Oct 01, 2014
Don’t tell anyone, but I have a favorite child…
My youngest son, Lincoln, has autism. I noticed he was different shortly after his first birthday. He wasn’t reaching his milestones like our other children. Over the course of the next year, through many tests and examinations by various specialists, I was finally told he fell on the autism spectrum. I didn’t need to hear the “official” diagnosis. I had known for quite some time. I tried to deny there was anything wrong. That it was just a phase Lincoln would grow out of. But I always knew the truth, even if I couldn’t admit it to myself.
Having a child diagnosed with autism was hard. I blamed myself a lot. Did I do something that caused this? I had two developmentally “normal” children. Was there something wrong with me? Was there a defect in my DNA. I started to worry if he would ever have friends. Would he be invited to birthday parties? Would anyone hire him? The list goes on. I obsessed about everything you could. We all worry about our kids. I took that worry to an extreme. Worrying about all the unknowns. I was in a very dark place. And I’m certain that was where my marriage began to fall apart.
I eventually stopped blaming myself. Amy helped me with that more than I can express in words. Eventually, I did what I always do. When I am faced with a challenge, I try to take charge of the situation. I started reading about autism. Extensively. Lincoln was in therapy from a very early age. And is now at a school for children on the autism spectrum, The Pinnacle Academy. He is basically in a school-like setting having therapy all day long. Speech therapy, occupational therapy, ABA therapy. And the strides he has made in the last 3 years have been tremendous.
I looked at Lincoln’s therapies as a “fix” for his autism. But the more I read, learned, and observed, the more I became convinced that there really wasn’t anything wrong with Lincoln. He wasn’t broken. He didn’t need to be “fixed.” He needed help with socializing and speaking. Help with fitting into society. But he wasn’t broken. Lincoln learns a little differently. Toys should be played with the way he thinks they should. Routines are extremely important. I can relate to those things. I think most adults can too.
I’ve learned more from Lincoln than I ever expected. I realized I have a level of compassion that I never thought possible. Not just for Lincoln, not just for autism, but for everyone dealing with special needs. Children and adults. Not that I didn’t have compassion prior to Lincoln. But my compassion and understanding is on a different level now.
Today, if you met Lincoln, you might not realize there was anything wrong. You’d have to spend some time with him to notice the differences. He plays well with others and is genuinely happy 99% of the time. Looking back on all the heartache, worry, and uncertainty, I wouldn’t have it any other way. No parent is supposed to have a favorite a child, but most days I’d take Lincoln over the others. I can keep a secret if you can…
And with that, I wish everyone out there a safe and healthy week.