Here in my second blog, I’d like to share to you my experience as a Father of an autism. How my wife and I handle the fact that our child will be different from other kids and our expectations/dreams for him may not become a reality.
Let me tell you a brief background first. When my wife become pregnant with our first child, everything she went through during the pregnancy are normal. She eats healthily, sleeps on time & taken enough sleep and have taken her vitamins regularly. Basically, we have followed what her OB recommends and instructions.
When my son was born, everything were normal from his screening test of any disorders. He’s on the right weight and looks very healthy and fit. During his first months, it seemed very normal. He was playful, likes to smile and as far as I remember, he is having eye contact.
When he’s about to turn 1 year old, we started to notice that he doesn’t respond when we call his name. He’s very poor in eye contact as he just looks to us whenever we sing his favorite nursery rhymes. Also, he’s fond of spinning toys. Since we don’t have any idea to it and our families around told us that ‘he’ll grow up to it, don’t worry’. So months have passed, he didn’t change and still doing the same things. We started to get worried and look for answers. We’ve done some research and found out that our child was having behaviors as what in the autism spectrum. We were afraid but decided to get a schedule to development pedia.
When he turned 2 years old, we were able to confirm that he is indeed in the autism spectrum. We were heart-broken. My wife cried so much at that moment the Devped told us the diagnosis. I am stunned but am trying to get myself together and make encouragements to my wife. Then the Devped provided us what my child needs to go through- which is a series of therapies for early intervention.
How do you accept it? A father’s standpoint
The moment we were told that our son has autism, I am in denial. I can’t and don’t want to believe it. I was thinking and asking God silently ‘why? why would my son have this? and go through this?’ Then soon I realized, no matter what happens I should be here for my son and my wife in this tough times. I have to do what should a father do, to be their pillar. So from that point onwards I set aside my feelings first and continuously encourage my wife as she’s emotionally weak in taking it.
It took time for me to accept it. I think for month, as I go on a lot of research on it and taking time to interact with my son, understanding the condition. Little by little, as time, days and weeks gone by, I am starting to see the brighter side of autism, their uniqueness and what a different joy it gives us.
It’s not easy and it takes time to accept but you just need to look on the brighter side of things and it will help you get there..
The process you need to go through
As father, you need to understand the condition completely. Do a research. Know what are their behaviors, sensitivities, fears and their comfort foods. As for my son, we are fortunate that he rarely makes tantrum. He doesn’t want any sweets. He’s comfort food is porridge with boiled egg. He likes to watch animated nursery rhymes but is afraid when there is a black character. He’s really scared as in shouting out loud when he sees it. He’s irritated with the sound of a vacuum cleaner. These are the things you need to know and manage.
The sooner early intervention is taken, the better
After a week my son was diagnosed, we have started looking for the best therapy center for him nearby our place. We have found SMLC. They provide ABA therapy basically addressing and correcting certain behaviors for early intervention. As we go along with the therapy, there were alot of struggles and challenges. During the first weeks, my son wasn’t compliant to his teacher as they are still building rapport. Gradually, he’s getting there and you will see the progress after a few months of therapy. It is also an important factor that you and your wife will do follow ups at home- continuing the activities the therapist suggested. He was a non verbal by the way, when he started the early intervention.
Frustrations kicks in from time to time
This is one of the emotional part of having an autism in the family. Me, mostly my wife gets frustrated when we see our child hurt by a wound or having blood in the head due to hitting onto something but didn’t cry or react to it. They have a high pain tolerance. They don’t cry unless it is really painful. And its difficult to know what or where it does hurt on them. Then there were times that they suddenly cry about something – could be a missing part of the toy or certain arrangements on his things was changed. He wasn’t able to tell which really frustrates us. We want to help him about those but we have no idea. But that is the challenge that you need to work out. For myself, what I did is I take time to observe my son, how he plays and moves. Trying my best to enter his world and by doing that, it made me understand a little bit of his huge world he’s in. I’ve started to know what makes him frustrated sometimes.
Teamwork is essential
Teamwork between me and my wife is such an important thing. Most child who have autism have high energy and are always on the move. So it is really tiring to manage it. We make sure that we take turns in playing & having activities with him, cleaning the mess, doing the household chores as much as possible.
Having a sibling is a benefit
We welcomed my second child which is a baby girl when my son is at 2 1/2 years old. Something positive happened when we started to noticed my son is taking a glance to her little sister. Mostly when she cries. It seems he’s beginning to observe and understand that we have a new member in the family. Right now he’s 4 yrs old and her sister is 2 yrs old. Her sister is trying her best, even in being naughty to his brother, to get his attention playing with her which is a good thing. It helped my son in a social interaction way having a sibling. Also we were thankful in God that my daughter didn’t have an autism because it will be more difficult if they have it both and for us to manage. So we’re glad that it is balanced out.
Consistency in therapy and follow ups
Sometimes as a parent, we are having breakdowns because of other factors or problems arise in the family. One reason is on my first blog (you can check that out). Having this, we tend to lie low and take breaks on our goals, paticularly on the follow up activities with my son. It will be impactful for him if his activity routines changed or delayed. The learnings he has had can be gone. One of our experience on that is when he already acquired the knowledge of segregating the fruits and vegetables. He actually mastered it. But when we weren’t able to do this routine for a month. It seemed like he’s back at the first stage and his interest to it is also somewhat gone. Being consistent on your routine activities and mostly on the therapy is such an important thing for your kid.
Love and apreciation eventually comes
Looking back, the first time we learned about his condition. We were shocked and in denial. We can never imagine what life would be for my son. But right now, in all honesty, the joy and fun we get from my autism son is something I can’t regret from having. We were able to love and appreciate his condition eventually as grows. He has a lot of qualities to love. One of those is being very sweet and loves to cuddle. A very genuine heart of a kid. Yes, we are still worried about what his future might be, especially when us parents are gone. But I am leaving and praying to God this uncertainties. What I know is that he has an angelic heart and God loves them the most. Knowing that, it makes me feel relieved and secured. For us, we’ll just continue to provide what he’s needs as much as I, we can.
Post parting words
Thank you for reading my blog about autism and my personal experience around it as a father. I hope you learn something from it. Feel free to comment out if you have any questions or if you need some advice as a parent. I would be happy to answer and help. Thanks and hope you read out my other blogs and follow me in my social media.