Steven Chase Skaggs is 17 years old, attends CHS as a senior, and was diagnosed with autism at 2 years old. A senior in high school, you ask? Some may think “if he has gotten this far it must not be so bad”. What most don’t see what it took him to get there. Yes, some who don’t even have a disability don’t even complete high school. Steven was blessed enough with a very dedicated and loving family along with an amazing team of staff to make it possible. He was lucky enough to grow up with some of the same staff members (teachers and assistants) since he was just 5 years old. He has had many angels be apart of his journey. Modified diploma or not, this will be the greatest victory for him. Probably even the greatest 4 years of his life!
This being said, most don’t think about who or where he could be as a person if they knew his story. It is typical to think he was born this way and that there was never a chance for him to lead a life of his own without constant assistance. However, he was not born this way and he does have a story.
Many of you know of Steven. He is one of those special people that you meet once and you will never forget him. Whether it’s his one-of-a-kind smile, or the fact that he is 6’4 and counting, you know he is a special guy as soon as you look at him! If you catch that smile of his, it is impossible to not catch a huge smile on your face as well. He is such a kindhearted dude. He is hands down one of the most popular guys in school, and it isn’t just because he is “special”. It is because of the sweet-hearted person he is and the soul inside of him. Walking down the school halls, he never fails to hear a “Hi Steven!”, “Hey Steven good to see ya”, or “Steven I can’t wait to see you in math today”! I always loved getting to visit him at school to see such a supportive and positive environment. It was no wonder he looked forward to school so much. There aren’t enough thank you’s in the world to describe how much it means to Steven and his family to have such an amazing group of students and staff helping Steven grow and become the person he is.
As for his story: By the time he was at the age of two, Steven’s brilliance stunned the family. We have several home videos of little Steven saying his ABC’s (stopping around D or E of course), counting to 10, and responding to his mommy when asked how old he is, “I two!”, or his name. He was passing his milestones with flying colors, to say the least. To have those videos will forever be one of the greatest treasures, because we never got to see that same boy after what happened. By the age of 14 he was finally able to count to 10 again. As for the rest, it’s complicated. He has been stuck with the mentality of less than half his age for probably will for the rest of his life.
What Happened? Steven had an accident just after turning two. He was in the bath tub, playing with his bath toys in his regular routine when he quickly slid forward. He gashed his two front teeth right into the big metal faucet, causing an emergency visit to the dentist where they capped them. They also ended up finding cavities in his back teeth, filling them with amalgam (liquid mercury). When he awoke from the procedure, he was never the same.
Imagine looking at your very own baby, your brother, your grandson and wondering where he went? Where did our boy go? Why won’t he look in our eyes anymore? Why won’t he respond? How do you explain to his older sister why he doesn’t respond anymore when you hardly understand yourself?
It took a couple of years of constant research and questioning to start to get somewhat of an answer as to what happened. It still isn’t 100 percent clear. What we do know is the amalgam was the main cause of what happened. It was a mercury overload in combination with his vaccines. We also learned that they changed the filling formula "polices" THE NEXT YEAR after what had happened to Steven. Finally a couple years ago lost the last tooth with the metal (amalgam). He has tried special diets, supplements, etc. He has been in special education since he was 3 years old. Started with Early intervention and he will continue to have assistance for the rest of his life. He needs assistance with preparing food, bathing, brushing his teeth, and even tying his shoes. He can answer some questions and tell you the important things he wants/needs, like food and such. But when it comes to answering questions or having a conversation, he struggles. Most of the time when you ask him a question he will respond by repeating the question back to you. Because of this, life after high school is a very scary thing to think about for him and his family. The family hopes that they will be able to find a job that he will mentally be able to do. Hopefully the programs that are available will be a success and help find him a fitting job. Although no program will be able to supply him with a job that will fund his lifestyle. It will mostly be an activity to get him out of the house and help him with self-worth and self-discipline.
Something most people don’t know about situations like Steven’s, is that parents have to fight in court for custody of their children once they turn 18. How horrible is that, especially when parents can’t afford to do this most of the time? Thinking about Steven having to live with strangers who have no idea how he works or thinks is gut-wrenching. Why have to do that to him if he has parents/family willing to house him and assist him?
As he is about to reach the point of being 18, an adult, which is typically the most exciting age ever for us, we hope to raise enough funds to keep him home. His family and friends are also working hard to try and give him the trip of his dreams to Disneyland as his graduation gift. He will not be asking for a car or things for his new appartment ect. We are asking for this as his graduation gift! He deserves a trip for graduating high school! He deserves it the most. That being said, attorney funds and a trip will be costly. We want so badly to make both things happen for him. His favorite thing to do is travel. He is constantly showing us air planes and trains, begging to go!
In conclusion, we are working hard towards making one of Steven’s biggest dreams come true this summer, but are in a great need of help completing our goal. This year he will be graduating high school- what an accomplishment! Becoming an adult and entering a whole new world will be an adventure to say the least, but we hope to keep him home with the ones he loves and continue to help him become as successful as he can be.
Any donation helps and will be appreciated more than words can say! Thank you for taking the time to learn a little about Steven’s story and helping us make his dreams come true. He is so very deserving. Sarah Kirkpatrick, Stevens mother, will be withdrawing the donations on his behalf.
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