Autism in a Family: This Father Proves Love and Success are Possible
I decided to do this interview series because it seems that society thinks we all walk the same path once our children are diagnosed with Autism, that our stories somehow become the same as soon as our child is labeled as autistic. Nothing is further from the truth and this next interview proves that. The father I got the privilege of interviewing raises the bar when it comes to being in sync with your child and his/her needs. His family raises the bar when it comes to showing unconditional love. They all take the stereotypical belief of how a blended family functions and turn it into something beautiful.
Some Background Information
Mr. Gavin Comeaux is a father of 3 and stepfather of 3 children. 6 kids in 1 house! That alone is brave, throw autism in the mix and that is a recipe for disaster and stress. You’d think, right? In the case of the Comeaux family nothing is further from the truth. This group of amazing individuals, who choose to spend their lives together, have redefined what a blended family is thought to be for this author.
The Comeaux family currently lives in Louisiana. Gavin’s 13 year old son, Tristin, has autism. He is such a handsome young man, you can tell his father’s influence is rubbing off on him a great deal. He is going to grow to be a tremendous success, whether it be a success in riches or in smiles, and all of it will be owed to the parents & siblings in his life that love him so much. Gavin currently has all 3 of his biological children living with him, he is working towards a “better solution” with their biological mother. From what I can tell, his wife Courtney has taken on a large amount of the mothering role to Gavin’s 3 children. Such an inspirational woman. Such an inspirational man. Such an inspirational family.
Brooke: Thank you for consenting to be interviewed Gavin. Starting off I’d like to state that we both know raising an autistic child is both crazy and fun! Sometimes the crazy can outweigh the fun. What I want to know is in those moments what keeps you sane? What’s you one thing?
Gavin: I give my wife now, Tristan’s step mother, all the credit without her we would not be anywhere close to sane.
Brooke: Your wife must be an remarkable woman! What age is Tristin now? Can you tell me about your family dynamics? You said step-mother, is Tristin’s mother in the picture?
Gavin: Tristan will be 14 in November; all together my wife and I have 6 children in the home. 3 mine 3 hers. [Brady Bunch] Tristan does visit his biological mother every other weekend for two days.
Brooke: I bet that makes for some interesting transitions at times. You rarely hear of men like you sir. You are certainly priceless. Let’s go ahead and get the basics out of the way. What is Tristin’s diagnosis?
Gavin: Tristan was diagnosed on the spectrum as having moderate autism.
Brooke: Did the doctor(s) diagnose his autism right off the bat or did he go through several misdiagnoses?
Gavin: When Tristan was three years old he was brought to the clinic on base, (I was in the military) to determine if he had any potential developmental problems. He was nonverbal and had signs of OCD. The pediatrician literally told me I was crazy, and that there was nothing wrong with my son. Tristan was also diagnosed ADHD at 6 years old. I did not agree with the diagnoses at the time but the medication, once dialed in, had significant results.
Brooke: I have found that a lot of parents have issues with their child’s initial diagnosis. It’s like the first introduction into how frustrating raising these children can be at times. With that said, what would you say has been the hardest part about raising Tristan?
Gavin: The hardest part of living with a child with autism is trying to get others to see him the way I do. I have always connected with him in a way no one else can. I can motivate him even when he seems to lock up. I also can tell right away if he is having sensory issues, I am his calm, I am his rock.
Brooke: I can tell you two have a close relationship. To a child with autism their comfort parent is so essential to their success. Everything that boy becomes in life will be directly linked to how hard you are working for him and with him now. You must tell me, if you had to pick one emotion that you felt when you first heard that Tristan has autism what would you say it was? Why?
Gavin: Relief, I had believed for a long time that there must have been misdiagnoses. It was also a starting point to move forward from as well as getting the school involved
Brooke: Such a good point! Once you know you can involve the school and get your child help! Let’s not leave the impression that autism is all hell! Tell me, what has been the funniest thing about raising a child with autism? Give me an example if you can
Gavin: The funniest things can also be the most horrifying things at times. Tristan has a serious inability to understand appropriate conversation, and subject matter. Example. He was learning about child mortality rates in school. He figures that this was an appropriate conversation to have with his 5 and 6 year old siblings. When his siblings came told us they were terrified. He had no ill intentions, but the effects can devastate sometimes.
Brooke: Wow! Great example Gavin. Sometimes our children’s inability to pick up on rights and wrongs in subject matter can cause problems! You are a very dedicated father, I can tell this, and on top of that you are an amazing resource when it comes to autism. If you could give only one bit of advice to a fellow parent of a child with autism what would it be?
Gavin: The most important thing you can do is learn, without truly understanding your child’s needs, you will always be in survival mode. Only when you truly embrace the differences will you see progress or growth. These kids are a part of you; you already have the advantage over others. Use that advantage to help them grow.
Brooke: What perfect advice from such a seasoned autism father. You will no doubt help another parent along their journey to find their child’s success. Speaking of success, a lot of us parents have one thing that we accredit a large amount of our child’s success too. What would your one thing be?
Gavin: I truly believe his siblings have been the largest influence in his progress over the years. I cannot quite explain it, but with a large family they all tend to lean on each other for support even if he is different from them.
Brooke: The bonds between siblings is a powerful thing. In conclusion I’d like to ask you this: If anything what has raising autism taught you the most about yourself? Do you thank the disorder for that?
Gavin: Learning from autism has given me a glimpse into a world that is all around us. When we feel so stressed from work or bills or life that we almost cannot stand it, imagine some of these kids live that every day. When they want to hug you but their bodies do not allow them. When they have a great idea to tell you but cannot seem to get the first word out. The fact that they cannot enjoy such things like fireworks displays without the fear of the noise drilling into their heads. It humbles me.
I must say that it is you that is humbling Mr. Comeaux. So selfless and so loving, both you and your wife. Thank you for consenting to do this interview and thank you for sharing part of your story with me. It was an honor. You, sir, are and amazing father and an amazing person. What the world needs is a few more like you.
Other Autism Related Stories by Brooke Price
- This Australian Mother Approaches Autism with a Great Sense of Humor and Fun
- Exemplary Father Talks about Autism, Support and Thinking Outside the Box
- Story of Mother with Cancer, Daughter with Autism and Selfless Love
- Mistakes of A Special Needs Mother: Tips From a Parent of an Autistic Child
- Piecing the Puzzle Back Together: Tips from a Mom of an Autistic Child
- Melting Down the Autistic Meltdown: Sometimes Tantrums aren't Tantrums