Friday, October 4, 2013

How Can a Giant Be Fragile?

My son is 6” 2” and 189 lbs at 14 years old.  Rather than him looking up to me, I look up to him in more than one way every day.  He is a giant, but it turns out he is also fragile.

We learned this summer that Jack has a genetic condition tagged on the X chromosome, known as Fragile X syndrome.  Fragile X is tied to neural development thus being linked to autism and mental retardation.  Very early in life Jack was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, a mild form of autism that is characterized by difficulties in social interaction, non-verbal communication, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. Asperger’s is a relatively new diagnosis named after Hans Asperger and first observed by him in 1944.  Fragile X is also fairly new being first identified in the 1970’s.  Both conditions are not something you cure, but rather something that you manage.  Fragile X affects approximately 1 in 4000 males and 1 in 8000 females.

We just think this makes Jack special.  In the most recent issue (October 7, 2013) of Time magazine, Temple Grandin (famous autistic CSU professor) and Richard Panek wrote an article “What’s Right with the Autistic Mind” adapted from their book The Autistic Brain (Haughton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013). In the article they state that “by focusing on the deficits, we overlook the strengths of the brains built differently.”

Jack’s stature not only makes him strong, but his brain is an uncanny strength we try to find ways to use every day.  With a near photographic memory, Jack has an uncanny knowledge of history and sports trivia that we are convinced may make him a Jeopardy champion.  His different viewpoint on the world also creates his own brand of comedy that keeps his whole family laughing.

Fortunately, in Colorado we are lucky to have a unique specialty clinic for children and their families affected with Fragile X syndrome, the Fragile X Treatment and Research Center at Children's Hospital Colorado.  With an upcoming appointment with their specialists, our journey with Jack will continue as we enjoy the adventure of living with a fragile giant.

My Fragile Giant and I at Coors Field


  1. Hey Todd,
    This was beautiful and it is great that you know more about your sweet Jack. I hope all works out well for you and I do miss you Moshers.
    Karen Steele

  2. Todd- You and your son are my heroes. Stay strong brother! Y'all are in my prayers. PS- I just booked a ticket to Colorado this weekend and would love to grab lunch if you're free. I know it's last minute so don't worry about it but I thought I would throw it out there. I also have every intention of returning when AZ football plays CU in Boulder!

    - Michael Colletti


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