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  • maryharwell

Father's Day Tribute

Updated: Jan 5, 2021

There are so many types of wonderful dads to honor on Father's Day. There are the dads who coach all the sports teams and take the kids to college football games. There are the dads who do science experiments with their kids, take them camping and on long nature hikes to explore wildlife. There are the energetic, playful dads

who run around the yard playing hide and seek and flag football. There are also the dads who do all the chores around the house from laundry to cooking. And then there are the super involved dads who attend every school event and chauffeur to and from birthday parties every weekend.

My husband doesn't fit in any of these categories and believe it or not, I could not be more thankful for that. If somebody asked me what type of dad he is I would say he is the perfect, custom fit dad for our son. You see, our son Jack has severe autism, cerebral palsy,

developmental delay and a host of other medical issues. He struggles daily with the world we live in. Sounds, movements, unfamiliar people, places and experiences terrify him and give him debilitating anxiety. This is not the kind of anxiety that gives you

an uneasy feeling in your stomach or a panic attack in the middle

of the produce department. This is anxiety so severe that he hits and bites himself until he bruises and bleeds in an attempt to mask

the unbearable feelings of discomfort in his body. It’s heart breaking, gut wrenching, scary and sad.

On the flip side of that, there are the beautiful moments. These

are the times when Jack feels calm, comfortable and safe.

His laughter, sense of humor and affection will melt your heart.

To see him happy and not in pain brings unimaginable joy to those

of us who love him.

Sadly, it sometimes feels impossible to calm Jack. We struggle to help him to this place where all the stars are aligned in his complex little body. It’s something no medication or supplement can do (trust me, we have tried them ALL). It's something no sensory toy

or noise blocking headphones can do. It’s something very few therapist, teachers, dear friends or family members are able to do.

However, there is one person who can almost always help Jack relax

his body and mind. There is one person who speaks to him without

using words and whose presence is like a warm weighted blanket on him. This person is his quiet, soft spoken, creative, unique, loving and truly amazing dad. They communicate in a beautiful, silent language of unconditional love and understanding between a father and son. Their bond is like no other. They come together in their own little universe where the chaos of outside world does not exist. I joke and call my husband the autism whisperer but truly, he is the Jack whisperer. He was meant to be this special little boy’s dad. He is an incredible husband and father to me and our

daughter but to Jack he is a life line. He is a deep breath of

fresh air that releases the tension from Jack’s body.

Our very unusual life together tends to revolve around the rigidity of autism. My husband and I are pulled in different directions most of the time. One of us always has to be home with jack or helping Jack navigate a situation outside of our home. The other is usually with our daughter, giving her the typical childhood she deserves or attempting to have an inkling of a social life for ourselves. Even though we live together I miss my husband. Our life does not allow much time for me to tell him that I see him. We all see him and we see what he is for Jack and for our whole family. I love and appreciate him more than he will ever know.

Happy Father’s Day to Jack's dad and to all the dads who share that unique bond with their very special children. It is a love like no other.

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