Lost Souls

SHACKLESJoshua comes to school almost every morning, soaking wet in his own urine. He has been diagnosed as schizophrenic and well as suffering from mild mental retardation. He lives with his mother, who is also mildly retarded, in a dark and dank row house in the embattled sections of the inner city. They have little means to manage any few resources that they can muster. Consequently, Joshua’s personal hygiene is terrible. His enuresis is due to the fact that his psychosis manifests itself in an uncontrollable thirst. It has been estimated that in a typical day Joshua will consume from 1.5 to 2 gallons of water. He is 19 years old and will receive a certificate of completion when he becomes 21.

Timmy is a short fellow, only about 5 feet tall, but he weighs in at a hefty 200 pounds. This is in spite of the fact that his mother keeps him on a very strict diet of 1200 calories a day. He eats breakfast at home and his IEP aide makes lunch for him on a daily basis, following the strict recipes of Timmy’s mom. Quiet and taciturn, he is usually polite, with good manners and he eats in the cafeteria with the rest of the school. Occasionally he will steal some food off of an unsuspecting student’s plate and if confronted with this he will often act out, becoming hysterical, profane and violent. Timmy suffers from Prader-Willi Syndrome, a genetic disorder that is manifested by mental retardation and a literally insatiable appetite. Timmy is missing seven genes from the 15thIn a constant state of ravenous hunger, it is only due to strict, loving discipline and the constant supervision of others that he is alive today. It is common for people like Timmy to literally eat themselves to death. He is 16 and will be in school for the next 5 years. chromosome resulting in his brain being unable to determine when his belly is full.

Tina is very shy but is observant and responds eagerly to questions. Not diagnosed with MR, Tina has been placed beneath the broad psychiatric umbrella of schizophrenia. She is very enthusiastic to learn new things and at 20 years of age she has only one year left until ‘graduation’. This is the last placement for her, all others schools in the area having determined that they do not have the resources to provide for her education. Subject to teasing by other students, Tina will frequently become quite hysterical, throwing herself into violent fits that threaten to harm her and others as well. She is prone to talk about sharp objects and suicide and knives. She lives in a group home because her father was sexually abusing her.

Charlie is very bright, articulate and reads quite well. He has an average I.Q. He is 21 years of age and has been in and out of foster homes since he was an infant. His mother, a crack addict and a prostitute, was unable to take care of him. He never knew his father. Two of his older brothers are dead due to drug related violence. He has been diagnosed with severe emotional disabilities. At the age of 18 he became too old for the foster care program and was placed in a group residential home with other young men of similar backgrounds. Charlie, though, is obviously gay and soon became the subject of numerous beatings by the other residents. He moved from one group home to the next until he finally went AWOL one time too many, effectively severing himself from any additional child welfare supports. He is too old for children’s services and too young for effective adult services. Private and church-run shelters won’t take him because he is not a substance abuser (since that is the primary make-up of their clients it could be detrimental for him.) For the past few weeks Charlie has been living on the streets, although he somehow makes it to school every day. This should be his last year in school and he has no foreseeable plans after graduating with a diploma.

Maggie is a new student, having just moved to the city from one of the toughest neighborhoods in Muncie. A sweet natured 16 year old girl, she is very mildly retarded but also suffers from severe emotional handicaps. Her father abandoned the family when she was 5 years old and since then she has lived through the suicide of a beloved stepfather. Like many of the students she suffers from gross obesity, seeking cheap and swift gratification in sugar, starch and fat. Normally very mild mannered when confronted with a harder variety of student she will affect the belligerent mannerisms of the urban ‘gangsta,’ to the point of provoking real gang bangers into attacking her. Sporting cuts and bruises and hungering for social acceptance, identity and love, she has deliberately taken the next step in her life; she is pregnant with twins.

(All characters and names mentioned above are fictitious. Any resemblance to people either living or dead is purely coincidental and unintentional.)


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  1. #1 by logiopath on December 6, 2007 - 7:37 pm

    Do you work in some kind of youth center or school?

  2. #2 by logiopath on December 6, 2007 - 7:38 pm

    P. S. How is someone “obviously gay”?

  3. #3 by lovewillbringustogether on December 9, 2007 - 10:32 pm

    Confronting – i think i will go and run and hide!

    Isn’t it a great comfort to know God works miracles and cares for all souls?

    Do you think i should thank God or my own cowardly self that i have not as yet had the pleasure of saving or helping any people with the conditions they live in daily as you describe above?

    Maybe it is a combination of the two?

    Writing here sure beats doing anything ‘down and dirty’ like actively seeking out such people and offering what comfort we may, huh?

    I could think of only one thing worse than seeing such suffering every day – living it and feeling alone and deserted by all.

    Even if it sucks – my life is SWEET, in comparison.

    Was that what you wanted to remind us Chris??
    Or have i got it all wrong again? 🙂

    It seems i’m quite good at being bad. 😉


  4. #4 by Christian on December 9, 2007 - 10:41 pm

    No, no, no.

    I’m not suggesting that anyone should feel compelled to go and get and ‘down and dirty’. That’s up to them and whoever leads them. How much is enough? But….

    Yes, yes, yes. I think it helps me to realize how blessed I am by being aware of those who suffer more than I do. Especially during this time of year. My life is very sweet in comparison. But again, there may be some out there reading this who are suffering just as much.

    We can find hope. I only pray that if I find myself in situations this dire that I can still find hope in God. I think this is what Christmas is all about – a light in the darkness.

  5. #5 by logiopath on December 9, 2007 - 10:59 pm

    Working with the least is not always easy–and not for everyone.

    Be prepared to be cursed, constantly, by those who ought to be appreciative of your efforts.

    I will say that compassion includes the willingness to have respect for those who may disgust we “normal” folks.

    I watched the director of a major local ministry disrespect the people he “ministers” to. My thought was and is, of you don’t like the people you work with, why do you work with them?

  6. #6 by lovewillbringustogether on December 10, 2007 - 11:57 pm

    I was not saying you were suggesting any of us actually alter our lives so as to go out of our way to offer Hope and salvation to the kinds of people that most of us hope we never become or perhaps even need live with in one of our own ‘family’ members’ as you described them so eloquently ( and confrontingly it has to be said 🙂 ).

    Where exactly was the element of Hope your comment referred to in your actual post – my very literal mind when reading what is actually posted missed that part for some reason – reading between the lines was never a strong point of mine – nor is reading stuf that is not written down.


    As for finding the light – if you are in a dark room with a single light switch it can take quite some time to find it and a few might even give up without ever doing so – it becomes a far simpler and easier exercise if someone else is in the room with a torch and either shines it on the lightswitch – or hands you the torch with instructions for it’s correct use in locating the Main source of light.

    I still like your post – even if you left the hope bit out for later comment. Maybe everyone else got the Hope bit without having to read it in the comment afterwards?? I might be a little slow on the uptake of a lot of what you are actually saying in your blog posts is all?

    logio? i bet he does it because Christ ansd scripture direct Him to. He just forgot it seems – if he actually disrespected those he worked with and not just an error in your observations of his actions – the part where Christ LOVED publicans and sinners (every one of us) and showed them God’s Love even as he was correcting them – or doing His Best to. 🙂


  7. #7 by Christian on December 11, 2007 - 7:32 am

    I left the hope out of it deliberately. I didn’t want to inject my own prescription for hope but wanted the reader to be able to realize the potentiality of suffering, if they see any at all.

    Prescriptions are easy to make, but are often wrong. I know that mine usually are. We can’t ‘save’ the world – should we even bother? Do we want to cast a spotlight on people like these (who only represent one infinitesimal aspect of the world’s hurting people) or do we light what few matches we may have available to us?

  8. #8 by logiopathicrosia on December 11, 2007 - 6:21 pm

    So what is hope for the kinds of people you describe?

    A crisis counselor said a wise thing in this regard, hope for
    Baby Steps. If a person can provide a glimmer and baby step of hope, then the next baby step can happen.

    A friendly smile and pat on the back may be all the hope such a person needs that day–or a firm voice saying “No!”

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