Avner would become mute and disconnected from everything else around him. On one occasion, he left the Scout House to sit on a bench outside. When our Scoutmaster, Crill and I tried to speak to him, he refused to acknowledge us. I tried to get him into my car at the end of the meeting. Instead, he got up and started walking towards home, only a mile away. I called Barbara from the Scout House to let her know that Avner was walking home. He walked past her which worried us both, but eventually turned around and came inside.
His leg just hung from his body, showing no signs of life, except a pulse. We visited a spinal specialist for an expert opinion. He performed a physical exam and a basic pinprick assessment which also indicated a problem. An orthotic insert was ordered that fit in Avner’s shoe to manage the drop foot. The doctor also ordered an MRI.
Still the attitude grew darker. Avner gravitated to violent video games. In fact he had migrated away from the social games that he played with friends at school. He was turning morose and there wasn’t a ready explanation, except adolescents. Everything that we thought we saw could be explained by teenage hormones or frustration with school work.
I suppose that context always makes the difference. Talking to Avner tops the list of important things I do, especially during this lockdown. Absent any other external stimulation, I find that engaging conversation has a nearly magical ability to restart cognition. It may be my own confirmation bias, but I don’t think so. Avner has a ravenous appetite for information and analysis. I love that aspect of his personality. We