It’s a cliché but I’ll say it “Life is all about the little things”, from the perfect cup of tea to an extra ten minutes in bed. The little things get us through. The Autism Spectrum turns this on its head; the little things are now the biggest things, huge in fact. Living in an Autism household the little moments are what get me through, they are the sails steering this crazy ship to its destination. My three-year-old son is severe nonverbal whereas my eight-year-old step daughter is a high functioning Aspie. It’s a great mix that certainly keeps the home life interesting.

My son’s sensory issues cause him to overload at certain textures, anything wet, and cellophane will make him heave, so it’s all about the little accomplishments. My wife and I turn into a football fanatic witnessing their team score the winning goal if my son holds something he previously detested. He ate a sticky Rice Krispy square once and if time had been kinder to my body then I would have done a back flip, or attempted one, who am I kidding? Eye contact is something I crave so much from my son, it’s rare, and that makes it one of life’s special little moments. Sometimes he locks on and looks away instantly but then there are the times he keeps the eye contact going, everything stops, time slows down and I’m taking this moment in. The earth stops spinning. Its mad crazy love personified. He looks away and may not catch my eye again for a few days, that’s autism parenting, getting closer and getting further away at exactly the same time.

As a working dad, time with my children is essential, however at times I have seen tube stations at rush hour calmer than this house. It’s perfect chaos though. I’d miss it if it never happened again. My son and daughter have the struggles of sleep to contend with as well, my son is on melatonin and has erratic sleep patterns; my step daughter is a hyper little princess who feels it’s perfectly acceptable to ask for a bite to eat the wrong side of midnight. Sleep prevails for both, well eventually, and there is no guarantee that they will sleep through. Sometimes we get lucky. The little things. Stroking my son’s hair as he sleeps, kissing his forehead, listening to his sleep sighs. I’ve been away in work for so long and I’ve missed him. I want him to wake up, I know that’s selfish, but I’m a man, we’re selfish by nature. But I’m going to take this. I’ll always take what I can get, it’s the autism parent way. Time is precious as a working parent; I’d even say more so for a working Autism parent.

My son is on his own mission 24/7, he is like a Tasmanian Devil, turning the house upside down. We have the days where he stops, where is doesn’t feel the need to insert Wotsits in to the Xbox or smear his lunch on the pointlessly mounted television. He just wants to cuddle up. Me and my wife welcome this, we hold and kiss him like there is no tomorrow. We never want to let him go because it’s only a matter of time before the thrusters in his brain ignite and he blasts off. I’m thinking of getting a new television, I hear the high definition really brings out the mushed up chicken nuggets on the screen.

I now class finishing a series on Netflix or completing a computer game the same as running a marathon or climbing a mountain, not just any mountain, one of the famous ones. What an accomplishment. Truly. If I can do it with minimal interruptions, then that’s even more impressive. I feel I speak for a lot of autism parents here when I say that a journey to the toilet alone is worthy of a Gold medal. And maybe a sponsorship deal with Andrex.

My beautiful step daughter has trouble listening and executing given tasks, it frustrates her, it frustrates us, but we have our tools to help her. If she is asked to leave the room or pick something up and she does it first time, then that is a huge accomplishment. It’s a little victory, and a hopeful reminder. She is so distracted. It must be so hard in her chaotic beautiful mind. A cuddle and an eighth viewing of Star Wars is always welcome. All about the little things.

So the Gigantic little things keep this house moving, they keep us sane, keep us human. The little things make us laugh, make us cry, they give us hope when there wasn’t any. A little thing now will, I hope, be a warm memory for my children years down the line.

Dominic writes about Beau and their family adventrures at Autism Dad