Alex with his certificate of completion at the end of his kindergarten year.

My name is Brian. I have a wife named Liz and two sons, Alex (6) and Conner (3).

In August of 2011, Alex was diagnosed with Autism. We had been conscious of irregularities and worried about his development for nearly three years. He had undergone occupational therapy, speech therapy and social therapy from about age 3, but, for various reasons – some good, some bad – we had delayed seeking an official diagnosis

The diagnosis did several things. It confirmed long-held suspicions that there was more going on with Alex than just a developmental delay or sensory integration issues. It made me sad. It made my wife worried. It made us both angry and a little bitter. It also made a world of difference in the amount of support available, to both Alex as a student and us as his family, during his first year of school.

We’re closing in on the one-year anniversary of his diagnosis now, and he has been placed in the first grade for the 2012-13 school year. He is still reading below grade level, his writing is tough to translate if you’re not familiar with his style and his social behavior necessitates that there be an aide in the classroom to help him stay on task and finish his assignments. But his progress has been astounding. I couldn’t be prouder of him, and I’m looking forward to watching him continue to develop.

This blog is about his development, and our development as a family. Because an autism diagnosis isn’t just about the kid with the label. It also affects everyone who loves him or her, and it requires a ton of hard work from everybody involved to keep things moving in a positive direction. I wanted to create a place for me to share our story. This is first and foremost a selfish effort, and I have no problem admitting that. I find it exhausting to sit down and talk with people (even family) about this, but I still need an outlet, and writing has always been a pretty good pressure release.

A secondary aim is to maybe give other families like ours a place to come and be affirmed, accepted, or even entertained. If you let it, autism can cut you off from “normal” society. It can be very isolating, and it’s sometimes a battle to try and develop a social life. I’ve found it helpful to read about other families dealing with the same issues we face, so hopefully, I can provide a place here for others to do the same. Laugh with us, fight with us, cry with us. Just know you’re not in it alone.

One final note. I’m not an expert on anything, least of all parenting, and certainly not parenting a child with autism. I screw up with Alex in some form or fashion at least once a day. That’s the point here. I’m going to share those mistakes, as well as the successes, the heartaches and the funny moments. Hopefully we’ll all (especially me) learn something. Thanks for reading and please feel free to comment and share this with anyone you think might find it helpful.

 

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