Quentin Harris and his daughter Quinn.

Quentin Harris knew at the age of 8 the kind of father he wanted to be someday – nothing like his own.

“I remember as a kid growing up saying that whenever I have children, I’m going to … love my children, and I’m going to do everything I need to do for them,” he said.

Harris, who went on to graduate from Douglass High School and Atlanta Metropolitan College, today is the father of two girls and the author and publisher of a book titled “I Am… Affirmations for Children.”

The book was inspired by a morning routine Harris had with his daughters Quincy, 10, and Quinn, 7, before dropping them off at daycare. 

He’d stand with them before a mirror and repeat positive affirmations to build their confidence and set expectations for how they should treat others and expect others to treat them.

His book features drawings of children with reflective material for faces.

“I wanted to make sure Quinn could interact with the book,” Harris said. “That’s how the mirrors came in, so that Quinn could see herself inside the character as I’m reading the affirmation.”

When Quinn was born by emergency cesarean section, she wasn’t breathing. A respiratory therapist helped to revive her, and she recovered quickly.

Harris worked nights during that time and cared for Quinn during the day. By the time she was a year old, he’d noticed developmental differences in Quinn and started doing research.

“I didn’t tell my wife [Raquel] any of this. I’d just kind of hide out in my man cave and cry and worry and stress out,” Harris said. “I didn’t tell my wife because I didn’t want to be right.”

After her daycare teacher expressed similar concerns, Harris had Quinn evaluated. She was referred to the Marcus Autism Center, where testing confirmed she had autism.

Quinn started therapy there at the age of 1, when she was sleeping just two to four hours each night. As therapy progressed, she made significant strides, including sleeping through the night, saying words, and responding to vocal direction, Harris said.

He encourages parents to act quickly when they see signs of autism. The Marcus Autism Center says evidence shows early diagnosis and treatment can lead to better long-term outcomes.

Getting Quinn to therapy at the Druid Hills center for two hours a day, Monday through Friday, for two years was a huge challenge, said Harris, who now works in Patient Access at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

“Having a child with autism is mentally draining. It’s physically draining. It’s financially draining. But you find a way to make sure your child gets what she needs.”

These days, Quinn can recite the alphabet, knows numbers, loves her iPad, and likes to lead her father to her “I Am…” book for reading time together. 

“She has a lot of words,” Harris said. “I think she doesn’t understand how to get them out, but she’s always said ‘Daddy.’”

“I Am… Affirmations for Children” is available for $18.99 plus shipping at MrQHarris.com.

Donna Williams Lewis

Donna Williams Lewis a freelance writer based in Atlanta. She previously worked as an editor and journalist for the Atlanta Journal Constitution.