Friday again, when the highlight of my week is waiting to scoot off early at 3pm to escape the monotony of work and arrive at the monotony of home for the weekend.
My weekends are inevitably uninspiring. Nothing interesting ever really happens, apart from the usual disorganised chaos.
At work, the others always seem to be away off to some concert, a family event or a weekend away somewhere posh without the kids. We just don’t seem to get the opportunity, like many other parents who have a child with autistic disorder. It’s very difficult to leave your children with Grandparents even when help is offered, because in the back of your mind you remain worried about how they are all coping with the situation.
In some ways it makes me sad that we can’t even enjoy a ‘normal’ family trip out for lunch or to the cinema, without the potential of some major meltdown spoiling it for everyone. I know that seems selfish. We have to accept our son’s condition for what it is and try to accommodate it within our lives, but it can be frustrating.
As a father, it can also be very difficult to accept your son doesn’t want to kick a ball with you, has absolutely no interest in watching football or any other ‘normal’ father / son activity, fishing, motorsport, take your pick. In fact, my son quite regularly says he doesn’t even like me and prefers his mum. This doesn’t bother me on one hand because I know his comments are partly down to social difficulty but on the other bothers me intensely because ASD children will tell you exactly how they really do feel. Maybe this sense of dislike is because, conversely, he finds it difficult to relate to me.
I think women in general are far more patient, understanding and are pre-programmed with that caring response that continues to attach them to their child. Whereas men, in many cases need more tangible ways to gain a reciprocal bond and in the absence of that camaraderie, perhaps lose out.
At times we do share some great moments together. Sometimes I’ll have an early night and he will come through, lie down beside me and we will talk and make up stupid jokes or play the minister’s cat or some other A to Z game. For those fifteen minutes, we share, we laugh and my wife doesn’t ever see those moments.What she does see sometimes is me getting frustrated or shouting because he has been irritating me the whole evening to download a dozen apps or because he has gone and 'updated' his computer files and I’m left to sort out the mess for the fourth time that week.
In fact, most of my angrier moments come out of repetitive situations, where the same thing has happened over and over again. Once or twice I’m okay with, but any more than that and my own personal red beast starts to awaken. Of course this is particularly unhelpful when you have a child with a repetitive nature, one of the traits many autistic people have.
If I could enhance any of my own social traits it would be patience. I wish I were a laid back kind of guy, but I’m just not.
As for the weekends, well the weather is improving and that does provide us with more opportunities to get outside and away from the crowds, where we can hopefully enjoy some good times together. Forest walks and beach visits tend to be good because there is less pressure and expectation on our son. Of course, just when you think you have found a niche, your twelve year old daughter has reached a stage where everything is boring unless there are shops, boys and Starbucks. Cue further disharmony!
Still, at least it’s Friday. (Wine on standby)