I have always been a quality guy.  I’ve purchased dozens of ugly automobiles based solely on the fact that they run and will require little more than standard maintenance.  I buy heavy duty tools, because I know I’m hard on things, and I tend to wear clothes that are comfortable instead of flattering.  It isn’t that I don’t care about my appearance, but I feel like if I’m spending money on it then it should fit several categories, and appearance is toward the bottom of the priority list behind comfort, durability and price.

I mention this because it ties into my approach to autism.  One of the hardest things, as a dad, was to watch all my expectations die as his symptoms took over and his function level declined.  I’ve read a number of stories that touch on this, and it is somewhat universal to our community.  It is similar to mourning, because you are laying to rest all of the plans and dreams for your child.  Now, all of a sudden, your child cannot do those things you planned for him, or at least you are told he cannot.  So, in essence, you are mourning the life of a child that never existed anywhere except in your mind.

I’ve tossed this around, and I think that’s why I moved through the denial phase so quickly.  Granted, it didn’t seem quick, especially to my wife, who reports my behavior during that time as “bearish” or “unbearable.”  I was miserable for the 6 months it took me to work through this.  Still, I meet moms and dads who are in denial for years, so I feel pretty lucky that I managed to get through the worst of it in 6 months.  Also, my son was fortunate that I managed to see through some of my denial to still work on getting him help.  I did do a ton of research in that time, which I also credit with helping me move forward.

I laugh about it now, because I’m the guy who is telling his friends not to look at their 401(k) balances right now, and adding that the money isn’t lost until you cash out.  They are just numbers on a sheet until you have the cash in hand, and that won’t be until you retire in 30+ years.  I think that way about my son.  Sure, he may not be the most social kid now, but who knows what he will be like in elementary school, middle school and beyond.  He is only 5, and has a lot of love and a lot more fight.  He makes me realize every day how small my problems are in comparison with his.  That helps me put aside distractions and do what I have to in order for him to grow.

So now I don’t play the expectation game, which is a good choice as it never suited me.  I have never tried to live a “normal” life, and I’m glad I don’t have one.  What I have always wanted, only wanted, in all my jobs, hopes and relationships, is quality.  Quality of expression, purity of emotion, truth in interactions.  Now, thanks to my son and wife, I have just that.

My life is of the highest quality I can imagine.

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