Monday, May 23, 2011

He got it

On our journey with Teddy over the years, we have felt
that we have had to do a lot of 'training,' usually of those
who have letters after their last names or fancy titles before
their first.  From one of the first pediatricians to see Teddy
to psychiatrists in hospitals and psychiatric residential treatment
centers; from teachers who were certain all he exhibited were
tantrums to principals who acted as if a child with disabilities
was the worst thing to have in their school; from lawyers to
judges, from police officers to life squad members, from
claims representatives (obviously) trained to automatically
deny a certain percentage of bills (especially psychiatric) to
denominational insurance executives who always seemed to
manage to come up with one more hoop for us to jump through,
we have spent more months and years trying to convince the
experts that we knew our son better than anyone else might.

So, five years ago, when we set out on our encounter with the
justice system, we assumed that we would once again have to
'break in' a new expert, the psychologist from the developmental
center up in Columbus where Teddy had been placed after he
had been charged with murder.  We assumed that this person
would come in having given Teddy tests that really never showed
anything because they asked Teddy to do things he couldn't do.
We assumed that this person would rely on what the books told
him about persons like Teddy, what the studies had shown, what
the statistics indicated.  We assumed that we would have to deal
with another 'caring professional' who really could care less about
what the parents thought, felt, imagined, feared.

But we were wrong.

Dr. Khan got it.  Simply by spending time with Teddy, talking with
Teddy, getting to know him, caring genuinely for him (and yes, testing
him), he discovered how profoundly damaged Teddy was; more importantly,
he discovered the profound gifts which were Teddy's.  Dr. Khan never
indicated by word, by body language, by dismissive gesture that we
didn't know what we were talking about; rather, he treated us as partners
in seeking the very best for Teddy.  He never questioned the FAS, he
confirmed the MR diagnosis, he recognized the need for Teddy to be
placed in a safe, secure environment, not just for 12-18 months and then
discharging him because 'nothing more could be done for him' but for
his lifetime because everything could be done for him in such a setting.

At that all important hearing which would decide Teddy's fate and future,
Dr. Khan shared the facts, the findings, the statistics he had found.  But
then, as he has done at every successive (mandated by law) hearing
since, he gently and kindly explained to the judge just exactly who
Teddy was, the depth of his brokenness, and the reality that he would
never 'get better,' that there would never be a medication that would
'cure' him, that his disabilities were profound and life-long.  And as we
sat there that first time and in all the hearings since, we wondered to
ourselves, 'where has this guy been?'

In the last five years, Dr. Khan has been a professional to Teddy and
to us, and a sharer of compassion to our entire family.  He has always
been there for Teddy, when Teddy was upset about something that
someone had done or didn't do, as well as when Teddy just needed
to share a joke or a car magazine with someone.  He has been that
calm, caring, trusting harbor for three folks who had ridden over
stormy seas for so many years.

Tomorrow, I will go up to Columbus to celebrate Dr. Khan's
retirement party.  And as I drive up there I will wonder, as I
have for so many days now, how do I thank this good, this
gentle, this compassionate soul for saving three lives?

© 2011  Thom M. Shuman


Joanne said...

I think you frame that post and give it to him. For what better gift could anyone ask or want?

stinuksuk said...

i agree with Joanne. Surely, that is the best way to say thank-you for the gift of grace Dr. Khan has been to Teddy and to your family.
Thanks be to God for all God provides, even if it takes awhile.