I don’t usually post family-related stuff on this blog, but I wanted to share that we celebrated Colin’s seventh birthday on Sunday. And last Friday morning, Colin completed his feeding therapy program at the Golisano Center for Special Needs. The amazing staff there gave him presents, a card, a certificate, and a cap and gown—which he refused to wear.
Staff members streamed into his therapy room, saying things like: “Congratulations. Way to go, buddy. You did it. You worked so hard. We’re so proud of you.”
As the father of an autistic child, I realize the importance of celebrating these milestones, these little victories along the way. But the main credit belongs to my wife, Pam, who took Colin to therapy every weekday morning, drove him to school afterward, and employed the tools of therapy at home.
And Colin has made significant progress. Before we started the program, his diet consisted of milk with yogurt, Entenmann’s Little Bites muffins (brownie flavor), Chips Ahoy! and Oreo cookies, and different varieties of potato chips.
Now he will eat yogurt with a spoon, cereal bars, Life and Cheerios cereal (no milk), French toast, and pizza.
He entertains me with the way he eats pizza in stages. He eats the cheese first and then the sauce, before digging out the dough and leaving behind the crust, like a shell (which I usually eat).
On Sunday morning, Pam made pancakes for his birthday, but Colin opted for potato chips. Later in the day, he blew out the number 7 candle on his cake, licked some frosting and ate the candy balloons on top, and then picked at a slice of Wegmans’ cheese pizza.
He also played with the foam blocks and dice Pam bought him, and he slipped on the slightly oversized Pokémon Crocs. I think the shoes were his favorite present.
It’s hard to imagine he is now seven years old. It seems like just yesterday we brought him home from the hospital—Pam and I both nervous (me terrified) about being new parents. And about two-and-a-half years after his birth, we received the official diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and adjusted our expectations for our child.
Life with Colin is fraught with challenges, but the joy of his presence illuminates our days.
And he’s showing improvement. He talks a little when prompted by Pam and he can add and subtract now.
I am grateful for this little boy, and he has taught me love and patience beyond my perceived ability, beyond what I thought I was capable of.
I’ll leave you with a silly little poem.
Poem for Colin
Seven years old.
The joy of our son.
Lack of communication.
But love everlasting.