In the spring of 2004 we received life changing news from our doctor, Connor, our 18-month-old son had just been diagnosed with autism. In the coming days, and weeks, I would spend hours on the internet, at times it was several days at one time trying to find out information about this diagnosis. Up until this point, the only exposure I had to Autism had been the movie Rain Man. It was a harrowing time in our life, as we did not know who to turn to, or where to get help from, or even what was our future.
It was about that time that I was an event with a friend of mine who shared with me that his youngest daughter had Down’s syndrome. He asked if I was angry, and I said that I was. He then asked whom I was angry at, and I didn’t have an answer. He made the comment that clearly I wasn’t angry at Connor, I must be angry at something else. I thought for a moment, and then he offered, “Are you mad because your plans have changed”. WOW what a “light’s on”/AHA moment. Of course I wasn’t angry with Connor, I was mad because autism wasn’t part of my internal plan. His next bit of advice was the kicker. He said, “ Everything will be fine, you just need to get a new plan”.
From that day forward, I stopped being angry, I stopped feeling sorry for myself, and I talked with Brittainy, and we got a new plan. The new plan was simple – do everything that we can to help Connor in whatever it is he does. And that is exactly what we have done.
Connor is now an 10 ½ year old boy who loves to play golf, swim, and do all the things 10 year old boys like to, sometimes he just does them differently than anyone else, and that’s cool too.
Autism affected our family in ways I never would have imagined. Our eldest son Dylan is a caring young man, who recognizes his brother is different, but that is OK. Our youngest child, Audrey, doesn’t know what Autism is, and frankly doesn’t care. She just wants to be in the same room at all times of her big brother Connor. The effects of autism have made me a better man, with more patience, and understanding than I ever would have had if it weren’t for Connor. Autism has also had an effect on my wife as well, her patience, her caring, and her unyielding in her desire and drive to get Connor the help he needs, when he needs it.
So we try and give back, we have just started the “Tiffany Autism Foundation” and our goal for the foundation is to hold events that raise money for organizations like Autism Speaks, and local charities who do outreach and assistance to families effected by autism.