We’re all Superheroes. Period. End of story.
Well maybe I don't feel like that all the time, but it definitely is true.
The happiest days of my life were when my children were born. I was so excited to become a dad. Watching them grow up has been a joy. My boys are so smart, kind and loving. They both have amazing long term memories, pay extreme attention to detail, have intense focus (sustained concentration on preferred tasks), and are extremely creative at problem solving. They ARE superheroes.
Both of my boys are autistic, and they have moments when they speak their own different language, so communication can be tricky. For awhile my first son was non-verbal. He would point and make certain noises to grab your attention. I had to learn what he wanted by learning to speak his language. Each of those noises had meaning to him, so it was my job to decipher what his noises meant and learn what he needed through that and by reading his body language. I was so happy when I guessed the right thing and figured out what he wanted at that moment, but I felt horrible every time I got it wrong. Over time we had a system that worked for us and he was able to tell me what he needed. This was a game changer for us because previously he would yell, cry and throw things out of frustration if I didn’t understand what he wanted. Now, we understood each other. I WAS the superhero.
My eldest son was diagnosed with autism during Covid lockdowns. Now I am speaking mostly about my experiences with him right now, because I feel like the news hit differently than with my second. By the second, I knew what to expect and I didn't feel as overwhelmed. The day my first was diagnosed was one of the hardest days of my life. Hundreds of questions ran through my mind. What will his childhood look like? What will his adult life look like? Will he be able to take care of himself? Will he need assistance his whole life? Will he have a job? Will he be able to drive a car? Will he get married and have a family? Will he be able to talk and communicate with his peers? Life is tough as is. Adding autism into the mix makes it 100x harder. And then adding a global pandemic to this equation made it seem like the worst thing in the world. Because of the timing, I felt, (and still sort of feel,) that he missed out on opportunities to socialize and observe his peers. I didn’t realize how important socializing and interacting with his peers was until after covid restrictions were lifted and he was absolutely terrified to play with other kids. It was one of the saddest thing to witness, and I felt helpless. His severe anxiety caused him to not want to play on playgrounds to avoid being around kids. He would shake a cry when they would ask him to play. This broke my heart. As a dad I only want the best for my children, and I am willing to do whatever it takes to help them have the best life possible. But there was not much I could do at that moment.
I'm telling this story, basically to let everyone reading this know they are not alone. If you are just newly starting down this path, know that it does get better. The journey will not be easy, but you and your family will succeed. You will find superpowers you didn't know lived inside of you. Or your kids for that matter. I cannot stress this next point enough. The WORST thing you can do to your kids is limit their abilities, and squash their dreams and goals. Our only job is to support and guide our little superheroes through their journey. avoid people who want to put them in a box. We are their biggest fans and their best advocates. The way I see it, we are SuperMoms & Dads. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.