Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Autism Parents: Take the Time, Make the Time

The photos that follow show my  walk from my home to my office in beautiful Fredericton, New Brunswick a place I am happy to call home, a place that allows me to take the time I need and want for me and my children. The weather this morning was beautiful and very pleasant for mid December.  With snow coming soon I could not resist the urge to get outdoors, to take the time to walk to my office instead of driving, to take the time for myself.  My office is only a few minutes drive, literally 3-5 minutes from where I live.  A walk is only 15-20 minutes.  

This morning I brought my camera and extended my walk time to and from the office, from Nashwaaksis on Fredericton's north side across the bridge and the St. John River to my office on the south side,  and back, but it was worth it for me.  Everyone needs time for themselves and parents of autistic children, parents of severely autistic children have their specific need for time for themselves. This morning I took some and I am happy that I did. I encourage every autism parent to take time for themselves, to make time for themselves.

During my walk I reflected on how lucky I am to live where I do, here in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. Life is challenging at times as it is everywhere but generally we are very fortunate and I know that and reflected on it as I walked. I also thought of how lucky we were when we moved from Burlington, Ontario back home to Fredericton, New Brunswick in 1997, just one year before Conor was diagnosed with his autistic disorder.  Lucky not because Fredericton is better than Burlington but lucky because the move allowed me to spend much, much more time with both of my sons as they have grown. Lucky because I have been able to dedicate significant portions of my daily life to both my sons and in particular the challenge, as well as the joys, of raising our severely autistic younger son, who is now, in every physical sense, a strapping young man.

When we lived in Burlington we enjoyed the town. It was a very pleasant community in which to live.  Both our sons were born at the Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington.  But my work at that time took me from the western edge of Burlington to downtown Toronto. Whether by car or by Go Train that meant a 2 1/2 hour commute each way, each day or 5 hours a day, 25 hours a week. Since we returned to Fredericton, when I drive to the office and back it is usually no more than 5-10 MINUTES of commuting each day.  And when I feel like it I can walk and enjoy the time.  

I can not imagine how different life would be for both of our sons, and particularly for our younger son with his severe autism and intellectual disability challenges, if I had not been part of their lives for those 25 hours a week over the last 14 years as they grew from little boys to young men.  I just can't imagine. 

I know I am very lucky and I believe my sons too have been fortunate to have had their Dad with them during these many hours and years of their journey from childhood to manhood. I know not everyone enjoys such good fortune but I encourage every autism parent to take whatever time, to make whatever time, they can for themselves and their children. 


farmwifetwo said...

There are days I'd rather be closer to the city and it's services... but right now 2 boys have gone to feed our mother-less calf (we lost a cow this fall).

He may be gone many nights to meetings etc... but in the city they wouldn't be spending as much time with their Dad. He's home every meal and during the days we can always find him.

Bullet said...

It looks a very interesting place. Are you close to the magnetic road?

snoop said...

I have made the reverse trek described by Harold. I and a New Brunswicker and lived in Fredericton from 1994 to 1998 while doing graduate studies at UNB. I ended up in Burlington in 2001. My son was also born at Joe Brant in 2005 and was diagnosed autistic at 3.5 years old. It has been a long slog but my son is making progress. I have to agree with Harold that commuting from work to home in the GTA is a time killer. Commuting to and from work used to eat up 2 hours of my day, but only 1 hour now since I switch jobs last year. A lot of time I return from work only to see him go to bed. I really wish I could spend more time with my son.

Donna Sherwood said...

Taking time and making time for yourself and your autistic child is so important.

I found the following like extremely helpful when it comes to coping with autism and helping to create a sense of normalcy: