Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Autism, Fathers and Hope

My youngest daughter Amanda is beautiful, physically strong and extremely loving. She is also Autistic.

I can't recall the first time I heard the word Autism or when a doctor first mentioned that Amanda might be Autistic, but I do know she has been special since the day she was born.

As a father, I often wonder what's happening around me in relation to my family while I try and make a living. So much happens at home while I'm traveling or just at the office during the day that it seems as though most of my children are changing and that I am missing it!That's not the case with Amanda...

Amanda Elizabeth Kauffman

At four years of age Amanda's progression has been extremely slow. She doesn't talk and has a difficult time expressing herself in ways that I can understand. She is saying something, asking for something - I just am not sure what that is!

At times Amanda will grab me by the hand and take me places, moving me in the direction of something she wants... a drink, food or something just out of her reach. Those overtures bring me great joy. In those moments she comes out of her own little world and interacts in my world.

That's the most frustrating part of Autism to me - I want to know where my daughter goes everyday! I want to know what she is thinking and who she's talking to when she rambles on verbally. Certainly someone is there when she makes hand gestures and looks at nothing like it's something.

Maybe it's God. She is certainly an angel and worthy of conversing with Deity...

One of my favorite moments with Amanda is when she is sleeping. When she is out like a light, after moving faster and farther than most humans can do in a 24 hour period (she's fast even when she is still) I see a normal little girl. No incoherent speech, no tantrums, no looking off in the distance... just an adorable little girl asleep, and a Father seeing his daughter as he hopes she will be one day - totally normal.


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