If you know me, then you know I take pride in the fact that I am a geek.
And to that end, my husband and I are big fans of THE NERDIST.
Imagine our surprise one night when we watched an episode that included a comedian that discussed………HIS AUTISTIC SON
So being the straight forward agressive Jersey girl that I am, I asked him if he would consider being a guest blogger for me.
To my everlasting astonishment and delight, he said yes.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to present to you the one, the only,
Mr. Ron Funches……..
I remember the day my son Malcolm was diagnosed with autism. His mother and I had spent the better part of the first two years of his life wondering if it was normal for a baby to sleep three hours a day while spending the rest of his day rewinding his favorite sentence oh his Jungle Book DVD. There was a period of time where I assumed he was deaf, as calling his name would lead to blank stares and dropping a phone book behind him would illicit no reaction. But how could that be when singing the Elmo’s World theme song would cause his head to whip around and a huge smile to come on his face? We had no idea what was wrong and that is the scariest thing that I believe can happen to a parent, knowing something is wrong and having no clue what it could be.
Autism wasn’t even a word in my vocabulary. When my mother suggested we have him screened for it I lashed out. I said there was nothing wrong with him and he was just a weird kid just like his father. I was afraid that my son would spend his formative years in special-ed classes. I remember them from my high school- tucked away as to not offend the so called normal students. Let out after we finished our lunches to clean up after us and learn so called “life skills”.
I didn’t want that for my son.
I thought Malcolm’s Autism Diagnosis was the end of the world. My son would never go to college, never become a All-Star NBA player, maybe never even move out of his parents home. I was also told things he may never do. Talk, go to the bathroom by himself, get himself dressed. I fell into a depression.
Till one visit to a local playground changed everything. Our visits to the park looked a little different than most. The two adults circling the perimeter of the playground knowing that our son was prone to take off running into the streets at any given moment. I remember the stares from the other parents and the “why don’t you just relax and let him play” comments from people not knowing if I did sit for 5 minutes odds are he would be two towns away before I even noticed. This day was different. The park was empty except for a group of disabled adults and their caretakers across the field. That day is etched in my memory and has motivated every career decision I make. I am sure there are great, empathetic, caring, caretakers in the world, probably a bunch, but these were not them. They way they yelled at them, the way they mocked the noises the disabled adults made. You know the noise. the one everyone makes when they pretend to be retarded (please stop doing that). The way they treated them more like pets than human beings who deserve respect. I knew that day I needed to make a lot of money. Enough so that when I die and his mother die that he would never have to see one of these facilities. That was the day I knew I either had to go back to college or follow a dormant dream I had. If it wasn’t for those mean people I don’t think I would have pursued comedy with the determination and effort that I have. I was shown a possible future that I wanted no part of for my son and I continue to work hard to make sure it never happens. So if you see me shilling some product in a commercial I don’t care about, you know why.
The best lessons I’ve received in life have been due to my son. Not setting expectations, but never giving up, knowing anything is possible. Being yourself no matter what. After years of therapy Malcolm is now quick to say “ I love you” or “ Bacon and Bread sandwich at Subway” or “What da fuck” all at appropriate times. He now wouldn’t be caught dead in the same bathroom as his dad and besides some trouble with his skinny jeans can generally dress himself. He is my best friend. He’s my Apple Jack and I’m his Cinna mon. He taught me and continues to teach me so much. How talking is overrated, how so many things in this world don’t make sense if you look at it from a different angle.
I am blessed to know him. He woke me up and set me on the right path.
Thank you sir for your words and your perspective.
And that is one handsome guy you got there.
Takes after his dad, huh?