Curt Schilling's setback with a bloody-sock does not compare to his current daily challenges of raising a child with Asperger's syndrome.
Schilling and his wife, Shonda, are speaking out about one of their four sons, Grant, who was diagnosed with Asperger's, a form of autism, in 2007. According to WCVB-TV, the Schillings are open about their family struggles, and Shonda wrote a book entitled The Best Kind of Different: Our Family's Journey with Asperger's Syndrome.
Grant, 10, is like other boys his age in many ways, but he doesn’t understand appropriate social interaction and behavior. Unlike many with Asperger’s, he is able to look people in the eyes, but unable respond to cues or perceive personal boundaries.
"If he would cry, I could never understand," Shonda told WCVB-TV. "He would drop to the floor, and I would go to try and hug him, and you couldn't touch him. I just felt so defeated, sitting there going, what do I do?"
Before being diagnosed with Asperger’s at the age of 8, Grant was difficult and disobedient. Yet he would not respond to punishment. The parents’ confusion about the disorderly conduct was cured when they received word of their son's condition. Shonda said that the news initiated a lot of guilt for reprimanding their son who just could not understand.
"How did I not see it?" she said. "How did I not notice this earlier? And how did I yell at a child, ever, [when it] was never his fault?"
Shonda's book details her struggle with the incurable disorder that has plagued her family, her three other children with ADHD and her traveling husband. Not only does the tell-all reveal insight into the Schilling household, but it offers support to families in similar situations.
"I didn't realize how alone she was during the years Grant was growing up and I was playing," Curt Schilling said. "It made me look like a deadbeat dad in a sense, like I didn't want to participate, or I didn't have the desire to participate, and I always looked at it as I never had an option. I did what I did, and I was committed to doing what I was doing because that's the only way I knew how. One of the things you understand about Asperger's is routine is king. They love routine, they love consistency, and I was never routinely, consistently in his life."
That changed after Schilling retired from baseball in 2008.
"I was so tired of saying, 'I love you, congratulations, happy birthday, you're punished, good night, you're in time out,' over the phone," the former Red Sox pitcher said. "I'd spent our entire marriage and my kid's entire lives, nine months a year, doing that. And so it was easy and from the day I made the decision, I have not regretted a second of it. I haven't missed any of it."
Shonda admits that she is happy her husband has left his career because their kids have never been happier. The Schillings say that although times may get difficult, their love has enabled them to adapt and learn new things. They feel blessed and would not change a thing.