This Journey Alongside Autism Can Be Lonely – Finding Cooper’s Voice

I’m struggling. There, I said it. 

The weird thing is, I don’t know everything I’m struggling with. It seems to be a few things, but the one that I think is at the fore front of it all is loneliness.

How can I be lonely? I have a beautiful wife that I see and talk to every night. However, it has been quite some time since we’ve had a date night. We get respite sometimes. It’s just never the same person, and I have trust issues.

I have two beautiful boys that I absolutely love to spend time with. They mean the world to me and I would do anything for them. I’ve made many changes just to make sure I can be with them as much as possible. To be present, because I feel that is very important.

I have quite a few friends on social media. Some that I’ve never met, and others I’ve known since I was a kid. Friends from previous jobs, school, bands, kid’s baseball, and land speed racing.

I have the best group of moms and dads that I’m friends with on social media. Moms and dads that are going through similar journeys as mine. I follow their stories and am so grateful for them.

They help me feel less alone. 

I’m even a moderator on a social media page for dads with special needs children. I try to host a Zoom every month. I’m a bit behind right now, but will host one again soon.

I have my wife, my kids, my family, and my friends. People I talk to often. People I talk to daily. People that make me happy.

So why do I feel lonely?

I think it’s because I don’t have friends that I see face to face. I don’t have friends that I can hang out with, have a beer, or a cup of coffee. My new neighbors are awesome, but we are more just acquaintances right now. I don’t think they really understand my life, and that makes conversations a bit challenging. They try and I definitely appreciate that, but all conversations are really just in passing.

Secretly, one of the reasons I signed the boys up for baseball was for me to make friends with other special needs dads. I thought with a sport there would be more dads involved.

There are some and I talk with them when I can, but many times we are just chasing after our kids and making sure they don’t get into too much trouble. I feel like I see more moms than dads at baseball. Nothing wrong with that, but I just thought there would be more dads. 

I feel like it’s so hard for special needs parents to make friends outside of social media and work.

Some of you may say, well change it.

Go do something on your own to make friends.

To which parent guilt comes into play. I always feel guilty leaving my wife and kids to go do something for myself. I even feel guilty when I take time to go play guitar by myself for a couple of hours. I feel guilty, because my wife is home with the kids while I work. I want to make sure she gets her self care and downtime in too. She doesn’t get work breaks like I do.

I will get through this. I always do. But, I do just want to say that just because someone always seems happy on the outside doesn’t mean that they are. Sometimes people see me as always happy/positive, and the truth is I hide a lot of my feelings. I know there are many others that do the same.

I’m not saying this to look for any sympathy. I’m saying it to acknowledge my feelings out loud. To make it okay for dads to feel lonely or sad, I hope that what I share may help others feel less alone through their personal struggles.

Even though I don’t get to see or talk to you at least once a year, I want to say that I’m very grateful for all the friends I do have. I appreciate you!

Written by Ryan Lefevers of My Heroes Raising Boys on the Spectrum


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