Meet Kendall and Keith F.
Kendall and Keith F.
Autism has taught me that my son may see some things differently, but when it comes to love and cherishing your family, we see the same things.
My name is Keith and I’d like to introduce you to my 19-year-old son, Kendall. I also want to share my personal story as the father of an autistic son who has had my fair share of ups and downs. Hopefully, other dads and parents out there will relate and realize that no matter what you’re going through, you will find a way to persevere.
The phrase “God will never give you more than you can handle” has been a sentiment that I’ve leaned on for moral support many times since Kendall was diagnosed at the age of 2. To be honest, when my wife and I first received the news, I had a difficult time accepting it. I love my son unconditionally, but I struggled with him being labeled so early in life and the challenges he would almost certainly face because of it.
Very early on in the diagnosis process, my wife and I were told by medical professionals that our son would likely only repeat things, never have a conversation, never tie his own shoes, ride a bike or do anything a typically developed child might do. Hearing news like that can really hit a parent hard, especially if we simply accepted those words as facts. Granted, Kendall needed and continues to need autism services and a solid support system to get to where he is today, but thanks to our persistence, he has surpassed everyone’s expectations.
It was our refusal to sell our son short that has helped him break so many barriers. Today, Kendall can read, tie his shoes, ride his bicycle and has become more interested in his health, which has led to a love for working out with weights and doing cardio exercises. He sees me wash dishes - he wants to wash dishes. If I’m cleaning a bathroom, he wants to understand how to clean the bathroom. He just recently started working part-time this summer, which makes me hopeful that in the future he can possibly make a living for himself with the help of more vocational training.
Although it hasn’t always been easy, I always believed that Kendall would succeed at whatever he decides to do. Without even knowing it, he has taught me a very important life lesson through his own successes. You see, patience is something that I never had. Everything always had to be done immediately but having Kendall in my life taught me to calm down, relax and things will get done in due time.
Kendall and I will always have a special bond that began the day he was born at just 3 pounds, 10 ounces. I was always very protective of him and wanted nothing but the best for him. I’m just so happy to see that he is maturing and learning that he has a voice and can use it to make a difference in the world. He’s also very compassionate and a hopeless romantic. I know one day he’d love to be in a relationship. Will it happen? Maybe in time, but for now I will be by his side helping him explore the world and continue to grow as a person.
As a father, I believe that it’s important to spend time with my family and share with them some of the things that helped me get along in life and be an asset to society. Autism has taught me that my son may see some things differently, but when it comes to love and cherishing your family, we see things exactly the same.
Learn more about Kendall through his words in this Q&A:
How does your autism make you unique?
Well, autism makes me unique by helping know who I am.
What struggles have you faced because you have autism?
The hardest thing about me is to follow directions. My parents are helping me understand how to stay focused and follow directions.
What areas has autism helped you excel?
I do some chores around the house like cleaning my room and the bathroom. I wash clothes and stay organized. It is self-advocacy doing things by myself.
How has your dad supported you through your autism journey?
Well, my dad has supported on things I like to do like bowling and exercise. He believes in me. He supports me on running because I run every single day and eat healthy things like vegetables.
What do you love about your dad?
What I love is the way that he makes me laugh, takes me to new places and helped me get a summer job.
What makes you most happy?
I like summer. I love singing and dancing to all kinds of music. I like exercising to make my body healthy.
What are some of your goals for the future?
Well, the one goal in the future is to teach. I want to teach young students some easy skills like ABCs or numbers or even how to read a story or have some adventures together. I would like to do some singing too.
What advice would you give to someone that just found out that they have autism?
Just take it easy and go with the flow. Stop worrying about things that are in your mind. Sometimes I feel like I have all these thoughts in my head and sometimes you may feel like that too, but when you feel like that you shouldn’t focus on that. What I try to do is focus on the good things.
What five words best describe you?
I am funny. I’m musical because I love singing and dancing. I love being creative. I am hard-working and organized.