Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Chance to Reach Across the World...

Hey friends! I wanted to share an exciting (and flattering) experience that came to fruition yesterday.
A couple weeks ago, I was contacted by a special needs mother who edits and publishes an online publication for special needs families in SOUTH AFRICA. She found the blog article I wrote for the Autism Society ("Merry Christmas, Daddy!" An Imagined Conversation with My Son) and asked if she could publish it on her Special Kids Web site because she felt it would really touch some of the special needs families she reaches out to with the site.
She published my blog on her site yesterday. I know many of you have read this already, but as I re-read it myself, I realized that it still is exactly what I want for Christmas.
Please check out my article on the Special Kids Web site.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

PB&J: The Secret to Being a Great Autism Dad - Re-Post

This post originally appeared on the Autism Society's blog.
Yes, it’s true…the secret to being a great Autism Dad is PB&J. (Wait, why are you opening the cupboard? Put the peanut butter back. Yes, and the jelly.)
No, no, you won’t be needing any bread for this.
The PB&J I’m talking about is much different…and less sticky. PB&J equals: Patience, Being There, & Joy. Okay, okay, I know I cheated a little with the “B” meaning Being There, but let’s just call it poetic license. Heh, heh.


I’ve mentioned before (http://www.autism-society.org/blog/patience-strong-will.html) the importance of patience for an autism parent, but I think it’s even more important for Autism Dads. Men are usually considered to be the more impatient parent (“Just wait till your father gets home!”), but whether that’s a curse of our genes or a gender stereotype, I believe we just need to work a little harder to find that much-needed virtue.
And, let me be clear, the patience I’m talking about is well beyond what outsiders would imagine. No, for those of us in the Autism Dads Club, I’m talking about the type of patience usually attributed to a saint. Saint Autism Dad needs to take a deep breath when his child throws his food on the floor for the fifth time in a row. He needs to turn the other cheek when his child’s humming stim rivals that of a thousand bees in his ear. He must speak softly and calmly when his actual urge is to scream and yell. I know your struggle, Autism Dads, but, if we try hard enough, perhaps one day we will all be canonized.

Being there

I’ve come to learn in life that being there is half of the secret to living. But I don’t just mean showing up, it’s what you do while you’re there. An Autism Dad needs to do everything a father of a typically developing child would do…and then multiply that by a hundred.
I know that my son, Mikey, loves the times we do the usual father-son things like tickle-fights or going to the park. But I believe deep down he truly appreciates the times I’ve been with him at the doctor or did a parent training session with him at his school. It was quite evident to me that Mikey expects me to “be there” for him when, due to my recent back injury, I was unable to do all those things with him and his behavior suffered because of it. As my back has healed, so too has my relationship with Mikey.


Joy might, at first, seem like a difficult concept for an Autism Dad to           comprehend. But joy is simply an extreme happiness. A happiness that takes great pleasure in even the littlest of things.
As Autism Dads we have many great opportunities to be joyous. Our children face a daily battle at times just getting through the day…each   time they overcome those challenges is a time to be filled with joy. Perhaps your child has just beaten a severe stim, or tried eating a new food, or successfully used the potty.Let yourself see the joy in that,  Autism Dad. I know my heart overflows on those rare times that Mikey  looks me straight in the eye and says, “Daddy.” You don’t need to look very far for a joyful occasion.
So, Autism Dads, you are all wonderful, strong, loving parents and your children appreciate you. But if you’re ever feeling at a loss for how to cope, just reach for the PB&J. Nope, not the sandwich, this PB&J is far more filling and satisfying.
Dan Olawski blogs about fatherhood and his son Mikey for the Autism Society. He lives with his family on Long Island, N.Y., where he works as a writer/editor. His time is spent following Mikey with a vacuum cleaner, watching his beloved New York Yankees and continuing his pursuit of the perfect chocolate chip cookie. He can be contacted at dantheeditorman@gmail.com.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


The past two weeks have been extremely rough for Mikey, Lynne, and me. His stomach and potty issues have reverted back to as bad as they were in October/November (I'll write about that another time). We just had to take him for an abdominal x-ray this morning. He has been in pain and we have been frustrated by not knowing what else to do for him other than the same things that haven't really worked.

Taking him to the potty every 10 minutes and then trying to clean him has taken up most of our days and we're all exhausted. But this morning, among all of the tears and exhaustion, Mikey made me laugh as he always seems to be able to do.

We were attempting to give him another enema (never a fun time for any of us) and he was saying his usual, "No fanks!" We were trying to reason with him and all of a sudden he looks at the enema and says, "I want...THROW IT AWAYYYYY!!!" I just burst out laughing. With my frame of mind, being tired, and the tone of voice Mikey used it was just the funniest freakin' thing I've heard in weeks. Thanks, buddy! :-)

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Gookies and Gilk

This post is from a previous blog I used to write. I originally wrote this in 2007--not very long into our journey along the path of autism...

As most parents know, a child’s language development and ability to communicate can be a frustrating experience, but a wonderful one to witness. My wife and I still use words and phrases that my nieces used to use when they were toddlers trying to learn to communicate. In those cases it was cute, and as they developed their skills we kind of almost missed them using those old words and phrases.

Delicious Gookies
With autistic children, communicating is the hardest part. My son, Mikey, has been learning to use various ways of communication from his wonderful teachers. The first thing they taught him was how to point to indicate when he wanted something. When he first started doing this my wife and I were incredibly amazed and thought it was the most wonderful thing in the world. It then got to the point where he pointed so well and so appropriately that we kind of took it for granted and sometimes forgot to acknowledge it.

Verbally, Mikey seems to go back and forth with his ability to use language. He sometimes can say a word perfectly, sometimes he can say most of a word (such as gookies and gilk for cookies and milk), and sometimes he can just say sounds. But he also loses the ability to say a word from time to time, which is saddening for us and frustrating for him.

There are so many useless things in this world that people get excited about. But, for me, every sound that comes out of my son’s mouth is priceless. My favorite song in the world right now is Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star because when we sing it Mikey fills in the words "star" and "are." So, for now, I’m totally happy to break out the gookies and raise a glass of gilk to Mikey.