Monday, April 9, 2012

Step 9: A Dad's perspective on life with autism.

Question – As a father, what is it like to have child with autism.

Simply … we could never prepare, we just do it because we love both our children the same.  Raising children takes a lifetime commitment either way. The things you do for each are just different.

I say we could not prepare, but that's only partly true as I believe God’s timing is perfect and he prepared us for what was to come even though we had no clue what was coming.  God is good like that… I can’t imagine what it would be like without faith and prayer for both my boys.

Our special needs son has to have meals made, to be bathed, to be dressed or other self-care tasks, has to be watched after as he runs off without saying anything and so on. Our other typical son has challenged us as parents as well, though in much different extremes.  Getting through it is just what you learn how to do!

At one point we looked into adopting another child after our second boy.  But with Brandon we started to get more challenges by the day and have not done that to date. Due to those challenges, I think we better understand and cherish a beautiful gift from God. You just have to be able to see it and receive it.

Back to the adoption, we had no idea of what to expect so we started with state adoption.  As we went through the process and started seeing pictures and information about the children, it was heart breaking as there were so many special needs children that had been given up, that no one wanted. I’m certainly not judging anyone, it just broke my heart as I can’t imagine giving up a child who has a disability or not wanting to adopt such a child.  Having a special needs child of my own now, I realize all the many blessings he's brought to my life that outweigh any challenge.  There were so many beautiful, sweet, special needs kids. I guess that really stuck with me.  Knowing the challenges we've had with Brandon, I could see how someone might not be able to do that for whatever reason.  For me as Brandon's dad, that was unthinkable and really began a new process of growing as a man, parent, dad and person.  In knowing what was "perfect" in a child. In anyone.

As they both grew, we strived to be the best we could be in taking care of the children God had given to us. When they were teenagers (just passed that phase), we joked as parents about which one of our boys was more challenging for any given week. You'd be surprised at some week's answers!

You have work at it, have fun, trust in God, go crazy or give up. Going crazy is possible, trusting in God is highly recommended,  while giving up is not an option.

Team Guppy Never Quits.

In those early years as I began to see other children around us grow, learn, play, have birthday parties, go through middle school, -- it was becoming very clear our lives were becoming more different by the day.  It was hard at work to listen to a dad talk about the homerun their son hit at last weekend's baseball game, how they had just won a track event, and so on. They would not know about my son, and would ask me, "How old are your boys now? What are they doing?"   Wow! How do I answer that? I am proud of both boys. I don’t want that dad to feel sorry for me or my son or feel bad about bragging about his son. So, I would typically brag about both my kids, which is not hard at all…

As I look back at how we have all grown, I see how much it has changed my typical son in how he thinks about others, how he deals with challenges and relies upon God. I’m so proud of both and it’s amazing what you can learn from each child.

There were many challenging times when you wonder if you can survive. I believe we have been challenged to the very core of our soul. Then God would rescue me/us and the days ahead would be so wonderful.

Even though my normal day or family weekend may be very different, over time I began to be very thankful for that difference. They were many events that I do not want to relive but I appreciate the strength gained through those times.

I continue to pray for both my son’s and always will, but my prayers have changed over time.  I still pray for healing around specific issues my special needs son has or has had. It’s just, that now I find myself praying less for things that would make him “more typical” and more thanking God for making our family “less typical”.

Written by Todd Guppy