Hi! I’m Cole Smith, and this is my first post to the blog. My wife, Kerry, has historically provided the content here, but I believe it is important to have input and perspective from all members of the family. As the father of a child with autism, I have gone through so many different emotions regarding this subject. When our son was first diagnosed with autism 11 years ago, I was crushed. At the time of the formal diagnosis, though not surprised to have our assumption of something being off with our son validated, I felt my dreams and hopes for my son would be impossible, whether it was playing sports, being a student body officer, going to college, or perhaps even getting married. I realize now that this was unfair, but it was how I felt.
Over the last 11 years, some of my initial fears and concerns about the autism have come to fruition, though others have not been the challenge I expected. There are times that dealing with our son is incredibly frustrating and demoralizing for me. That is the truth. When I visit with coworkers, friends or colleagues who have a child about the same age or grade as our son, I realize how different some of the challenges are that I face as a parent as compared to their challenges. I try to always be positive when I listen to the experiences they share with me; such as when their 8th grade child was cut from the school basketball team, or when another child was asked to a school dance by two different boys. Should I tell them that I wouldn’t understand what it is like to have a child who can play sports and even keep up with kids his age? Should I tell them that I just long for my child to even have friends? Maybe I should speak up that I just wish I could figure out how to have my child want to do something besides play on electronic devices or play video games? I don’t ever bring that up, I find that I just internalize the frustrations and try to be supportive when others visit with me. I must remind myself that there really are others out there who know what this feels like, even if I feel so very alone when this occurs.
Over the next few posts, I’ll dive into more specifics with our son and how I manage and cope with some of the challenges associated with a special-needs child. If you have followed the blog, you know that our son is high-functioning and that our goal with this blog is to truly “Go Beyond Autism.” Our son tries very hard and is a great kid. He really is. My intent moving forward with my blog posts will be to focus on specific strategies that have worked for me; whether to better love and appreciate our son, strengthen my relationship with my spouse, and to help challenge our son to be the best person that he can be – and to not allow autism to define who he is or to limit what he can become. I hope these posts will help you out in some small way, as that is my sincere goal. My commitment to you is that I will be honest and transparent with you, though not all of my posts will necessarily be uplifting or positive, as life with a special needs child isn’t always uplifting or positive. Thanks for reading. More to come.
Are you the father of a child with autism? If so, we’d like your input.