PERSONAL: Met Someone Special Today and He’s Awesome

God has a way of providing gifts and messages. I’ve had such an interesting, difficult relationship with him over my life. Constantly acknowledging his existence, I’ve questioned his choices for me. One of the things I never questioned was giving me one of the best, most precious families. Helmed by my AMAZING wife, we are raising two beautiful children.
Today was a day that we’ll likely never forget.
For those who don’t know, Noah has been struggling the past year or so. Not hitting his milestones that a “normal” 2-year-old was supposed to be hitting, we put him on a waiting list in early July to have him evaluated. In the meantime, Noah has shown great progression since entering pre-school. Coming home with a new vocabulary word or starting to point at objects around the house, we were very hopeful of his progress.
Come August 31, it was the day for him to be evaluated. A nurse practitioner, who specializes in the development of children spends time with Noah, and asking us various questions about his Do’s and Don’t’s.
By the end of the evaluation, she steps out for about 10 minutes. Jessica and I look at each other, formulating our own theories about what she’s going to come back with. Fast forward, she comes in and tells us what we had been suspecting for some time. Noah is autistic.
The dreams you have for your children are so vast and so great, that you never realize how much hope you have for them until someone sits you down to tell you that their future is going to look very different than you had imagined.
We’re given the plan for him, as well as the “best” and “worst” case scenarios on where he could go over the next few years. We took the paperwork, walked out, made the necessary next appointments and had a likely natural reaction. We cried.
I don’t want to speak for Jessica but I think we had the same feelings. I was mourning for his future. I was mourning for the struggles he will undoubtedly face, and the things he may never get to do.
It’s been about six hours since this news was dropped on us. I have been filled with hope for a majority of that time. Thinking that my son can beat whatever will be thrown at him. Thinking my family will stay united and strong, never feeling that we’re no different than anyone else.
I’ve waited my entire life to be a parent. I love the job so much. The best thing I’ve ever done or ever will do. I especially couldn’t wait to have a boy. I couldn’t wait to throw a baseball back and forth. I couldn’t wait to go to his first sports game. I couldn’t wait to watch his first Disney movie. I couldn’t wait to watch his first rated “R” movie, where a booby comes across the screen, and then I have to run and cover his eyes because Dads constantly make parenting mishaps.
In the last hour though, I’ve come to realize, all these things are still ENTIRELY possible. No matter where he falls on the “spectrum.” No matter what special education he’ll receive in his life and no matter what challenges we’re thrown, my family is MINE. My life never looked conventional. I never had the “standard” looking family, with a “standard” upbringing. I’ve never liked “standard” anyway. What does that even mean anyway? The standards set forth by society, media, and our peers are nothing more than unrealistic portraits of a life that we put too much stock into. Our lives are our own. I love my family. I will always have love and hope for them.
Noah is a champion. He’s the best boy I know. I will stand by his side, ready to punch the world in the face if it ever steps to him.
We do not mourn any longer. We are celebrating a boy that’s going to achieve some pretty amazing things.
I hope all of you get to meet Noah and Sophia one day. There are no two people any better on this planet. Just an FYI.

I know this is off topic but I thought I’d share a piece of our journey with you all.  If any of you would like to share your experiences with autism (or anything in general), we’d love to hear your thoughts.

  • Luke McGowan

    I don’t know how this missed my attention and apparently everyone else’s, but I loved reading this Clayton and kudos to all of you.