What I've learned along the way
My kids have an amazing imagination. I don't know how other fathers do things but personally, I embrace this and join their imaginary games when invited. Kinda sounds like a Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer pun. Anyways, I love to see the way their minds work. One of the things I like to share with other parents is this. When we talk about spreading Autism Awareness, we often focus on the public and sometimes overlook ourselves. We, myself included, tend to think that we know enough about Autism because we live it everyday. However, something that I have learned along my family’s Autism journey, is that I'm never done learning. Every opportunity I get to let my kids help me become more Autism aware, I take full advantage of. The other day, the boys used their imaginations this afternoon and invited me to join in. We played with Elliott’s Super Mario Bros stuffed animals. We pretended to rescue Princess Peach who was once again captured by the evil Bowser. What began as a rescue mission ended up with Mario, Luigi and Toad dancing to one of Lizze's playlists on Pandora. It was a lot of fun and the boys and myself got some exercise. Unfortunately, Princess Peach never got rescued but honestly, she would just get captured again. If nothing else, it will be a mission for another day. Engaging in this type of play is a great way to learn more about my kids. They have amazing minds and allowing me to enter their world is an absolute honor and a great chance to better understand them. After a decade of being a special needs parent, it's become obvious to me that much of the time, I'm the student and my kids are the teachers. They're brilliant and I couldn't be prouder of them. I'm so incredibly thankful that I have the honor of being their father. If I could offer one piece of unsolicited advice. If your child with Autism invites you into their world, take that invitation and join them on their level. Even if it makes you feel silly, go for it. You'll be surprised at what you can learn and who knows, you might even find yourself dancing to a catchy song and forgetting to rescue the captured Princess Peach. Trust me, it's worth it.