Time out for Dads in the Asperger’s journey

I have recently become a fan of the show Parenthood.  I initially resisted watching the show because it is starts at 9:30pm here in Australia. But, a friend of mine suggested I watch it as one of the characters was diagnosed with Asperger’s. It didn’t take long for me to get hooked!

The story is about the ‘Braverman’ family. There are four children, and each of those children have children also.  But the family who most intrigues me are Adam and Kristina Braverman, daughter Haddie and son Max,  who is the one who has been diagnosed.

I must admit at first, I was concerned that the portrayal of a child with Asperger’s may end up being either cheesy or over-reactive, but I have enjoyed watching each week as the story line develops.

Over the last couple of seasons we have seen Adam and Kristina come to various stages of the diagnosis of their son Max at different times. Many of the scenes, I believe, have been pretty close to the truth.

A couple of episodes in particular have focused on Adam, the Dad, and the varying ways in which the diagnosis has impacted on him in particular.  In one episode he says ‘I may as well be one of the electrical appliances in the house”, after trying to spend sometime with his wife, then his daughter and then finally Max….but everybody’s ‘schedule’, more specifically Max’s schedule, wouldn’t allow it.

Kristina, in tears, urges Adam to take… time out for himself. The final scene of the show, shows Adam, on his surfboard, surfing all by himself.

But, again this season, Adam is having a tough time. The company he works for is going though financial difficulties and he had to fire seven people. The story line has been going over a number of weeks, so we have watched as he has struggled personally with the difficult process of firing many long term employees.

In the midst of all this stress, Adam had taken his son Max to the supermarket. They were standing in the line at the 10 items or less checkout, when Max counted the amount of items that the person in front had put on the belt – there were 17 items. And the sign said you were only supposed to have 10! Max started taking the extra items off the belt, resulting in the other customer calling Max a ‘retard”. With that, Adam punched him!

Woo! Hoo! I wanted to cheer for all the times I have wanted to say something, or do something,when somebody has said something derogatory about my child. But of course, the moral of the story is, you can’t react violently towards another person (although many times I have wanted to!)

But in there was a lesson for our Dads.

Often in the midst of a diagnosis of Autism, the family moves into survival mode.  The focus moves to the autistic child and everybody else has to adjust.  Many times, the mothers tend to take over, and many Dads, find themselves at a loss, not only to deal with their own grief, but to also sometimes become a bystander in the process.

So this blog is a ‘hats off’ to all the Dads in this journey.  We love you.  We care about you. But sometimes we forget that you are in need of love and time and compassion as well.  Please take ‘time out’ to be you.  Because, a child with Autism needs, the love, the strength and the wisdom of a father.  And the one thing a mother needs in this journey is the wholeness of you to help us, hold us, care for us and love us.

Today we honor all the Dads on the Asperger’s journey!

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