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I am a 27-year-old mother of two, married to a 21-year-old special needs man. This is a new discovery and the wound it cut into our home life is very fresh and still bleeding. My 21-year-old husband is autistic. More specifically, if Asperger’s were still its own diagnosis, he would be diagnosed as such. The last few months have been hell. There have been many tears, lots of fights, and some screaming that I’m not sure who it came from. I love my husband so much more than I ever dreamed possible, but our life is very hard.
When I met my husband, I knew there was something different about him. To be honest, I just thought he was young and awkward. But being as we worked together, it didn’t take long for me to find it was more than just awkwardness and inexperience. Nevertheless I found myself waking up from dreams about dramatically professing my love to him and soon we were dating. Dating quickly escalated to living together, marriage, and pregnancy. Everything was fine until our son was born. I navigated my husband’s ticks, stemming, and overstimulation with some ease when it was just our daughter and us. But our son was born early and colicky after a complicated pregnancy and emergency C-section. I truly believe the delivery of my baby left my husband with PTSD which has aggravated all of the behaviors in him that we had worked so hard to change and the house of cards we were living in fell apart.
My husband couldn’t handle the baby crying and I couldn’t handle my husband. We started fighting and I found myself wondering if my husband had decided he didn’t want this life anymore or if there was something much deeper that was causing our issues. It did not take long for me to find that what I had previously thought was my husband having a different outlook was autism. All the difficulties made much more sense, and I realized how much harder our life was now going to be.
My son is now eight months old and is much happier the majority of the time, but my husband is still reeling, and I just want to comfort him and make it all better. Unfortunately, that is not how this works. He is high functioning enough that he is capable of showing some maturity and ability to control his behavior and emotions, he just doesn’t. My days are filled with hearing about my husband’s subject of obsession (firearms/WWII military history, don’t tell him this but some of it I actually find very interesting. Also, going to the gun range is a lot of fun.), putting out fires for my kids/job/husband, trying to live as a Christian woman should, and reasoning with my husband over why he can’t run around work yelling his current tick word (Haagen-Dazs, relating to his obsessions and he really likes the ice cream). As you can imagine, there is no time or energy left for myself, and I am exhausted.
The exhaustion is worth it though. Despite the challenges, our home is filled with love and laughter. I have never known an Earthly love as deep and great as what my husband feels for me and our children. He has strong hands that can fix anything, gently hold a sleeping baby, and throw a wiggling preschooler into the air when she asks to “fly.” As a Christian, I believe we were all born with purpose, a handful jobs given to us by God if you will. Mine begins here, with autism, babies, and words. I believe I was created for this family, to lead them and be their rock in our special life.