When you have a baby, and you’re standing there with this little new life of just a few minutes… your life flashes before your eyes, only it’s not the life you’ve had but the life you have yet to have.
You picture teaching this new life how to walk, how to say it’s first word, how to throw a ball, ride a bike… eventually, how to drive. So much floods your mind that you literally get light headed thinking about it. And as the years start rolling and you start doing some of those things, your mind starts to picture the more simple things as well, such as bed time stories, visits to the park, school and family dinners where everyone talks to each other.
But then you find out that your child has Autism (or any disorder/disease really) and all of those happy thoughts of your life yet to be come flooding through you once again, only this time it’s not of how you look forward to them… but… will they happen at all?
We bought my son a bike, and I made a solid attempt at teaching him to ride it but he could never get his feet to do what was needed of them. And if you’ve ever seen a 4 year old with Autism try to run, you would see why. So I’ve put it off for another year, we can try again as he learns more control.
I tried to teach him how to catch a ball but again, his hands simply don’t have the discipline and coordination to do the things that are required of them.
Family dinner is one area that has been particularly difficult… and it’s not because he won’t talk to us, as you might expect from a child with Autism.
While it’s true that Cameron has a hard time with the social aspect, it’s not that he can’t talk to us… he does, it’s just that he can’t sit there for a whole meal. Essentially what happens is that myself, my wife and my 2 year old all sit around and eat while Cameron runs in and takes a bite and then runs back out to the play room to play. We give him a bit and then call him back to have another bite and he disappears again.
This has been the routine ever since he’s been able to do so… it means having a dinner with and without the whole family. It’s not what I had pictured at all, but I’ll take what I can get.
The other issue is that he’s on a GFCF diet, which means that 9 times out of 10, he’s eating a specially prepared meal that doesn’t match ours… we do try to stick to the same diet however my son’s food issues extend beyond just what we limit him on. He also refuses to eat the majority of vegetables and all meats, including fish and chicken. He has never once tried fast food and refuses to, but he does love candy and chocolate, not the best supper options.
So there we sit, watching my son run in and out through the entire meal, eating something different from the rest of us. Not at all what I had pictured when I first held him in my arms, not at all the happy family setting you see in movies and television.
We often get funny looks or comments from friends and family when they see us let him run around and play, rather than sit up like a good big boy and eat until his plate is empty (right? you all remember your parents making you do that?)… well, the fact is, either we do it this way or he doesn’t eat his dinner.
I’d much rather have a child with a severely limited diet actually eat, even if it means he plays all the while, than to have him not eat at all.
It’s not what I pictured, it’s not what you see on tv and it’s not how people tell you it should be… but it’s my family, he’s my son and he’s happy and healthy so to me, it’s the perfect family dinner.