It just turned November, the month of Thanksgiving.

A lot has happened in Novembers of the past: Mike, my older brother, was born this month; Dad died this month; my parents married this month. All so long ago. My brother will be 64 years old; Dad would have been 93 years old; Mom and Dad would have been married 67 years.

Dx 1952

Doctors diagnosed Mike with infantile autism in 1952 [1] when he was three years old. I’m not sure when they determined that Mike suffered from profound retardation. Mike never learned how to talk. When I was a kid, sometimes I thought that he really knew how to talk but didn’t, on purpose.


The good news is that I will be seeing Mike some time in the coming week. I haven’t seen him in a long time. My anxiety level is on the rise, however. I don’t really know what to expect when I see him. I am the only one in my family who hasn’t seen Mike since they moved him to a geriatric facility. Mike had been increasingly unstable in his former group home and the management decided to place him in a place with a higher level of care. The fact that I will be there with Mom and little brother adds a layer of interest to the visit. More often I would go by myself when I lived nearby.

I have been told to be prepared to be depressed.

Younger brother doesn’t remember much about Mike from childhood and had always been afraid of him. He doesn’t like to talk about Mike. I really hope that we can talk a bit about him. I hope that he can remember something from his childhood about Mike. I have been steeped in my own perspective for so long, I would welcome some illumination from another angle. At two-person Rashomon [2] narrative is preferable to a single eye-witness account.

Perspective change

However, the most abrupt change next week will be the transition from grandfather to son/brother; from the hearth of an emerging family to rejoining the remainder of my original family, in a month of significant events in our history.

[1] The first Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) was published in 1952. Autism was classified in the category of schizophrenia back then.

[2] “The Rashomon effect is a term that has been used by a number of different scholars, journalists and film critics to refer to contradictory interpretations of the same events by different persons, a problem that arises in the process of uncovering truth. The phrase derives from the movie Rashomon, where four witness’s accounts of a rape and murder are all different.” from

6 thoughts on “November

  1. Yesterday I wanted to DM you to ask about Mike’s personal stuff because of the similarities to my son Eric, I would type out the questions then delete them (I’m sure you’re a busy man) but as I was having my coffee this morning I received an update from your bolg…I can not tell you how glad I am I subscribed. I’m shocked at the age of Mike and his diagnosis back in 52′. November is such a significant month for your family!! I guess the similarities with my son Eric and your brother Mike is somewhat drawning me in. Eric is my middle son he has an older & younger brother. I’m curious as to what is your opinion on how Mike may have be
    affected with autism, it is my strong belief it is not from birth like Spina Bifida ect…

    • Autism doesn’t seem to have any one cause, as I understand it. It seems to be developmental in origin, so I think you’re right, it isn’t evident at birth.

      I imagine that you’re the busy one! Do you have a chance to blog about Eric?

      • No I don’t blog, I’m not sure why I’ve been asked before I’ve just really opened up and wanted to talk about Eric’s autism and all the struggles he has with it. And as far as reading blogs I’ve never wanted to until now.

  2. This is the first post i’ve read and it’s drawn me in already. My nephew is currently undergoing various assessments to establish traits that are leading to believe it’s autism but still failing to establish a clear picture, he is aged just 5. I look forward to having the time to reading much more of your work. – claire

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