INTRODUCTION TO F.C.D. (FOREVER CHANGED DAD)
Good day Gents. This story goes out to all the fathers in this great land. My hope with this article and the ones to come is that I can create a path for us to connect or relate to the realities of being a father to a special needs child.
A little background on myself. I have a wonderful wife and we have five children, ranging in age from diapers to adulthood. At the present moment I can experience every version of a child’s demeanor simultaneously. That could be a toddler temper tantrum or a teenager hormonal outburst or a young adult coming to grips with the reality of responsibility. Each level requires a certain amount of patience and each level requires a different response. Appeasement can be difficult at times.
My work life is Aviation. I have been in the industry 20 plus years. In this industry, we are heavy into acronyms. I think this is mostly because our maintenance lives are heavily documented, and to put it simply, we are lazy when it comes to writing, so acronyms for everything. Hence F.C.D. for Forever Changed Dad.
The world I lived in forever changed on Feb 21st, 2018 with the birth of our youngest of 5 children. Olivia GraceAnne was brought into this world. She was diagnosed with Down Syndrome. There were complications with the birth for both mom and child, but the words “Down Syndrome” were definitely some of the most frightening words I’ve heard in my lifetime.
Looking back and knowing what I know now, I was a chump. Can’t deny it. We were not prepared. But is anyone? The special needs world was a world I knew existed but I had very little interaction in.
In the moment I kept my composure. I did not say anything, because that is what a man is supposed to do. Gwen looked at me and could tell I was processing and just stated the obvious. “It will be ok”. I think I broke right then. Not noticeability, but definitely on the inside.
I spent the next couple of days in panic. I did not read anything about D.S. I did not want to. I was not prepared to go down that rabbit hole. Instead, I visited a friend’s house at 10 p.m. and unloaded or spent what little time I could across the street chasing the bottom of a glass as quickly as possible. Or calling whomever I could to get relief for this situation I knew nothing about.
In hindsight, I was a chump, and that is o.k. Learn from it and move on.
The next six months to a year we spent learning and coping. More importantly, enjoying baby Olivia.
Gwen and I spent this time very differently. She spent her time reading about every scenario possible to better prepare us for Olivia’s future.
Myself? Well, once I got over being a chump and accepted Olivia as Olivia I just enjoyed having another child in the house. My preparedness came in the fact that I accepted we would have hardships with her from birth going forward.
I mentally prepared myself for the hardships whatever they may be as a reality. No more being a chump. Enjoy the now and accept the future.
Back to the Future
Fast forward to the present day, and Olivia is a toddler. Terrible at times, loving most of the time. Not much different than our other children. There have definitely been trying times in her young life, but those stories are for another time. Gwen and I run an indoor play facility catering to the special needs community.
www.werockthespectrumoklahomacity.com. It is off 33rd street by Chic Fila. Hint, Hint.
This little gym has been a godsend. We have been privileged to be introduced to the special needs community. Accepted by the special needs community. Helped by the special needs community. We have formed many friendships in the little time we have owned the gym. And we couldn’t be the better for it.
Lets Wrap this UP
I spent a long time going over what to call this or how to start this, so I think I will keep it simple. My name is Scott Batchelor and I’m a father of special needs child. I have written this in the hopes it will reach some of the many other fathers out there that have similar thoughts or fears or reservations. Now that my introductions are out of the way, I will continue to write on different topics from a Father’s perspective.