I'm Rob, Senior Direct Marketing Ana-bear-alyst for Build-A-Bear Workshop. What that means is I analyze the impact of marketing and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) efforts for our organization. I would like to share a little about how Autism has affected my family.
I am a husband and proud father of 2 boys, Sean (4) and Elliot (1 1/2). Like any parent, my wife and I love watching our children grow and get excited when they reach developmental milestones like crawling, walking, and talking in sentences. It is even more exciting to see their individual personalities start to develop. But my son, Sean, reached most of his milestones late, and as he approached the age of 3, we saw his emerging personality slowly slip away from us. Sean was becoming overactive, defiant, and socially withdrawn. My wife and I felt like failing parents, wondering why we could not control our child and why he did not seem to enjoy the same things as other children his age. We began to really wonder if there was something else behind Sean's behavior.
Our natural reaction was to discuss the issues we were having with Sean's doctor. She did not seem too concerned that he was reaching many of his milestones late because he was reaching them, eventually. And Sean was, after all, in his "terrible two's" and moving into the "trying three's." My wife and I followed our instincts, though, and requested a more thorough developmental evaluation anyway. Hearing the words "your son has autism" brought on a range of emotions. I was relieved that we weren't "bad parents," but then I was left to wonder exactly what an Autism diagnosis would mean for my son and my family. What are the treatment options and are they effective? How would we be able to afford them? What should we do next?
Right after Sean's diagnosis, resources like Autism Speaks were instrumental in helping us understand this disease and the various therapies and treatments to help Sean overcome it. There are resources to assist with the financial burden of the therapies and treatments. We became aware of the vast community of parents who support each other. Most importantly, we realized that this is not a journey that we need to take alone.
It has been one year since Sean was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The early detection and treatment has led to tremendous improvements in Sean. We no longer see many of the behaviors that caused us such alarm, he is starting to engage with his peers, and most importantly, we are amazed every day at the wonderful person developing before our eyes.
My hope is that our story will encourage other parents who find themselves where we were. There are resources to help parents of children with autism and adults with autism. You are not alone.
Build-A-Bear Workshop is passionate about supporting causes that matter most, not only to Guests, but members of our bear family. I hope my story will help raise awareness and make a difference for other children and families impacted by autism.