Sunday, April 7, 2013

Happy Birthday!

19 years ago today, I found myself in the car at 2:00 AM driving my very pregnant wife to the hospital in a spring rain.  She woke me shortly after 1:00 to tell me that she thought that her water had broke.  Once we got to the emergency room, we discovered that, in fact, her water had broke, but she wasn't quite ready to deliver.  So they took her to a room, and we waited.

After a few hours, they made the decision to induce labor.  It took a while to get the dosage right.  At first, they gave her too much of the drug and her contractions started too strongly and too quickly.  So, they backed off on the IV and my wife was able to get a little rest before all the real fun would begin.  Around 6:00-7:00 PM my wife started pushing in earnest.  Shortly before 9:00 my son entered the world.

It was without a doubt the proudest moment in my life.  The entire time my wife was pregnant, I steadfastly declared that I did not care one way or the other what the sex of our child was going to be.  One he came out and I was told we had a boy, I have to confess that my chest stuck out a little bit further.

Over the years, it has been quite an adventure.  From birth to about 2 years of age, our son appeared to be completely normal.  He was hitting all of his milestone markers on time and in a lot of cases early.  Then all of a sudden around his second birthday things changed.  His progress became delayed. We got him involved in early special education classes where a specialist from the school system came to the house a couple days per week.  By his 3rd birthday he started taking a bus to a school for children with special needs.

In the intervening years, there have been a lot of emotions and struggles.  There was a lot of denials about the  final diagnosis of autism.  I struggled a lot at times.  You see, I have always been considered a smarter than average person.  I was a nearly straight A student, always made the honor roll, and participated in talented and gifted programs.  I thought, "How could my child be mentally delayed?  He has my genes."

A few years ago, we made the difficult decision to try to get him into a residential school program.  It was one of the hardest decisions we ever made.  Several of the struggles and challenges of adjusting to this decision have been chronicled here on this blog.  It has been one of the best things that we ever did for our son.  At one point, I always thought that my son would live with us as long as we could care for him.  Now we look to the day when he will graduate in 2015 and enter a group home.

Today, we drove out to see him to celebrate his 19th birthday.  We decided that we would throw a little pizza party for him, his dorm mates, and the dorm staff.  One year ago, we couldn't get him to touch pizza.  The only thing he would eat was chicken, bacon, potato chips and Cheez-it crackers.  In fact, my wife and I couldn't eat pizza in front of him because he would gag.  Today, he ate six big slices of pizza, more than my wife and I combined.  We even offered him boneless wings and he chose more pizza.

Even with all of the progress he has made, he still has a long way to go.  For example, he still has not gotten to the point where he will have a bowel movement on the toilet.  I never really liked changing his diapers when he was a baby, changing Depends now isn't any fun either. He still has several undesirable behavioral issues.  He will drop to the floor if he doesn't want to do something.  He still hits at people and throws his glasses.  It has been a struggle and will probably always will.  I wouldn't change a thing.
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  1. Thanks for helping me to not be so insensitive to parents of special needs children. It isn't possible to appreciate all that you and your wife have gone through to achieve this level of success with your son, but I tend to believe there are life lessons in all that we struggle with. Perhaps your fine parental example is an encouragement to someone you'll never know. Take care.

  2. education is the first step towards understanding. thanks

  3. I could say more but...God Bless Your Son, and You and Yours.

    God Speed...PLU from SSF



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