One day when M was a little boy living with his parents in California, they visited a park in Los Gatos. M got on his bike at the top of a very steep hill and before his parents could stop him, he set off down the slope, pedaling furiously. “I’d say he was going 80 kilometers an hour,” his father, G, recalls.
Hurtling downwards, M rode directly into a pillar. By accident? “No,” says G. “Deliberately.”
The ground shook; everyone in the park looked up in shock. M was thrown off his bike and went flying through the air. “It’s a miracle he wasn’t killed,” says G.
Was he trying to kill himself? “No,” says G again. “You have to understand. He has no concept of danger. He didn’t even cry after that crash. This is not a normal child.”
“What a combination: a brain tumor and autism,” says M’s mother, S, in a tone of abject misery and despair.
I am sitting with G and S at a table in their living room in Ashkelon. Their apartment is small, neat and spotlessly clean. Spread out in front of us are some of M’s map drawings — “the only thing he ever drew is maps,” says S. There’s a pile of medical records and studies, including a diagnosis from Jerusalem’s Hadassah hospital setting out M’s “specified pervasive development disorders.” A multi-frame with photographs of M over the years — a beautiful blond-haired little boy with what looks like a slightly larger than usual head. And an MRI of M’s brain showing what his parents say is a tumor at the foramen of Monro — the source, they believe, of all his misfortune.
But not just his misfortune.
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