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How I'm Learning To Be the Stepdad My Son With Autism Deserves

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Well, gang, I knew it was coming. My blogging wife finally came up to me and asked, “Will you write?”

Of course I will write. I have thoughts and opinions. Wait a second. I just agreed to write something thousands of folks from all over the world will potentially see. Hmm… issues? Nah. I’m going for it.  

My line of work involves way too much windshield time. Alone with my thoughts, gas station breakfast and a lukewarm cup of coffee. This alone time is the key to me being there for my wife, Nikki. I’m doing my best to be the guy she needs me to be. Because here’s the deal — she’s not normal. Those of you reading this who just giggled out loud must know her. Those of you reading this who thought that was a strange thing to say about my wife need to meet and know my Nikki.  

The simple deal is that my Nikki is my perfect. From the day I met her, I knew it. When I say she’s not normal, it’s actually meant to compliment her occasionally insane levels of compassion and caring. She doesn’t yell — ever. This is not normal and completely awesome at the same time. God’s plan? I believe He thought the world needs this combination of Nikki and our son, Tucker. He needs people who will power through the tears of struggle and dance their butts off every chance they get. They will live it. They will learn it. They will grow from it. Nikki often shares our story, and others will benefit from it. Tuck can’t have a normal mom so God gave him Nikki. She’s our angel.


We don’t believe in normal at our house. Honestly, it took me awhile to buy in to it, but the underlying truth is that everyone has their own story and labels suck. Therefore, you be you.

I know I’m supposed to be writing about my thoughts and feelings regarding autism, the spectrum, Tucker and my relationships with all those involved, but to get to that you’ve got to understand where I’m coming from. I came in late to the party. Nikki and I met and married after we had kids from previous marriages.  

I wasn’t around for the initial early childhood trials and tribulations Nikki and Tucker lived through. I’d heard of autism but never had any direct interaction with kids or parents coping with it. I knew there was a spectrum but had no idea how stinkin’ big it was or what it all entailed.  

However, in the beginning, I knew a couple things for fact.

  1. I was head over heels in love with this woman.
  2. This was a package deal.

I knew I’d better get dialed into this autism thing. She told me all about upside-down TV watching in the reflection of the window glass. She told me about heavy blankets. She told me about brushing his body. She told me about bumps and bruises. She told me about tags. She told me about socks. She told me about grounding and hugging. She told me about huge poop. She told me about all kinds of crazy business, and then I met Tucker and had about a billion questions. This is when I first had the spectrum explained to me in detail.  

This is also when I first came to understand the incredible challenge facing everyone touched by autism.  

This is also when I learned that autism is not something you cure but rather something you cope with.

Tuck is over on the high-functioning end of the spectrum, which means to the casual observer, he’s a naughty kid. Can’t sit still. Too loud at the wrong times. Obstinate. Guess what? Everybody has a story.  

The old me would have thought the kid is a total sh**head.

Thanks to my guy, I now try to emulate my lovely wife’s goodness and leave my judgy-mcpudgy pants in the closet.

Am I perfect? Heck no!  

Am I getting better?  

You bet. Every day.

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Originally published: February 6, 2015
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