But it was enough to bring our family back home to West Virginia. We're so grateful for that, and the help Max is getting from talented and dedicated therapists and educators at Dunbar Primary and Bright Futures Learning Center.
Max is happy, engaged, and mostly content. He still hops around like a Mexican jumping bean. And importantly, he still can't talk.
I like to focus on what he can do. He's learning to communicate using pictures on a special iPad device. He can balance like a tightrope walker.
And he's the best child hiker I've ever met -- when he's in the mood for it.
My biggest fear is that someday, I won't be around to protect him anymore. He depends on me to help him navigate the world. What happens when my wife and I are gone?
Of course, this is a common fear among any parent of a child with a disability -- or to a lesser degree, of all parents.
I have no real money to speak of, so I can't offer him the protection of wealth. All I have is words. Words that can change minds, words that can help pass a law.
In my mind, I imagine using my words to create a force field around Max.
If you've seen the last Harry Potter movie, you know what I'm talking about. A group of teachers stood around Hogwarts, chanting incantations and spells to form a protective dome.
But in real life, can words said with concentration and passion really protect? And for how long?
Then I look at my son, and the example he gives to everyone who meets him.
He says that life is so much more than words. There is power and purpose in a leap, a look, a yelp of joy on top of a mountain.
That's the lesson Max is trying to teach, if we are willing to learn it.
Finn is executive director of West Virginia Public Broadcasting and a former reporter for The Charleston Gazette.