Thanks Dad, You’re An Amazing Autism Grandpa!

This is a post in the weekly Autism Hopes series by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez, a mom who blogs over at AutismWonderland.

I talk about my mom a lot and sometimes I even write about her. (She really doesn’t like when I do – my mom is very private and she doesn’t like attention – but since she doesn’t have internet, she only sees what I show her.) My mom and I are just really close. And she’s extremely supportive – especially after Norrin was diagnosed with autism. So I like talking and writing about her.

But since Father’s Day is coming up, I want to talk about my dad and his relationship with his only grandson, Norrin. I have to say, I’m so proud of my dad.

My parents are of a generation where autism did not really exist. And if it did, it wasn’t talked about. While I was getting Norrin evaluated five years ago, my parents didn’t believe there was anything “wrong” with him. But after his diagnosis, my mom became really involved. She watched the therapists and carried over many of their methodologies. I wasn’t surprised by my mother’s involvement or her acceptance.

I was surprised by my dad.

A few months after Norrin was diagnosed, I went to visit my parents. My dad handed me one of Jenny McCarthy’s books. “She has a son like Norrin,” my dad said.

I do not agree with Jenny McCarthy’s thoughts on autism but I happily accepted the book. Because my dad specifically bought it for me. (My dad isn’t the kind of man to just go out and buy gifts – not even for holidays.) I knew my dad was trying his best to understand autism.

My dad has been present at Norrin’s graduation ceremonies and has participated in our autism fundraising walks. He takes him out to the park and they go for walks. My dad even comes up to pick up Norrin from the bus on days we need him too. My dad told me that when he read my very first blog post, he cried. For an old school Puerto Rican like my dad to admit to his daughter that he cried – that’s a big deal.

My dad makes an effort to be a part of his grandson’s life. My dad enjoys the time he spends with Norrin. And like any other proud grandfather, my dad brags about his only grandson to anyone who’ll listen.

And it was my dad who gave me the hope that Norrin may go to college. My dad understands the challenges Norrin has and he still believes in him. My dad believes Norrin’s life will be filled with unlimited opportunity.

There are moments when it’s hard for me to believe, to see beyond where Norrin is right now and I’m grateful that my dad is someone who can show me the way.

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