"Here is this 100 pound bag, you are going to wear it for the duration of our workout. Now for the stairclimber." My trainer Ashley and I have nicknamed that damn bag "Bernie." I have been doing burpees, sprints with a rope tied around me, and more lifting than I ever wanted to do. Evidently this is for "my core". I relish the challenge, but not being able to lift my arms or walk is a common deal. I persist...because I must. Because that mountain is coming quick. Africa beckons.
Another thing that has come up recently is dads' night out--the flip side of my wife's whine night, which is a group of women with children with autism or other special needs). I, of course, believed that this was a sole outlet to complain about us guys. It's a night my wife looks forward to all month long. The women began to try to get us dads together, figuring it would be a good opportunity for us. At first I was resistant to this idea. First of all, why do I need to be set up? I have friends... But nevertheless I gave it a go. I hate to say it, (she won't see this, right?), but my wife was right.
Now if you have kids with special needs, you need a support group. Without one, you often feel that you are so alone. It feels great to gather and share similar experiences. It is both educational and emotional. Of course, we don't sit around and cry...yet (looking at you, Drew, so keep it together). But listening to each father talk about his experiences with this autism thing is at once comforting and depressing; we casually sit around discussing what the hell has contributed to the numbers skyrocketing of autism diagnoses or painting a bleak picture of the future. Last night we talked about the potential for our kids to be with us our whole lives, the burden our other kids may have to bear, the cost of a school that would ensure no bullying, or even whether some of our kids would develop normal speech. You may not feel entirely alone in this struggle, but you do feel almost helpless as you stare into the abyss of the future, or think about the fact that autism does not get the attention that it deserves. My theory is the more attention given to the topic, the more likely our search for the origins and ways to combat autism will be successful. In this, we also have HOPE.
Autism is a developmental disability affecting 1 in 88 children. It impairs social development and communication. There is a wide spectrum of course, ranging from those low-functioning individuals with almost no communication to those with Aspergers (think Bill Gates and Albert Einstein). Most have sensory issues- my kid can't stop bouncing or stimming
(hand flapping, verbal sounds or vocalizations, or rocking are examples of stimming).
Sophie is a beautiful child inside and out. I will fight for her my whole life. My wife and I aren't the only combatants-now we are gathering of army of moms and dads. We will make our presence known and will demand that our schools and communities begin to be better prepared for dealing with this epidemic.
By the way, this Sunday, Oct. 21, at 8 pm (EST), Comedy Central will be airing "A Night of Too Many Stars", which is an annual stand-up special aimed at raising awareness for autism. Set your DVR's, folks!