The very best bits about being a dad to a child with autism
By Carl Rice
I could talk to anyone and everyone about my boy Oliver for hours on end. He is just amazing, isn’t he? A boy of few words, who makes up for it in a hundred and one different ways.
My wife Hannah and I have tried to do everything that we can to make sure that we do the right thing by Oliver. We have hounded every man and his dog who we thought would positively help us. We’re in a place where currently I don’t think Oliver wants for anything at all and he is thriving. His daily achievements amaze us as he also fights so hard to learn and develop. Although he can’t say it, you can see he takes huge pride in his own achievements and we like to make a huge fuss of him.
By far the best thing about Oliver is the purest love he has for his family. He is such a smiler. He adores cuddles and really close physical play and contact. He has utter joy on his face. He is just delightful. Anyone who has been lucky to form a meaningful relationship with him, which is really easy to do, will find a happy, loving and content boy who will really show you when he likes you. Many people have said he is a gentle soul.
Living with autism has taught everyone in our household what is important and puts everything into context.
Our other children – Charlie, 8, and Chloe, 4, both take huge pride in Oliver and his achievements. They help and nurture him and have empathy and acceptance way beyond their years.
Oliver’s autism has introduced us to a secret community that you would not know existed. We have met so many inspirational people through the amazing local charities; other parents and carers of those with autism and other disabilities too. I love that all our children have been exposed to all manner of abilities at such a young age – it is only a good thing that this understanding, appreciation and acceptance is developed at such a young age and I know that they will champion the rights of Oliver and people like him forever. We have made friends within this community and it is a really relaxing feeling knowing that they ‘get’ it.
Hannah and I have had to fight for every service we have received from local authorities; we have fought for his education, represented him at tribunal and succeeded and helped other people in similar situations to us. We have a stronger bond together than I think we have ever had. We have pulled together and worked hard together and I am not over-exaggerating when I say that we are pretty formidable as a couple and as a team.
Father’s day is not any different to me sentimentally or routinely apart from the fact that I might be able to be a little lazier than I already am without fear of consequence!
I really don’t think I am sentimental about anything to be honest. I don’t own a watch after my last eBay purchase broke – £8 down the drain! I wear only a wedding ring, no other jewellery. So when Father’s day comes round it is just another day to me – and I like that.
I am lucky to have a good job, a nice house and all the luxuries that I need (apart from more holidays) and as a result I get to spend every evening and weekend with my amazing wife and kids.
For that reason, this Father’s Day I don’t think I have asked for anything specific. I don’t need anything, so a normal day with my wife and kids is fine with me.