One Dad's Musical Journey Through April

Monday, April 29, 2013 View Comments Autism Speaks

This blog post is by Larry Grogan. He has been writing about music for more than 25 years, first in fanzines, then in newspapers and eventually moved onto the internet in 2000 with a web zine, which evolved into the Funky16Corners blog in 2004. Larry DJ's and hosts the weekly Funky16corners Radio Show for Viva Internet Radio.

Though I haven’t gone into great detail, I have made references in the past to that fact that autism has made an impact on our family.

Both of our sons – now 6 and 9 – have a diagnosis on the autism spectrum, and as a result, I have - for the last four years – been a stay at home dad.

Even though being a single-income household comes with its own challenges, having a full-time parent at home to coordinate multiple therapies, meetings and the various and sundry unplanned/unexpected challenges that come with having children with an autism spectrum disorders (ASD) ended up making a tremendous amount of sense.

When our sons were initially diagnosed, we had already spent a considerable amount of time dealing with issues that we did not understand.

When we finally managed to go through the batteries of tests, doctor visits and paperwork, and identified what the issues at hand were, we arrived at the end of one journey and the beginning of much longer one.

Once your child receives an ASD diagnosis, the direction of your lives (individually and as a family) changes forever.

The most difficult thing of all, and the biggest challenge that every parent of an ASD child has to meet, is when you realize that there are no easy answers. It becomes apparent that most progress will be incremental at best, and that you’re dealing with the “long game”.

Many parents struggle to find treatment for their children. If and when they do, they are often met with a new set of hurdles, whether it’s complications with insurance, uncooperative/poorly prepared school districts, and/or friends and family that do not understand what they’re dealing with.

I mention all of this because April is Autism Awareness Month.

World Autism Awareness Day was started to spread the word about ASD, the children and families that deal with them every day, and the organizations that study them and work toward a cure.

The mix I put together at Funky16Corners is in my own small way an attempt to convey an impression of the struggles, joys and rewards of raising children with autism.

Parents need to deal with assessment (Who’s Gonna Take the Weight), emotional turmoil (I Got So Much Trouble In My Mind), self pity (Save Me), perserverance (I’ll Keep On Holding On), strength (Don’t Feel Sorry For Me), possibility (Life Is Free You Can Be What You Want To Be), optimism (Things Got To Get Better), reaching out for help (Who’s Gonna Help Brother Get Further), steadfastness (Keep The Faith), doing what you can to spread the word (Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved), taking on the system when necessary (Fight the Power), assuring yourself that you’re doing the right things (Right Track), taking the time to cherish your kids in their uniqueness (I’m So Glad) and in the end, being thankful for what you’ve got (Thank You Fallettinme Be Mice Elf Agin).

I became a fan of soul music so many years ago, and started this site because I find that music to be uniquely powerful and transcendent. Though it’s true about any good music, soul music has touched me, and many of the people that read Funky16Corners deeply.

Having children is one of the most amazing, challenging, sometimes frustrating, but always rewarding experiences I can imagine. Raising children with ASD is all of that amplified significantly.

And, oddly enough, this experience has given me (and continues to give me) a deeper appreciation for the power of music, in how it affects me, and my children as well.

If you know someone with ASD in their family, see what you can do to help.