That’s the first line of our book, Navigating Autism. Someone asked me recently why we chose that as our opening line, so here’s the explanation. When we stated dealing with this seven years ago, we were filled with fear, anger, frustration and guilt. “How could this happen to me?” “What did I do to deserve this?” “This isn’t fair, why can’t I ever seem to catch a break?” I, I, I, me, me, me. Sounds pretty selfish huh? Looking back, I feel like, “Wow – what was I thinking?” But when you’re in the middle of it, it’s hard to see the forest for the trees. It’s not an excuse, just an explanation. Both of us went through a rough time after we heard the diagnosis. Here’s the painful truth, this didn’t happen to me, it happened to my children. Their struggles, triumphs or failures belong to them alone – not me. Yes, I will contribute to and share in their successes and disappointments, but as a parent just like any other. When I started to think about it that way, my whole perspective began to change. All that frustration and anger became determination. I stopped focusing on my problems and put my focus where it needed to be, on my kids. I quickly started to recognize problems and even better, forming solutions. Yes, at first, a lot of those solutions didn’t work, but at least I was looking in the right direction. As a parent, I can tell you, I went through a rough time afafter I heard the diagnosis. You have to get past your own problems so you can help your child.
Okay, enough doom and gloom, here’s the silver lining that I’ve discovered. I am a much better parent because of autism. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I’m perfect but I can say that I am much closer to being the “Dad” I want to be. I work in Hollywood which is… let’s see, what’s the nice way to put this, the most shallow, self centered, self serving, egotistical industry on the face of the planet. Yeah that’s the nice way to say it. My kids saved me from that. I am involved in their lives. I know what they like to do, I play games with them and every time I come home after being gone, they are excited to see me. Let me tell you, nothing tops that.