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Joined: 6/29/2009
Msg: 22
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How do I tell my son Daddy's not coming back home to us.Page 2 of 2    (1, 2)
As a father of a multiply handicapped child myself, my advice is to take things one at a time. Autism is a category of a wide group of challenges, and not a specific set of limits that anyone can predict anything about, so each parent of an autistic child must find their own way.
In my case, my son can't speak as well, so I don't even know if he DOES wonder why mom and dad don't live in the same house anymore. However, the "normal" children have asked their own questions, as they occur to them, and I have responded honestly, and that is working for them.

The greatest CAUTION I would give you, is to watch out very carefully that you aren't projecting your OWN emotions about the situation into the child. You have great and understandable anger towards the father. It might be tempting to want to sit down and explain your own side of things to you child, not for HIS sake, but to protect yourself from the possibility that he will somehow blame you for dad being gone.
Has your autistic child ASKED about his father? If he does, answer the exact question he asks, as factually as you can. Don't say, for example, that "your father isn't home because he wants to play with that chippy down the hall, and neglect us." If your son asks where dad is, and you actually know where he is at that moment, answer factually: "he's in the other apartment." Let your son figure out himself what is what. Anything more, and you will be trying to decide FOR YOUR SON what he should believe and feel about his father.
Getting the father to spend more time with his son is a separate issue. It sounds as though your first step should be to initiate divorce proceedings yourself, since your husband hasn't. Your emotional post suggests that you may be tempted to try to use guilt about your child as a manipulative tool to try to force your husband to do as you wish, and that is VERY unwise. Instead, the divorce procedure will include establishing his legal responsibilities in a much healthier, less emotional way. The divorce will ALSO set up boundaries between you and him which will BOTH serve to protect you and your child AND will actually HELP the father to know what he CAN do to go on with his life, and spend time with his son, without fear of being trapped into things he doesn't want to be in.
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