Monday, May 5, 2008

The Boy in the Window: A Journey Through an Unexpected Tragedy

Barbara Coppo

ISBN: 9781600372650 - Morgan-James Publishing (2007)
Reviewed by Dr. Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (3/08)




One of the things we mothers have is an incredible sense of things going wrong with our children. Barbara Coppo was no different.  She and her husband Ken already had a beautiful healthy girl, when she found out she was pregnant again.  She wasn't sure how she felt about being pregnant again now that she had a great career and her daughter was a teenager, but as time went on she was very excited and hoped that this pregnancy would bring her husband and her closer together.  On February 1, 1978 she delivered a healthy boy whom they named Kenny. Kenny was the center of attention for his first year of life--adored by everyone. When it came time for Kenny to have his eighteen-month shots, Barbara got a "feeling," and wasn't sure what was causing the apprehension. After several lengthy discussions with her pediatrician, her husband and family members, she finally decided to get him his boosters.


On September 6th, 1979, Kenny got his last series of the d.p.t. booster – his life would change forever.  After a few days, Kenny wasn't able to talk, walk or respond in his normal happy way.  Even the doctor's were stumped as to what had happened-- they continued to explain that vaccines for children were very safe. And again the next day Kenny began to have convulsions -- still no reason why.


This was Kenny's life to this day-- seizures, mobility problems, no friends and he has characteristics of autism. Doctor's even had the gall to tell his mother that he was retarded. With numerous evaluations, behavioral schools, special classes and countless hours of care and research by his mother, it was realized Kenny would never be a normal child again.


Even through the years, pediatricians kept telling Kenny's parents that vaccines were safe. Yet one doctor finally told Barbara that through research it was indicated, after the d.p.t. vaccines, that some children became autistic, mentally-challenged and some even died. This is a parent's worse nightmare – all of us today think about the effect of vaccines on our children. Yet never once did Kenny's parents, friends, therapists give up on him. They continued to push him to the point that he was finally able to talk through the use of facilitative communication. No one even imagined he had all those thoughts and intelligence in him. He was very aware of his challenges and knew he was different. He was also very mathematically inclined. 


To this day, Kenny is a loner, but has many friends and supporters. He loves to watch people through his upstairs window. He has a set routine that no one can upset or his violent behavior will come out. But he has made great strides even though he came across many obstacles with very little support from the school systems.


How does a mother do this? You do what you have to do to save your child, never take no for an answer. Many parents of children with special needs have been through this high and low road.


Having worked with family members who have children or adult children with special challenges for over 25 years, Barbara Coppo's story is the same for many of them. The frustration, anger and trying to figure out what they did to cause this. My personal and professional opinion is that everyone involved with children; teachers, coaches, school boards and therapists should read "The Boy in the Window" to get a first-hand knowledge of what families go through.




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