This post is by Ken Siri, an author, advocate and entrepreneur who is the single father of Alex, a 15-year-old boy with autism. Ken and Alex will be the subjects of a feature length documentary called "Big Daddy Autism" about the beautiful relationship between a father and son with autism living in New York City. Watch the indiegogo trailer for the film below.
A few years ago I started to take yoga. Initially it was to help with my fitness routine, running, triathlon and such, as I get a bit older. To keep the flexibility and all. But it has taken on a life of its own and is now a prime factor in keeping me positive, fit and helping me become more present, engaged and balanced in life.
Anyway, recently after a “hot” class (just started exploring that part of yoga), a fellow student asked me about my practice, having been in the same class together for a while. She inquired as to my schedule and suggestions I might have for what classes and teachers she should try. Most of the classes I mentioned were in the middle of the day. She commented on how it was unusual for a guy to be in yoga during this time of day (which is true - often I am the only guy in class – and I’m not complaining).
I proceeded to give the abridged version of my story (see blog here for more), dad of a 15-year-old boy with non-verbal autism with single-sole custody for the past six years. I told her how being in this position required me to give up my Wall Street career, travel opportunities and what was a fairly extensive social life; the ways I had to adjust my lifestyle from then to now. A brief look of sympathy came across her face – as often happens with those who are unaware of the challenges faced by parents of special needs kids.
I then described the many advantages (as I see it) of this change, or transformation if you prefer - a flexible schedule, the need to become an entrepreneur and create one’s own income stream, the ability to care fully for my son and help him make progress in his life. I did this in part on instinct, as I frequently have to describe this life to the uninitiated, but also partly (at first) to allay her sympathy or her need to express such.
She then said how tough it must be to have to give up the old lifestyle and my thought then changed to sympathy for her! Sympathy for thinking that this transformation has been negative for me, for thinking that I was just putting on a spin for her or myself, when in reality, I feel lucky and privileged to have been given this life of meaning and mission.
And so a word to my parent friends - though others may view our lives, our children, as burdens to us, the truth is they are our angels giving us purpose. How many of the uninitiated have meaning, have purpose. Let me know if you feel the same!