Adam Dzialo

Adam Dzialo
Our son, Adam Dzialo, age 30

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Guest Post: Eric Fischer, A Response to Request for "Conversion Stories"

Eric Fischer
       In my last post, I inquired if readers had "conversion stories" that they would be willing to comment upon or share.  My friend, Eric Fischer, shared with me this comment which has taken the form of a guest post.  Eric lives in Haifa, Israel and has been a naturopathic practitioner since 1990, specializing in shiatsu and bio-ergonomics.  He is a totally committed caregiver to his beautiful son, Segev, who was born with Ohtahara Syndrome and a variety of other complicating conditions.  He exemplifies a very unique level of care-giving and demonstrates a deep level of understanding of the meaning of severe and complex disability. 
        Eric blogs at and his posts about his life with Segev merit a serious visit.  Following his blog is an inspiration.  I am honored to share this guest post with all.

        When I was eighteen, long before becoming a therapist, I moved out of my parent’s home, leaving Holland and headed to Canada to study. On the way I stopped in England to visit friends of my parents and they took me out one night to friends of theirs.
        After greetings I was “automatically” escorted upstairs to their son’s room, which I found a bit strange, though he was my age. Apparently he didn’t, or wasn’t expected, to mingle and so there I stood in the entry, looking down at a disheveled 18 year old lying on his bed, watching television. He didn’t say anything, just nodded in my direction while not taking his eyes off of the tv, as though this was just another of many visits from an old chum.
       “You know”, he said after a minute, “I’ve shot a person.”
        Of course I was taken aback and thought firstly that he was simply trying to make an impression, or at least I wanted him to think that I thought that, so I responded with, “that’s quite a story.”
Apparently it worked because then he said, “well, what I mean is that I shot at him, but I didn’t hit anybody.”
That apparently that was all the introduction needed because after that we talked for about half an hour without the subject of the shooting or any other equally astounding act, making its appearance.
        We went downstairs at my suggestion and then came the really interesting part. As I said the young man was apparently not used to ‘mingling’ and it seemed that whatever the topic of discussion he would take an affront to it and react either angrily or dismissively. I intuitively felt that it wasn’t because he was in over his head but rather that he had taken a particular attitude and, with youthful vigor, was going to stick with it. I envisioned him rather like a captain going down with his ship.
       But then I spoke the words. I had never experienced words as having a really life-altering effect myself, though being enamored of words, honing their use, I always believed they could.
       What I said to him, spontaneously and interrupting the increasingly loud debate that he had drawn the other adults into with his abrasive and contradictory stance on each and every subject, was this: “You know”,  I said, “no one here is trying to hurt you.”
       There was silence from all parties until someone said that it was getting late and within five minutes the visit was over and we were on our way out.

       Many years passed. I was talking to that friend of my parents that I had visited in England and she, rather out of context said, “yes, so you see, sometimes people do really change, like John.”  I had no idea who or what she was talking about but upon inquiring she said, “Oh yes! What, you didn’t know? The very next day he went looking for a job, finished his exams, made a life for himself and he said it was all because of what you had said to him that night.”
       I’ve had other experiences like that one and I definitely have been gratified to see the right words at the right time can have such a strong effect.
       How does this relate to Phil’s question about influencing those around us to have an understanding for the needs generated by caring for a severely compromised human being? Because there can be little doubt, as Phil stated, in believing it to be a much simpler task to direct people’s inherent need for a organized system of belief.
       So I believe that we can act as a conduit, like an insulated wire transferring electricity, but, and here is the catch, I believe there has to be electricity to start with. You cannot be a conduit if there is nothing there to transfer.
       Furthermore I feel that it is people’s belief system that is the limiting factor. So does that mean that you must be young, open (and na├»ve?) in order to be subject to influence? If your belief system contains the frame of reference for caring for you fellow man then surely you will rise to the occasion, especially when asked, no?
No, not necessarily. Because the overwhelming majority of alliances in societal behavior exist between elements that share similarities.  Phil’s son Adam is an anomaly. He is frightening. Hell, I would be frightened to take care of him. I’d get over it because I believe we must overcome our fears, must strive beyond what is comfortable and known. 
       I know parents who have made decisions that led to the death of their severely compromised child. Some made the decision because they didn’t possess backgrounds which gave them tools to deal with such a difficult situation. Others did so with the belief that it was best for the child.
       No one is here to judge those decisions, only to try and understand them, in order to learn. From Phil’s point of view, the thought of having help offered is not merely a request for respite, but rather a call to the initiated to open themselves to a tremendous learning experience, even if just for a weekend. A sharing of the journey which, like the classic Greek tales, led a person ultimately to self-realization.
       The initiation though, and now I am particularly addressing Phil, took place a long time ago. Years before Adam was even born, when the experiences of people within hearing distance, formed their belief system. Intelligent people, Phil, caring people. But without the capacity to understand the connection.

So I go about looking, for people who are initiated, and when I find one, then and only then will I ask them because after all, he who has ears shall hear.

Segev Fischer


  1. Agreed, Marcelle! The right word, at the right time, to the right person, with the rightly open heart...changes happens but not often in my experience. Eric's post provide a hope....

  2. Dear Eric, A great and moving post. (I agree Phil & Marcelle, Eric does have a super knack for the right word at the right time :)) Thank you for sharing it with us, love Mel

    P.S, I love it when you guys say that one of the bloggers is your friend as, I love how that the internet facilitates how you can have friends whom you have and have never physically met!

    Oh and Eric, I love the photo of you too.



  3. Yes, Mel, there is a universal solidarity which is built up in a very vast world. People can never understand how we depend upon the kind words of our friends in cyberspace...

  4. We never quite know how people perceive the world around them, but sometimes we get a sense when someone is hurting or just plain lost. A thought from my past, maybe from a wise old nun, comes back to me and says that one has to be (Phil calls it open hearted) "ripe" to receive grace. That young man was ready and Eric delivered by reaching out and connecting with him with very simple and reassuring words. Once the young man felt safe, he was able to move on. A great story that gives us all pupose, hope and resolve.

  5. Reminds me of an olde book from my wilder days, "The Celestine Prophesy" by Redfield. There is a universal awakening to consciousness which is evolving with greater speed and's just a matter of hopping on the train at the right time...thanks, especially to the old nun.

  6. I like the idea of looking for the people who are initiated. My problem is even those who are intiated in one area like special needs still seem to become quiet when the effects of bullyiing are added and the ones who understand bullying fail to understand that sensory sensitivity and Asperger's magnify the bullying. I think I need to get better at recognizing the truly initiated.

    Eric thank you for sharing your insights and Phil thanks for having Eric do a guess post.

  7. I'm glad that the post rings true for some. Putting real experiences into the perspective of a concept is not always easy. Foreshadowing my work as a therapist I have established an approach that fundamentally is about finding what a person needs to hear and timing it right. Creating a trusting relationship and getting it right has actually created deep friendships in some cases, which I cherish.

    So absolutely, the right approach to a person can cause significant changes in how we relate.

  8. Sue: I agree with your observations about Asperger's and bullying. I have read much about sensory issues which accompany those on the spectrum and unless I had the ability to experience this personally, I would have to plead ignorance. Bullying, however, is intrinsically wrong. Asperger's is a "young" condition only described in recent years in a way that is understandable. Your efforts to educate are monumentally helpful in this endeavor. Warm regards!

  9. Eric: Your words ring true for many who read both our blogs. Many, many more read than leave comments and that's ok. I do believe that our lives and the lives of our boys and so many others make a definitive impact on the world...when people are ready they hear! I thank you for your words which you have shared with all. Blessings to Segev.

  10. Very touching story, Eric. Thanks for sharing it here, Phil.

    I loved the part of Sharon's book when she says that what she wants for Adam is friends. Guys his age who he can go to a game with, or just hang out with.

    Years ago I read a book by a woman with a daughter my age (she just turned 50) who was born with severe brain damage. The book is called 'Does She Know She's There' by Nicola Schaeffer.

    One of the things that I loved about that book was Nicola's determination to build a network of friendships around her daughter. This wasn't easy in 1960-70's Canada when there were no services available, and doctors were telling parents to institutionalize their children with disabilities.

    I guess the conversion here is that I realized through Nicola's book (and she became a friend thru letters and phone calls) the importance of friendship in my son's life. It's not something that happens as easily or naturally as it does for my typically developing teenager. I have to help the world see the potential of a buddy like Daniel.

    It's something I need to work harder at, and now is a particularly important time for it since he'll be thirteen in a few months. He needs his guy time just like any other teenage boy.

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