I first heard about autism from a made for tv movie called Son Rise: A Miracle of Love. It aired in 1979, I would have been seven or eight, a first or second grader. I remember very little about the show, except that the boy in the movie screamed a lot, banged his head a lot, his behavior frankly made me terrified to have a child. So all my life until my son turned three or four, I believed that autism was a terrible thing where your child never spoke, never showed affection, and made your life a living hell.
Fast forward to when I was thirty two. My ex wife and I had a son in 2003. We had a lot of challenges, but raising my son at that time was easy. I’d lived with friends who had children, and my son was literally the easiest, happiest baby I’ve ever had to deal with.
When my son was three or four, I took him to see some of my friends from college. One of them was taking courses for child therapy (they have since become a teacher. If they are reading this blog, I wish to give a resounding “Huzzah” to them for all the fun things they’ve done for their students), saw my son stacking things in the order of their size. I was told it was likely my son had Asperger’s.
That classic sinking feeling in the stomach I’d always heard about in books and tv settled in. My anxiety for my son went through the roof. Before I’d thought everything that was going on was quirky, cute, but in the normal range. The hand flapping, the struggles with toilet training, his hyper focus. But while it had been covered in Abnormal Psychology, I had forgotten all about this milder form. I was still thinking of the movie from 1979.
My ex wife never wanted to believe he had anything wrong with him. And honestly, given the right treatment and care, I don’t think there would have been much “wrong” with him at all. But she fought me every step of the way. And at the risk of losing some folks respect for me, I failed to override her on this. Those who know me will understand why, those who do not…likely I’ll just have to accept that you are most likely thinking thoughts like “I would have gotten him treated no matter what she did.” I know that is what I would have thought twenty years ago.
I can’t stress this enough. Don’t ignore it. Get your kids tested if you suspect. It may in fact just be that they are quirky. But there is so much that can be done for these kids these days, ignoring it just because of your own ego is irresponsible and cruel. You are damning a child who otherwise might have a great life to a prison inside their own minds. If you love them, why would you do that?
Bring me a father that so loved his child,
Whose joy of [him] is overwhelmed like mine,
10And bid him speak of patience.
Measure his woe the length and breadth of mine,
And let it answer every strain for strain,
As thus for thus and such a grief for such,
In every lineament, branch, shape, and form.
15If such a one will smile and stroke his beard,
Bid sorrow wag, cry “hem” when he should groan,
Patch grief with proverbs, make misfortune drunk
With candle-wasters, bring him yet to me
And I of him will gather patience-Much Ado About Nothing. William Shakespeare
If people don’t understand the sacrifices you have given and keep given for your son, they should not be in your life. Autism has its own challenges but you’re doing amazing with him. You have educated yourself and you trying new things with him. You are handling him well. I have watched you with him. You are an amazing father
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Thank you. After his heart failure I feared I’d lose him, and I basically feel I have
You didn’t loose him. She’s the one preventing you from seeing or talking to him. He loves you. He is scared of her yelling at him. Be patient, it will get better.
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