The Schexnaydre twins have faced numerous challenged since March – school closed because of the pandemic, they’ve been sick, their parents have both been ill, their mother has been hospitalized and their house has flooded.
What would be a lot to navigate for any teenager – Jacob and Joshua are 19 years old – has been compounded by the fact that the twins function at a 3-year-old level because of their autism and intellectual disabilities.
Their mother Anne said her loving and affectionate sons require around the clock care, which includes diaper changes.
School closing because of the coronavirus was the first challenge her sons have faced this spring.
“Even children who do not have special needs are going crazy … everyone thrives on routine,” she said. “Routine is so important, and they don’t have that.”
While Joshua hates school because he can’t take his toys with him, Anne said Jacob is the complete opposite.
“Jacob would live at school if he could,” Anne said. “He loves his teacher and every day Jacob brings me his school uniform and his bag … he’ll sit outside for two hours waiting for the bus.”
Anne said her sons’ brains stopped developing in the first 12 weeks of gestation, which equates to their brains being a third of the way developed.
“So they function at about a 3-year-old level,” she said. “Try to explain to a nonverbal child that the bus is just not coming.”
The twins, who attend Destrehan High School, are eligible to attend the school until they age out at 22 years old. In the spring of 2019, they were able to participate in the school’s graduation, where they each received a certificate of completion.
During the summer, they would typically attend the parish’s Extended School Year Program.
“That’s so important to them,” Anne said. “They get to have their routine.”
While the pandemic has interrupted the twins’ routine, Anne’s routine was also interrupted this spring when a bad fall left her unable to care for her sons. She waited at home – confined to a bed – for four weeks before she was able to be admitted to a surgical center for surgery.
While in the hospital, Anne received a call that her husband, as well as her sons, were battling coronavirus. She said they all contracted the virus from one of the twins’ in-home providers.
Anne said her sons only seemed to be affected for a few days, although they did run fever the whole time.
“For them they had no clue what was going on,” she said of Jacob and Joshua. “They rested a lot and laid on the sofa, which is something they never do … they are in constant motion and they just slept.”
Anne said Ron was not as fortunate.
“He had a severe case and no one could come here,” she said of their home. “We couldn’t let a person in … he couldn’t get help from anybody.”
Anne eventually did test positive for the virus, although she said she contacted it from the surgical center. She was hospitalized for eight days, which meant Ron’s duty as the sole caretaker for their sons was extended.
“Ron … he’s a saint,” she said. “I don’t know how he did it … but he did.”
Anne said neighbors and friends have delivered meals and groceries for the family, which has helped substantially. Their family home took on an inch of water earlier this month in the May 15 flood, and Anne said she hopes happy times are ahead for Joshua and Jacob.
“They’re going through a rough time … I’m hoping God gives them to the grace to forget,” she said.