2-25-86 / 6-12-13
Simon was our youngest son, never diagnosed as Autistic, but as Asocial, Depressive, with uncontrolled anger. After reading about Autism, we self-diagnosed. I want to make this clear for those of you with Autistic children; we had held out Simon as a hope for you and he might not have been Autistic after all.
Simon’s uncontrolled anger was always a factor in his life, from the very beginning. When he could barely crawl, he would come over to hit Andrew, if we were cuddling. I would joke that it was fortunate that Simon was not the elder, because he would have killed any baby coming into the household. But it was not a joke.
At age 1, Simon was still not vocalizing; I thought he was deaf. In trying to get him diagnosed [a year] we discovered repeated ear infections. Simon went through 4 sets of ear drum tubes and developed an interest in anatomy. This is why I took it seriously when he tried to kill himself by putting a crayon through his ear into his brain. His anger and depression swung between self-loathing and fury at others.
At the same time, he was a most gentle giant. He tried very hard to keep his anger in check, but it would overwhelm him when he felt an injustice was done to him. From his earliest school days, bullies sensed this and tormented him until he lost control, at which point he would get in trouble. The bullies always got away with it. Despite all our efforts in his Individual Education Program [IEP] interviews, this issue was never resolved.
In the 4th grade, his teacher recommended we take Simon to be treated for depression. This we did and, after a trial of talk therapy, Prozac was prescribed. Until he was 18, Simon went in monthly for med checks with a psychiatrist. The Prozac helped his depression but not his anger.
In the 5th grade, he was removed from Elementary school for fighting [not expelled, but what’s the difference?]. We began to allow violent video games because it helped Simon channel his anger. He would come home from school and for 45 minutes would absorb himself in the violence, then he would be able to relax. I rewarded him for good behavior at school with taking him driving on my lap in a deserted parking lot. This he loved, but it was very hard for him to make it a whole week without getting in trouble.
When he was in the 5-6th grade, he attended Rossier School, where he blossomed. A school for the real problem children, he was the top of his class instead of the bottom. He earned points for behavior and was able to buy things he wanted with the points. The sad part is that he became too healthy to attend Rossier anymore and entered Junior High.
Still in Special Ed. he did well academically in the subjects he liked and won a pizza every week for his SpEd class by excelling in Trivia. We put him in regular talk therapy once a week in addition to the med checks. His anger and depression did not improve. He admitted that he thought of killing himself often, but said that taking a gun to school was unthinkably because, “Pop would kill me!”
But in High School, he reverted more and more to anger and eventually got in trouble for holding a plastic knife to a tormentor’s throat. The police required him to go to Anger Management classes. Silly, since he had been in therapy for years.
Simon went to college for 2 years. I think his grades were terrible. I’m not sure because, as an adult he was not really answering to me. I was letting him find himself. He didn’t get an AA but he wouldn’t go to Admin and find out why not. He thought he’d put in 2 years and should get the degree.
He finally got a seasonal job at Target. Ron and I had moved out of state after Ron retired. We could not afford to retire in CA and we genuinely thought it best to push our sons out of the nest. We offered both a home in VA, but neither wanted to come with us. We helped Simon with his share of the rent as needed.
Simon got a job, driving samples around the greater LA area. Simon began to post wry and funny things on Facebook nearly every day. He joined a group of geeks online, and in the gaming world, and even edited a couple of gaming sites on Wikipedia.
Simon was finally overwhelmed by his pain and anger when Andrew was out of town. They had left their apartment of 5 years and were living in a tiny place while buying a condo. When Andrew left to visit us for 5 days, Simon told him, “This is a test run to see if I can live by myself.”
At some point in the day a dispute over his job arose, and he lashed out at the person he was arguing with, someone who had known him for over 15 years. Fearful, she called out for help and someone at the office called the police. Threatening suicide, Simon abruptly left after initiating the lackluster assault. Later, when the police arrived, she insisted she did not wish him to be arrested, but instead was just scared.
Once the police arrived they called Simon to return to work to give his side of the story. Before he left home, he got his gun and posted on Facebook “This is the end…I’m sorry for inconveniencing anyone…”
When he got to work, he left Andrew’s car, and approached the police in the parking lot. A reliable witness heard him say something along the lines of, “It’s alright, officers,” before putting the gun in his mouth, pulling the trigger and collapsing immediately. At some point in time an officer also fired three shots, feeling threatened, but they have been unable to confirm or deny actually striking him.
Simon will be cremated when his body is released after the investigation is complete. The cremains will be sent to us in VA and we will then decide where to inter them.
Rest in peace, dear Simon. You had no peace on earth.