Matt was a normal baby, very bright actually. He knew the alphabet and was saying simple words at age 2. But that all went away.
Even his birth was not a normal event. After crushing back labor, he entered the world with broken bones.
One day the words went away. He stopped talking. He started having nightmares. He screamed instead of sleeping. But I was too young to remember that.
How could such a brilliant mind be stunted? As an adult he can neither read nor write. He cannot solve simple math problems.
For a long time, Matt did not even talk. But the strangest thing happened. He started talking again. But not in the same way that you or I do. He got his pronouns all mixed up. Matt eat..he never referred to himself as I. He also has a speech impediment that makes him difficult to understand by those who did not know him well. This seemed to frustrate him in his younger years and he hit his head with his fist.
The things he said didn’t always make sense to us.
For awhile he repeated the same song in a monotone voice…hands on the table won’t come off, now the hands are stuck on the beard. He would scream if he saw a man with a beard.
But a man with a beard never hurt him.
He was also terrified of tires. He would kick the tires and throw stones at them if people showed up in their cars.
He also heard sticky noises. He would smack his lips to mock the sounds he was hearing. It was a disconcerting sound like chewing with your mouth open times ten.
He also heard the sound of girls laughing at him. Back in the day, he was sent out to recess with the rest of the kids. The older girls teased and mocked his bizarre behaviors. I was there and saw it but was helpless to do anything about it. I didn’t fit in with the other kids because they made fun of my brother. He was an easy target. It made me angry all of the time. But I wasn’t allowed to feel anger. Anger was wrong and it upset Matt. Angry emotions set Matt off and he would hurt himself, my mother, or me. So I withdrew to survive.
Recently Matt was taken off of his anti-psychotic medication due to liver strain. He started to hear voices again. This time the voices were telling him to hurt my niece. But not just hurt her, to kill her.
Fifteen years ago, Matt hurt my daughter. The voices told him to do it. He started to obsess about her, so we limited their contact at the time. It was on her 4th birthday. We didn’t think it would happen…
Afterwards, he muttered to the voices for hours and couldn’t be brought out of it. He didn’t respond when spoken to.
For many years after that my brother was not allowed around my children or any children. He became home bound and isolated from the general population. If it happened again, he was going to be locked up with the violently mentally ill. He started a new medication and silently gently the violent whispers faded away.
My mother asked lately if he was misdiagnosed. Is he schizophrenic too? Or is this some unusual symptom of autism? The doctor said that at this point it really doesn’t matter since it will be treated the same way.
Matt was violent before he hurt my daughter. If we were vigilant enough, we could see it coming on. His jaw would clench, his face contorted, his pupils constricted, and his ears turned bright red.
Sometimes after he hurt someone he seemed very upset about what he had done. Other times he would laugh. It was such an evil laugh that a few asked and we wondered if it was possible that he was demon possessed.
He struggled to differentiate between reality and what the voices were telling him. The voices are very frightening to him.
I think he always had auditory hallucinations, but couldn’t verbalize it to us.
It made me wonder…what if other violent autistic nonverbal people also hear the same voices but can’t tell anyone? How terrifying that would be. What if they think they are being hurt or are hearing a voice that tells them to hurt someone or themselves?
If I would go back to school to get a Master’s degree or PhD in Psychology, I think I would devote time researching this. I couldn’t find a lot of information online. But what is there to find if those who suffer cannot communicate?
This has been incredibly hard for my mom. She can’t mention my niece’s name around Matt. He obsesses about her. He is angry if he thinks that she likes the same things he does and talks about hurting her.
It is hard for us all. I love my brother and don’t want to see him suffer. I love my niece and I don’t want her to be hurt.
How long will it take for the medicine to work?