Corbin showing off his favorite band, Pantera. (Credit: Derrick Gainsforth)
Corbin showing off his favorite band, Pantera. (The Signpost/Derrick Gainsforth)

As a student and father in my thirties, I’ve tread the inadvisable journey of a non-traditional student. It’s taught me many things over the years, both in the classroom and at home. However, the most important teacher I’ve ever had is my oldest son, Corbin.

On the outside, he looks like any other kid, but his brain is wired a bit differently. Corbin is one of the one in 68 individuals born on the autism spectrum.

Autism is a controversial topic for many reasons. The diagnosis is broad—likely too broad. And many parents of affected children seem to stress too much about what caused it, rather than learning to live with it. Nonetheless, it is something we all must learn to adapt to.

Corbin struggles daily with the sensory balance we’ve become so accustomed to. One might say that the area of his brain, which balances the five senses, is heightened. The ambient chatter in a train car might ache like the excessive ringing of a rock concert in his ears. On the same note, a loud heavy metal song might not even bother him.

A certain fabric that may be comforting to the typical person might feel like sandpaper to the atypical. Corbin has taught himself to soothe his sensory issues using his own methods. This is something all individuals living with autism must learn to balance on their own.

Autism is part of Corbin and always will be, but his disability is exactly what makes his mind highly intellectual. I can randomly pick out any of his hundreds of toys, and he’ll accurately describe when and where it came from. He’s a wizard in the realm of mathematics. Times tables are nearly instant to him; yell out any combination, he’ll solve it.

Corbin’s brain is just wired to think on a different level. As his father, my role in his life is obviously key. But like an observer gazing into galaxies unknown, I cannot help but be in awe of the incredible mind he possesses. What hidden wonders lie beneath his gaze? What uncharted realms do his wandering eyes see into? So no, I do not see my son as broken. Although his struggle will always be internal, this daddy thinks his son’s differences should be celebrated. Corbin is perfect, just the way his is.

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