a first year runner, he fared well. He wasn’t the fastest, but he medaled in each race. His last  was his best–  he  came in tenth out of 150. He was always proud of his medals. He was proud because he learned early in the season that no medal came easy.  To earn a medal took a lot of  sweat, pain, and most of all, heart.

JT’s lesson definitely has its application in our life with my autistic son, Marcus.  You see, since January of this year, Marcus  has lived in a small family home.  In so many ways,  Jt’s medals symbolize  our family’s experience with Marcus. The benefits of Marcus’ placement for  my other three children are that they get attention from me that before was given to Marcus. Everyone in the family is now safe. Most importantly, Marcus is safe.  But even though the move has been good for all of us, we have all gone through a training course of pain and sweat and heartache.

I have started a blog on Marcus so many times over the last several months. Invariably, each ends up as a draft in the margins of the page.  It has been a grieving process to go against my belief system and my heart and deliver my son over to strangers so that they can care for and save him when I cannot.  But  several months have gone by and it’s time to share and tell more about Marcus and me because this is the promise I have made.

One Saturday afternoon in June when Marcus was ten, he had his first violent fit.  We didn’t see it coming. My fiance and I sat on my couch in the living room of my small bungalow; my other three kids were milling around outside. Marcus paced the living room floor and flipped his sock in front of him, a familiar ritual since his toddler years.  Between idle talk about work and the kids, my fiance and I both kept a side eye on Marcus.  It happened just like that, without warning. He started screaming at the top of  his lungs like someone had stabbed him. His first scream was loud and desperate. He began jumping with both feet hard on the floor. I jumped up and yelled ,”Marcus, stop!”  He didn’t, and it seemed as if he couldn’t. He screamed again, and this time he ran across the room and crashed into the wall. My fiance yelled for him to stop. Marcus was about 75 lbs. at this time and about 57 inches tall. But he seemed to have mythical strength for a kid his age.  For me, his aggression was more than frightening. He screamed again and this time began with all his might to  bang the sides of his head with his balled fists. This is when my fiance and I grabbed him and forced him to the floor and onto his back to protect him from serious injury. His voice had become a loud gurgle. I remember  seeing the vacant, helpless glare in his eyes. I kept asking, “What’s wrong sweetie, what’s wrong?!”  I wanted to fix that stare and stop his desperate screams and movements, so unabated  in their force.

This scene would repeat itself many times over the next three years.  As Marcus grew,  so did his physical strength. The fits became increasingly more difficult to control.  This time also marked the genesis of  a heart wrenching ride into prescription medications.  Risperdal and clonidine were Marcus’ only medications up until the onset of the fits. But they seemed to have lost their effectiveness. Many doctor appointments where trial and error was the medical code of conduct  never seemed to balance Marcus’ behavior for any significant amount of time. Worst of all were the unforeseen side-effects of the wrong medication or dose.

911 calls. Hospital visits. All night stays in emergency rooms is the short list of what ensued before our family got enough attention from the medical profession and our local agency to get permanent help for my son and for our family.

We see Marcus each weekend now. We are working up to overnight visits. These days, he is quite content to visit with the family for a few hours and then return to his small family home. So, we are taking it slow. Marcus’ story is ongoing, but I will say that for now we feel like we’ve won a medal, maybe not first place,  but certainly a medal that sees Marcus and the rest of our family safe and healthy.


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  1. Denise


    That was heart wrenching as well as heart felt. It not only showed the pain but the love you have for Marcus. I can not know what you are going through, because I can only remember the little boy who had so much energy when little Wil and the girls played with him. My prayers are with him as well as your family. Please send me a picture of all of you but especially of marcus if you have one of him by himself.

    Love yall

  2. Lanston


    “They overcame by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony.” There is no testimony without a test and you have been tested.
    Thank you for sharing your pain and your love. There are many words I can say to you but the only one I will say right now is to keep on writing. Keep on writing! It will be cathartic for you and a blessing to all who read your blogs. My oldest daughter almost died at birth, and sometimes what she went through still haunts me. But she is here praise God and so is Marcus. There are no answers for these things on this side but I leave with you 1 Corinthians 13:12.



  3. Tashak

    Your challenge is apparent in your words and I know it has been difficult. Whether you knew it or not, your grandma Miss Ann said many times that she hoped you would find some relief because she thought it too much for you to bear. I am so glad, glad, glad for you and the family because I know the level of care you had to maintain for Marcus. You perservered and everyone is better off (it seems) for it. What a gift! I know how hard you have worked and how much attention you have given Marcus and I can only believe he knows how much you all have given so that he can be safe and happy.

    Thank you for sharing the narrative. It was great.

  4. kim w


    A mother’s love demands sacrifice, and you have made the ultimate one — giving up your baby. My heart ached reading the anquish and suffering that both your family and Marcus have endured. The older I get, the more I realize that it takes such courage to live. We all are tested and handed a cross to bear on this earth journey. But these challenges most often turn out to be gifts that open our hearts, deepen our compassion and move us closer to communion with God. I sense your faith is strong, runs deep and is sustaining you through this all. Sending you and Marcus love.

    You write beautifully. Please continue sharing.

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