Last night I watched a documentary on TLC called Flo and Kay: Twin Savants. I am kind of drawn to such programming given the combination of my love of documentaries and now my love about learning about disabilities. Flo and Kay Lyman are identical twins who are autistic and have special savant abilities (i.e., able to calculate the day of week for any date; memory of artists of songs from the 1960s-1980s; tell you the weather on any date; and memory for details related to their obsession Dick Clark). Flo and Kay’s abilities are very rare – it is estimated that this would occur in only 10% of those with autism. The part of the documentary that I was drawn to was their family and how they related with Flo and Kay. Flo and Kay’s mother had great difficulty accepting her daughters. The girls were born in 1956, so this was a time of isolation and silence about having a child with special needs. In addition, Flo and Kay’s mother also had some mental health difficulties of her own. Shockingly, at one point she even tried to commit suicide and end the twin’s lives by having all three of them put their head in the oven. This was stopped by Flo and Kay’s younger sister, Jane, who eventually became their caregiver. Flo and Kay’s father coped through withdrawing and isolation from the family. He kept his distance. After their parent’s death, Jane and her family gave Flo and Kay a great life for many years – and Flo and Kay just loved living with them in Florida. But then tragedy struck, and Jane died suddenly from a heart attack. Jane’s husband contacted Flo and Kay’s brother in New Jersey to take them, as he believed that they should be with their family. This brother and his wife were not very thrilled about having Flo and Kay live with them. Actually while I was watching this it was more my perception that it was the sister-in-law of Flo and Kay who was the most upset about them living there. This really emphasized what a beautiful, giving person Jane was. I really hope my boys are like this. I did begin to think about how there is something I can’t control – the reaction of who my boys choose to spend their lives with – how will they see Quinn. I really hope, however, that through teaching my boys about the importance of respecting and loving those with disabilities that they will only choose to be with someone who would also do the same thing.
If you are interested in this documentary, you can watch a clip here.
This blog is about our journey raising three bright, gorgeous kids (Riley, Aidan, and Quinn). Miss Quinny happens to have an extra 21st chromosome (Down syndrome) along with Infantile Spasms (West syndrome) and Stereotypic Movement Disorder. This blog is for awareness and advocacy for families with children with special needs.