Sylvester Stallone's second son was diagnosed wtih autism when he was three-years-old and it changed the actor's life.
Sylvester Stallone has had a tough life right from the time he was born, but just like his iconic character, Rocky, he rises to the challenges in his life. However, there are some challenges that are hard for even the toughest guy. When you are a parent, anything that plagues your child can hit you like a sucker punch and there isn't much that you can do about it. You might want your child to have the best life possible but there are things out of your hands. You might want the best for your child but sometimes God has other plans.
Stallone, the father-of-five kids, had the first brush with pain related to his kids in 1982. While his movie Rocky III had smashed the box office, his personal life was shaky. Married to photographer and actress Sasha Czack since 1974, he had two sons, Sage Moonblood Stallone, who died from heart disease aged 36 in 2012, and Seargeoh, according to Mirror UK.
Stallone and Czack had been having troubles in their marriage by then but in 1982 when the Expendendables actor posed on the cover of People magazine with his son, things had been near perfect. The proud parents called their second son a "silent genius," since he could draw, write letters, and repeat some words from an early age but they sought professional help as they worried that he wasn't able to communicate well.
What they heard from the doctor changed their lives. At the age of three, Seargeoh was diagnosed with autism. "We both broke down," Sasha told People magazine. They were told to place their three-year-old in an institution but they wanted to be hands-on parents who could care for their child on their own. "I knew that Sly couldn’t get as involved because of his work," says Sasha. "We do what we have to do. So I just said, 'Give me the money, and I’ll take care of it.'"
Since then, the duo became a team taking care of their child even though the marriage crumbled. They set up a research fund administered under the National Society for Children and Adults With Autism. While Stallone's net worth was close to $56 million in1985 thanks to the hard work he put in when it came to caring for his child he believed that Sasha did the heavy lifting.
"Sasha does the hard, in-the-trenches warfare," he told People. "I use my films to have premieres that raise money for the fund," he added. Both of them understood their priorities as parents and supported each other.
When he couldn't visit his kids often because he was making money to fund research for his kid, Sasha understood. "Right now Sly just doesn’t have the time to sit down and play and say, 'No, Seargeoh, that is not the red block, that’s the blue block.'"
During the grueling months, he had a health scare because of how much he overworked. He had felt a pain in his chest, which turned out to be a coronary and the muscle of his heart was bruised. This is only one of the ways he sacrificed as a parent.
“There is no real father-and-son thing there," he said. "I have to become his playmate. With a child like this you have to put away your ego. You can’t force him into your world. I sort of go along with whatever he is doing. Sometimes he likes to draw, mostly abstract things, and he has puzzles that we work on together. After he gets to the point where he trusts you, a little more communication can start. The primary therapy is the repetition of words and instructions. He has shown an extraordinary memory, but he can’t apply what he has learned."
He had built a playground for Seargeoh, so he could relate to nature. The broken father had confessed, "To have a child in this predicament is extremely sad. It’s almost like a radio station—he fades on and off of the signal."
To his elder son, Sage, for whom he had greater plans, he used to talk about Seargeoh. He told Sage, "Listen, God and nature made him different. We have to accept Seargeoh the way he is and understand that his way is just more quiet and reserved."
Seargeoh is close to 41 years old now and there haven't been many sightings of him though he was seen in Rocky II as Stallone's child. Unfortunately, Stallone lost his older son, Sage, to a heart condition called atherosclerosis in 2012, according to CNN.
Married to Jennifer Flavin for many years now, Stallone has three grown-up daughters, Scarlet Stallone, Sophia Stallone, and Sistine Stallone, as well, but the pain of his older sons still haunt him.