During my walk I reflected on how lucky I am to live where I do, here in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. Life is challenging at times as it is everywhere but generally we are very fortunate and I know that and reflected on it as I walked. I also thought of how lucky we were when we moved from Burlington, Ontario back home to Fredericton, New Brunswick in 1997, just one year before Conor was diagnosed with his autistic disorder. Lucky not because Fredericton is better than Burlington but lucky because the move allowed me to spend much, much more time with both of my sons as they have grown. Lucky because I have been able to dedicate significant portions of my daily life to both my sons and in particular the challenge, as well as the joys, of raising our severely autistic younger son, who is now, in every physical sense, a strapping young man.
When we lived in Burlington we enjoyed the town. It was a very pleasant community in which to live. Both our sons were born at the Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington. But my work at that time took me from the western edge of Burlington to downtown Toronto. Whether by car or by Go Train that meant a 2 1/2 hour commute each way, each day or 5 hours a day, 25 hours a week. Since we returned to Fredericton, when I drive to the office and back it is usually no more than 5-10 MINUTES of commuting each day. And when I feel like it I can walk and enjoy the time.
I can not imagine how different life would be for both of our sons, and particularly for our younger son with his severe autism and intellectual disability challenges, if I had not been part of their lives for those 25 hours a week over the last 14 years as they grew from little boys to young men. I just can't imagine.
I know I am very lucky and I believe my sons too have been fortunate to have had their Dad with them during these many hours and years of their journey from childhood to manhood. I know not everyone enjoys such good fortune but I encourage every autism parent to take whatever time, to make whatever time, they can for themselves and their children.