You may have read recently about a little boy named James. In 2007 we rescued a boy named Mark from the streets of Kisumu and took him to live with an Aunt and Uncle. After several visits to the home we discovered a very small boy living there named James. James is mentally handicapped. It’s very common in the rural area for a child with a disability to be kept away or even worse. Such handicaps are thought to be a curse on the family so out of shame and fear of ridicule a child is hidden.
A report about this child came to the Capstone staff meeting because Mark was very unhappy living in this family. Mark was made to care for the boy by changing his soiled clothes. James at about 8 years old is not toilet trained so Mark was given the chore of cleaning up his messes. I asked the staff to investigate and give a more detailed report on James. Their assessment was the child seems to be mentally retarded and deaf. We decided to bring him to Kisumu for a formal evaluation, the parents agreed.
James was diagnosed as autistic but not deaf. He is also malnourished; he has seizures and some respiratory problems. Our church, ELCK in Kisumu runs a school for the mentally disabled and has a very good class for autistic children. Dan and I decided we would sponsor James in the special school.
James was finally admitted into the school last week. It was an exciting day. Every time I see James it amazes me to see a child in his condition. I’ve never interacted with autistic children; James is not at all engaged or interactive in this world. He has no response to anything around him. He doesn’t even know how to play with a toy. He eats like an animal. The only thing that James is attached to is a rock. James will show emotion only if he is not holding a rock in his hand. Dan wants to paint the rock and put Jesus on it. I think its a great idea!
My mother instincts kicked in the day James was admitted, I was so concerned that he would show some signs of distress being put into a completely new and foreign environment but he showed no reaction at all. I wish I could say he is adjusting well but it’s impossible to tell. I’m not sure which concerns me more, a child who cries because he misses his mom, or a child who is unable to feel anything and doesn’t know he should be missing his mom. I think the latter is most heartbreaking.
I’ll keep you all updated on James’ progress. He will return home for the month of April (school break). The people who made the initial assessment on James gave a talk to the parents to change their attitude about their son and to teach the mother to care for James in the right way. We’ll make weekly home visits during the break and continue to educate the family on proper care and attitude towards their son.
We are looking for a sponsor for James. His care in the school and seizure medication will come to about $250.00 to $300.00 per year.