Todd here – Carter’s dad. I have never posted on this website. My wife has all of the writing skills so I usually just let her roll with it.
Shana asked me to write something about autism and how it has affected me. I was apprehensive at first. I am not one to share my feelings with hardly anyone but my wife. After thinking about it, I decided to do it. Shana shares so much of herself regarding autism and our family, it is my turn.
The day Carter was diagnosed we had already had a bad day prior to the visit to the doctor. One of our friends had passed away suddenly. It seemed like we were at the doctor’s office forever. The doctor worked with Carter for hours. Shana and I went back and forth with “what if’s”. Shana said to me “What if the doctor says nothing is wrong with Carter? I know there is and wonder if she says nothing is wrong? I know I am not crazy. I know something is not right. What will we do?” I tried to console her the best I knew how. I had the same questions and had no answers. I was nervous when the doctor called us back into the room to discuss the diagnosis. When Dr. Ashford told us Carter had autism I had a sinking feeling. Shana was holding my hand and she began to squeeze. I knew she was breaking. I really can’t tell you what else was said after the doctor gave us the diagnosis. It was a blur.
On the way home, Shana and I hardly said too much to each other. When we arrived home, I sat in my recliner. I just sat there trying to comprehend what just happened.
When Shana first came to me asking me if I thought something was not quite right with our son, I just thought she was being over protective of him. Gradually throughout his toddler years I did see some things that I thought were odd but I kept thinking “he is a boy, he will grow out of it”. Around 3 years old we had to bring in the Child Development Center to help us communicate with Carter. He was having issues talking and could not tell us his wants and needs. They taught us sign language so we could communicate. I also noticed that Carter was very clumsy and was having issues with some fine motor skills.
Carter had surgery at 3 1/2 years old on his ears, nose and throat. We brought home a totally different child after the surgery. My child who never was a problem, who hardly ever cried, who was very sweet and laid back had become a holy terror. He would pitch fits that an infant would throw. He would not mind us, he was constantly getting into trouble and his behavior was horrible. We began to notice that his social skills were not very good. He had rather play by himself than play with other children. He really could care less if anyone played with him. He had this attitude of not carrying about anything he did or his actions. I was at a loss of what was going on. He then began to start lining things up, everything became numbers based and he began to fixate on certain things and learn everything about them. He could tell you anything and everything about something he was interested in. We could not get him to move on from one subject to the next without him having a breakdown. Shana and I were at a loss. I myself held everything in and tried to be the listening ear to my wife. The truth be told, I had no clue what was going on and I thought if I didn’t make a big deal out of it, maybe it would go away.
Finally, the beginning of last year we met with a behavior specialist at Carter’s school and she pointed us in the right direction. My wife broke down with the specialist and that is what got the ball rolling.
I feel like we are on the right track. Carter seems to be improving every day. He still has his quirks but that is what makes him CARTER! My wife is trying her hardest to get the word out about autism awareness. She is very passionate about it. Many days I come home to her working on something to do with the awareness of autism or she is on the phone with someone who has had a child just diagnosed and she is trying to help them or she is on the phone with an autism parent she has made friends with and they are brain storming on what they can do to bring awareness. She tries to help any way she can and people tell me all the time how much they enjoy reading her posts on Cartwills.com. We both ultimately want whatever is best for Carter.
I try to look at the positive in everything. Shana is more the realist and the “spark plug” to get things done. If it had not been for her, Carter would have never been diagnosed. We are a team. Carter is the quarterback. He throws the “ball” and Shana is the wide receiver. Will and I are the blockers and try to protect her all the way to the in-zone. We get the job done as a team.
I am not as open with Shana as she is with me because I try to be the strong one. I want to be her rock, I want her to know that if she breaks I will always be here for her and I want to keep our family strong. I may not show my emotions or express them like I probably should, but I do want a “normal” for my son and I do wish that autism was not in the picture. I know Carter can become someone amazing. He is just going to need the constant push and positive reinforcement from all of us. I love my son, autism or no autism. He is my son and just because he has a “diagnosis” it has never and will never change the way I feel about him.
I am Carter’s father and I am proud. I am proud of both of my boys.