Al Roker Opens Up About Raising Son with Special Needs
“Today Show” anchor Al Roker and wife, ABC News anchor Deborah Roberts, have been married for 20-plus years – and though they share two other daughters – they had no idea of the challenges their youngest child, 17-year-old son Nicholas, would bring to parenthood. Nicholas was born with developmental delays, resulting with him having borderline obsessive compulsive disorder and mild traits of autism. However, in a recent interview, Al, 64, opens up about Nick’s inspirational fight for his own happiness and independence with help from therapists.
Al Roker said he and Deborah quickly discovered a difference between Nicholas and their other children after his birth in 2002.
“We knew right from the beginning that he would be up against a whole different set of challenges. He wasn’t developing as fast as he should have, not holding our fingers as tightly, not always meeting our gaze, not as quick to crawl. At three, he hardly talked and could barely walk.”
The daytime television veteran says that his son’s special needs have not hindered, but helped, in his love for sports. Nick is a black-bet in tae kwon do!
“Nick blossomed, far more than Deborah or I could have ever expected, given his original iffy prognosis. Where his OCD nature can be a drawback in some situations, it was a strength here. And he proved to be very competitive…Nick is a hard worker; he’s got a great sense of humor; he’s outgoing and a good swimmer; he’s developing a pretty good top-of-the-key basketball shot.”
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) December 14, 2018
Al says his son has “found his place in this world” by helping out within their church:
“Last year, he went on a mission trip to Haiti with teens from church, helping out at an orphanage, reading to the kids, playing games with them, doing chores. When we picked him up at the airport, the first thing he said in the car was ‘I can’t wait to go back!’”
Al and Deborah hope that Nick’s story will inspire others to be more accepting of others. In a 2018 interview, Deborah Roberts added:
“We hope that more people will be open to expressing and maybe sharing that a lot of us are dealing with challenges in life. There has been a stigma over the years, especially if it’s not an obvious challenge that people know, and I think to be able to share and inspire and to give other people the encouragement, I think that life can be enriched and can be better and can be in some ways richer when you are loving and supporting and dealing with somebody who is dealing with challenges.”
“Do I get frustrated with my son sometimes? You bet. 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. ‘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…I can’t begin to take credit for who Nick is and who he might become.”
Kudos to Al and Deborah for sharing their story with the world!
Written by Miata Shanay