Hi, my name is Bill… and my son has autism…

All to often parents of disabled children feel like they need to keep their family “issues” in the closet. Some are in denial, some don’t want to be pitied or judged, some are embarrassed, and some are afraid… but some either start off, or grow to learn, how to take the world head on and stand up and say “I’m here and my child is here”, and more importantly… “my child deserves to be accepted and respected just like everyone else”. In case you haven’t guessed… I’m in that final category.

For a while, I have considered writing a book that tells the story of my wonderful son Ethan, helps spread the word about autism and tells the world how much he has helped me see the world differently and helped me learn more about myself.

Unfortunately, I simply have not had the time or focus to sit down and write a book, so I decided to start this blog. I am sure that sometimes it will seem like I’m rambling, focusing too much on what seems like simple things to a lot of people, but my goal is to simply share our family’s experiences growing up with our son. I am sure that most parents with children who have autism will understand everything I write here, as will a lot of parents whose children have Asperger’s Syndrome, PDD-NOS, or some other “disorder” that falls within the “Autism Spectrum”, but if you don’t understand, agree with, or simply want more details or info about anything, please write a comment or send me an email and I’m sure that you will start a good discussion or spark an idea for a future blog topic that someone will find useful.

Now, my first blog post would not be complete if I didn’t introduce you to my son… so without further ado, here is the beginning of our story…

Ethan is currently 9 years old, and he has been special since the day we knew that my wife, Shelly, was pregnant… again… You see shortly after our first child, Brittany, was born in 1995, we started getting calls from her OB/GYN saying that she needed to come in as soon as possible. After explaining that she couldn’t because our insurance had changed and we had to go to another facility, the doctor’s nurse told us that she would call us back… When she called back later that same day to tell us that Shelly had an appointment with a new doctor at the new facility we started to get a bit worried… to make a long story short, after becoming a hot potato for a few days, she was finally funneled directly to the top to see the head of the women’s cancer unit where we were told that she was as close to having cervical cancer as a woman could be without actually having cancer and that the odds of her having any more children was very low.

Over the course of the next year she underwent two LEEP procedures which basically cut out most of her cervix in order to get into the “safe” zone and then had to follow up with cervical screenings every six months for the next couple of years.

After three years of being “clear” we decided that we would start trying to have a second child and just sort of see what happened… Fast forward another three years, seven miscarriages… and two of the “best” OB/GYNs in the US, we finally gave up and Shelly went back to school to focus on a career instead of being pregnant…

Shortly after completing school, she started her career with a bang working in a cardiologists office. After a couple of months, she work up one morning complaining of leg cramps and some other minor issues and given her history we instantly knew she was pregnant again. After questionable results from two home pregnancy tests, we called the OB who had delivered our daughter now that she could see him again because of more health insurance changes, and a couple of hours later we found out she was about 2 weeks pregnant.

After a short review of her history since the last time she had seen him, he simply looked at us and said that Shelly has an “incompetent cervix” and that at the 14 week mark he would sew her cervix shut and that should solve the problem. He told us that this procedure wasn’t done before 14 weeks because the body needs time to decide that the pregnancy is viable and to do it before that point could be dangerous for the mom. So, two supposed premier OB’s and seven miscarriages, and her original OB diagnoses the issue after talking to her for 5 minutes… go figure…

Anyway, seven months, a couple of stitches, mind-numbing bed-rest, and Ethan, very quietly, was introduced to the world the day after the stiches holding him in were cut, via an emergency C-Section because he was breach and mom’s cervix didn’t have the strength to hold him in without the stitches.

Little did we know after our long journey, that on November 21st, 2003, how much a quiet little boy, born one day away from being declared a premie, and weighing in at only 5.5 pounds, was going to change our lives…

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