Jason's Connection is excited to announce our joining of Tom Klinedinst, father to Tyler. This blog series is about his journey with his son, Tyler, and is intended to provide a voice to caregivers, especially those with special needs children.
My name is Tom, and I have been the primary caregiver, along with my wife Robin, for our son Tyler. Tyler is currently 25-years-old and is on the autism spectrum. His official diagnosis is Pervasive Developmental Disorder with Autistic Characteristics. That name is actually longer that he is, so we just say he is “autistic”. It’s much easier for people to associate with. Then, almost like clockwork, I have to explain that he does NOT have the ability to count cards in a casino like Rainman. If he did, we would live in a much different neighborhood.
Fortunately, Tyler has grown up in a small but loving family. I would consider us all to be pretty typical people. We go to work, cut the grass, cook burgers on the grill, and doze off in front of the television. We are respectful to others and hope that others are respectful in return. We hope that by playing fairly, trouble will pass us by and not knock on our door.
As soon as my wife became pregnant there were concerns. Within a few months, the prognosis had turned grim. Tyler would not make it to term due to hydrocephalus, and even if he did survive that long, he would likely be non-functioning. In all likelihood, he would have a greatly compromised quality of life even in the best of scenarios. We were devastated, heartsick, and broken.
It’s impossible to explain properly in words, but I loved Tyler beyond all measure even before I ever saw him. Every ounce of my being was prepared to love him and protect him, regardless if he were destined to lay in a hospital bed, or become a completely typical child. Whether he lived one day, one year, or a hundred years, he would live it with God, his family, and his friends by his side. He would be treated like the most valuable person in the world because that is exactly what he has always been to me. His life, no matter how long or short, would be a fulfilling one.
That was 25 years ago. We have experienced many, many things that I would like to share. In his development, schooling, health, and now transition into a residential facility, there are stories of heartbreak and triumph that I believe could help serve as a compass for other families and caregivers who are walking their own path of uncertainty.
Come join me for a little while, on “My Walk With Tyler”.
My Walk With Tyler is about my journey with my son, Tyler, and is intended to provide a voice to caregivers, especially those with disabled children. To be fair, I am not a therapist, or an expert on special needs, nor would I intend to pretend to be. My goal is to share all of the triumphs and heartbreaks that we have been through, especially during this transition into Tyler’s residential placement. Because there is no “manual” for caregivers to follow, we must help each other find the way. My hope is that through my advice, stories, and experiences that the reader can find nuggets to add to their own journey. To read more from Tom click here!