Archive for November, 2008

Feeling Thankful, Part Two

November 25, 2008

As awful as it sounds, there are those days where I don’t feel particularly thankful for anything. I feel shortchanged and can get extremely jealous looking at other people who are living the life I thought I would. I know there are tons of people who have way more challenges than I do, but there is no question that my life would be so much easier if I didn’t have to deal with autism.

But one thing (or more accurately person) I am always thankful for is my wife. Now I’ll try not to get too mushy here, but our little family would be sunk without her. Fathers definitely play an important role in an ‘autistic family’ but as the title of the recent Jenny McCarthy book suggests, it’s the ‘Mother Warriors’ who are the ones getting things done.

Not convinced that my wife is a Superwoman? Well let’s see….she works a full-time job where she has lots of responsibility and expectations, she raises a 3-year-old which can be a challenge for anyone even before you add in the autism to the mix, she has to put up with me on a daily basis (no small feat), and keeps the house going, meals cooking, etc. 

I’ve seen her shine this past year since we received the autism diagnosis. She’d probably deny it and I know she feels like she’s always coming up short. But beneath that tired, worn-out exterior you can see a light in her that is shining so brightly. The biggest confidence I have in our hopeful recovery of our son is that my wife is in my life. She’s always scouring books and the internet to make sure we’re not missing anything that could help our son. She goes to the doctor appointments armed with a list of questions to make sure we’re addressing everything with the care our son gets.

And to top it all off, with the little free time she has she’s always searching for other Moms of autistic kids to connect with. It’s her sincere desire to be able to help those in need. At this point we’re far from experts, but with the year we’ve put in, we can certainly help others who are just starting out too. I have no doubt that when we recover our son, she’ll still be working tirelessly to help those other Moms who are scared and have no idea where to turn to for help.

I have no doubt too that someday she’ll write a book. She kind of laughs when I mention that now and we’ve had a few people mention that we should both write books someday. I certainly wouldn’t be against that but I know for a fact she has the drive, determination, and talent to see something like that through. I told her I’d be willing to write the foreward to the book if she needs me to do something.

So during this week of thanks, I just want to thank my wife. It’s been an emotionally, physically, and spiritually draining year, but without her they probably would have sent me off to the looney bin a long time ago. She’s definitely a ‘Mother Warrior’ and there are two guys in her house who love her very deeply (me & my son that is in case you weren’t following, we don’t have any other guys at our house).

Feeling Thankful, Part One

November 23, 2008

Ok, so I really have not been a prolific blogger as of late. I guess I could throw out some legitimate excuses…no one will blame a busy father of a 3-year-old with autism for not taking the time to write in his blog on a regular basis. Some days I do actually have a free moment or two, but just don’t feel like writing. Or other days the only things I can thing to write about are very depressing. Not that expressing some raw emotion is a bad thing, but I like to write some posts that at least have a measure of hope.

It’s so easy for me to get down in the dumps and start thinking that everything in my life is going down the tubes. People will say ‘You have so much to be thankful for!’ and depending on my mood I may be inclined to just roll my eyes. But you know, it is true. Even though every day brings some sort of unexpected challenge, I do have a lot to be thankful for.

Being that Thanksgiving is just a few days away, this seems like a good week to write some posts on what I am thankful for at the moment. I don’t know if Oprah is a faithful reader of this blog but she’d be happy to see that this week my blog will turn into an ‘attitude of gratitude’ journal or whatever she calls it.

Right now I am so thankful for the renewed interest my son has in me lately. Like most little guys his age (autism or typical) he has always favored his mommy. I know he loves me, but when push comes to shove, I’m usually the one that gets shoved out of the way. I would try to force my way in there to be part of his little world, and he’d let me be close by, but most days I could go somewhat ignored, especially if my wife is anywhere in the vicinity.

But for some reason these last couple of weeks, Josiah has taken quite a shine to me. Even with my wife in the same room, he’s coming up to me, grabbing my hand, and taking me on all his little adventures. It started innocently enough one day when I saw an exercise ball nearby and I picked him up and started bouncing him on it. He got such a big kick out of that and pretty much everyday he brings me down to the basement to play ‘bouncy’ as he calls it. I just love the look of sheer delight he gets on his face when we play together and for once I feel like I’m playing ‘correctly’ with him. He asks for something, I deliver. We both have fun. It seems so simple yet it has brought me new life.

Even more amazing than the bouncing is that Josiah now will also request for me to come into his room to sit on my lap in the rocking chair and sing some songs with him. Now this might not sound like a huge deal, but in our home this is pretty big stuff. His world pretty much revolves around songs, so if you get to be the singer it’s pretty huge. He’s always loved doing this with my wife but I can only remember a couple of times that I got the coveted position in the rocking chair and it was always when she wasn’t home for an evening.

I love the way he snuggles up to me on the chair and wiggles with delight when I sing his favorite songs. Right now the Christmas songs are pretty popular. I feel like a DJ spinning some tunes at a club. I start with a little ‘Jingle Bells’, or as Josiah calls it ‘Jingul Bulls’ and then move to a little ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas,’ ‘Deck the Halls,’ and maybe a little ‘Rudolph’ if time permits.

So for this holiday week I first give thanks for my son’s new fondness for me. I pray that it lasts because it has done my heart so much good. And it’s the most use that exercise ball has ever had in our house!

Eat, Sleep & Be Merry

November 10, 2008

There are so many challenges that autism brings to a family but probably two of the biggest ones for us (and most families with an autistic child) is eating and sleeping.

Josiah seems to go through phases where he will sleep well but the eating has always been a struggle. I guess we’re fortunate that he does eat some things because I know some people have kids that need help just to learn how to chew. Josiah can certainly do the mechanics of eating but whether it’s the textures of foods, the taste, the smell, etc. he sure is one picky pete!

He’s never had a wide variety of foods that he would eat, but at least in the past even if he was just eating chicken nuggets every day you knew that he was getting some fats and protein. Well unsurprisingly he has tired of the few meals he does eat since he has them every day. He’s been so picky the last couple of weeks that my wife & I are worried he’s going to waste away before our eyes.

Fortunately he does take his supplements so we know he’s getting valuable vitamins and some fats from the likes of fish oil, etc. With all the stress we have in our lives, I’ve found myself overeating from time to time over the last year so I guess I’m consuming enough fat for the entire family!

I’m hoping this is just another phase (he’s gone on these ‘strikes’ before) and that soon he’ll start eating more again. It definitely doesn’t make things easier when you have a kid on the gluten/casein free diet either. But it wouldn’t really do us any good to have him eat things that will screw up his system, so I guess we just have to keep trying to get him to eat the things he can.

As for sleep….this isn’t always an issue but lately he’s been in the habit of being awake in the middle of the night for a couple of hours at a time. I suspect he may wake up because he’s hungry (go figure) but other than that there’s not much we can do but wait till he falls back asleep.

With our crazy schedules my wife and I seem to rarely have time to watch a movie, read a book, etc. I joked this morning at like 3 a.m. that we should use these middle of the night times to get caught up on these things. We’re up anyway, so we might as well finish watching something. But that’s easier said than done when you’re feeling like a zombie!

So if you’re looking for a gift for me for the holidays (and I imagine you all are) please just give me the gift of a good night’s sleep and if you could get Josiah to eat his vegetables too that would be a bonus.