Kathleen turned and looked at the guy walking toward her and asked, “You are Federick Evans?”
Federick smiled and said, “Yes, it’s me. It’s been a long time, Kathleen.”
Federick was Kathleen’s neighbor.
After her parents passed away and she moved into the Macari residence, she seldom met Federick.
Kathleen was surprised. “Federick, what are you doing here?”
Federick’s face looked sorrowful. He said, “My daughter is here.”
Kathleen was taken aback. “Federick, is your daughter…”
“Mid-level autism,” Federick said calmly, “I bring her here every week. What about you?”
Kathleen replied, “I’m here as a favor for Gemma, to do charity work.”
Federick got it and said, “Oh, so you are a friend of Gem.”
Kathleen reminded him that they should get going as she said, “Let’s go in.”
Federick made a sound of approval and nodded.
They went into the classroom which had a few autistic children in it.
They were all brought there by either their father or mother.
Kathleen learned that the biggest concern for most families with autistic children was that one of the parents could not stand the stress and chose to divorce or leave the family behind.
For instance, Federick’s wife was one of them.
When Madeline Evans was diagnosed with autism, her mother chose to divorce after she persisted for six months.
Madeline was five years old, and she was a cute little girl.
Nonetheless, because of autism, she did not react to the world around her and did not interact with people.
She sat in a corner quietly, holding a barbie doll in her hands.
Actually, most autistic children were quiet, as long as they were not provoked.
As they were quiet, they did not take the initiative to tell others what they wanted or when they were not feeling comfortable.
The parents brought their children there because the doctors were professional and would be able to help them.
“Madeline, do you want some water?” Federick got down next to Madeline and asked.
Madeline did not give any reaction to her father.
“Madeline, the doctor is going to come and examine you later. Let’s not yell at the doctor like last time, all right?” Federick asked.
Again, Madeline did not show any response.
Federick let out a sigh.
Kathleen walked over and got down next to Madeline, she waved her hand and said, “Madeline?”
Federick sighed and said, “It’s no use, she does not even react much to me.”
Out of expectation, Madeline raised her hand and looked at Kathleen.
Federick was amazed.
Kathleen gave a gentle, warm smile and said, “When the doctor is here, we will let the doctor examine you. After that, I will make a pretty little dress for your barbie doll, okay?”
Madeline then lowered her head again.
Federick was excited at first, but looking at Madeline going back to her usual state and being shut off from the outside world, he felt heartbroken.
Kathleen knew this was how children with autism behaved.
“Okay.” Madeline finally gave a response.
Federick was dumbfounded.
Kathleen was overjoyed. “Pinky promise?”
She held her pinky finger forward.
Madeline also held her hand out.
With that, Kathleen made a pinky promise to her and said, “It’s a promise, you will let the doctor examine you and I will make your barbie doll a little dress.”
Madeline nodded with a light hum.
Federick’s eyes were filled with tears right away.
He said in a quavering voice, “Kathleen, she rarely reacts to things or people from the outside world. Besides me, this is the first time she responded to someone speaking to her.”
“This shows that the treatment here is working,” Kathleen explained.
She did not think that she was the special reason.
Federick covered up his face and did not want Kathleen to see him cry. “You are right. I’m content with her getting better little by little. I’ll be very happy if she can show a little bit of response to the outside world.”
Kathleen handed a tissue to Federick.
He took it and wiped off his tears. “I’m sorry to show you this side of me. This is embarrassing.”
“Federick, this is what it’s like being parents, isn’t it?” asked Kathleen. She then said in a gentle tone, “As long as the kid stays safe and healthy, nothing else matters.”
As she was going to have her own baby, that moment gave her a profound feeling.
“Right, nothing else matters. I just want my Madeline to be healthy,” Federick said with his puffy eyes.
The doctor came in at that moment.
One by one, the doctor examined the children.
When it was Madeline’s turn, the doctor asked, “Madeline, do you still remember me?”
She remained silent.
“I’m going to examine you,” the doctor said softly.
Kathleen could see that the doctor was nervous.
It might be that Madeline had caused a scene last time during the examination which left an impression on the doctor.
Although the doctor knew it was normal for autistic patients, he was still anxious.
Unexpectedly, Madeline was very still this time that even the doctor was amazed.
“Madeline, you are very good today.”
That was a huge step forward.
Federick explained, “Yes, she even responded to Kathleen when she spoke to her just now.”
The doctor glanced at Kathleen and said, “You are new here?”
“Yes, I am here on behalf of Gemma,” Kathleen answered.
The doctor looked at Kathleen and saw that she had a friendly smile. “We need someone like you here, would you consider staying?”
Kathleen was stunned.
“I mean for the charity work,” the doctor further explained.
Kathleen smiled and said, “Okay, I’ll give it a try.”
The doctor nodded.
Suddenly, a kid sitting not far from Madeline started screaming.
He fell from the chair and was kicking around.
“Doctor!” the little boy’s mother panicked.
The doctor hurried over.
Madeline covered her ears and she started to scream too.
“Madeline!” Federick was shocked and he reached out, wanting to hold Madeline.
However, Madeline kicked his hands away and refused to let him touch her.
Then, she went to the corner. With her ears covered, she continued to scream.
Kathleen approached her and said, “Hey Madeline, it’s me, Kathleen. You are going to be okay.”
Madeline was kicking around just like the little boy did.
She could easily hurt herself that way.
Kathleen embraced her and said to Federick, “The medicine.”
Madeline was struggling in an aggressive way.
She knew that she could not escape, so she bit strongly on Kathleen’s palm.
Kathleen was in pain but she did not loosen her grip.
Federick brought the medicine and helped Madeline take it.
“Madeline, it’s okay, no one’s going to harm you. It’s me, Kathleen.” Kathleen tried to comfort Madeline while holding her in her arms.
After Madeline took the medicine, and with Kathleen soothing her, she started to settle down.
The little boy was still screaming but it was in a much lower tone.
The other children were all somewhat affected by this.
The little boy’s mother was crying in grief.
Kathleen knew she must have had a hard time taking care of the boy all by herself.
Her eyes turned red instantly.
It’s hard enough for a woman to take care of a kid, let alone a kid with autism.
“Kathleen, thank you,” Federick said apologetically. “Let me have Madeline. You should hurry and get your wound treated.”
“Okay.” Kathleen proceeded to hand Madeline over to Federick.
However, Madeline held on to Kathleen’s hand, and said in her hoarse and soft voice, “I did not behave again, Kathleen. Will you still make my barbie doll a dress?”
Kathleen could not take it and tears poured down her cheeks.