I was ecstatic when I found out I was going to be a father! When my son Gunnar was born in 2001, I was over the moon. I knew my life would be forever changed, but I didn’t know just how true that statement would be.
I dreamed of getting my son into all types of sports, watching him grow and make lifelong friends, get girlfriends, and share life experiences. However, I soon realized my son was “different.”
Gunnar seemed behind others his age in a few ways, and this became more apparent when school began. He wouldn’t socialize, and he would have verbal and physical outbursts. The teachers didn’t know how to handle him, and we weren’t sure exactly what was going on either.
After seeing several physicians, therapists, psychologists, etc., we were finally given a diagnosis…Asperger’s syndrome. While I was happy we had an answer, I also experienced grief, exhaustion, anger, anxiety, and fear. I wondered not only how life would be for him but our entire family. We all had our work cut out for us.
I had to research autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and find resources to help me become a better and more supportive parent. I also had to learn how to educate others, including our school, family, and friends. Through all of this, I found out there is an abundance of gratitude, support, grace, hope, happiness, acceptance, and love in our lives, thanks in part to autism.
I am humbled along this journey. Gunnar grounds me. When I’m having a difficult day, I just think about how challenging each day can be for him. I know my son is a work in progress, but that’s okay because we are all a work in progress.
I have been fortunate to have been given the opportunity to pursue my dreams in music. I have met some amazing, talented people. I wanted to be able to give back and raise awareness for autism. Finally, I can do this through my new cookbook, Rockin’ Recipes for Autism.
I combined my love of music with creativity in the kitchen and reached out to my friends in the rock-n-roll community. Many well-known rockers gave their time (and their favorite recipes) to take a bite out of autism and helped me realize my goal. I am hoping to inspire people to give back and educate the public regarding autism.
This article was featured in Issue 103 – Supporting Emotional Needs