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This Father Has One Autistic Son, One Recovered Autistic Son and Tons of Love

Father of two autistic children

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?

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Chaz: I’d say, for me, it is how different your life is when compared to a ‘typical’ family. You know, like, holiday functions, the embarrassment I feel over how ignorant some people are. It is like there is a cloud shrouding over all events because of how odd everyone acts around your child.

Brooke: You are right, that is a very hard part of it. I don’t so much get embarrassed anymore as I get mad. This is a problem that most families face though. So, tell me, what has been the funniest thing about raising Zain? Tell me about it.

Chaz: Hands down that would be a Zain story. The “Cake” incident. See, When Zain was little he didn’t speak, he was nonverbal until he was 6. One day, he was about 15 months old I’d say, we were all 3 in Bob Evan’s and the waitress walked by Zain with a piece of cake for the people behind us. Zain screamed “Cake!” at the top of his voice, several times. We were in our own world about it. Laughing our butts off and no one understanding why we thought it was funny. Also, his echolalia’s use to crack me up sometimes. The things he’d say over and over and over.

Brooke: Oh my goodness, I hadn’t thought about that day in forever! He has come so far since then. That beautiful little boy that beat his head on everything possible all the time. With all his successes over the years there has to be one that you accredit most of his success too?

Chaz: You, I accredit all his success to you, without you he wouldn’t be where he is today. No doubt in my mind. Dryden was listed as recovered 3 years after diagnosed. That was because you never gave up. Zain spoke for the first time at 6 years old that was from you sitting for hours ignoring everyone doing flash cards with him. It’s been you.

Brooke: That is very sweet of you to say Chaz. Thank you. This one will no doubt get an interesting answer. A lot of us have one thing that we accredit most of our sanity still being intact to. What would your one thing be?

Chaz: There is no way to unwind because stress is part of it. You kind of just have to go with it. No one ever said this was going to be easy.

Brooke: Stress is definitely part of it! A large part of it actually. If you could give only one bit of advice to a fellow parent of a child with autism what would it be?

Chaz: Trust yourself, don’t instantly trust any doctor or anybody’s opinion. Make sure you research everything and then research it again.

Brooke: That is very good, very important advice Chaz, I am so glad you brought it up. In closing, tell me, if anything, what has raising autism taught you the most about yourself? Do you thank the disorder for that?

Chaz: Mostly I’d say patience, it’s an ongoing lesson though, I’ll still be learning from autism and from my son 20 years from now. The patience I’ve learned from raising Zain has carried into other areas though, it helps me to be able to tolerate more at work, mostly the interpersonal challenges, so yeah I thank his autism for that.

I’d like to thank Chaz for taking time out of his day to sit down and talk to me about how it felt when our son was diagnosed. This man has had a hard life. No matter what life has thrown at him, even all the way back to when we were small children ourselves, he has kept going. He has done what he needed to do for the people he loves. I am lucky to be able to call him my husband and even more fortunate to be able to call him my friend.

Other Autism Related Stories by Brooke Price