‘Happy Father’s Day’ is a sentiment I love to hear. It’s a day to take a step back and appreciate this incredible role I was given 20 years ago when my son Billy came into the world. The old adage is true, “There is no handbook when it comes to parenting”. I think this is especially true when it comes to parenting a child on the autism spectrum.
It was when Billy was 18 months old that we recognized there was something different about him. Any departure from the ordinary routine would create hysteria, his vocabulary was starting to get lost and the arm flapping when seeing certain objects (mailboxes, steeples, etc.) began. Billy’s outbursts and behavioral issues while in the office of our then pediatrician actually had our doctor telling us to look elsewhere for care. A horrible moment for parents, but in the end a blessing. Our new pediatrician saw through to what was causing Billy’s issues, and after testing, an autism diagnosis was given. My wife Kathy and I are so thankful that happened when it did. It was a game changer – we could now start to help our little boy.
Through all the ups and downs of raising Billy, the thing that stands out the most is that Kathy and I never felt alone. Whether it’s the incredible staff at the Melmark School where Billy has been a student since he was eight, to the other families we have met thanks to our involvement with Autism Alliance of Metrowest, The Heated Lions Basketball Group and The Flutie Foundation, just to name a few. We recognized early on, that this wasn’t going to be an easy journey and the only way to get through it was to reach out to those who have walked or were currently walking in our shoes. From helping us navigate the complicated: medical issues and the guardianship process to simply having some fun: pool parties and ski trips without judgement. Our “network” or in other words, our friends, have been there for us.
My advice to anyone who may be processing the autism diagnosis for their own child – you are not alone. Reach out and take advantage of the services and groups in your area early on. Parenting is a long road that comes with some bumps, but having support from friends in front of you, behind and alongside you makes the journey all the easier.
All my best,
The “Full Of Life” blog is a place where we celebrate families affected by autism who are living life to the fullest and offer tips and tools for daily living. We often invite guest bloggers to join the conversation. Do you have a story about living life to the fullest? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and your blog submission could be featured!