Vanessa’s rash first appeared on her arms and legs when she was 3 or 4 months old. It was red and bumpy and went away when she was sick with a virus, which happened often. Then it would come back. The dermatology team she saw at Boston Children’s Hospital was puzzled.
“I was expecting they were going to think it was nothing, but they took it very seriously,” says Katherine Bell, one of Vanessa’s mothers. “They took a biopsy and very quickly realized they had no idea what it was.”
Vanessa’s case was even featured at a regional dermatology conference where doctors take up mystery patients. “A hundred to 150 dermatologists looked at her,” says Katherine. But no one could pinpoint a diagnosis. …
Timothy Froio has spent his life plagued by sudden, unwanted jerky movements.
“As a baby, he’d drift off to sleep in my arms and then jump, as if he felt like he was falling,” says his mother, Cheralyn. “He would jump so much that his body would stiffen.”
At age 2, putting together Legos, Tim struggled with violent tic-like movements in his upper torso, arms, legs, neck and head. “He’d jerk and the Legos would come apart and go all over,” says Cheralyn.
The same thing happened with his beverages: they’d spill in his face and all over. Unable to control his movements, he once jabbed himself in the face with a beef teriyaki skewer. His cups had to have lids, and he couldn’t button his buttons or tie his shoes. Cheralyn had to hold him down to cut his nails.
Kids weren’t kind to Timothy, who is now 21 and also has autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Bullies would punch him to make his movements come out. He became very anxious: after the 9/11 attacks, he stopped eating for a week, thinking his food had been poisoned by terrorists.
Yet, against all odds, Timothy is also an artist. By bracing his non-drawing hand against his face, he calms the movements enough to create clean, highly detailed drawings, as shown in this video.…