As the father of an autistic child, there are times when I’ve experienced what can only be comparable to as a sense of grief; that the idea of what and who my child will grow to be does not fit in with “the plan”. These are thoughts that will of course be distasteful to hear. But it’s honest, and only through being honest with myself and others can I work through them.
Kyle is now eight years old, and is proving to be quite the wizard with computer gaming. He seems to have the same instincts as I do with new games and programs – only far more amplified. It’s amazing to see his dexterity on a computer keyboard and mouse, almost like they were extensions of his own body. However, we don’t want to let this be the only thing he’s good at. In our opinion, it’s not good for him to have computers be his only outlet, and we have been trying to get him involved in more activities. So far our success rate is fairly low.
We do have some optimism though, and something has slowly been changing. After years of going through the processes of getting him extra support in school and ABA therapy, Kyle’s doctor prescribed some anti-anxiety medication. The first attempt failed quickly, as he seems to have the same problem taking pills as his older brother does, but then we landed on a solution to that: chewable tablets.
Kyle had already shown some indications that he knew he was “different”; that he didn’t necessarily fit in with most of his peers. So, he didn’t fight us in the slightest when it came down to creating a schedule for his medication. In fact, he would remind us about giving him a pill if he thought we had forgotten. Slowly but surely, his attitude seems to be taking a turn for the better. He still can be difficult about trying new things, as he has a fear of failure, but when we bolster ourselves to work hard on getting him to shake things up we’re getting some wins.
This weekend, we had been doing a lot of yard cleanup, and were having a fire to burn a lot of the scrap wood and branches that had been collected. At one point I used my foot to kick some wood into the heart of the flames and he protested my proximity to the fire. “Don’t burn yourself because you are my love.”, he said. Shocked at this statement I stupidly just asked, “What, isn’t mommy your love?”; like I couldn’t possibly be first on his list or anything. He thought for a few moments and then answered, “You are both my love.”
We get Wow factors in our lives, and I think this was one of them for me. I’ve met so many fellow parents of autistic children who look desperately for any sign of compassion and caring in their children and I know how lucky I am to have had this moment come from Kyle. My wife and I now have a door to use with him. We know that his awareness spreads out to others, and this is something we will capitalize on and inform his teachers, mentors and specialists to work on.
Kyle is growing up. And our hearts grow with him. As does my belief in how wonderful he will be as he grows. It may not be what I originally set out for him to be. It will more likely be better.