Thank You Autism for These Gifts

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Keeping Kids with ASD Safe from Victimization
June 8, 2016
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For Those Whose Lives Have Been Touched By Autism

by Gary Weitzen

My world changed forever on the day my beautiful son Christopher was born. It changed again–and just as rapidly–three years later when he was diagnosed with autism. After looking back at the last 20 plus years of being a father, all I have to say is three simple words: “Thank You Autism.”

I want to publicly thank autism for being a part of my life.–for the adventures, for the unique perspective on life, and most of all for the unexpected gifts you have given me. No matter what highs or lows any of us go through, it’s crucial that we all give thanks for the elements in our lives that make life worth living– for the things that push us to be better, to rise up to meet the difficulties ahead of us, even when there is no light visible at the end of the tunnel.

Now let me be very clear; if I could wave a magic wand and remove most of the challenges and all of the anxiety my son deals with every day because of autism, I would do so in a second. With that said, my son Christopher is the joy of my life and he continually shows me how to be a better man. In many ways, I think autism brings out the complete love, compassion, and understanding in all of us affected by its life-changing influence.39

We as parents are supposed to be the ones teaching our children, leading by example and showing them what it means to be a good person, helping them every day to grow into the best them- that they are able to be.  Sure, I work hard for my son and I do consider myself to be a good dad- but there is no way, no how I could ever hope to teach or give my son more than he has given me.   My child has made me a better man, a better human being than I could ever possibly dream of being otherwise. He does not have a prejudice bone in his body; my son loves with a  purity and a simple joy that just flows from him.  So what are the gifts Autism has given me?  Here is just my short list- feel free to add to it.

Here Are Just a Few of the Countless Gifts Autism Has Given Me:

  1. Autism has taught me to see prejudice and rise above it.
  2. Autism has enabled me to never to give up–to know that amazing things can be accomplished with dedication, perseverance and hard work.
  3. Autism has allowed me to witness so many miracles–from my son’s first word to walking confidently with his classmates in his high school graduation.
  4. Autism has made me overjoyed for every “first” that my child has accomplished (and continues to accomplish).
  5. Autism has taught me not to sweat the small stuff, giving me an entirely new perspective on life that I wouldn’t trade for the world.
  6. Autism has given me you: my friends- no my family. If you can understand and relate to the things I’ve talked about here, you are all part of my family.

Thank you for taking this journey with me. Together we can work miracles.  Thank you and God bless.chris6

Gary Weitzen (aka Christopher’s dad)

Gary Weitzen
Gary Weitzen
Gary Weitzen is the Executive Director of POAC Autism Services, which is the largest provider of free autism training and events in the state of New Jersey. Mr. Weitzen is a certified law enforcement instructor with the New Jersey Police Training Commission, member of the National Association of Search and Rescue, and serves as a Special State Officer on the New Jersey Governor’s Council for Medical Research and Treatment of Autism. In addition to his duties at POAC, for the past fifteen years he has worked for an autism program as a teacher of life skills to adults with autism. Mr. Weitzen, has served as the New Jersey representative for Unlocking Autism, and Vice President of Princeton Autism Technology, and comes to POAC with 20 years of experience in the risk management field. The Weitzen family story was featured with the Doug Flutie family on the country’s first screening tool for early identification and intervention of autism, First Signs. He has appeared on virtually every major network and local news station as an expert on autism and has given presentations to tens of thousands of people across New Jersey. Mr. Weitzen’s son, Christopher has autism and he has been a passionate advocate of children and adults with autism for close to two decades.