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Living with Luke 2

April 22, 2013

So…

Tiddles the Orangutan. 2 and a half. Diagnosed with Autism. Devestated parent(s). All up to speed?

Having worked with children with special needs, i’d read or heard somewhere that it was important that autistic children don’t get settled into routines, as any deviation from said routine may result in a meltdown of biblical proportions. With this in mind, and not having read the Bible, we set about breaking every routine we thought Tiddles might be settling into. We went different routes to places, different days for different things, different breakfasts, lunches, dinners, even different times for meals. And it seemed to work. Tiddles was a placid boy for the most part. A very good traveller in the car sitting and looking out of the window. Didnt need occupying. Actually both boys travelled in the car well, quite content to sit and watch the world whizz by. Tiddles wasn’t so good on boats however, but thats another story.

I’m aware i’m writing a lot about the history and not so much about what its like to be a dad to an autistic boy. So here’s some present day stuff. Tiddles the Orangutan has recently turned into Tiddles the Silverback Gorilla. Stocky, like his dad and due to his lack of enthusiasm for exercise, ‘cuddly’. Voice varying from a teenage baritone to a squeaking croak due to puberty taking hold. I’ve been aware that he has drifted away from me just slightly. Doesnt like it when mum goes out – (‘Come back mummy!’), but doesnt bat an eyelid when i go out – (‘Bye’). There are times of course when he sits with me, usually to smack me upside the head, or the chest whilst watching something on his ipod, or to show just how heavy he is or how hard his knees are as he launches himself on me. But he won’t say, greet me in the morning, preferring instead to pull the covers over himself and tell me to go away.

Mothers have a natural bond with their children. They are the ones who have had this tiny being grow inside them for 40 weeks. They are literally, one with their child. So it’s easy to play down a father’s role in his childrens lives, after all, they did the easy part, right? But it’s exactly this downplaying that makes a dads role all the more difficult, and it doesn’t matter if the child is special needs or not. Any half decent dad loves their children with a passion that is not easily explained. They also want what’s best for the child. They want them to be big, strong, healthy, wealthy, wise, attractive, clever, sporty in whatever way that is. But they also want them to be safe and to protect from the world which attempts to beat them down when they least expect it. I love both my sons. My oldest is beginning to branch out and spread his wings more confidently everyday. I still want to protect him, but i know that that role is diminishing slowly, which saddens me naturally, because he is turning from the blonde dot that used to fall asleep on my chest to this tall, handsome man that one day will tower over me. That’s not saying mums dont feel that too, of course. But i cannot speak for them. And this is my blog, ok?

But this leaves me with Tiddles. It’s not that I want him to need me, its not even that I want him to talk to me, although that would be nice of course. No, I just want him to see me as more than ‘Numbnuts-that bloke that keeps kissing me when i sit with him.’ And its usually when we’re sitting together, his knees resting on my testicles, that I look at him and realise that I miss him sometimes. Sometimes I have shed a tear or two for the little boy who drifted over the water to Narnia. I can see him and I can speak to him, but I can’t reach him. For all my supposed strength, I cannot just pull him to me into my world and it breaks my heart.

But then I’ll get a clubbing Rocky slap or a jumping knee drop to the abdomen – or lower -and I realise that I’m going to have to pull the two lands together for him to traverse between the two, safely.

Impossible?
Well, I havent given up yet.

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