A few weeks ago, I wrote about my brother Stuart who fell at his residence and now has multiple foot fractures and that his residence did not notify my mother or myself, his legal guardians, and waiting two days to obtain medical attention. I also wrote about how he was on multiple antipsychotics over the years which can weaken bones.
Last week, both my daughters and I went to visit Stuart at his OPWDD funded agency residence. Stuart was sitting in a wheelchair, and he looked so old. I could not help but reflect how all those psychiatric medications for so many years took a large toll on his body. He had a bone mineral density scan, which as I suspected, showed he had weak bones, and this is despite that he always had lots of dairy in his diet. I know the weak bones are from all those years of antipsychotics. Most antipsychotics can weaken bones. He now spends his day on the computer watching YouTube. In the living room, there is a post on the wall with all the individuals who live in the residence and the goals they made for themselves. Stuart's section on goals was empty. The staff informed me he wanted no part in it. I offered to take him out to lunch, thinking I would push the wheelchair while my older daughter would hold the leash of the service dog for my younger daughter, Talia, who like my identical brothers, also has autism. Stuart did not want to go out to lunch, but stated he wanted to have his cheese sandwich at his residence instead. My older daughter wanted to buy Stuart a subway book, but he said he can only look at books when he is in my mother's car going to visit his twin Matthew at Judge Rotenberg Center in Massachusetts. He finally agreed he would keep a book on bridges at his residence, any my daughter bought one for him immediately. While Stuart sat in the wheelchair, Talia watered the plants and fed the fish. The staff told me that Stuart has never watered the plants or fed the fish.
I could not help but think that even though Talia is almost nonverbal and her IQ is about 20 points lower than Stuart's, that she functions so much better than him, that she is productive, that she was much more quality of life. She is so much happier. It is the ABA that Talia has, why Talia can do farm work as part of her school program at Elija, the ABA that my brother Matthew has at JRC, why Matthew can hold a paid job, that makes them function so well and have such a good quality of life, and not require psychiatric medication. It is the ABA which keeps them healthy. ABA is a public health issue.