Kiran didn’t seem like the type of kid parents should worry about. “He was the easy one,” his father, Raghu, a physician, says. “He always wanted to please.” Unlike other children in his suburban St. Louis preschool, Kiran (a nickname his parents asked me to use to protect his identity) rarely disobeyed or acted out. If he dawdled or didn’t listen, Raghu (also a nickname) had only to count to five before Kiran hastened to tie his shoes or put the toys away. He was kind to other children; if a classmate cried, Kiran immediately approached. “Our little empath!” his parents proudly called him.
But there were worrisome signs. For one thing, unlike your typical joyful and carefree 4-year-old, Kiran didn’t have a lot of fun. “He wasn’t running around, bouncing about, battling to get to the top of the slide like other kids,” Raghu notes. Kiran’s mother, Elizabeth (her middle name), an engineer, recalls constant refrains of “Nothing is fun; I’m bored.” When Raghu and Elizabeth reminded a downbeat Kiran of their coming trip to Disney World, Kiran responded: “Mickey lies. Dreams don’t come true.”Continue reading the main story