I thought that it was very important within the film that a little girl was featured. So often the misconception is that autism only affects boys.
Your message of “dads love too,” is a powerful message. Very often, as you say, those dad’s who do stick around are forgotten. What have other dad’s said to you about your role in bringing up Maria?
Some have said things like, “Wow, I couldn’t do that.” and I think, “Well, I hope you could. It’s your child and if you truly do love her or him like you say you do, then you WILL do whatever you have to do for them.” Some men drive big trucks and watch sports and smoke and drink hard and whatever; but the REAL Men are the ones who are there for their wives and children no matter what. Another thing I’ve heard from well meaning men is, “I really respect how patient you are with Maria.”, to which I say, “I’m not patient with her. I don’t need patience because I love her and am just grateful to have her in my life exactly as she is.” Sometimes people can’t understand how having someone like Maria and everything that comes with that; how it enriches your life so much.
Life with Maria is amazing! Imagine constantly being around someone who is ALWAYS sweet and innocent; someone who has no guile, has no complaint, has no jealousy, has no resentment. I guess it is still challenging for our family to care for Maria. She will always need help with so many things: meals, baths, showers, hygiene, keeping her safe … so many things. But it’s what we do. Having Maria in our lives has blessed us as individuals and as a family. Everyone loves Maria and she is the centerpiece of our family. I am not exaggerating when I say this, but when I’m feeling stressed or down or worried; I just find Maria and give her a hug. Just feeling her sweet spirit and seeing that smile and those sparkling eyes of hers will always uplift the burdened soul. We have a friend who lived with us for about a year or so and who really got to know and appreciate Maria who said, “I actually feel sorry for people who don’t know Maria” …. that pretty much sums it up.
I like the way that you describe yourself as Maria’s bodyguard and that you have to protect her. Can you tell of any experiences/situations where you have had to ‘step in?’
No not really. In the beginning I was bothered by people who might stare at her in public and things like that, but these days I hardly even notice; mostly because I realized that they are not affecting Maria at all. She is not cognizant of what they are doing and so she is completely free of being affected by such things. As a matter of fact I want to get her a T-shirt that reads, “I have autism. What’s your excuse”
I would like to thank Scott, Mike, Jonathon, Damian and Mike for taking the time to answer my questions and for making and being part of such an inspiring film. Dads truly deserve to have a voice and this film gives them one.