The 17-Year Old Snuggler
Most autistic children have sensory issues. Jackson is no different. He did not initially enjoy physical contact, but we are an affectionate hugging family, and at a very early age we would not allow him to avoid us. Even though it made him very uncomfortable, we would constantly hug and snuggle him. Make no mistake though, even today when I ask him for a hug more often than not I get the autism backward hug – rather than arms out facing each other for a warm embrace, he turns his back and slowly backs into my chest allowing me to hug him. Funny thing my wife always gets the full forward hug...always has.
However, the one thing that he has done and continues to do is crawl into bed with us. I loved hearing that very sweet soft voice saying "daddy snuggle you". Even at his now age of 17, we still get him crawling into our bed a few nights a week. The main difference today is that he is huge. When he was small, he seemed to be quiet almost stealth, but today he lacks all grace. Today when he climbs into our bed in the middle of the night, my wife will get a knee in the back while I am often the recipient of an elbow in the eye. But, then in that same soft sweet voice, I hear "daddy snuggle you." It's the greatest thing in the world.
He is almost my size now, and I am confident that sometime soon he will surpass my size. There are mornings when I wake up, and he has not come in, and I find myself running up the stairs to check on him. He, of course, is just fine. I almost feel a little sad, but I am reminded that he is growing up. Nonetheless, several years from now I expect that I will probably be spooning my 35-year-old son, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
photo provided by
MARIA E. MAYOBRE
Husband, father, coffee connoisseur and lover of all things hockey. At 51 I sometimes wonder have I done enough. I have been married to my best friend for 30 years. She knows all my faults and loves me anyway, As a father of “almost always” perfect boys, I am always surprised at what life has to offer. It is messy, scary, thrilling, and always fun.