Since he had begun taking Risperdal, Austin Pledger was having fewer tantrums. The reports Benita Pledger read from her son's school reflected what she was seeing at home: "His frustration behavior has greatly," his special education teacher wrote in April 2004. But it was far from a complete turnaround. Austin would still erupt in volatile behavior, biting himself or suddenly dropping to the floor and pounding his head.
Benita and Phillip continued to dote on him, and marveled at his ever-amazing feats of memory. He could now recite long passages from books that he was starting to be able to read. He amazed his parents almost every day by completing the required phrase, when just a few letter clues had been posted, as he watched his favorite TV show, “Wheel of Fortune.”
But despite Benita’s incessant efforts to control Austin’s diet, her son had gained an enormous amount of weight in the two years since he had started on Risperdal. Worse was where he seemed to be putting on much of the weight—up top, in his chest. “He started to get really self-conscious about it,” Benita recalls. When summer came and it was time to swim in the family’s above-ground pool, out back behind the house and the car repair garage, Austin’s parents began to realize just how self-conscious their son was.
At some point, recalls Phillip Pledger, his son "became so embarrassed about how he looked up top that he didn't even want us to see him. So he began to wear a T-shirt, even in the water."
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To read Chapter 7 in its entirety and view the accompanying materials online, visit The Huffington Post: Highline website: http://huff.to/1VX0TW7.