Rocks and Rice…Fathers and Sons and Autism

Rocks and Rice…huh?

What’s that got to do with autism?  Please explain.

Okay I will.

Last month I was visiting with a friend of mine who is also a father with a son with autism.  We’ve developed a good friendship over the past few years–my son is now 6-years-old and his son is a little younger–and we like to bounce ideas, stories and other things off one another.

I’ve mentioned it before and I’ll mention it again…FATHERS: YOU NEED TO HAVE SUPPORT WHEN DEALING WITH YOU AND YOUR CHILD ON THE SPECTRUM

I have a weekly group I meet with–but that’s not what I’m talking about.  I’m talking about getting to know another father who has a child on the spectrum.  You need to have a go-to person (not a spouse or family member) preferable another male that knows EXACTLY what you’re talking about.

It’s one thing to have a buddy listen to you and say, “gee, that sucks.”  BUT it’s another thing to have a buddy say “man, I know EXACTLY what you’re talking about…my kid did the exact same thing”

Trust me…do it, do it….DO IT

So my friend was telling me a story about his son (and it’s okay bc he said I could share)

His son loves to pick up rocks and put them in a kiddie pool in their back yard.  Over and over and over again this boy will pick ’em up…put ’em in…pick ’em up and put ’em in

I’m assuming that parents return rocks to yard when child isn’t paying attention.

My friend’s son is also big into texture and so they decided to fill their kiddie pool with a 100 lb bag of rice because his son loved the feel of the rice.

Like my friend…I love sports.  I love to throw the ball and Frisbee and be active.  I loved shooting hoops as a kid and do all that fun stuff.  My dad had two left feet.  Not only was he NOT into sports but he had these “coke bottle” glasses and so wasn’t comfortable with balls flying in the air.  I learned at an early age that if I were going to have someone tossing me the ball…it wasn’t going to be my dad.

Growing up I always thought about how much fun it would be to have “a catch” with my son.  You know…stay out until dusk tossing the football or baseball when it gets just dark enough that you’re not sure if you can see the ball–and then getting clunked in the head from time-to-time…fun stuff like that.

So to my friend.  Even though we understand that our sons might not be super athletes, we still think about tossing the ball or kicking the ball in the yard.  His son isn’t into it…and neither is mine.

And that’s okay…we’re not so hung up on ourselves that we can’t find joy in doing other things with our children.

But my friend was perturbed because he didn’t feel as if he was bonding with his son just by picking up rocks or sitting in a kiddie pool of rice.

OH CONTRAIRE MON FRERE…

He’s doing just what he’s supposed to be doing.  No, he’s not tossing the ball or shooting hoops…but he’s doing what he needs to be doing…and that’s spending time with his son.

At times fathers (and mothers I’m sure) feel they’re not doing anything constructive with their children on the spectrum.  I know I feel as if I’m not making a connection or bonding with my son fairly often.

But then I got to thinking about it…IT’S ALL ABOUT ROCKS AND RICE!

It might not seem like a big deal to us fathers…but to our children it MIGHT be a huge deal.  We’re spending time with our children.  It doesn’t have to be the most fun we’ve ever had–but get out there and spend time with your child…you are making a connection.

I started thinking about my relationship with my son…”what are my rocks and rice?”

Then I thought about bath time and the little games I play with my son.  He loved to tap, tap, tap (yes, drives me CRAZY!) on the water bucket when I’m pouring water in the tub.  I know he loves it, he knows it drives me nuts, we’re a very knowledgeable family.

So the little game we play is for me to try and swipe his hand away before he can tap on the water bucket.  Then it becomes fun because he tries to get faster and faster and maybe distract me.  All he wants to do it tap, tap, tap that water bucket.

We have other little things…yeah they might not seem important…BUT THEY ARE.

So fathers (and mothers) just remember…it’s not about what you’re doing with your child on the spectrum, it’s not about YOU and your needs…it’s about Rocks and Rice.

What are your Rocks and Rice?  Share them if you please…

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