The post below is a heartwarming letter from Rico Cannon to his son on his 9th birthday. Rico shares his experiences as that father of a son with autism and how raising Cameron inspired him to give back.
I remember the call like it was yesterday. I was washing my truck when your Meme called and said, “Your son is on the way.” I rushed to my house to get the clothes I wanted you to wear after you were born, along with your NFL football. Automatically, I was a proud Dad from the start.
You were born 9 years ago today on April 22, 2005. Ironically, the NFL draft was the next day. Football at that time was fresh in my mind, so I can’t lie…I called you my First Round Pick ...view middle of the document...
At the time, I had only heard about autism, but I immediately thought to myself, “hey, not my little boy.” Right away I went to look up characteristics of autism. I was in total disbelief. How could my innocent child with such a bright future be robbed of his mind before he has even had a chance to develop it? As I looked at the traits, my eyes began to tear (as they are now). A slow reality began to sink in. I immediately called your mother to share the disheartening news with her. As any mother would be, she was in denial for some time. But shortly afterwards, you were diagnosed with Classical Autism.
The battle then began.
As you got older, the characteristic behaviors you exemplified were sometimes different, but you were so unique in your own way and you still are today. I want you to know that although your Mother and I are no longer together in a relationship, I will always love you and your sister and brothers no less than the father I would be if I was with you every day. Through the years, you have fought a tough fight to regain what was taken from you. We know the theories now, but we also know we don’t have a cure either.
Through the different therapies you have had throughout your life, all the trips out of town to see specialist doctors, different medicines and diets and your hard work and effort, I have noticed a great change in you, young man. I would like to commend and give thanks to your mother for the great job she has done through it all – the life of dealing with a child with autism, the research, all the trips to therapies and doctors’ visits. It doesn’t go unnoticed. I thank her for that and will forever be...