This Father Has One Autistic Son, One Recovered Autistic Son and Tons of Love
When I was given the opportunity to do some interviews with parents of autistic children I knew I had to talk to Chaz. I had never had an in depth talk with him about how it felt to hear that Zain had autism. I have said for years 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. My hope is that the interviews I’ve been doing will give some a different view of the parents that raise these remarkable children.
Mr. Chaz Price is the father of two, Zain [who is autistic] and Dryden [recovered]. Chaz is also my husband. Chaz is from North Carolina originally but grew up in Southern Indiana, we currently live near Seattle, WA. Chaz works as the Lead Brown and Sharpe Machinist of a machine shop here. This man never stops working for his kids. If he had to he would work 24 hours a day to provide for his children and truthfully most of the time it feels like he does. It isn’t anything for Chaz to work 80 hours in one week. When Zain was little is was rough, we were just starting out, had very little money, and then all of a sudden we had a special needs child. A lot of men would’ve fled. Chaz did not. He has learned from me anytime I needed to teach him something new. He has accepted Zain’s autism with such grace and pride. He never denied it, ever, he was always there. This man is an amazing father, amazing husband, and an amazing man.
Brooke: Ok, I am going to ask the questions just like I did for everyone else. So, let’s start with the basics. What is our son’s diagnosis? Severe, Moderate, Mild (or ASD 1, 2, or 3), Asperger’s, PDDNOS? Does he have any distinguishing co-morbid?
Chaz: Zain is diagnosed with moderate to severe autism. He also has SPD, ADHD, Epilepsy, severe sleep disorder, Explosive Behavior Disorder, and Tourette’s. Dryden was diagnosed at age 2 with moderate autism.
Brooke: Autism is very confusing in many ways, I stayed confused for years. One things for sure, it is full of a lot of complex emotions. If you had to pick one defining emotion that you felt whenever you first heard that Zain has autism and when you heard Dryden had autism what would you say it was? Why?
Chaz: I’d say relief. It was like we had a sense of direction all of a sudden. The name shed light on issues we knew were there. I knew something was wrong when Zain was 18 months old yet, you [Brooke] were still fighting for an answer at that point though. When he broke his arm. That changed everything for me. You see, Zain snapped his arm during a seizure when he was 18 months old. We had no idea that his arm was broke because he had no reaction. I’ll always remember handing him a cookie and him refusing to pull his arm to his mouth, instead he pulled his head down to his hand. His lack of emotion concerned me greatly. All mammals react to pain, but our son did not and still does not most of the time.
As far as Dryden, it broke me, I know it did you [Brooke] too. I’d say the emotion I felt most was betrayal, I felt betrayed by my own genes. Both of my boys diagnosed! With Dryden it was like he was fine and then we laid him down one night and he woke up in the morning unable to speak. Our whole world started spinning.
Brooke: You are right, that moment was a defining one for me as well. He didn’t care one bit, it was like it didn’t hurt. Just like when he picked the stitches out of his stomach 12 hours after having surgery when he was 2ish. As far as Dryden, I always felt it was learned behavior but it crushed me as well. Moving on, in your opinion did the doctors diagnose his autism right off the bat or did he go through several misdiagnoses?
Chaz: They didn’t diagnose Zain properly for the first few years it seems like, so, no, not properly. It seemed as though they were just giving us a ‘shut you up’ diagnosis. Dryden was diagnosed right off the bat because his brother has autism and we were at the same doctor. It wasn’t hard to see what was going on with him.
Brooke: The boy’s diagnoses were hard times for me. I had to fight a lot. So, I asked all the other parents I interviewed to describe their family dynamics to me, instead why don’t you tell some about yourself.
Chaz: I have been a machinist for 10 years. I live in Washington State with my family. We recently moved here and the transition was hard on Zain at first. We all miss our family back home. You [Brooke] yourself have, what, 9 siblings or something, and we have over a dozen nieces and nephews back home. Plus you have your grandparents and parents, I have my grandparents. Let’s see, I am 31, I have 2 little boys- Zain and Dryden. I’ve been married for almost 12 years to you [Brooke].
Brooke: Thank you. This next question I don’t think I have ever asked you. What has been the hardest part about raising autistic children?