‘Everything was fine’

PHOTO BY JILL GOSCHE Alec Van Beveren is surrounded by his mother, Amy Laird (left), and aide, Shawna Myers.

Alec Van Beveren’s loved ones say he is happy, smiley, charming and lovable.

The 21-year-old who basically is in a 4-month-old state has taught his mother, Amy Laird, patience.

She said that some days, it’s hard — physically and emotionally — to raise him in his condition.

“She makes it look easy,” said Shawna Myers, who has been Van Beveren’s aide for a couple of years.

Laird said Van Beveren, who graduates from Seneca County School of Opportunity Center this year, has shaken baby syndrome and quadriplegic cerebral palsy. He sees doctors at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus.

New issues arise as he’s getting older, and he’s medically complex, but healthy, Laird said.

“We’re seeing doctors all over the place,” she said.

Laird said Van Beveren was born Aug. 25, 1997, and was healthy.

“Everything was fine,” she said.

Laird said she was not with Van Beveren’s father and met someone during her pregnancy. The two were dating, and she was convinced to move in with him shortly after Van Beveren was born.

She recalled being at work and receiving a call from her boyfriend, who was saying Van Beveren was “lethargic.”

“(He) thought I should come home,” she said.

Laird said Van Beveren was in his crib.

“He was not responding to anything,” she said.

After arriving at the emergency room, Laird was told her infant son was having a stroke.

He was taken by Life Flight to Toledo Children’s Hospital from Fostoria ProMedica Community Hospital, had emergency surgery to remove a blood clot from his brain and was put into an induced coma, Laird said.

She said she didn’t know what was going on and was told there was a 50/50 chance of him even surviving. She recalled being told, “He’ll live in an institution.”

About a month later, Laird said, Van Beveren was well enough to finally come home, and her father and stepmother got temporary custody of him.

“I was allowed to live with him,” she said.

Laird said she got back full custody of her son, and it took three years for the case to go to trial.

Keith T. Theis, 49, was sentenced to eight years in prison after being found guilty of a charge of endangering children, a second-degree felony, according to Seneca County Clerk of Courts records.

“He did serve the full eight years. … It was only eight years, but he served the whole time,” Laird said.

Laird said she will never forgive Theis for doing what he did.

“I can’t be angry every day. I do have my angry days,” she said.

About a month after getting home, Van Beveren had started having seizures. He ate from a bottle, but around 3 years old, he ended up back in the hospital, stopped eating, received a temporary feeding tube and now has a permanent feeding tube.

He doesn’t take anything by mouth, Laird said.

Van Beveren has a completely dislocated hip, but surgery would be too risky due to an issue with his bones. He is confined to a chair, and he underwent surgery and had a wound vac due to a pressure sore three years ago.

Laird said her son is non-verbal but is talkative with his voice. He can make sounds and facial signals, Myers said.

“He doesn’t say words,” Laird said.

Laird said they try to bring him to as many activities as they can. Myers said she took him to see Nashville Crush at the fair.

“He loved it,” she said.

Van Beveren is to graduate from Seneca County School of Opportunity this year. The next focus is what to do after school, Laird said.

“Everything he gets at the school is done now,” she said.

Laird said it’s good therapy at the school, and she knows the other students like him in the class.

“Kids have to go to school. … He goes to school every day,” she said.