This post is now available in the ‘Life with an Autistic Son’ ebook available to download from Amazon.
I love “B” and I love your willingness to be open and frank even when it’s hard to be honest and candid about every day situations and emotions.
I don’t have a child with autism so I can’t say what is right for your child. But I can say that every parent makes mistakes and we all have the guilts. As for the 5 hours repetitive behaviour is it so bad that you allowed yourself an easy day? I really don’t think so. Your child needs you to be happy to. We can’t always be engaging them.
My children are both NT, but I still recognise the feeling you describe. We all take the easy option sometimes. We all shout at our children for things they can’t help. We all let them do stuff that’s completely non-value-adding, and probably actively bad for them. We all do this. Every single one of us.
I hope this doesn’t sound crass or dismissive…I do realise many things are different when your child has autism…but many things are also the same. We all want to be perfect parents to our children, and none of us are. It’s not just you. It’s really, truly, not just you!
For what it’s worth, having read your blog, I think both your sons are very lucky to have you as their father.
Reblogged this on asperlog and commented:
As a person with Asperger’s, I often read parent’s blogs to read and understand some of the challenges that neuro-typical people have with those on the spectrum. After reading this blog entry, I don’t think that this dedicated Dad did anything “wrong”.
Like the author’s son, B, I also engage in special interests for hours at a time. For me, I experience a lot of joy and comfort from being able to indulge in these types of activities (no matter how repetitive).
I can only speak to my experience, but I can easily say that I don’t experience loneliness. It is easy for me to spend extended periods of time alone; I often get exhausted by prolonged social interaction and actually need some time in isolation to reset. So when I engage in my hobbies with out interacting with other people, isolation is the feeling furthest from my mind!
Growing up, both my special interests and self isolation were major concerns for my parents and I can understand why it would be frustrating for this blog writing Dad too.
As a successful independent Aspie, I offer this advice: If you want your child to be more socially engaged, find a quiet corner not to far from reach that he/she can set up camp to engage in their special interest. Even if the activity isn’t interesting to you, be sure to ask questions and show interest. What makes this activity unique? Once you find out what the basis of the special interest is (sorting, counting, observation, categorizing), there are a lot of ways you can engage your child in other activities but still cater to their needs too.
Are you or someone you love have an all consuming special interest? Share in the comments below!
I don’t think you’re getting it wrong at all. In my opinion there is nothing wrong with letting our children continue with their repetitive behaviours – they need this to feel happy – and you need time to relax. Unfortunately I feel there is so much pressure to intensively parent these days and for those of us with autistic children, we have the additional pressure of these books. I have two children with ASD and aspergers and it isn’t easy and anyone who says so, well I don’t believe to be honest. As for shouting and the ‘no’ issue, yes I’ve been there too and have felt just as guilty. Its taken me a while to adapt my behaviour to my children, but I have and I continue to learn though I admit to having bad days where I may not say the right thing. As they say, I’m only human.
It took guts for you to put this out there. Maybe you did get it wrong, but at least you took the time to reflect on it. You obviously care for your son very much and there is definitely nothing wrong with your love and concern for him.
This is such a lovely and honest post. I think that what Deb says is absolutely spot on.
Thanks everyone for the comments. I appreciate all of them and, of course, you’re all right. I also received the following message via email (along with the writer’s consent to share it):
Hello B’s Dad,
It’s been a pleasure to read the blog now and then.
On the latest, I don’t know what to do either, about the guilt and the sense of failure, when it comes. Once, a friend said that whatever made it worth looking after my son – he’s deserving as any human is deserving – also made it worth looking after yourself. And that’s not bad. And then another quoted Sam Beckett – fail once, fail again, fail better – which I like too. I have a suspicion that you fail pretty well, and I mean that in the best possible way, and I wish we could say the same.
Great blog as usual. Just had a particularly difficult day with my asd three year old. We cannot get it right all the time but our hearts in the right place.
I have to say by reading your blog for the last year or so. And having a high functioning Autistic child, I must say THANK YOU. You make ME realize that I’m NOT the ONLY one!!! And neither are you!
Great post! My son is 17 and I still “get it wrong”. Like so many of the other comments and having lived through it…sometimes we just have to do what we works best for us at any given time. Guilty feelings later for sure but I think that’s one of the most used words in the parenting dictionary…special needs or not.
HEY Bs Dad,
It is such a relief to know that other parents with children with ASD also have these soul-searching, doubtful moments… I’m a mum of two girls, and my oldest, nearly eight now, is an undiagnosed ASD child. I say undiagnosed because her paediatrician is reluctant to ‘put her finger’ to it and is happy to merely let things go as they are going. more on that later, though..
I just wanted to tell you how grateful I am for your shared experiences, so beautifully written and so humorously narrated (the Autism house rules are a treat, and so true, too!!). Chancing upon your blog on mumsnet bloggers was a Godsend for me today!
Take care and love to the family!
Thank you for these kind words, and for taking the time to read. It’s comments like these which are exactly the reason why I continue to write. I hope your path through all this with your daughter works out for you. If I have any advice to impart it is that the best expert on your child is you, and you should not doubt yourself. All the best.
Your post is very telling and hopeful for all of us parents. I just started reading your blog this morning and have felt slightly better knowing I’m not alone in my struggles as a father of a 10 year old autistic boy. Some nights when I’m really worn down and ready to go to sleep I get stuck thinking about how I failed my son today and how I knew better than allow something that triggered a tantrum or something I didn’t do to add more value to his day and help him move forward. As long as our hearts and heads are in the right place and recognize the areas we missed or can improve and take even the smallest action to move towards a better way to provide for them we are doing okay. This weekend was one of the hardest and scariest episodes of my life. Reading your blog posts is going to help me get a little sleep tonight.
Hi – I just wanted to say thank you so much for your blogs – they have quickly become a life line to me. My nephew is 3 and is autistic and your blogs are simply the best – they make me laugh at some of the most difficult things we have to deal with as a family. I think you are very brave to put it all down like this and I would not want you to underestimate how much you help. More than anything else I have read… you put me in a place where I now believe we are truly not alone in this. I have now got my sister reading your blog and she has just shared it with the group of mums from my nephew’s speech therapy group. Thank you so much – please don’t stop! I am a very lucky Aunty as I get to dip in and out twice a week – I watch my sister and her partner and read about your experiences and I think you are all an inspiration. Re the DVD day… I could say the same about my nephew’s birthday when he spent nearly the whole day to-ing and fro-ing from the lounge to stick his whole head in his birthday cake – this started off as a funny episode and quickly turned into an obsessive pattern – but you know what? he was happy and for that day that was enough for us to be happy too – everyone needs a day off from the responsibilities of guiding your children forward. I admire you for retaining your sense of humour and would like to thank you once again. You help more than you could know.
Thanks for these kind words. Your sister and nephew are lucky to have such supportive and understanding people like yourself around. I wish you all the best.
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