Dads are on a short leash with their autistic daughters

THERE ARE THINGS I am not good at. One of them is recognizing which things I am not good at. 

This leads to confusion and embarrassment when I apologize about the things I do. I honestly thought I was good at it and yes you can have your remote control helicopter back just as soon as I find where it crashed in the woods.

Being unknowingly terrible at things is the human condition, so when we know we are bad something, I suppose we should be relieved. But why does it bother me that I don't know how to play games with my daughter?

I know how to play games with my seven year old son. I collapse to the rug and let him do knee drops on me. He loves it and so do I. Playing with little boys is easy. Let them crash into you. Done.

But playing with little girls? Not the same. They expect you to reply to them if they ask you a question. Boys don’t. They couldn’t possibly care less about discourse. They don't care what you say just as long as you say it in a demonic voice, and then whatever you say is gold, Jerry, gold.

Little girls want to ask - and be asked - real questions. Autistic girls aren't different, except they have no idea which questions to ask. That leaves me constantly jumping out of character with my daughter, Natalie.

ME: (puts down plastic cup) Now you should say, ‘did you have a nice day?’
NAT: Did you have a nice day?
ME: And then you pour the tea.
NAT: And then you pour the tea.
ME: No. I meant pour the tea.
NAT: Pour the tea
ME: You pour the tea
NAT: You pour the tea

Don’t be mistaken. This is not frustrating to her. This is great fun, actually, because now she can watch the shallow veneer of certainty drain away from me, and the mounting frustration turn my face purple. Any minute now I will yell, and she likes it when I yell because she gets to look at me sternly and say, "Dad you promised you wouldn't yell."

She likes to do that a lot.

ME: (shouting from kitchen) Natalie! Come for dinner!
NAT: (from other end of house) Stop SHOUTING at me!
ME: (in a lower voice) Sorry
NAT: What?

There are many of us, by the way, who secretly suspect there's nothing at all wrong with her, and she was put on this earth as a walking talking sarcastic comment about her father. The lines dividing the mature and immature one are somewhat blurred with us. And forget dad jokes.

NAT: I’m hungry
ME: Hi hungry, I’m Dad
NAT: I’ll give you twenty five bucks to stop saying that

Rock bottom. You’ve hit rock bottom when autistic children are calling you out on your behaviour.



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