Monday, April 29, 2013

Autism from a father's perspective: Tuks and Levi's story. "He's my little hero and my son."

I saw this photo on my friend's Facebook page and loved it. For many reasons...

Firstly, I know this man. His name is Tuks, and he is the father of one of the kids who attended the Learning Links special needs playgroup alongside my son Rafael, which I attended each week for three years with both my kids in tow. I barely missed a week.

Tuks would come each week also, with his two gorgeous sons. Sometimes, his wife Kelly [a teacher] would come along too, and later, they brought along their newborn baby girl Ruby.

The couples' son Levi was diagnosed with autism, language delay and global development delay. He is now five years old.

They also raise Kelly's young boy Joel, 14, and their brood Noah, 3, and Ruby, 18 months [with another little one on the way!]

Here is what Tuks said about being dad to a son with autism:

"Levi has been diagnosed with autism and global development delay. The only word that can sum up the way I felt after receiving that diagnosis is "relieved". This was because it answered so many questions as to why he behaved the way he did and why his 'quirky' little habits were not him being 'weird'. Although the diagnosis answered a lot of our questions and explained so much, I didn't realise that this was just the beginning of a very long and difficult road.
I have participated in so many of Levi's therapies and have learnt so much in so little time. I took him to structured special needs playgroup every week [Learning Links] where I was usually the only male parent and listened in as some mothers broke down and were emotional because of the sheer stress of having a child with autism and special needs. Also I participated in occupational therapy, speech therapy, and went to many workshops for parents where sometimes things went right over my head, but asking countless questions did help, and as time went on I feel like I became the autism expert, ha!
I think fathers would benefit a lot from being involved. It's not about just doing it for the sake of doing it, but doing it for our child. If my wife Kelly and I don't help Levi to be the best he can be, who will? It's our job as his parents, his voice, his guide to get him to live a happy life.
The progress to date for Levi is very good and he surprises us everyday. Looking back at where he was two and a half years ago... he's scream when we went to visit family and friends, screamed when we walked into a shopping centre, screamed at breakfast, lunch and dinner time, and was pretty much being so miserable and stressed and anxious.
Today, he answers when he's asked a question, gets excited when I tell him we're going to visit family or to the shopping centre.(his favourite store would have to be Target, but Aldi comes a close second).
I only see positive improvements with my son Levi, and I will continue to love and support him forever.
He's my little hero and my son."
Bless you, Tuks. You are no doubt his hero, too.
Do you know dads who partcipate in their son's therapy? Please share some stories.