Patty has been living with her brother, Will, since February. On Wednesday evening, she she messaged me on Facebook.
Can I ask you something
And can you promise not to tell Dad?
Will was conned by a young woman asking for money.
So, she claimed to have fled an abusive relationship in Alabama…. She was at the grocery store. Will went shopping Monday.
I was not there. Otherwise, this probably wouldn’t have happened.
How much did he give her?
Quite a bit.
Does she know where you live?
I’m not sure the total amount.
We kind of know where she is supposed to live.
How do you know he was conned?
I think we need to call the police. Weeell. He went and saw her tonight (she was asking for help again.)
And she claimed to have lost her wallet. That’s tonight.
She has his contact information?
She asked for $300 more.
He gave it to her?
Yeah. I know. Sigh. People prey on those with obvious disabilities.
At this point, I began messaging Will. I found out he had been approached by a young African America woman who claimed to be escaping from an abusive relationship. She asked Will for money to pay her rent. She was crying, he said. She told him she would pay him back, and asked for his phone number so she could pay him back when she got the money. However, over the course of three days, she never paid him back. She only pleaded for more money. Over the course of three days, he gave her $1,600.
I asked him if she knew where he lives or his last name.
He said, No. I hope not.
Do you know where she lives? Did you go to her house? Did you take her to your house?
No. I don’t know where she lives.
Block her. Don’t talk to her ever again.
I’ll give her another week to pay back the money.
No. Block her. Consider the money lost, and this an expensive lesson.
I knew that he was still unconvinced. He is independent. He is an adult. He’ll say one thing and then do what he wants anyway. After all, he is an adult (29) and doesn’t want to argue with me, his mother. I understand that.
The next morning I received a frantic phone call from Patty. “Mom, that woman called Will and is asking him to buy her food because she is hungry.”
“Go and tell Will to hang up. Right now.”
I heard her hurrying down the stairs. “Mom, said to hang up. Right now!”
Will hung up. Patty handed him her phone.
“Will, don’t talk to her anymore. That money is gone. You will not be able to get it back no matter how much she says she will pay you back. She will only plead with you for more.”
“Block her.” Then I thought, her friends would still be able to call, or she could get a different number. “Change your phone number. Right now.”
“Okay. I will.”
A few minutes later he sent me a Facebook message with the new phone number. Later, he told me that he was relieved that she couldn’t contact him anymore. We went to visit him and Patty yesterday. Privately, I asked him how she could have gotten $1,600 from him in three days. He said, “She just kept tricking me.” I told him that he had a good heart, that he wanted to help a woman in distress. But she took him advantage of that good heart in him. I know, he said.
Oh Lord. How I want to keep him and his sisters safe. I did not think to prepare him for this. Fortunately, Patty who is living with him, tried to stop him. And when he snuck out to give this woman even more money, Patty enlisted me in the effort to stop him. I hate to think what would have happened had Patty not been living with him.
I hope that he will not give into the desire to try to get his money back. That he will not contact her with his new phone number. Oh Lord. Keep him safe.
Adults with autism who are functioning in the adult world may be more vulnerable to scams. Our Will wants to believe good in others. This experience will hopefully make him more wary in the future. He is usually very careful with his money. And the loss of this money did not endanger his ability to pay his bills.
“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” John Shedd.
My blog posts have slowed down this year. This is due in part to the chaos in my life due to Ralph’s health issues. I just haven’t had the time or energy to devote to writing.
It may also be due to the fact that our kids are leaving the nest and moving on with their lives. I am in the process of letting go, and I feel a need to allow them more privacy.
I’ve received some more reminders lately that the ropes are being cast off and their ships are sailing out of the harbor.
I struggle with the idea of them dating, making decisions with the tag – “just letting you know, Mom….” As if I have no say in the matter! 🙂
They were all home for Christmas and it was wonderful. We enjoyed our turkey dinner. We watched It’s A Wonderful Life. On Christmas morning we turned on the Yule Log movie on Netflix.
Mary’s gift to us was rebuilding my old computer so that I could do my writing and Ralph could play games. Will gave us a new monitor to go with it. Patty gave us a gift card to Olive Garden. They know how to give good gifts…
We talked about going to see the Star Wars movie at the movie theater over New Year’s weekend while visiting Will at his house. Will let me know later in the day that he was planning to see us in February around his birthday. He had plans for another date on New Year’s with a girl he has been chatting with on-line for a while.
While home from University, Patty told me that she was planning to apply for a job at a national historical site, and that if she gets the job, she would not be staying with us this summer. Just letting us know, not asking our opinion, she said.
Mary is planning to live with us for a few more years and save up to buy a condo or a small house. Ralph is recommending a house with paid maintenance. My preference is that she buy a condo. But it is up to her, and she has to make up her own mind. She has been working full time for almost a year.
Ralph is continuing to recover his health, but has had some set backs. He is doing the emotional work of adjusting to disability and retirement. Everything is different for him. He is struggling with loneliness and finding a sense of purpose. I make suggestions, but he told me that he is still recovering and he doesn’t have the energy to take up something new right now.
As for me, I feel a bit at loose ends. Things are changing for me, too. My relationships with my husband and children are different. I probably won’t write about the process. Some of it is exciting. Some, not so much. After a year’s absence, I am planning to get involved with my writing group again. I am thinking about trying my hand at writing some fiction. I have a couple of ideas. I may start a different blog, not related to autism. Having a working computer in my writing corner is a big help.
Thank you all for going on this journey with me.
About a month ago, I noticed that Mary had an soft enlarged area around the base of her throat.
“You ought to get that looked at,” I said. “That area around your neck doesn’t look right.”
So Mary made an appointment with our family physicians practice. She has a different doctor than Ralph and I, a soft spoken muslim woman. We like her for Mary because she is quiet and calm, and yet firm and confident. Mary made an appointment and because she hadn’t been seen for five years, she had to fill out new paperwork. Sometimes Mary wants to be independent, which is normal for anyone, even adults with high functioning autism. So she filled out her paperwork and did not give Ralph or I permission to talk about her health conditions.
A few days after Mary’s appointment, our doctor’s office called me at my work office asking to have Mary call them and talk to a nurse. They also called Ralph on his cellphone. They were very anxious to get ahold of Mary regarding her condition. But they refused to discuss her health condition with either Ralph or me because Mary had not signed a HIPAA form allowing them to talk about her health condition. Mary has a relatively new phone and did not realize that her voice mail was not set up.
We had to have Mary call the doctor’s office. However, this was frustrating for Mary because she works in a call center during the doctor’s office hours, and does not have enough time to wait on hold to talk to a nurse. Finally on the third day, she was able to get through to talk to the nurse.
She had to get an ultrasound of her thyroid nodule. After that the office made a referral to an endocrine specialist for a fine needle biopsy. Mary’s thyroid nodule is benign by the way.
This episode surprised us and demonstrated the importance of talking about medical issues and paperwork. We told Mary that we had filled out HIPAAs with permission for our children to know about our health conditions, and she ought to do the same with Ralph and I, especially since we need to rearrange our schedules to get her to her medical appointments. She agreed somewhat reluctantly, I think because this is an area for independence for her. Still, it is an important issue to discuss and not be surprised about.
When Ralph took her to the endocrine specialist, he made sure that she signed the HIPAA paperwork to allow her doctors to talk to us. The nurse from that office called me, again because Mary’s voice mail still did not work. They had had a cancellation just before the holiday weekend and they were anxious to fill the spot and also save Mary the anxiety of waiting over the weekend. I said to her that we needed to know some information because Mary had some physical limitations and we had to provide her transportation. She was much more helpful. And the doctor had Ralph come in to be with Mary during the procedure.
I know that some day Mary will have to make all of these arrangements alone, but for now it is simply easier for her to get help from us.
There’s nothing quite like a health crisis to remind us why we are working toward transition for our kids.
On Wednesday, I took Ralph to the ER to have IV fluids administered for acute renal failure (or acute kidney injury).
When I took him to the doctor, he was found to have lost 29 pounds in the space of a month, between doctors’ appointments. The doctor said that sent Ralph for labs, and depending on the results, might send him to the ER for IV fluids.
There was no call, so I hoped/assumed that the tests had been okay. So I went back work for the afternoon and then took Mary to her computer certification class. Shortly after we arrived home after her class, Ralph received a phone call from the doctor telling him to go to the ER because he was in acute renal failure. We spent the next four hours at the ER. The doctor there said that it was kidney injury rather than renal failure, and we were allowed to go home.
Ralph is still very weak and is wondering if he should retire from his physically demanding job. If that happens, we will need to move from our four bedroom house to something smaller with fewer maintenance demands and less cost. We have been talking about this for over a year, but this event has brought more urgency to the discussion.
Our youngest daughter will probably move away from home within the year. However, because Mary will probably live with us for at least a little while, we need a two bedroom apartment or condo. We could move to a senior apartment complex if Mary were living on her own. We suggested a few weeks ago that she might want to live in the same complex, or if she gets a full time job, maybe in the same condo community. Always, I my urge to take care of her comes to the fore.
But at some point, Mary will need to live independently. Or perhaps with her brother. I’ve known a few people with lower IQs who lived on their own.
Ralph probably will recover fully. However, like many parents of special children, we have to think about the future for our oldest daughter. A friend at work said to me, “Why are you so concerned about Mary living on her own? Can’t she live with you?”
“Yes, she can live with us for as long as she can, but eventually, she will need live independently.”