It was late December of 1999, not that long after the death of my father, when my wife told me we were going to have a second child. Naturally I was ecstatic, and when ultrasound revealed that it was going to be a boy I was even more exited. Don’t get me wrong now, I love my daughter with all my heart and when she was born the day after my birthday she proved to be the best birthday present God could have ever given me; but what father doesn’t dream of having a son? Someone he can take fishing, teach to shoot, and go camping with. I remember having day dreams of little league and scouting, even of his attaining Eagle Scout; but that all came to naught.
At first we thought nothing of Wills not talking since he was effectively deaf until a defect of his soft palate was corrected thus giving the muscles that control his eustation tubes (tubes which equalize pressure in the ears) an attachment point to work against. Besides, his sister was late in starting to talk as well but by the time she was 3 she had a better vocabulary than most kids her age. But when it was time to start him in K4 it was obvious something just wasn’t right, and thus started a long, uphill battle to figure out just what was going on with our son. Then just after we moved to our current home, we finally got a firm diagnosis. Wills we were told, has autism.
Now you would think that being told something so harsh would be devastating, and in a way it was. Yet at the same time it actually came as something of a relief in a strange, twisted sort of way for at least then we could put a label on what was going on with our son. Now we could say this is what makes him what he is. Now the only problem was to understand just what autism is; but oh, what a problem that is.
So what is autism. Probably everyone reading this has some idea in their head about what it means to be autistic, and more likely than not everyone’s idea is at least a little different. If you look up autism in Wekipedia you’ll find it is defined as “a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impaired social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, and by restricted and repetitive behavior” which sound great but really doesn’t tell you a hell of a lot. The problem is that autism has such a wide breadth that no two people with autism are alike. Some have a vocabulary that would put an English Professor at any university you’d care to name to shame, while others struggle to clearly pronounce just a bare handful of words. Some show an almost frightening ability with math and logic while others, contrary to popular myth, show artistic depths that would bring you to tears. The wide range autistic people actually cover is as wide as life and twice as large. And that is what I hope to explore with my Monday ramblings here on my little corner of cyberspace as well as in a new video series I’m producing for YouTube called “Why We Do What We Do”. So come along with me on this little journey as we explore what it truly means to raise an autistic child. I hope to look at many things in the weeks and months ahead including things like current teaching trends, possible therapies, current research being done as well as attempting to dispel some of the more persistent myths. Exactly where this journey may take us I do not know, but I do know there’ll be laughs and tears, highs and lows, and the occasional wrong turn. And if it seems strange to talk about autism and Special Needs on a blog run by a man who makes novelty targets, well, as you’ll see as we go on our ride, if it wasn’t for Wills and his autism I would never have found myself where I am now; so how can I not talk about it?
Leave a Reply.