Last November, I shared a bit of the high wire act of parenting an aspie, balanced between victories and heartaches. In that post, I mentioned hope. And reasons to hope. There was an important source of hope that I left out of that previous quirky blog entry: people.
Over the past year, I have waded into a supportive community that has breathed new life into my existence of a dad leading a son on the spectrum. Some of these are ASD parents like myself. Some of them are grown adults living and thriving with Aspergers. I am privileged to count these people as friends, despite not having met most of them face to face. Sometimes, gifts of hope come in two dimensions. Among them:
Nate Pruitt: author, pastor, father, an a kindred spirit. I cannot wait until the day that I can sit down and share a meal with this guy. He's been a voice of encouragement and occasional comic relief, and I hope that I have been the same for him.
David Dollar: This man makes me rethink my self-claimed title of pop-culture junkie. I know movies; he knows them better. David is the only person that I can think of that loves watching movies more than I do. And you can see that reflected in his blog. He also has a little boy on the spectrum. While he doesn't frequently blog about his son, when he does, it is incredibly sweet and moving.
Tom (Adventures in Aspergers): Finding this blog was an accident. A link passed along in a facebook group. But this guy is the kind of dad that I want to be when I grow up. Hip, snarky, involved, and he takes Asperger parenting to a level to which we should all aspire.
Erin McKinney: When Erin passed through town on her way to Seattle last summer, she dropped off a gift for Christian: a book about a kid with Aspergers who is trying to solve a missing persons mystery. While reading it, Christian kept on pointing out how much he's just like the main character. Erin gave the perfect gift and showed unbelievable yet simple generosity for a 10 year old she had never met. I also had a lot of fun talking to her, giving her tips about great places to see and hang out while she was in Seattle. In return, she painted a portrait of what life could be like for my son in another 10 to 15 years. She has found her passion and was getting ready to start an internship. Since then, she's found a dream job. She struggles with typical aspie issues, but she's developed coping mechanisms and is a never ending fount of tips and motivation.
Matthew Baldwin/Defective Yeti: This Seattleite has been one of my favorite bloggers for years. His writing output has slowed in recent times, but he still throws out something frequently enough to make it interesting. Some of his most compelling posts are about his son. He also provided the most convincing explanations of how Autism affects everyone differently, which makes support and treatment challenging as each kid needs something that is as unique as them. In October of 2013, he spent an entire month writing about his son, Autism, and parenting. If you have a kid on the spectrum, or if the child of someone you love is on the spectrum, this is essential reading: A Month of Son.
The lesson I'm learning here is that I'm not alone. Neither is my son. There are so many out there who know what it is like to be us, who know what we're going through, and sometimes navigating those trials right along side us.
Remember how I predicted that this Christmas would probably be the most difficult one I have ever experienced? Well, I was wrong. Woefully and graciously incorrect. It began with meeting a girl named Chris, and her boyfriend (also named Chris), through a social hangout. That stranger enlisted an army of strangers to make sure that myself (and a handful of other mutual friends and acquaintances) knew that we were loved and not forgotten. She played the role of Saint and Santa, and the best gift of all is a framed picture of my three kids that is now sitting on my desk at work.
Then my brother came to visit. That alone was enough to make Christmas bright. I miss having him around - to go with him to concerts and hockey games, or to talk for hours about bands that no one has ever heard of, or to devise epic pranks to play on our dad. But then he surprised me with my Christmas gift, one that made my load a little lighter. Aaron has served a lot of roles over the yearsL big brother, bodyguard, best friend. This year, he was a champion. I don't say this enough, but my brother is freaking awesome.
What I thought was going to be the worst Christmas actually turned out to be one of my best Christmases ever.
We are now a solid month into the new 2015. If you look to the right side of my blog, you'll see some updated links in my blogroll. Unless you're reading from a smartphone, in which case you can ignore this completely. There is one other addition there - a link to The Faithful Geek on Facebook. I would be grateful if you followed me there. It's a quick and easy way to know when I write something new. But It's also an outlet for the geeky stuff I find around the web.