Patrick’s world: Life with Fragile X

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On a recent Friday afternoon, 19-year-old Patrick Vershbow dipped his fingers into a small hot tub, the water cool from days left unheated, and traced small circles on the surface, watching as floating toys swirled in its wake. He hums to himself a song of his own creation, one he learned from a video game or television, caught in a world only he knows.

Like other 19-year-olds, Vershbow is preparing for a future where he hopes to find work. Unlike most other 19-year-olds, that future is constrained by a condition known as Fragile X Syndrome, a genetic mutation of the X-chromosome that is the most common form of mental retardation and the leading known cause of Autism.

Vershbow has trouble with social interactions. It’s hard for him to make eye contact or respond when spoken to. He has trouble sleeping, sometimes waking up in the wee hours of the night and all day, even though he’s exhausted. He has a sensory disorder, favoring some tactical sensations while loathing others. He has trouble formulating words and making sentences.

“It’s not just one thing; it’s everything,” said Vershbow’s mother, Pamela.

This story was originally published in the Watertown TAB. Read the story here.

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