Autism and “The Failing Parent”

While this is really a direct response to my wife’s post earlier (see below) it applies to most of us.

Lizze,

I want to say a few things in response to your “Bad Mother” post. I want you to know that in almost every conceivable way I agree with what you had to say with one big exception. You feel like a bad mother, well I feel like a terrible father. The reality is that you are a great mother despite how you may feel sometimes. You give up everything for our kids. No one on this planet knows more then I do how much pain you push through everyday for our kids.

Gavin has no idea what he’s saying most of the time. He works kinda like a slip’n slide. Anything, any words, any thoughts that happen to pop into his head just slips right out of his mouth. He doesn’t care how it effects anyone because most if the time he doesn’t even realize he has said anything wrong. Other times he hides behind that so he can say whatever he wants. To say it’s a constant struggle would be understatement.

I think that the major flaw in how we both feel at times is that we base our feelings of failure on Gavin’s current state and how it effects us. We need to both realize that we have no control over how Gavin is doing or how what he is doing makes us feel. We both love him very much but he is exhausting, frustrating and unsettling to be around anymore.

I think it would be unusual for us not to have these feelings of failure and or guilt. It’s part of what makes us good parents. The fact that Gavin can no longer come first is dictated not by our feelings but by the fact that we have other children that must come first. As all of the experts have told us very little we do has any impact on him. We love him and we have given him everything we could. We will continue to do the same forever but our priorities have had to shift.

Gavin makes choices that endanger himself and those around him. He is sexually aggressive and violent. We have to protect his younger brothers as well as ourselves. That doesn’t mean we are failing him or giving up on him.

Everyday I truly believe God has way more faith in me then I have in myself. I often wonder why I was picked for this job. We walk a very fine line everyday. I quite often feel like I’m losing my mind but some how I always find it. As parents to a special needs child or children our journey through life will challenging on a good day. We will find ourselves very alone because only truly special people will walk with us on the journey and those special people will be few.
However, there will be joy and happiness along the way.

There are very few people who can parent a special needs child. We are definitely in the minority. It takes incredible strength, courage and an extreme amount of selflessness to do what we are doing.

As traumatic as this journey can be I just don’t trust anyone else to do it. We were hand picked to be his parents. There are many times I question and ask “why me, why us” but we will never find that answer.

My point in all of this is that we cannot base our success or failure as a parent on Gavin. Nothing we do is ever going to make him better. His condition is not a reflection on what we have done wrong. We continue to love and care for him no matter how challenging, disrespectful and destructive he is. He is our child and nothing will change that.

LT

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