Every now and then a show enters prime time television that you fall in love with. Last Fall was no exception. When Rob and I sat down to watch Parenthood for it's series premier on NBC, we had no idea what to expect. The cast seemed like a good mix. We heard one of the story lines would focus around a child with Aspergers and the affect on his family unit. We were impressed. We would definitely watch again.
As the season progressed, we continued to be blown away each and every week. There are obviously numerous story lines going on, yet the writing surrounding the character who has Aspergers was spot on, including its relationship to the other story lines. It is now in its second season and one of my favorite shows currently on the air.
Explaining what our life is really like to others has proven to be difficult, especially when people are genuinely interested in understanding. With Parenthood, we have something we can refer them to. It is watchable and understandable. To be perfectly honest, the character of Max is fairly consistent with our day-to-day life with Dylan. If anything, it's a watered down version of our real life.
Each and every episode always hits home. Dylan is currently on Fall Break and this is one of the hardest times to be his mom. Keeping Dylan occupied with stimulating activities is exhausting and time consuming. Add excessive heat, his desire to run off and a nauseous, pregnant mommy, and it can be down right miserable. I love being Dylan's mom and embrace it fully, but when his routine is disrupted, life is challenging for our entire family.
If Dylan had his choice, he would watch movies, television shows, You Tube videos and play computer games all day (when he's home). Obviously, we don't allow that. But focusing him on other things can be grueling. He doesn't play with toys like his siblings. He hates heat, so playing outside is the last thing he wants to do. He enjoys going outside, but that can be incredibly difficult because of his desire to run off. With only one set of eyes - mine - it is potentially dangerous, even with Yoko!
Beyond keeping Dylan entertained, it is times like these that I am reminded how engulfed Dylan is in his own world. He cares for our family and interacts with us, but when he's focused on what is currently of interest to him, no one else exists. It's hard and it breaks my heart. I have to remind myself he's perfectly happy and content, even if I want to cry buckets. I also remind myself of what life was like before Yoko and it was significantly worse. Since Yoko, his vocabulary and ability to express his wants, needs and desires have improved greatly. Yet we are always working towards pulling Dylan out of his world and into ours. It improves with each passing day and some days are better than others. But when a rough day - or days - come along, it can feel as if we've gone back in time by nearly a year, especially when he's on an extended break.
Parenthood isn't a perfect show and there are aspects that we don't care for, as we are a Christian family. However, if you would like to understand the life of those with Aspergers, Autism, Down syndrome and a variety of other special needs, I highly recommend watching it. The interaction between Max (the character with special needs), his parents, sister, extended family, friends and acquaintances is incredibly well done. When I watch the show, I feel as though I'm looking in a mirror, at least to a point. If you happen to watch, you're bound to learn something new that I doubt I could ever put into words about our life with Dylan. And yes, our life is FULL of sticker charts!