Read A piece of the Introduction

Autism: A Dad's Journey

April 2016 Provo Canyon. Luis, Kyler and Koleden. 

April 2016 Provo Canyon. Luis, Kyler and Koleden. 

April 2016 Koleden, Brenna, Taylee, and Kyler. Provo Canyon. The kids have fun with a "cousin pose." We were taking family pictures. Our kids tend to find "fun" where ever they are. We have been on many vacations that have been cry or laugh and we have chosen to laugh. The girls have learned to be great sports about it. Brenna is getting married in October and we are fortunate to be gaining another wonderful son. 

April 2016 Koleden, Brenna, Taylee, and Kyler. Provo Canyon. The kids have fun with a "cousin pose." We were taking family pictures. Our kids tend to find "fun" where ever they are. We have been on many vacations that have been cry or laugh and we have chosen to laugh. The girls have learned to be great sports about it. Brenna is getting married in October and we are fortunate to be gaining another wonderful son. 

Introduction

     Although this is my story, this book is not about me but instead the journey many fathers must take.... I have chosen to share these intimate dark places not for my own edification but to give fathers like me a voice so that others can get a glimpse into the life we live.  When reading these pages, remove me and place any father of a special needs child in my place.  It is my hope that after reading this book you will understand him just a little better.....

I'm not a famous person, author, academician, doctor, athlete, or any other person of great public consequence.  I am simply a husband and a father of four wonderful children, two girls and two boys.  The boys just happen to have autism.  My oldest son is more severe on the spectrum than my youngest.  This said, regardless of the severity of this affliction, those families in a similar situation should know that this diagnosis will affect the rest of their lives in ways they may have just begun to fathom.

Getting your head around what the diagnosis of autism will mean to you and your loved ones can be a daunting and overwhelming emotional roller coaster.  The what, where, when, and most importantly why, will fill most of your thoughts and concerns on a daily basis.  In the digital age we now live in, your first step might be to log on to the internet and start reading. The internet is so pervasive with information that you might go into “information overload.”  This will most likely be your first foray into an epidemic that will turn your entire world upside down.  It will also start you, and those around you, on a journey of discovery of yourself and of the things you will need to do to assist your loved one in living as fulfilling and meaningful life as possible....

....

There is no magic bullet to make everything better or easier on this journey, at least not yet.  In fact it seems the more doctors and scientists learn about autism the more they find that there are many different ways/theories on how to deal with its effects and symptoms.  It seems no two autistic children are alike.  They all have different deficiencies, different areas of difficulty, and in some cases instances of incredible gifts.

I am a father faced with an unknown future and unique circumstances.  I am part of a group of fathers that was once a very exclusive club, but is now adding members at an alarming rate.  I can view this as a glass half-full or as a glass half-empty life-long proposition.  I have decided to look at it as a glass filled to the top with opportunities while on an unusual journey.

In my opinion this is not a case of, "It takes a village to raise a child."  Instead, "It takes loving parents with a plan, a lot of professional help, and an open-mind regarding one’s core beliefs to raise an autistic child.”......

......

...How have I survived the often raging emotions, sleepless nights, self denial, frustrations, and soul wrenching pain that comes with learning yours is a special needs offspring?

I have written these words to give voice to the fathers of these children.  As a father, how do you explain to your father, mother, grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin, niece, best friend, or any other person you have a relationship with, about your experience?  The answer is not simple.  How does one chronicle a lifetime of experiences and emotions into a few sentences or a ten-minute conversation?  I have tried to explain, teach, and express to others my thoughts and experiences on countless occasions.  What I have learned is that it cannot be done and thus the reason for my writing this book.  We all must carry our own crosses in life, and unless we walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, we can never truly understand what others are going through.  Raising a special needs child can be a lifetime challenge for the parents, a lifetime of internal pain that will never be fully extinguished.  Each father’s journey will be different; every father’s pain and burdens will be unique.  Unfortunately they will be markedly different than that of a parent of a “normal” child.  Though parents will worry about their children for the rest of their lives, the odds are those parents will not have to care for their child the rest of his/her life.  The worries about their children will not consume them every day in a manner that can be understood only by another parent of a special needs child.  This book is not a pity-party.  I would not trade my boys for anything, but it is a glimpse into the private soul of a man who worries every day about the journey of life that must be endured by his very special boys.