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Lend a Hand: Autistic son needs help taking care of parents
The Patriot Ledger - 11/30/2020
Editor's note: This is one in a series of stories chronicling the needs of South Shore residents who will benefit from The Patriot Ledger’s Lend a Hand holiday fundraising campaign. Names have been changed to protect privacy.
“Kevin” is the sole breadwinner for himself and his parents. He has autism spectrum disorder symptoms and started a new part-time job at a supermarket, but the mounting financial pressures due to his father’s stroke threaten to overwhelm him with anxiety.
Past stress made jobs difficult, but he is determined to keep working. Through therapy, he has learned to ask for help. And now he is asking Lend a Hand to help with food and bills to ease the pressure.
Lend a Hand, The Patriot Ledger's annual holiday charitable program, began in 1998 and has raised more than $3.2 million over the last 22 years for South Shore families and people in need. Working with three established community service agencies -- Quincy Community Action Programs, South Shore Community Action Council and Aspire Health Alliance -- Lend a Hand has presented the compelling stories of people in need and invited readers to open their hearts and wallets to help.
Kevin lives in Holbrook with his parents. Through Aspire Health Alliance in Quincy, he can now manage feelings of hurt and anxiety, which in the past caused job loss.
"I’m more positive now," said Kevin. "It’s from getting this job,” a job said he wants to keep, even as his family’s struggles grow harder.
Donate: LEND A HAND: Here's how you can help
Sudden hardship was brought on by medical bills from his father’s stroke earlier this year, complicated by pancreatitis. Until his stroke, his father, 68, was a community college professor.
Kevin said, “He’s going to rehab and he uses a cane. His recall and speech are not 100 percent, but it’s a miracle he’s recovering.”
Kevin’s mother is 76 and unable to work, so he is the main caretaker and breadwinner.
He is proud to help his parents.
“I call myself 'Money Bags Butler' because I work and then I do the chores. I can’t drive, so I have a foldable shopping cart and I take the bus to do grocery shopping.”
Kevin sports a gray T-shirt with “Pokemon" in bright yellow letters. At age 39, his voice sounds like he could be 18.
His autism was not diagnosed until he was 30. As a child, he was placed in special education programs, and later there were difficulties in middle school.
“I couldn’t read very well in the sixth grade," he said. "The 'Cricket in Times Square' was one of my first chapter books.”
Some childhood memories still make him fearful.
"Several times I was hospitalized when I was young," said Kevin. "I’m afraid of going back to the mental hospital. I struggle with depression. It’s been years, but I still worry about it.”
Kevin has gained self control through learning how to communicate and recognizing emotional triggers. And the public is more aware and understanding of autism.
Kevin is a restocking clerk at the supermarket. At 5-foot-4, he says one of the hardest parts of the job is working a heavy jack when bringing in pallets of water. His co-workers are kind and helpful, he said.
“Now I deal with my feelings. There’s another guy on the spectrum and we help each other not to feel overwhelmed.”
What is his fear about getting overwhelmed?
“If anxiety gets really bad, I might give up my job,” he said, adding that he draws from a new inner resource. “I converted to Catholicism, so faith has helped me a lot."
Kevin offers advice to those working with people on the autism spectrum.
“Meet them at their level. If you see they are upset, just ask, ‘What’s bothering you right now? How can we solve the problem?’”
He said he hopes Lend a Hand can help with food and bills to ease the urgent pressures facing him and his parents.
Meanwhile, Kevin is committed to his part-time job, but he is realistic about the limitations.
“I’ve never been in my life able to hold a full-time job and I can’t make a lot of money on my own,” he said.
Here’s how you can help Lend a Hand
Clip the coupon published in The Patriot Ledger, fill out all the fields, write a check or money order and mail it to:
Lend a Hand
The Patriot Ledger
3 Webster Square
Marshfield, MA 02050
Call our friends at Ansaphone at 617-424-9825 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Donate securely online though PayPal. Search for Ledger Lend a Hand Foundation.
This article originally appeared on The Patriot Ledger: Lend a Hand: Autistic son needs help taking care of parents
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