In my posting, Is Autism Dad an Autism Warrior?, I made a confession: not only am I not a warrior, but I feel completely in the dark and disconnected from Ben’s world. I shared my Autism Warrior Action Plan, which generated a number of helpful responses from my readers. Now I have momentum. And, as I begin to find my way in the often fragmented and convoluted autism-services “delivery system,” suddenly I don’t feel so alone.
I am happy to report that I have already begun moving forward. In fact, this Thursday I will introduce myself to Ben’s special ed teacher and spend a number of hours observing him in his classroom. This is just the beginning; there’s plenty more I can do and will do. I invite you to follow me on Twitter as I navigate this new world. I will keep you abreast of my progress as well as the roadblocks I am sure to encounter. I’ll admit this — I’m not much of a techie, but I’m willing to give it a try if you are.
Think this Autism Dad stuff might be going to my head? No need to worry – I have my little Ryan to put me in my place. This weekend I gathered the boys on the patio for some ice cream on an unseasonably warm day. (Ben, it turns out, now likes vanilla ice cream after declining many invitations throughout the year; a small change but still worth celebrating). But it was Ryan who examined the spoon like a connoisseur and had it sent back: “It’s dirty.” I looked and could not see signs of anything gross. “It’s fine. Have the ice cream or I will,” I said. Ryan, nearly tearing up: “It’s dirty.” I grabbed the spoon. “Sorry, dude, for offending your sensibilities. I’ll get you another spoon.” Little brat. (Endearing brat)
The twists and turns in the road are becoming more apparent to me. When I started Autism Dad, I described it as the internal journey of a single dad as he comes to terms with his son’s autism and grows into the role of dad. The external journey, it seemed, was the path of treatment and interventions and living skills and schooling for a child – with the desired payoff being some semblance of independence and meaning in his adult life. In my mind the external journey was already being done and done well by other bloggers. I also think the internal journey lends itself to a “good read.” People say, Write just to write. Do it for yourself. I don’t buy it. It’s a nice-sounding platitude but it is also dishonest to some degree. I acknowledge that I write with an audience in mind. I write to share with you, learn from you, and connect with you.
If that’s a breakthrough, here’s an even bigger one: now I realize where I erred: in fact, the internal and external journeys are really inseparable – you can’t address one without the other. The journey is changing as I change. Now the goal is not just to be Autism Dad, but to be Warrior Dad. When I began this blog, I, frankly, didn’t want to be held to that standard. Now I’m ready. Or at least getting closer.
Developing a plan – saying, here’s what I’m going to do and why – is, little did I know when I began, a powerful phenomenon. Because it represents my word. It’s my declaration. And I’m crazy enough to make it in the public square. (Maybe while I’m at it I should declare that I want to lose 10 pounds!). While it’s true that I am first and foremost accountable to myself, I also feel accountable to my readers. That creates healthy peer pressure. You see, Autism Dad doesn’t want to be exposed as a fraud, a dramatist, as a writer of pretty words that make us feel good but which are divorced from reality. I think there’s a term for that – fiction. And that’s not what I’m about.
This isn’t a movie; it’s my life.
Editor’s Note: Also at: www.facebook.com/BajaBreeze#!/pages/Autism-Dad/160327080653310