Richard Engel Shares Sad Update On Son's Health

Richard Engel revealed in 2018 that his son Henry had a rare neurological disorder. When their son was 18 months old, Engel and his wife Mary Forrest noticed he was not developing at the same rate as other children. After having him genetically tested, Henry was diagnosed with RETT Syndrome. This was a devastating blow to the NBC journalist, as it meant his son would be severely limited in mobility for the rest of his life.

"My son is probably not going to walk, probably not going to speak, probably not going to have any mental capacity beyond the level of a 2-year-old," Engel told People in 2018 shortly after receiving the diagnosis. "I was thinking, 'There's going to be no football team. There's going to be no SATs.' I started to really mourn the future I thought we were going to have with Henry," he added. Eager to help their son physically develop as much as possible, the parents had him in various forms of physical therapy, per People. Henry was able to reach some modest goals, such as sitting up unassisted.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 lockdowns contributed to curtailing the youngster's therapy. "Henry has severe special needs, and COVID has been an absolute nightmare for him and millions of other children like him," the news anchor wrote in an essay for Today in 2020, as he listed several of Henry's physical limitations. Almost two years later, Engel had more discouraging news about his son's condition. 

Peter Engel shares how his son's health has worsened

On May 31, Richard Engel uploaded a touching video to Twitter of his two sons. In the clip, Engel's younger son Theo laid kisses on Henry's forehead, as the older brother was seen shaking. Alongside the video, the NBC news chief correspondent added an update on his son's health. "For everyone following Henry's story, unfortunately he's taken a turn for the worse," Engel wrote. "His condition progressed and he's developed dystonia: uncontrolled shaking/ stiffness." He added that the clip was taken after Henry was hospitalized for six weeks.

The replies to the tweet were filled with supportive words from fans. "I'm so sorry, such a terrible disease, such a lovely, beautiful child ... and sweet little brother too," one Twitter user responded. Others related to Engel by sharing their own family experiences coping with the same neurological disorder. "I was so lucky to have a sister who lived with RETT Syndrome. She changed our entire family's life for the better," a follower wrote. "As a Rett family this news hits home, we appreciate everything you and Mary are doing to help your Henry," another added.

It was not all disheartening news, however, as the following day Engel was able to share an encouraging development. He tweeted out a video of Henry sitting upright during a physical therapy session. "Today Henry was able to briefly support himself in a seated position during physio for the first time in a long time," the news correspondent wrote.