There is a great community of us autism moms out there. But today I want to focus on the less celebrated, but no less important, autism dad.
In our family, our fantastic autism dad is named Sean. I call him “Dreamboat”. Yes, even to his face.
When our 15 year old son was first diagnosed with autism at age 2, we were hit with a whirlwind of new terms, therapies, and paperwork. We were both devastated by the diagnosis, but we both jumped right in head first regardless. And while my focus was on our son, and getting him from therapy to therapy, along with his little brother, Sean took over the paperwork. He knew I couldn’t handle both, and he also knew that for my own well being, I needed to be with the boys as much as I could. So he took on the less desirable task of completing all the necessary paperwork so that our TJ could take advantage of every service available to us. No questions asked.
We were a team from the word go.
Later, as we sat nervously in the audience waiting to see if our son would sing on stage with his second grade class or not, it was the calm of the autism dad that made everything ok. He reminded me that if I showed TJ that I was nervous, he would feed off of that and become nervous himself. He kept me calm. And that calm helped TJ, over and over again.
When Sean could see that I was tired, or overwhelmed, he would send me off for a pedicure or an afternoon at a spa. He knew how exhausting it was being an autism mom, and wanted me to feel cared for and pampered. We couldn’t do it a lot, with our crazy schedule, but one way or another Sean would find a way to allow me to recharge my battery. Even if it was a simple card to let me know how much he appreciated my hard work, he was always thinking of me.
And Sean is just the best father to our boys. Every now and then, Sean would declare “Boys’ night!” and the three of them would head out for burgers or pizza, and maybe a movie or some bowling. Sean wants them both to know that no matter how busy he gets, or how much he has to travel for work, he will always make time for them, and they can always count on him.
And while watching TJ graduate from 8th grade last year, as we all stood to welcome the class in their procession, Sean didn’t try to hide the tear in his eye as he applauded TJ walking by us. And with a little glance and sideways grin, TJ saw his father. And that moment between them alone, everything else aside, sums up the power of the relationship between the two of them. It’s different than my relationship with TJ, but it is equally (and many times, more so) important. As a growing boy, knowing that TJ has Sean to lean on and learn from makes my heart feel peaceful. And full.
For these reasons, and for so many more, I celebrate you, Sean, and all the autism dads out there who give so much of themselves to their kids every day.
Happy Father’s Day, my dear Dreamboat.