From a friend in retrospect . ..
Prior to Kathryn, Heather already had 2 children;
My memories are of Heather looking after me – especially cooking. Her energy and interest in life. Her drive and intelligence. Me at times feeling discombobulated in big city Brisbane and with study (she was my main acupuncture lecturer when Josh (3 years older than Skye) was just a baby). She feeding me and that was what I needed. Practical mothering care. Where did she find the energy?
Skye born and had high fever, convulsions. Me thinking – let her go – the work and commitment involved in keeping her – Was it kind particularly as she fought so hard to go and would have a life with considerable brain damage? You don’t say no to Heather easily and many of us roped into Skye’s treatment (and we wanted to) cross crawling to develop the brain. Three of us at a time moving her head, moving her arms and legs as if she was crawling. Her lying on her front, screaming and I found that hard to do.
Hard on a marriage and Heather and Keith separated.
Years later when Skye was nearly 4 Heather and her friend, Jane; and Skye were on a trip and I was living in Queenstown by then. I blithely said I would take care of Skye/ Kathryn while Heather had a day off and went on a tourist trip for 12 hours. I took Skye/Kathryn down to the lake for a walk and began to realize then perhaps this was not going to be an easy day. I learned the hard way what severe autism was.
There was someone home but the lights were very different to anything I had ever encountered with anyone before. There was NO response to anything I said, signed, led. She had heaps of energy so I just let her run about safely. Heather had left instructions as to her feeding and supplements, pull up changing which was easily accomplished as far as I recall.
Later in the day, before Heather arrived back, I had Kathryn inside and she was becoming fractious and bored. I tried the usual things; was she hungry? I tried reading a story. Nothing. NO response just continued noise and moving around. How about the TV? Again nothing. It was as if she couldn’t see it in the same way the cat or a dog doesn’t despite being in front of it. NOTHING would entertain her or engage her. I was totally at sea as I had had no experience of a person this different from normal. The whirling around the room and noise increased. Even I could realise she was very agitated and bored. Because it is over 15 years ago, I cannot remember why I did not let her be outside again. Perhaps it was dark, or I was afraid she would run away. It was so hard to see her this distraught. I was getting exhausted and distraught myself and felt like I could have thrown her out the window. She was a beautiful child: the only physical sign of her disability a small head.
I was SO very pleased to see Heather and from what I remember so was Kathryn.
I have only seen her once since then about two years later in Christchurch when I visited Heather. Heather did an amazing job with her and I respected her decision to have give her up. I am very glad Kathryn has such a loving and caring family to take care of her.