Cayden Inman isn’t always able to connect with the outside world — at least in some of the ways most of us take for granted.
The 15-year-old Stephenville High School freshman has a form of autism and suffers from seizures that has his family concerned about his longterm wellbeing.
One of the more recent seizures caused Cayden to stop breathing, and his parents administered CPR, then had to give him an emergency dosage of valium to help bring him out of it.
Cayden’s family is scheduled to be this year’s recipient of proceeds from the Coaches for a Cure basketball game Tuesday in Gandy Gym in a district game against Mineral Wells.
The proceeds will include ticket sales at the door, T-shirt sales and a silent auction (baked goods), as well as other donations (contact the SHS Athletic Department for more information).
He and his family will be recognized between the varsity girls game (6 p.m. start) and the start of the varsity boys game (normally about 7 p.m.). The majority of those who have benefited from the Coaches for a Cure event have been cancer victims, but not in this case.
Cayden’s parents, Waverly and Michelle Inman, moved to Stephenville from De Leon about 13 years ago. They began to notice Cayden’s seizure symptoms when he was about 3-1/2 years old.
It began when Cayden started having a fever, and eventually resulted in him being flown by air ambulance to Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth.
“When he came back from the hospital, he wasn’t the same after that, and they diagnosed him with autism,” Waverly said.
Cayden has had several seizures of varying degrees, but they have increased in frequency and severity over the past year.
“(With) a couple of them, he stopped breathing,” his father said, noting that their son has had to be hospitalized several times because of the disorder.
The anti-seizure medication Cayden is on now is the fourth one his doctors have tried.
“They’re trying to find the right medication — the right dosage to get his seizures under control,” Waverly said.
They have family health insurance, Waverly said, but it has a $5,000 deductible. And, he noted, with “a lot of the new meds, they won’t cover it. Some of them are $500 to $1,000 a month out of pocket.”
When asked if any of his doctors were able to pinpoint how the seizures began, Waverly said, “They don’t really know. They said it could have been the fever, or maybe some of the medicine they were giving him.”
The Inmans would like to take Cayden to a specialist in California who can perform a “deep EEG scan,” but that’s another expensive procedure.
His father said that although Cayden can speak, he is considered nonverbal because of his inability to communicate through conversational speech.
“If you ask him a question, he will answer but he will not communicate,” Waverly explained. “He’ll tell you if he needs something.
“It’s like he’s stuck in his own little world, but he has trouble getting out. He’s super smart. He just has trouble communicating. He’s a sweet kid. He’s got a great personality. Ninety-nine percent of the time, he’s happy.”
Waverly shared a poignant father-son moment he had recently while speaking to him about his condition.
“He was on the porch steps,” Waverly recalled, noting that he put his hand on his shoulder as he tried to connect. “I said, ‘You look upset. We’re doing the best we can to get it (the seizure problem) fixed.’ ”
Cayden was wearing a hoodie while sitting on the porch. His father noticed a few minutes later that his words evidently had made an impact.
“He put his hoodie over his head and had his head down on his knees,” his father said. “He lifted his head up, and had tears in his eyes. That kid does not cry.
“I’m pretty sure he understood — maybe the first time that it correlated — that he wasn’t focused on something else.”
Cayden has two sisters who also attend SHS — freshman Ellyanna and senior Dayanira. Dayanira is on the Honeybees varsity basketball team, and has also participated in softball, powerlifting, choir and one-act play. Waverly has a 22-year-old son, also named Waverly, who lives in Stephenville and attends Ranger College.
Their father, 41, works as an asset protection associate at Walmart. Michelle is an R.N. who works in the Fort Worth/Arlington area for Texas Health Resources.
Cayden attends special education classes at SHS. He has worked with speech therapists, among other specialists.
“They’re trying to get him to be self-sufficient, take care of himself,” Waverly said. “He has trouble getting dressed.”
In his special education classes, teachers aides are with Cayden to help him get through the school day.
“We’re just trying to do the best we can and get him to where he can somewhat take care of himself,” Waverly said. “As long as we can keep it level, I think he’s going to be OK. We’re just worried and scared. My heart dropped when he stopped breathing. The next seizure he has could be his last.”