Walks in the morning

Thursday 25 August 2016This is seven years old. Be careful.

The summer is wrapping up, and it’s been a strange one. On July 4th weekend, we discovered a serious bruise on Nat’s chest. We took him to the emergency room to have it properly documented so we could make a formal investigation. The doctor there told us that Nat had a broken rib, and what’s more, he had another that had healed perhaps a year ago.

Nat is 26, and has autism. We tried asking him what had happened, but his reports are sketchy, and it’s hard to know how accurate they are. We moved him out of his apartment, and back home with us. We ended his day program. He’d had a good experience at a camp in Colorado a few years ago, so we sent him back there, which was expensive, and meant two Colorado trips for us.

The investigation has not come up with any answers. A year ago, he had been acting oddly, very still and reluctant to move. Then, we couldn’t figure out why, but now we know: he had a broken rib.

We’ve found a new day program for Nat which seems really good. It starts full-time on Monday. During the last month, we’ve been cobbling together things for Nat to do during the day. He has a lot of energy and likes walking, so I’ve switched my exercise from swimming to doing early-morning walks with Nat before work.

Parenting is not easy. No matter what kind of child(ren) you have, there are challenges. You have to understand their needs, decide what you want for them, and try to make a match. You have to include them in the many forces that shape your days and your life.

This summer has been a challenge that way, figuring out how to fit this complicated man into our day. The walks have been something Nat and I do together, one of the few things we both enjoy. I’ll be glad to be back to my swimming routine, but I’m also glad to have had this expansion of our walking together, something that used to only happen on weekends.

Nat, walking

We still have to find a place for Nat to live, and we have to make sure the day program takes hold in a good way. I know this is not that last time Nat will need our energy, worry, and attention, and I know we won’t always know when those times are coming. This is what it means to be his parent. He needs us to plan and guide his life.

And he needs to walk in the morning.


Lovely, Ned. Nat is so lucky to have you and Susan as parents. This was beautifully said and, more to the
point, beautifully done.
Ned, You're a good father, a good writer and a good photographer.
Thank you for adding your words to what Susan has written about this scary and upsetting situation. My worst fear is wrapped around my daughter's vulnerability. All attention that is brought to the complex and unending needs of our kids is good attention, it can only help in the long run.

Your family is in many hearts.
Mel Senator Cell 9:39 PM on 25 Aug 2016
Ned- You have always been there for Nat. You and Susan have built your lives around Nat, his growth and development and what best constitutes a quality life for him. This summer presented a new kind of problem which you dealt with in a most wonderful way. As we say when appropriate, "good job Ned."
Very inspiring Ned. Agree with Patrick... and of course you are also a good coder :-)

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