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Chris Cser

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I was interviewed last year on what it is like being a father of a child with autism -

Tell me as much as you can about your bonding process with your Nicholas. Was it hard at first? Is it still difficult at times? How old is he now?
Nicholas was our first-born son and our pride and joy. Being new parents, we had no clue what we were doing, we showered him with love and the necessities of survival. I read a few articles/websites about the do’s and don’ts of fatherhood and one reoccurring theme was the importance of human touch (skin to skin) and talking to your child. This made sense to me and many of the activities (feedings, napping, burping etc etc) I would incorporate these 2 items. My wife started to see delays as early as 6 months old with him, I was in total denial that anything was wrong with my little boy and treated him like I would do any tiny child. I interreacted with him, made silly sounds, tickled him with the goal of hearing him giggle to which I was awarded on almost every occasion. My denial about something being wrong ended when he was appx 12 months old when we received the diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy and Nickle (that’s his nickname) was hitting ZERO milestones from 6 months on. He wasn’t holding his head up, he wasn’t holding a bottle, he didn’t crawl, walk or feed himself like many kids his age were doing. Throughout this whole process of his first year of life and still today it became our goal to treat him as much as a normal NT child as possible. I read to him, played with him, talked to him, physically interreacted with him. Was it hard or difficult to do so??? Not so much as it was DIFFERENT and my job to provide EVERYTHING for him. Nickel is non-verbal (and still is today), I learned his grunts and groans, what made him happy, what made him sad and how to react to those sounds that he made. It’s a primal instinct when I hear a certain sound I react to it. The bonding process is very DIFFERENT, since he is non-verbal it was a lot of trial and error for me to be able to figure out what he likes and doesn’t like. Its heartbreaking when he starts to cry and we cannot figure out what is wrong, its gut wrenching feeling to know something is not making him happy and he cannot express what it is.
What is difficult? The difficulty is for me to release any notion and predetermined thoughts of what my son might be in the future. Before you have a child, you think he’s going to be an athlete or the president of the world!!! Then reality smacks you in the face when the doctors say he may be cognitively impaired for the rest of his life and may never walk…..SO HARD to hear this, it makes you sick to your stomach. It’s a process to retrain your brain to FOCUS ON TODAY and TODAY ONLY. Nicholas is now 8 and I’m his best friend, he likes it when I tickle him and massage his feet, carry him upside down and make him laugh until he can’t catch his breath. I’m his advocate, his protector and what he has taught me the most Im his voice.
What would you like to share about his diagnosis as well as strengths and weaknesses? Nicholas received an CP diagnosis right after his 1 year birthday and an Autism diagnosis shortly after 3 years old. He’s now 8, non-verbal, not potty trained and still has many physical and mental challenges. He HATES HATES HATES haircuts and I’ve only trimmed his nails maybe a handful of times in his life. For the doctor that said he may be cognitively impaired a big fat middle finger to you! Nickle is so smart, he flies on his IPAD, reads at a level past 8th grade (teachers advised us this in first grade) and teaches ME more things than I believe I have taught him!
How is your relationship with him different than your neurotypical kids? My relationship with him is very primal, I react to sounds he makes more than words spoken ar verbal requests from my other 2 NT kids. Our relationship has a lot of human touch as well. There is not much downtime when he is awake, we are always on the move. He is just starting to understand the words “No and Stop” when in public my head is always on a swivel to look for potential hazards as well as to keep him in view.
What tips do you have for dads regarding bonding with their own kids with special needs? Be involve in every aspect of his life – bathing them, going to therapy, going to doctor appointments, IEP meetings. Take them to the park, play with them, talk to them, share your feelings with them even if they can’t respond, human touch is a very powerful and under used tool. DO EVERYTHING YOU WOULD WITH A NT CHILD

Do you think this is particularly tough for men? If so, why?
I have a lot of great mentors, some family members and most that are not and 10 to 30 years older than me. I see in today’s society that mentors are not very common. Find some mentors and be honest with them about your trial and tribulations. The saying “its take a village to raise a child” is so true and means even more when you have a special needs child. You need someone that has walked in your shoes and is further down the path than you are.

The Friendship Circle is a very big part of our “village” they provide a safe-haven for Nicholas as well as support for the rest of our family. Nicholas always enjoys going to Friendship Circle and we’re proud to help support this great organization.

AUG
19
AUG
11

Hello Supporters! Where does the time go! Our walk is only 3 short weeks away and we are half way to our goal! Nicholas is enjoying his summer and trying new things. I found this saying that fits Nickle to a tee “will power knows no obstacles”. While on vacation over the 4th our family took the kids tubing on the lake, both Avery and Brody had so much fun while Nick sat quietly in the boat. When Brody was safely in the boat, Nicholas with his crooked little finger (reminds me of ET finger) pointed towards the tube. “do you want to try Nick” I asked him, and he immediately started climbing on the back of the boat. Me a bit nervous and scared thinking he can’t do this because of his challenges listened to my inner voice of let him try. Nicholas want to go tubing….AND TUBING HE DID!!! I hope you enjoy the video - https://photos.app.goo.gl/1NaxT3BLLZt4YnaF8

JUL
11

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