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Al Roker Shares His Pride In Raising A Son With Special Needs

The Feels

Al Roker's son Nick, who is "somewhere on the spectrum and maybe obsessive-compulsive" has faced his share of daily challenges.

But through all that, Roker has made it clear that Nick isn't only someone he feels responsible for, but someone he "admires."


Nick, who was born on July 18th, 2002, had an unclear prognosis on his mental state that left both Roker and his wife, ABC News journalist Deborah Roberts, uncertain for his future.

But as Nick began to develop, Roker said that "proud" didn't even begin to cover how he felt about his son.

"'You must be proud of your son,'" someone will say."
"Yes, I am. More than they'll ever know. The obstacles in this kid's way were things that might have tripped up many others. Not Nick, not even with the disabilities he was born with."






Roker recounts that Nick's disability hardly ever arose and disrupted his progress:

"Nick blossomed, far more than Deborah or I could have ever expected, given his original iffy prognosis. In tae kwon do, you have to master systematic sequences of moves to progress to the next level. Turned out that all those repetitive drills were just the thing for Nick. Where his OCD nature can be a drawback in some situations, it was a strength here. And he proved to be very competitive. 'I'm going to get my black belt,' he told us."







"'Don't push it,' I wanted to say, 'You don't have to aim so high.' You hate to see your kid disappointed. But who were we to hold back our son? His sister Leila was doing tae kwon do too, and maybe he wanted to prove something to her—and to himself."
"He did earn his black belt—Leila got her red belt, one notch below. Deborah and I were pleased for both of them. After that, though, Nick decided he'd achieved his goal and was ready for other challenges. Since then he's been taking swimming, chess and basketball lessons."






"Do I get frustrated with my son sometimes? You bet," Roker wrote.

"But then I remember my dad, how understanding he was. And Deborah reminds me that I have to show my son not only that I love him but that I like him as well. More than that, I admire him."



Roker's feelings are familiar to many families with special needs children.

And for those of us who can't relate, we can relate to the unconditional love and willingness to be surprised that Roker brings to his child.

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