Excerpt from: My Sad is All Gone
Dr Rakka leaned forward, her stethoscope glinting. This was one of the most famous hospitals for children in Toronto, in the world, and Dr Adelina Rakka, M.D., F.R.C.P. (C), F.A.A.P., was one of its most famous diagnosticians. Short and stout, with iron-grey hair and not unkindly eyes, she had diagnosed over three thousand children so far, she said, without mistake.
‘I’m sorry, Mr and Mrs Orchard.’
Alec was sobbing. I gripped my purse. So this was what it had all come down to. Surely there must be some mistake,but developmental paediatricians like Dr Rakka did not make mistakes. We did not know the word autistic, but it had a dread sound to it like the tolling of a bell deep under the sea. You knew then without being told it meant all Julian’s oddities and strangeness. It was what was ‘wrong’ with him.
We could see him through the observation window playing in the dolls’ house with his eight year-old sister, his long dark curls fringing his eyes. But whereas Polly peeked through the latticed windows calling out and waving ‘Hi Mommy! Hi Daddy!’ Julian sat still, uninvolved, staring through space in that familiar, vacant, distant way, that retarded way. Oh, Jules!
Dr Rakka raised her arms with the hapless motion of one who can say terrible things to parents because it was her job and not her fault. After all, nothing had been hidden from us: we had been present throughout the testing. I myself had sat next to Julian with Dr Rakka - he had been sandwiched between us at the little wooden table; I’d observed how poorly he had done on the Dolch word-box alone. We had both been there for the Physical. Dr Rakka had slid her hand down deftly inside his little under-shorts to cup his testicles. ‘Normal,’ she had sighed. She had meant normal physically. Normal looking…