Last year I had such a great response to the “Dealing with Autism from a Dad’s Perspective,” series, that I decided to continue it this year. Our first dad this year is James Kauffman. I became friends with his wife, Grace, when she found me on Instagram. Grace and I often lean on each other throughout the day, as we live very similar lives. One of the best gifts of having a blog is the opportunity to connect with so many new friends all over the world. To have found Grace, literally in my own backyard, is even better. Grace and Jim have been married for 12 years. They have twin boys, Joey and John, who are 11 years old. Joey was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2 years and 8 months. Just like last year, please remember these dads are sharing their own stories based on their personal experiences. Thank you, James, for sharing your perspective.
1. Before your child’s diagnosis, what was your experience with Autism?
Friends from college had a daughter with severe autism. Our group rarely saw them after her diagnosis.
2. Before your child was diagnosed, what symptoms or characteristics did you notice that initiated the evaluation? Was this a mutual concern with your spouse/partner?
Regression of limited speech, loss of eye contact, loss of interaction with others. Yes, it was a mutual concern.
3. After the initial diagnosis, can you share how you felt about it?
Sad, very sad. Confusion, hopelessness. Concern for his future after my wife and I are gone.
4. What kind of therapy services does your child receive and your thoughts on the process and progress?
ABA and speech. Speech seemed to help very little, but he could be much worse if he didn’t receive it, I guess. Speech at school was very inconsistent during critical years. We had a great ABA who was emotionally invested in his progress and cared very deeply. That makes a difference. I think she helped.
5. What has changed since your child’s diagnosis? (Ex: relationship with child’s mom, friends, family)
A lot of sadness in the house, but it made us on the same side of his care, both short term and long term. Wife had to give up her career.
6. What would you like people to know about your child and special needs children in general?
We would like people to have empathy and be more patient with those that are different in any way. Children with autism aren’t in a wheelchair, so it’s not as obvious there is a disability.
Thank you, James! I truly appreciate you taking the time to share with us.