We need to have a talk

What we fail to realize is that the person seemingly breezing through that puzzle, may have already solved it a hundred times already and have it memorized. It’s not that they are necessarily smarter than us, they’ve just been working that same puzzle for a very long time. They make it look easy and they could probably solve it with their eyes closed because they’ve had so much practice. If you gave that same person, one of your puzzles to solve, they might very well be stumped. Does that make sense?

I’m just a Dad who’s devoted his life to his kids. The big difference between me and many other parents out there is that I have a sizable platform. I use that platform to openly share my journey with the hopes of helping others to learn from my mistakes, realize they aren’t alone, as well as helping to raise awareness. If I make it look easy it’s only because I’ve been doing this over and over again, day in and day out for as long as I can remember. I’ve done it wrong so many times I’ve lost count. I’m not a better parent than you are. I simply know how to navigate my life and my particular set of circumstances.

I hear from so many of you and I’m often blown away by the determination, courage and love you have for your families. I can’t tell you how many times I learned about someone’s life and thought to myself, I have no idea how they do it. It’s true and I always try to remind people that everything is relative. Sure, maybe they aren’t up to walking a mile in my shoes but the same goes for me in regards to theirs.

When I step back and objectively look at my life, I recognize that it’s challenging. Perhaps more challenging than others. I also know that I drop the ball all the time. I’m overwhelmed, exhausted, frustrated, scared, worried, imperfect, lonely, depressed and I sometimes struggle just to get out of bed. I’ve been trying to take better care of myself but I drop the ball there as well. Business is going better than it ever has in the past, but there are still bills I can’t pay. My house is a mess and I can’t seem to get my kids on a healthy, productive daily routine.

I feel like a hot mess most of the time and that’s on the good days.

The one thing I can say for myself is that I keep trying and I never give up. I guess if I had to share one secret on how I manage life, it’s that I never give up.

That’s it.

I’m not necessarily a better parent or even a role model. I make more than my share of mistakes but I try my best to learn from them and move on.

When I listen to parents talk about the challenges in their lives, I see people who rise to the occasion and meet those challenges head on. Are they perfect? Of course not, but who is? Certainly not me. It doesn’t matter what the challenges are or how they compare to my challenges or how mine compare to yours. The only thing that matters is you haven’t given up.

We all have our limits and we all have our strengths. As humans we often compare our weaknesses to everyone else’s strengths and we lose every single time. Each of our situations is unique and challenging in different ways. At the end of the day, we can learn from each other’s experiences and use them to better navigate the pitfalls along the way. My hope is that you find hope, validation, compassion and understanding here at The Autism Dad blog. I seek only to be a positive influence and not to make anyone feel worse about their situation. Remember that I’ve been dancing this same dance for nearly 20 years now and I have it memorized. When something new pops up, I have to start over and figure out how to navigate the changes. Becoming a single parent has been one of those things that pops up and turns what I know on its head.

I’m always here to listen if you need sounding board. I try my best to be an example and help those newer to this journey to avoid the same mistakes that I made.

I have so much respect for all of you. Life as an autism or special needs parent isn’t easy and not everyone can do it. You stuck around when others don’t and that makes you a hero in my book. You’re a badass, the best person to parent your child and a constant source of inspiration for me.

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Curtis G.

By the way, I also saw Rob’s segment on ABC last week. You’re an excellent speaker for Autism Rob. You do do a great deal to help parents and caretakers out there who may be new parents who have recently found out their child is autistic and are in that confusing beginning state that we all went through. Thank you for your contribution to educating more people about what it is to be a parent of autistic children and adults.

Curtis G.

It doesn’t matter if you have one child with autism or six. We are all traveling on the same pathway. If we were all to sit down and compare our lives, experience and daily situations, it would all be connected to this one thing called autism. What’s important is not whether some parents believe one parent has it all together, much more than they do. What’s important is that autism makes us all one large family because we do understand what it is to stand by our children, no matter what and continue to be their advocate, their protector and the ones that love and understand them no matter what. I’m 70 and my wife is 66 and we have been walking this path for 36 years with our oldest son who is autistic and will travel that road with him for whatever time we have on this earth. We as parents, who stay for the duration out of our love for them, all experience the same emotions, no matter who we are, whether we have one or more than one child with autism. Like Rob said, in our lives, we’ve done this dance for 36 years and there have been so many times when we’ve missed steps and then there are the times when we’ve done the all the right moves to benefit our son. You do the best you can and then you do as much as you can.

Jennifer Myers

Rob, your attitude is so kind. I think the most important thing to remember is no one knows what it’s like to walk in anyone else’s shoes. More time supporting, less time judging, we all need more compassion. Thank you for your honesty and positivity.

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