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Something's Not Right
One Family's Struggle with Learning Disabilities
by Nancy Lelewer

From Chapter 2

Struggling with Chaos
"How do you do. . . ?"

Our household was a chaotic nightmare. Brian ran—and fell—constantly. He caromed off the furniture, momentarily stabilized, then crashed, but he couldn't walk. He learned to throw himself out of his crib and playpen, but he couldn't stand without assistance.

By the time Brian had achieved some semblance of balance in walking and running, he spoke a lot of gibberish, which no one understood. Sometimes he would bring me a toy in an effort to illustrate what he meant. Sometimes he would fly into a rage, kicking and screaming when I asked him to repeat what he had said. Sometimes he didn't seem to understand what I said and that, too, would lead to outbursts of kicking and screaming. It was easy for strangers who saw him in a rage to shake their heads and mumble "spoiled" under their breath, but with three other children in the house, Brian didn't have much of a chance to become spoiled.
Together, Kelly and Brian required constant supervision, and even with supervision, they created tremendous messes. They had no interest in quiet activities or in climbing a jungle gym or sliding down a slide. They preferred climbing up bookcases or riding a wagon down a flight of stairs. Brian scaled a stack of drawers he had pulled from his dresser to reach a six-foot-high shelf. Kelly hung onto the medicine cabinet door and became frantic when it swung open and her feet no longer reached the sink. Brian pushed over furniture, and Kelly ran up and down the piano keys. Whitney watched the goings-on, participating when she deemed it safe. She, at least, seemed to have some idea of safety. I did my best to cope with my three older children while caring for infant Penny.

I had always had plenty of energy. Now I was tired around the clock. I have to admit four children under six years of age could sap anyone's strength, but what really sapped my strength was a constant, nagging worry about Brian. His lack of speech, incessant activity, and outbursts of kicking and screaming were constant reminders that something was not right.
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