I wanted to write a blog post in February that would focus on autism, love, and relationships in honor of Valentine’s Day. Sadly, not only didn’t I have a “real” Valentine’s Day, I barely had a month of February.
I suffered a back injury at some point over the past couple months. Beginning in February, I have been dealing with severe pain, which limits my ability to walk, sit, and basically function normally. But, as anyone who has had a family member with a back injury knows, the suffering and inconvenience wind up impacting the entire family. When that family has a child with autism in it, there can be added challenges.
I don’t know how much my six-year-old son, Mikey, understands about daddy’s “boo boo” situation, but his autism hasn’t stopped him from communicating that he knows something’s different. I’ve noticed him reach out for me to hug him and give me a strange look when he realizes the hug isn’t the same or wasn’t followed by me scooping him up into my arms. I know that difference is tough on both of us.
I’ve tried to interact and care for Mikey as close to normal as has been possible for me, but that hasn’t been anywhere near what my “normal” usually is. Not being able to give Mikey the same amount and kind of attention that I usually do has been breaking my heart. It’s been difficult for me to be “dad” when I can’t even be “Dan.”
But I’ve come to realize that whatever my current limitations may be they could never stop me from showing Mikey how much I love him. I’d still do anything in the world for him…even if I had to limp around or be hunched over to do it. And the bottom line is that autism or no autism he knows that.
I think we tend to not give our children enough credit at times…I’ve learned my lesson. So, I know I have Mikey’s back…but who has mine?Dan Olawski blogs about fatherhood and his son Mikey for the Autism Society. He lives with his family on Long Island, N.Y., where he works as a writer/editor. His time is spent following Mikey with a vacuum cleaner, watching his beloved New York Yankees and continuing his pursuit of the perfect chocolate chip cookie. He can be contacted at email@example.com.