Hi everyone! My name is Joe Hill, and this is my first post here on HP. Because of that, I wanted to just briefly introduce myself, what I want to talk about on HP, and cover an enlightening experience I recently had in my own life.
I am the father of two boys on the Autism Spectrum. This fact shapes almost everything about my life, whether it be what I do for a living, or what I discuss with others on a daily basis. Naturally it is probably one of the main topics I will talk about on here, but I don't want to come across as a "Woe is me" blog. Rather, being the parent of my two boys (Deacon and Gunnar), has been one the greatest challenges of my entire life, and most fulfilling adventures I could have ever experienced. I will talk about this more in the future, I promise.
Deacon and Gunnar are both speech delayed, which means they are very limited in their ability to communicate with their mother and I. This was a great source of frustration for them and us and there was a lot of tears shed earlier in Deacon's life because of it. He couldn't get across to us what he wanted and would scream and throw things and that was tough on all of us. Because of his fascination with my iPad however, it led me to develop my own app to help children like my sons, learn to communicate in an easy and fun app. It's called Aeir Talk, and it went live on the iTunes store in December of 2011. Because of the app and therapies, both of my sons are learning a lot of words, including Deacon learning to say, "I love you" to me. I will talk more about that from time to time as well.
Finally, I will speak on occasion on what I see out in the app world for parents to use to educate their children. I am a tech founder after all, and I see so many opportunities for our children in the future because of technology. I can't hold my excitement back sometimes and to write about is cathartic.
So with that being said, I just wanted to briefly write about something that happened to me in my life recently. I was sitting down and having lunch with another dad of a child with autism. He looked at me and asked an interesting question: "How far does your son have to go developmentally? What do you want to see him do?"
It was kind of out the blue and I didn't have an answer for him. A lightning bolt went off though in my brain. I simply looked at him and honestly said, "I just want him to be happy. I don't have any expectations for him. I just want him to live his life and let the world be a beautiful place to him." He kind of chuckled and said, "Well that's kind of naive." I shrugged and said, "Well, it kind of is how we (my wife and I) are taking this journey of parenting. It isn't easy, but we don't want to be down in the mouth about it, because we love both of them and they light up our and others' lives."
I think about that a lot, especially now when we are at the point with both of my boys that they are getting older and are still speech delayed. But I am now coming to the point where I realize that if I let go, and just love my children, no matter what, things are going to be OK. They are going to either live with me for the rest of their lives because of their disability, or they won't. They will either be speech delayed forever, or they won't. The only time that matters is now, at this moment. So I take them to therapies, try to make the best tools possible for them, and try to provide for them now so that they can have those therapies.
To look into the future is not possible. To look to the past only causes regret. We can only take the times that are happening right now and make a difference. So look at your children, and hug them. Give them a kiss. Tell them you love them. Because right now, you can do that. They will be OK. Because they have you as a parent.
So I just want you to have that as an encouragement. Thanks for reading this and go have fun with your kids. Keep on creating.