Why Does Daddy Always Look So Sad?
By Jude Morrow
I love conversation. I always have done. I can’t do small talk very well and always like a good discussion on the deepest and darkest of subject matter. Hence why I write very deep and dull blogposts about the Universe and how mankind is the worst species in the animal kingdom.
I’ve never enjoyed writing much about myself. From my blogs and work life, I am asked so many interesting questions which I love to answer. Although one question in particular had the most profound effect on me.
One day, when I was collecting my then 3-year-old son from my Mum’s house, she told me he had asked her
“why does Daddy always look so sad?”
For as long as I can remember I have always been different. I felt it, I knew it and I lived it. This is because I have Asperger Syndrome. A high functioning autism associated with high IQ and social difficulties. I would have very repetitive behaviours and when I take a particular interest in a topic, I challenge myself to become an expert on this topic.
As a young child I remember being terrified of the playground. Some were playing football, some were playing games, some were chasing after one another and I found this completely chaotic. I couldn’t understand this. The most disorderly place in the world. It was Hell!
This feeling never really left me, even as an adult. I have learned to edge ever further out of my comfort zone in an attempt to do, what I perceive to be, the “right” thing.
When fatherhood beckoned, I panicked. The idea of the plan I had for my life and the sense of order I had worked so hard in my head to achieve would have to change. So many worries – what if the baby is like me? An overthinking and analytic creature. The thought of this terrified me.
In social science, there are so many courses, groups and literature focusing on parenting an autistic child. There’s very little to nothing for an autistic parent raising a potentially autistic or non autistic child. It made the task of becoming a Father even more daunting.
I didn’t really have anywhere to turn; the day would come when the once autistic child would become an autistic parent. The preparations for this certainly took its toll on my friends and family. The analysing and attempts to achieve order have probably cost my wonderful and caring parents at least 5 years of their life.
When my son was born on the 23rd of July 2013 I fell in love, for a second I felt normal. As the seconds ticked on, I wondered…is what I’m feeling completely accurate? Is this real and am I doing the right thing?
As time went on, I was able to gain a grasp of what needed to be done, however it was exhausting. Trying to interpret non-verbal cues, keep some form of structure and make things entertaining all at once was a marathon effort.
I suppose this prompted the question my son eventually asked, “why does Daddy always look so sad?” I admit things have been easier the past few years but it has led me to think…how many more autistic parents are there out there?
I assume there are many parents out there with an undiagnosed form of autism that with the right support and guidance, can have better relationships with their children. Given the fact I am qualified and work as a social worker, would support for autistic parents reduce the number of children going into care?
One cause of substance misuse is escapism. Is it possible that the feelings I experienced are being experienced by other people? Furthermore, are people turning to alcohol and drugs as an escape without knowing they may have a condition similar to mine?
The autism stigma still very much exists and the first thing we imagine are autistic children, of which I was one, that believe it or not grew into adulthood complete with said autism.
When my son was born, I couldn’t operate a bottle steriliser without the help of my Mother. Even assembling baby gear; a pram, toys, a cot etc. Although I would be able to tell you that Jupiter has 67 moons and where the swimming pool on the Titanic was. For anyone interested it was on F deck above boiler room 6.
Given that blog publishers have given me a platform to discuss what is on my mind, I have decided to write about my experiences parenting with autism. I have been extremely lucky to have supportive parents, friends, colleagues and subscribers. I hope to publish a book and E-book that may go a long way in supporting parents who were once like me.
From my working background and the support, I had from family and friends, I hope I can publish a guidebook of supports and advice. Some people out there may have similar circumstances to what I had and simply weren’t blessed with the support and advice I had.
To find out more visit: judemorrow.com
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