Thoughts from my dad….
A Grandpa’s Perspective
Hi to all of you blog readers! Let me introduce myself, I am Nikki’s father. I have always felt I was called by God to produce food and fiber. That makes me a farmer, not a writer. If indeed Nikki’s DNA is responsible for that skill, it came from her Mother. Please also remember what today is (April Fool’s Day) and that was part of the reason I asked to write today’s blog. I could accurately be described as a fool for writing on this topic.
I have witnessed, but have no professional training and/or education in autism. Another reason for a farmer to choose today; April is the beginning of the planting season (in our part of the world) and justifiably filled with optimism! But most of all, today it is the first day of autism month. So light every blue light you can find and wear blue!
Let’s get started…
A term in the professional arena that may be taboo is, different. However, as a farmer, it is a term that is not negative but accurately describes certain things. John Deere and Case IH equipment are different from each other, both have advantages and neither is perfect-they are different. Think about that and remember we crucified the only perfect person to walk on this earth.
Nikki has pointed out it is likely I would have been diagnosed as being on the spectrum. I don’t know whether true or not and furthermore at my age it doesn’t really matter. Everyone is different. I do know I have displayed some symptoms. My total vocabulary was six words when I started Kindergarten and my thought process is similar to Tucker’s. I do visualize the completed task in my mind, my ability to multi task is limited, I enjoy working alone, I remember a great amount of detail, and most projects completed on the farm are done in great detail.
As a youth I was not ‘social,’ all I wanted to do was to get home and “farm.” I found it very difficult to communicate with children my age, but found it very easy to communicate with adults. I had no desire to be in school, my interest was all farming, just as Tucker is so interested in sports. I was fortunate to have some teachers that cared, just as Tucker has. I do think I can identify with Tucker.
I absolutely believe Tucker has autism and for that reason he has a different, not wrong, thought process. When HE tackles that fact, HE will begin to conquer things in a different way. Nikki is a great coach and has a tremendous work load, but in the end it is Tucker that has to be the “Great Conqueror.” Is it not ironic how close the word autism and optimism are? I am extremely optimistic Tucker will prevail.
Mother bear syndrome…
Here is where I can and no doubt will get myself in deep doodoo!!!! Have you heard of the Mother Bear syndrome? The oldest reference to it is found in chapter 17:8 of II Samuel. It is real!!! Do not get between a mother and their child no matter the age of the child. It is impossible, in Tucker’s case, to accurately diagnose how much is autism and how much is boy.
In Tucker’s case, he has a Mom that loves her son so much she will do most anything to protect him. Therein lies the Mother Bear syndrome! Remember, I did not say it was wrong. I wish every child with autism or not had a parent willing to care that much. One of the great confusions, to me, is when Tucker stays with us he can and usually does act much differently than when his Mom is present. He shows the symptoms of autism much less. Knowing and witnessing that, it gives me great hope he can conquer his autism.
Autism will dictate how Tucker must think, reason, and work. It will not dictate if Tucker can think, reason, and work. The extra amount of work, both physical and mental, for a parent to raise a child with autism is unbelievable. The added hours that Nikki has spent parenting Tucker are shown through his many successes and yet I can see that it also brings heartache. As a bird pushes her chicks out of the nest, only to see them try to fly, there will come a time Tucker, bit by bit, must do more and more on his own. Oh so hard, but I believe it will increase over time and I, as a Grandpa, know that will be hard, but necessary. Everyone connected with Tucker must be his support group and be ready to pick up the pieces from time to time.
It is everywhere..
After you have been exposed to autism and understand every case is different, you do see it everywhere. I have seen it in church, in stores, and even at sporting events. I have witnessed coaches that are real mentors and know how to interact with different athletes and I have witnessed the opposite. Just when you think you understand a fragment about autism a curve is hurled at you and you cannot react fast enough not to get hit. We, which have direct connections with autism, must be mentors and most of all advocates! Some may read this blog and believe Grandpa is hard-hearted.
Not the case at all…I just believe in Tucker.