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  • On a quiet summer's evening in 2012, a typical  suburban house in Hull, UK, was filled with the  

  • unmistakable sounds of two brothers arguing loudly  over a board game. But this was no typical family  

  • with normal squabbling kids. Brothers Matthew  and Michael Clark were living through a second  

  • childhood, even though they were 42 and 39 years  old at the time of this particular argument.  

  • The crazy true story of brothers aging  backwards is almost too strange to believe.

  • The Clark brothers enjoyed a thoroughly normal  first childhood growing up in a suburban  

  • neighborhood in Hull, UK. Both of the boys did  well in school and they spent many happy days  

  • with their parents playing board games, watching  cartoons and enjoying a carefree childhood. As  

  • the boys entered adulthood, they seemed to  be on the path to having perfectly normal,  

  • happy adult lives, too. Michael joined the Royal  Air Force at age 20, and Matthew was offered spots  

  • in both an agricultural college and the Royal  Navy. The young men grew up, moved away from home,  

  • fell in love and eventually got married. Michael  became a step father to his new wife's children,  

  • and Matthew went on to have a daughter of  his own. Things weren't always perfect - both  

  • brothers ended up getting divorced just  a few years into their marriages - but  

  • the Clark brothers seemed to be leading  perfectly ordinary lives well into their 30s.

  • Things appeared to be so normal, in fact, that  Michael and Matthew's parents' decided it was  

  • time to pursue one of their life-long dreamsUnderstandably believing that their child  

  • rearing years were far behind them, in 2005  Tony Clark took an early retirement from his  

  • job as a prison guard, he and his wife Christine  sold their home and everything that they owned,  

  • and they prepared to move to Spain  where they planned to enjoy a relaxing,  

  • sun-soaked retirement complete with  plenty of visits from their grown sons.

  • Looking back at these years, Tony and Christine  can now see some of the red flags that warned  

  • them that all was not as normal as it seemedbut at the time, they never in their wildest  

  • dreams could they have imagined what terrible  truth these warning signs were pointing to.  

  • Tony recalls the first time that he had an inkling  that something might not be quite right with his  

  • sons. When the boys were in their 30s, they  joined their parents on a holiday in Spain.  

  • As the plane barrelled down the runway, picking  up speed before taking off into the sky,  

  • the two grown men squealed  with joy and yelledYippee!”  

  • like a pair of kids. The two also squabbled like  children throughout the entire trip, which Tony  

  • found rather odd considering that Matthew wasfather himself at that point. Nevertheless, he  

  • brushed it off as the boys letting off some steamand focused on preparing for their upcoming move.

  • Unfortunately, Tony and Christine's move to  Spain had coincided with their sons' dramatic  

  • downward spirals, and though they couldn't  see all of the warning signs from abroad,  

  • they soon began to notice that something was  wrong. At first, it was little things, like  

  • the boys' bizarre behavior on their trip, or the  fact that it was getting harder and harder to get  

  • a hold of them on the phone. The boys used to call  and talk to their parents at least once a week,  

  • and they usually texted with their father every  day, but eventually Tony and Christine would go  

  • weeks without hearing from their sons. But it  wasn't until they got a startling call from  

  • their granddaughter Lydia that the Clarks would  learn the true extent of their sons' downfalls.

  • A few years into their Spanish retirement, Tony  and Christine received a frantic call from Lydia,  

  • who told a stunned Tony and Christine that her  uncle, Michael, had been living in a hostel.  

  • Lydia went on to explain how she had recently  received a concerning call from one of the  

  • hostel workers who was worried about both  her uncle and her father's bizarre symptoms,  

  • and who was asking for her father's information.

  • By this time, things had truly fallen  apart for both of the Clark boys.  

  • They were both divorced and Matthew  was estranged from his daughter, Lydia.  

  • Matthew had been fired from his factory job due  to his strange, immature behavior, and Michael  

  • had been unemployed ever since an knee injury had  prompted his discharge from the RAF. Michael had  

  • been evicted from his apartment because he had  stopped taking care of himself and his apartment  

  • had become a disgusting mess. He moved in with  Matthew for a time, but the arrangement didn't  

  • last long - the brothers began bickering so badly  that Michael eventually moved out, and he ended up  

  • spending 3 weeks sleeping out in the elements atnearby park before he found his way to the hostel.

  • Workers at the hostel took notice of  Michael's strange behavior and his odd,  

  • childlike demeanor. They arranged for him  to receive medical wellness checks and,  

  • once they learned that he had a brother who  was experiencing the same strange symptoms,  

  • they contacted Michael's daughter Lydia. Doctors  did an MRI and genetic testing on both brothers,  

  • and discovered the shocking and heartbreaking  reason for their rapid decline - both brothers  

  • were diagnosed with terminal leukodystrophyTheir brains were slowly being destroyed,  

  • and intellectually and emotionally, the two  grown men were returning to toddlerhood.

  • Leukodystrophy is an incredibly rare and  extremely devastating neurological disease  

  • that attacks the white, orleukomatter of  the brain and spinal cord. There is no cure for  

  • leukodystrophy, and no treatment that can stop  the slow and inevitable loss of brain function  

  • that results from the disease. There are over 40  known types of leukodystrophy, and most forms of  

  • the disease are inherited from parent carriersalthough for the terminal variant of the disease,  

  • there is only a 1 in 3 billion chance of two  carriers meeting and having children together,  

  • making Michael and Matthew's diagnosis one  of the most rare diseases in the world.

  • While the diagnosis provided  answers to the Clarks' questions  

  • and explained much of their sonsstrange behavior in recent years,  

  • it was devastating for the parents to learn that  their boys had a degenerative, terminal disease,  

  • and that there was nothing they could do to  stop their heartbreaking, gradual decline.  

  • For her part, Lydia found some small comfort in  her father's diagnosis. For most of her life,  

  • she had believed that her father's absence  in her life was because he was uninterested  

  • in knowing her, and some small part of her had  always wondered if that was somehow her fault.  

  • Though her father's disease was a devastating  blow, and even though she knew that they would  

  • never have a typical father-daughter relationshipshe was relieved to have an explanation for  

  • their estrangement, and grateful to have the  chance to have him in her life in some way.

  • Upon learning of their sons' diagnoses, Tony  and Christine immediately dropped everything  

  • and returned to the UK, determined to  do whatever they could for their sons.  

  • When they arrived at Matthew's apartment, they  were appalled. They knew how bad the situation  

  • was, but it didn't truly hit them until they  saw the deplorable state that their sons had  

  • been living in. As the boys' conditions  worsened, they had gradually become  

  • completely unable to care for themselvesTheir personal hygiene was abhorrent,  

  • and Matthew's apartment reflected this decline  in a dramatic way. If he dropped something,  

  • he would simply leave it where it felldirty laundry was piled up in the corners,  

  • and it took Christine hours to clean the  disgusting kitchen. At one point, Matthew  

  • had been sitting alone in an empty apartment  for 2 weeks without food or electricity, with  

  • only a single candle for light, because he simply  didn't know how to apply for social assistance.

  • The city council in Hull provided the Clarks with  an accessible home for themselves and their grown  

  • sons to live in together, and life gradually  returned to normal for the Clark family - or,  

  • what would have been normal for  them 2 to 3 decades ago, anyways.  

  • During what should have been their golden  years of retirement, the Clarks instead  

  • found themselves caring for their sons through  a second childhood - the only difference now was  

  • that the twotoddlersthey were caring for were  actually 6-foot-tall, nearly 200 pound grown men.

  • When strangers heard the story of the Clark  brothers, they often joked that the boys  

  • were real-life Benjamin Buttons - a nod to the F.  Scott Fitzgerald character who was born as an old  

  • man and grew up into a little boy. But Tony and  Christine always found this analogy unrealistic  

  • and rather upsetting. While the boys  definitely grew intellectually and  

  • emotionally more immature by the day, their  bodies were not aging in reverse. “There's  

  • no return to them being cute little boys,”  says Christine. “They're big strong men.”

  • Other than their outward appearance, Michael and  Matthew were exactly like stereotypical children.  

  • Michael was moody and childlike, and couldn't  be left alone for even a few minutes without him  

  • getting into something. Matthew was always  shouting and was a non-stop talker with a  

  • child-like lack of impulse control, always saying  whatever came to his mind. They were incredibly  

  • affectionate, especially with each otheroften hugging each other and cuddling while  

  • watching their favorite cartoon, The SmurfsThe boys had a fascination with model trains,  

  • and, just like when they were growing  up, the boys loved playing board games,  

  • though these games would frequently devolve  into meltdowns and violent temper tantrums,  

  • which were all the more frightening for their  parents coming from two fully grown men.  

  • There's nothing we can do to help,” said  Chistine. “We feel absolutely powerless.”

  • Christine found herself reliving her childrearing  years some 2 decades after her sons had left  

  • their first childhood behind. She found herself  exhausted and sleep deprived from being up at  

  • night with children, sometimes as many as 7 times  in one night. She was worn out from the nightly  

  • bedtime battle with 2 moody and exhausted boys who  denied that they were tired even as their eyelids  

  • drooped and they struggled to stay awake. She  was frustrated from trying to feed 2 increasingly  

  • picky eaters. And she constantly faced curious  and even hostile stares from strangers in public  

  • because her grown sons insisted on  holding her hand in noisy, crowded stores.

  • Like most children, the boys were happiest  being around other kids, despite being  

  • physically much larger than children who shared  their emotional and intellectual age. In 2012,  

  • Matthew himself became a grandfather when his  daughter Lydia gave birth to a son. Matthew had  

  • the chance to meet the baby, and he even seemed  to understand that the child was his grandson, but  

  • watching them interact, Tony, Christine and Lydia  were heartbroken to observe that intellectually,  

  • Matthew was closer to a slightly older brother  than he was to being the child's grandfather.

  • As time went on, the boys' conditions continued  to deteriorate. Their mental and emotional  

  • maturity continued to decline as they reverted  to more and more childlike behavior. They were  

  • declining physically, too. Where Matthew used to  be able to eat normally with a knife and fork,  

  • over a matter of weeks it became increasingly  difficult for him to manage as his motor skills  

  • regressed - he could get the food onto  the fork, but couldn't manage to direct  

  • the fork into his mouth. As walking also became  increasingly harder, eventually both boys required  

  • a wheelchair to get around. Most heartbreakingly  of all, at times the boys seemed all too aware  

  • of what was happening to them. They knew what  they used to have, and they were frustrated  

  • at what they were becoming, but they and their  parents were powerless to stop the inevitable.

  • Most parents' worst nightmare is the idea  of outliving their kids; for the Clark's,  

  • their greatest fear was that their children  would outlive them. They worried about what  

  • would happen to their boys - who would take care  of them and meet their incredibly unique needs  

  • if their parents died before them? Tragicallythe Clarks would survive both of their sons,  

  • and would not have to agonize over what would  happen to the boys if anything happened to Tony  

  • and Christine. Matthew succumbed to his disease  in 2013, and leukodystrophy took Michael in 2016.

  • Leukodystrophy, an incredibly rare neurological  disease, turned the Clark family's lives inside  

  • out, causing two grown men to mentally and  emotionally return to their toddlerhood  

  • before ultimately taking their lives. The  crazy true story of the Clark brothers - the  

  • brothers who aged backwards - is  as strange as it is heartbreaking.

  • If you thought this video was shockingbe sure and check out our other videos,  

  • like this video calledWeirdest Brain Disorders”,  or perhaps you'll like this other video instead.

On a quiet summer's evening in 2012, a typical  suburban house in Hull, UK, was filled with the  

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B1 matthew christine lydia michael tony clark

Crazy True Story of Brothers Aging Backwards

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    林宜悉 posted on 2021/02/17
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