How to Make Money While You Sleep

Hello, fellows!  If you’re reading this article, you’re probably feeling a bit of the holiday blues.  If you’re anything like me, you’re feeling that way because you’re stressed about work, money, or having enough quality time with the family.  I call these three things collectively the “Triangle of Daddy Despair.”  They are so closely linked that it’s unlikely that you’ll ever experience a problem in just one of them, since an issue in one  area tends to bleed into the others. How many times have you seen movies or TV shows in which a man who is stressed about his finances gets involved in a not so on-the-level enterprise, or starts drinking heavily, and ends up losing his wife, children, his home, or even his life?  I am a proponent of empowerment. As such, one of my favorite sayings is: “Buy a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish, feed him for life.”  I know it’s an old adage, but it holds just as true today as it did when it was first coined.  I can’t help you with your existing job, but I can help you with your money, and show you how to make money while you sleep.  This will provide you with more free time, so you can dodge the nefarious, backwards, shady enterprise, thusly avoiding the binge drinking, the disgruntled wife, the home foreclosure, and the lost children. If you’re willing to learn, I will teach you one method of fishing.


      Warren Buffet once said that “If you don’t find a way to make money while you sleep, you’ll work until you die,” a quote that sounds morbid until you really think about it and see the unadulterated, simple truth in the statement.  According to a recent survey conducted by Forbes, 78% of American adults are living paycheck to paycheck. This means that, unless something changes for them, they will literally have to work until death, just to stay alive.  Furthermore, according  to a survey conducted by the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE.org), 68% of Americans will experience an unexpected financial setback this year.  It doesn’t take an intuitive genius to see that those two numbers don’t bode well for the majority of Americans.



 

…So, what can you do about it?

I didn’t find a solution to this issue until my half-way through my 34th year.  How was I going to make money while I slept?  I did a little research, and the technical term for this type of cash flow is called Residual Income, which is defined as:

“…excess income generated more than the minimum rate of return. […] in personal finance, residual income is the level of income an individual has after the deduction of all personal debts and expenses paid.”


A few things that residual income is not:

  • Personal residual income is not the result of a job or hourly wages—it requires an initial investment either of money or time with the primary objective of earning on-going revenue.
  • Residual income is regularly referred to as “passive income”.

Examples of residual income:

  • Real estate investing
  • Stocks
  • Bonds
  • Investment accounts
  • Royalties

I was so broke, so jaded, and so disheartened by my (admittedly) limited prior financial endeavors, that the first time I read the definition I almost gave up and stopped reading when I got to the part that says “…requires an initial investment either of money or time…”  My bank account was overdrawn by $70, my next paycheck from Starbucks was only going to be about $150, my cell phone bill was a week overdue, and I had about $1,500 in credit card debt.  The negative voice in my mind set in almost immediately, telling me, “You don’t have any money to pay the bills you already have, let alone any extra to invest!”  However, I did some critical thinking at that point before discarding the possibilities.  I read the definition again, this time picking up on a caveat that I had missed:

“…requires an initial investment either  money or time…”

Eitheror.”  Not  bothand.”

What a difference those two words made!  I had practically no money to spare, but time?  Compared to my cash flow, my time was abundant.  I was a veritable time-billionaire! I started researching residual income opportunities that didn’t require smuch money.  I found a lot of scams, a lot of overblown, hyped up, get rich quick schemes, and a lot of negativity. However, being the stubborn person that I am, I kept reading, kept signing up for newsletters, kept subscribing to email lists, and then, one day, I found it:

 Wealthy Affiliate 



Wealthy Affiliate is unlike other sources of residual income for many reasons, but the biggest attractors for me were the method of wealth generation, a community of people who are genuinely helpful (I have talked to both of the founders who, despite having literally tens of thousnads of members, have both gotten back to me personally), and the price was within my budget at $49/month. They even offer an annual subscription plan for those who want to pay for more time upfront, and thereby save money on the monthly fee.  I dug deeper, and found out how money is made on the Wealthy Affiliate platform. You can read a more in-depth review on how to make money using wealthy affiliate here, but for simplicity’s sake, there are two basic ways to make residual income via Wealthy Affiliate:

  1. Make a website, drive traffic to your website, and earn money through sales of other companies’ merchandise through your affiliate links.
  2. Refer other Wealthy Affiliate members to the service. When they pay their subscription fee, you get paid.

Personally, I thought the first method was the most intriguing. I had known that people were making money blogging, doing youtube videos, product comparisons, etc., but I didn’t know how.  After doing some more research, I was beginning to gain a better understanding of the ways money was being made online. Everyone’s heard of Mark Zuckerberg, Google, and Bill Gates.  Those are all exceptional circumstances or extraordinary people, and as such, regular Joes like me can’t expect their level of success.  However, thanks largely to their contributions to the technological revolution, today people have the ability to make life-changing fortunes using their inventions.

    You don’t need to know how to code, program, or be computer savvy to use Wealthy Affiliate…

You only need to do three things to make money online using WA:

  1. Choose a niche – Choose a topic that you’re passionate about (or one that you can write a lot about) – Mine is stay at home dads.
  2. Write about it – You have to have a reason to keep people coming back. Offer value to your readers.  No spam. No recycled, “garbage” content. No clickbait.  Quality is key.
  3. Use your affiliate links – You will get your affiliate links the second you sign up. Use them!

That’s it. Nothing complicated. Nothing nefarious. Nothing dishonest. Nothing shady.  Your readers will never pay more for buying something through your affiliate links. Companies have products that they need to sell.  You have readers (potential customers) coming to your website. These companies pay you in the form of a commission for every sale that’s made using your affiliate links.

Another thing that I was pleased to learn about Wealthy Affiliate is whatever you build using their platform is yours to keep.  If you decide to leave their platform after a month, you own what you built.  If you want to keep it online, you can transfer it to another host. If you want to take it down, you can do that, too.  The $49 a month is to cover their operating expenses, provide training, pay for affiliate status for their members to use, video tutorials, a boatload of other resources, and puts food on their table.  As I say on the affiliate status page of my website, I recommend things that I find useful, or that I have actually tried. I don’t write sponsored content. I stand by Wealthy Affiliate, because I have used it (successfully) to make money online. In fact, mistermommy.com was built using the WA platform!

Wealthy Affiliate is the easiest way to earn money, even in your sleep, online.  If you want to make a life changing income, save for your child(ren)’s college, start building a nest egg, retire (early!), or just have some more breathing room, it’s your ticket to do those things, and more.


 

    Now that I’ve taught you how to fish, what are you waiting for?

Go grab your fishing pole, and catch some fish!

 

 

happy baby
Monday afternoon, I did something that I’m not proud of.  I panicked. I am not a worrier, I don’t overreact to situations, and I pride myself on my ability to remain calm in emergencies.  Until yesterday, I would have said that one of my defining traits was my level headed nature in otherwise disastrous situations. So, what could have thrown me off of my square so completely? I’ll tell you: an olive.  A black, slippery, evil deathfruit. Slick and seemingly innocuous, this tiny thing almost destroyed my entire world.

black olive`

Sunday night, I got home from a meeting, and I was hungry.  It was too late to eat a meal, and I was too tired to heat anything up for myself.  So instead of cooking, I polished off an open can of kalamata olives that I found in the refrigerator.  I went to bed, not knowing that I had dropped one on the kitchen floor.

The next day, my younger boy, Rowan, was crawling around the house and found it. It only took him a second to decide to pop it into his mouth, whereupon he immediately choked on it. He didn’t make a sound. There was no gagging, no fussing, no indication whatsoever that his little life could end in about two minutes.

I was standing in the kitchen making breakfast for his older brother and me. I noticed that Rowan was making an awkward movement with his head, and it looked like he was trying to swallow something.  I picked him up and looked at him. Instead of the typical bashful smile that has become his trademark, I sensed a level of panic in his eyes that sends a chill down my spine even now as I recall it. I tried to look in his mouth to see if there was anything there, but I saw nothing.  I started patting his back, which must have just barely dislodged the olive enough for him to make a gagging sound. I grabbed my phone and turned the flashlight on and looked into his mouth again, and there it was: the tail end of a shiny black olive, sticking out of my baby’s throat.

choking

He was panicking, and trying to cry. Every time he almost got the olive out, it allowed just enough room for him to gasp and choke on it again. He was fighting me as I tried, with no success, to hook my finger around it. This process went on for what seemed like an hour. He would almost get it out, but the lack of air would prevail, causing him to suck it back down his throat, as his demand for oxygen increased.  I felt so helpless. I was turning him upside down, slamming his back with my other hand, saying, “Ohfuckohfuckohfuckohfuck.” His brother was scared, I was scared, and Rowan was scared. I was on the brink of tears. All I could think was, “Jesus, please don’t let my baby die.”  As an individual who tends toward “all or nothing” thinking, in my mind I was all the way to “How am I going to explain to my wife that I let our son choke to death while you were at work?”  At this point, I literally held him upside down by his leg and slammed his back, hard.

Then, he let out a loud gasp and started screaming at the top of his lungs. He had swallowed the olive. I turned him rightfather holding his son side up and confirmed that his airway was clear (which was considerably easier without my finger in his mouth). I just held him and we both cried.

It occurred to me that I had no idea what to do for a choking infant. So, I did some research to find out what I should have done. Spoiler alert: none of the correct procedures involve anything I did.  Read on to discover what you should do when your little one gets into trouble:

The following steps are taken from Medlineplus.gov. You can read the article here.

DO NOT perform these steps if the infant is coughing hard or has a strong cry.  Strong coughs and cries can help push         the object out of the airway (and indicate that your baby isn’t choking yet)

If your child is not coughing forcefully or does not have a strong cry, follow these steps:

 

  •         Lay the infant face down, along your forearm. Use your thigh or lap for support. Hold the infant’s chest in your hand and the jaw with your fingers. Point the infant’s head downward, lower than the body.
  •         Give up to 5 quick, forceful blows between the infant’s shoulder blades. Use the palm of your free hand.

If the object does not come out of the airway after 5 blows:

  •         Turn the infant face-up. Use your thigh or lap for support. Support the head.
  •         Place 2 fingers on the middle of the breastbone just below the nipples.
  •         Give up to 5 quick thrusts down, compressing the chest one third to one half the depth of the chest.
  •         Continue 5 back blows followed by 5 chest thrusts until the object is dislodged or the infant loses alertness         (becomes unconscious).

IF THE INFANT LOSES ALERTNESS

If the child becomes unresponsive, stops breathing, or turns blue:

  •         Shout for help.
  •         Give infant CPR. Call 911 after 1 minute of CPR.
  •         If you can see the object blocking the airway, try to remove it with your finger. Try to remove an object only if you can         see it.

 

 

I couldn’t help but notice that none of these steps include turning your child upside down, hanging them from one hand, shouting obsecinities over and over again, and beating their back. For all I know, I may have even made things worse. Fortunately, my son was able to clear the obstruction on his own, but it could have easily gone a different way.  And if it had, it would have been entirely my fault. I would never have been able to forgive myself.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

-Until next time, fellow fathers,

~Tom

 

When I Grow Up I Want To Be…

When I grow up The other day I was watching a movie wherein a mother told her daughter that she could be anything she wanted to be when she grew up. That got me thinking to myself what I’ll tell my sons one day when they say, “When I grow up, can I be…?” I don’t think I’ll answer it the same way.

To me, telling your children that they can be anything they want to be sets them up for failure. Why? Well, mostly because it’s not true. Not everyone can be an airforce pilot,  a surgeon, a rock star, famous rapper, an NFL player, or teach at M.I.T. In fact, precisely the opposite is true: the fact that not everyone can do it is why it’s such an accomplishment.  In an effort to set my children up for success, and after much deliberation, I decided to take an approach that would give them the autonomy and agency of self-discernment.  Combined with a realistic methodology of exploring their options.  I decided that I would answer this question with another question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Then, no matter what the answer, I will be as supportive as possible. Want to be a firefighter? Let’s go to the local fire station and meet some of the guys. Let’s check out the fire engine. Want to be a policeman? Same thing. Want to be a rock star? Let’s get you some guitar, bass, or drum lessons.

guitar practice

I can guess what you’re thinking: “How is being supportive of their goals, no matter what they are any different from telling your child that they can be anything they want to be?” I’m glad you asked (if you did)! The fundamental difference between the two is that one is purely verbal and emotional in nature, while the other is objectively goal-oriented. Imagine if Jimmy Paige had asked his dad if he could be a guitarist when he grew up, and his dad had just said “Of course, you can be whatever you want”, and hadn’t actually encouraged his son to get lessons and practice?  The face of rock as we know it would be different.

The difference between a professional and a layperson has less to do with raw God-given talent and ability, and more to do with practice and countless hours of dedication. It’s been said elsewhere that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become a master. Leaving eight hours a day for sleep – that’s 625 days of solid, 16 hours a day, no weekends, no holidays, no breaks – practice. So, when my sons ask for my input on the direction their lives should take, I will answer that question thusly: “What do you think would enable you to pursue happiness? What would be most fulfilling? What are you good at? Let’s take these into consideration, and come up with a few ideas.”

    Ultimately, what my children end up doing when they grow up isn’t up to me, but I have a lot to do with their ability to pursue their dreams, no matter what they are. Considering the myriad of pitfalls, false starts, and other detours that they will inevitably deal with, it’s going to take patience and perseverance for them to achieve their fullest potential. So, as their father, the best thing I can do pursuant to this goal is to be present, loving, and supportive.

happy

In my experience, the happiest people are those who love what they do, and what I want most for my children to be is happy. That’s why I’m a full-time dad, because to me, there is no better job, and nothing I would rather be doing! Until next time, fellow fathers.

~Tom

 

 

 

How to Change Your Baby’s Diaper

baby in diaper

Let’s face it: diaper duty stinks! See what I did there? All dad jokes aside though, changing a stinky diaper isn’t the most glamorous part of daddy doody (I can’t help myself!). However, there are a few tips and tricks that make this less than pleasant task a bit more bearable.

I was a bit concerned about my ability to do this before I actually tried the first time. As an only child who had no nearby relatives with young children, I had virtually no exposure to diapers or diaper duty. I found myself googling “How to change a baby’s diaper”, “How to change diapers”, “How to change a boys diaper” (once we knew that we were having a boy), and any number of other phrases to prepare myself. However, like most websites today, it was either poor content, ad-heavy click-through sites, or had a dialogue similar to the way that women talk to each other. I decided to write an article with the information that we as dads need to survive, distilled down to its pure, unadulterated form.

Note: This article was written for baby boys.

What You’ll Need

list

To change a baby’s diaper, you’ll want a changing table, diapers (obviously), baby wipes, a trash can, baby powder (especially in the summer months when it gets humid), a strong stomach, and a cold drink. I prefer to keep all the supplies on the shelf underneath the top-level of the changing table for easy access (except for the drinks).

Steps to Take

directions

1.) Get the new diaper out, open it, and position it at the bottom (the side of the table your baby’s feet will be on) of the changing table. Make sure the wings with the adhesive are towards the top, and the belly side of the diaper is towards the bottom (this will save you time and frustration later).

diaper layout

2.) Make sure your wipes are nearby, open, and that you have one fed through the top, ready to go! Nothing puts a damper on your day than having to pick up a baby with a poopy butt because you forgot to have wipes ready after you’ve already stripped your kid.

wipes ready

3.) Place your baby on his back and remove his pants. Once you get some time off the bench, you can just pull them down around his ankles (however, if it’s a particularly messy one, or you’re not adept at this task yet, I’d highly recommend taking his pants all the way off to avoid getting any poop on them).

4.) Unfasten the old diaper. If it’s just a number one, you can proceed to step 8: if it’s a number two, proceed to step five. If you have a strong stomach, and your nose works, you’ll already know which of the two you’re working with.

stinky

5.) Hold your baby’s feet together with one hand and in a smooth downward motion, use the belly side of the old diaper to wipe as much poop off in as few strokes as possible. Don’t move the old diaper yet! Just let it sit there for the time being.

6.) Grab some wipes and clean your baby. Pay special attention to the folds of skin of his crotch, his thighs, and his scrotum (behind the scrotum is a particular place I find poop likes to hide). Whether your baby is circumcised ot not, grab a fresh wipe to gently clean the area under the foreskin. Put the used wipes into the old diaper that he’s still laying on.

7.) Slide the whole poop package out from under him. Roll it up with the used wipes and use the adhesive strips (the back) to seal it off and throw it away. The hard part is over!

diaper rolled up

8.) Pick your baby up and slide him onto the new diaper. Grab some baby powder and give those cheeks a dusting.

9.) Fasten the new diaper and put your kid’s pants back on (nothing irritates me more than a kid running around in a shirt and diaper)!

10.) Enjoy the cold beverage of your choosing, and congratulate yourself on a job well done.

Accidents Happen

accidents happen

It’s worth noting that this is an ideal scenario, and accidents can and do happen. At some point, you’re going to get poop on your hand. Other times, your kid’s going to have a “blowout”; the term we use when they poop so much that it literally comes out of /the diaper. It’s not uncommon for blowouts to occur during the night hours, leaving you with a nice surprise to walk into first thing in the morning. There’s always the chance that your little one isn’t feeling particularly cooperative, and he’ll kick or reach under himself to grab the diaper, gleefully yelling “Poopy!!!”I could tell you horror stories that would keep you awake at night, but I’ll save that for another time. It’s important to remember that, like all things that seem like burdens with respect to child rearing, there will come a time when your services are no longer needed. Believe it or not, you’ll actually miss these times. I try to remind myself of this when my sons seem to be trying to kill me with poop.

When all else fails, wash your hands, shush yourself and try to remember that it happens. When done correctly, it sounds something like, “Shhhhh-it happens.”

 

 

 

Until next time, carry on fellow fathers.

 

 

Autism Pieces

Does My Child Have Autism

At some point during your journey as a father, your child is going to do something that makes you wonder if he is developing “normally.” I use the word loosely, because every child is different, and every new pairing of DNA results in a unique combination of genes that has never existed before nor will ever exist again. If you’re anything like me, you’ll find yourself wondering at times if your child is developing typically, or if it’s time to seek out professional help. Read on to learn this father’s experience with the fear of autism, what we did, and how it turned out.

Why We First Started Looking for Signs of Autism

woman holding a childMy wife is a very loving person with a classic “Type-A” personality, and tends to be more of a worrier than I am. She has dealt with anxiety most of her adult life and it manifests itself in different ways at different times. I tend to be more laid back, and more of a “go-with-the-flow” kind of guy. I prefer to let our son learn about his surroundings organically, by exploration, while she would prefer a controlled environment designed to expose him to cause and effect. I don’t believe that either preference is superior to the other. They are different and they both have their strengths and weaknesses. Her method has the advantage of being structured, and therefore there are no surprises. My method is more adaptable and its “off the cuff” nature makes it more suitable for “real world” scenarios. Neither approach is ideal for all situations all the time. That’s why, in this father’s opinion, it takes two parents to raise healthy children; to set them up for success and empower them to achieve their fullest potential. (Read my article https://mistermommy.com/the-importance-of-a-father/ for a more complete take on my opinion about the critical role that fathers play in their children’s lives.)

One of the benefits of having a Type-A person as a partner is that you’re less likely to be blindsided by the inevitable

blind spt

curve balls that life throws you. I can’t tell you the number of times my wife’s foresight has saved me headaches and strife. However, this level of foresight is often at the expense of our collective peace of mind and her serenity, especially when it manifests as what I’ve coined as “vicarious health anxiety” for our children. Many people talk about postpartum depression, but many women also deal with postpartum anxiety, and women who have preexisting generalized anxiety are more likely to see an increase in the number and severity of symptoms postpartum. I mention these conditions because if you notice your partner experiencing things like constant worry, sleep problems, racing thoughts, unfounded fears, etc – something may be going on that they need help with.

Google Is Not Your Friend

Google is evil

If you Google anything your child does, and scroll down far enough, you’re likely to see a foreboding word somewhere on the page: Autism. My wife first began wondering if our older son TJ was on the spectrum when she Googled milestones. As new parents, we didn’t really know what the typical child should be doing and when he should be doing it. She wanted to make sure that he was hitting the milestones that he should be so we could check in with the pediatrician if he wasn’t. For our son TJ, the first milestone that she questioned was eye contact. Infants generally start making direct eye contact between 6 and 8 weeks. She wasn’t sure if he was actually making direct eye contact, and if he was, if he was doing it as often as he should. So she then googled “infant lack of eye contact.” The first result that comes up is “Avoidance of Eye Contact: An Early Sign of Autism,” so she read it – this was her downfall. If you Google something that your child does that’s even remotely atypical, be it a particular finger placement, a tendency to play with toys a certain way, or only certain toys, I can guarantee you that you’ll see autism spectrum disorder somewhere on the page.

My wife then started to monitor TJ’s eye contact. While he was breastfeeding, he often times wouldn’t look into her eyes. She described him as “looking over her shoulder.” This concern led to more googling. If you find yourself or your partner doing this, you should stop, close/turn off the computer, and talk to your pediatrician instead. She read more about symptoms of autism, and then started to wonder about other things he did or didn’t do. Since children with autism often have trouble with communication and social engagement, things like his general aloofness and lack of separation anxiety (Rowan, his younger brother, literally cries if he’s put down for five seconds) became concerns.

Additionally, TJ didn’t have a word that he knew by a year old (not even “mama” or “dada”). This was probably one of our biggest concerns. All the literature that we read on childhood development clearly indicated that most typical children have a word that they use regularly by one year of age. All of these things, when combined with my wife’s anxiety, led to months of her going back and forth and wondering if he could be on the spectrum. Her fear was so strong that I began to worry, too.

Feeling Inadequate

inadequate

This left me in a very challenging position as his father. A small part of me felt almost angry at her for even letting herself think that something was wrong with him; not because of any sense of paternal pride, but because I was helpless to stop the runaway train of worry, concern and emotion that was robbing her of some of the most joyous times of parenthood. A larger part of me wanted to do emotional damage control in order to prepare for every possible outcome. What would our lives be like if he was autistic? How would our relationship with each other change? Would we rise to meet the challenges that having a special needs child presented together and emerge a stronger, closer couple? Or would our marriage deteriorate into a bickering, sniping, resentful cohabitation headed for ruin? The largest part of me hoped our son would be alright. These scenarios played out in my mind, and I found myself trying, impossibly, to emotionally prepare for all of them.

Of course, I wanted him to be okay. I also knew, from my own research, that the exact cause of autism wasn’t known. Often times, I would find myself making the mistake of trying to “reason my wife’s concerns away.” I would say things like, “If he has it, he has it. It’s nothing that we did or didn’t do as his parents that caused it. Or, “Even if he does have it, it’s done now. It doesn’t change anything.” The second one almost caused a blowout between us on several occasions, because my wife thought that I meant that it wouldn’t change anything for him. What I meant, but failed to adequately articulate was, “It doesn’t change anything about the way we feel about him; the amount of love we had for our little/ man.” In hindsight, the predominant feeling I had was sadness. Sadness for my wife, sadness for TJ, sadness for myself. I found myself cringing inside when TJ would do something “strange” and I would see the inevitable look of concern flash across her face. To my chagrin, I learned during a good conversation that we had after TJ was professionally evaluated that she had begun trying to mask the visible signs of her worry to forgo my reaction.

Early Interventionearly intervention

After months of doing our own research, alternating between being cautiously optimistic, and feeling like our son’s future was fated to be filled with specialists, therapists, and their ilk, we decided to have him evaluated. We made an appointment with early intervention when he was around 18 months old. (click here to access a statewide database of early intervention resources from the CDC). Three professionals came to our house for his evaluation. They talked to him, played with him, and talked to us. They made us feel at ease. After about 30 minutes, we had our answer:

“TJ does not qualify for additional services.”

At first, I heard the “not” in that statement, and my already heightened papa bear instincts seized upon that negative. I was filled with trepidation. I cleared my throat, and asked “What does that mean?” They happily elaborated: TJ was a bright, inquisitive, young boy, and that he didn’t need early intervention. His aloofness was just his personality. His lack of separation anxiety? Chalk that up to confidence. His quirky finger placement was just a quirk. His general interest in and preference for things instead of people? He’s a typical boy. His lack of vocabulary? By the time of the actual evaluation he had started using words and had about 50-60 he would use regularly, so nothing to worry about there. Now, he’s a 28 month old toddler who talks non-stop. We tried to count at one point and he has hundreds of words in his constantly growing repertoire.

What Should I Do If I’m Concerned About Autism?

Let’s play the odds: The odds are, if we’re just looking at the numbers (not any of the other variety of risk factors) that your child does not have autism. According to the most recent data from a 2018 analysis released by the CDC, 1.7% (or one in 59 children) is on the spectrum. That means that 98.3 percent of children do not have autism.

Ask yourself if you’re judging your child’s behavior with an impartial eye (something that, as a father, I find all but impossible to do). Are you playing up (or down) behaviors based on what you’ve read? Are you seeing behaviors that aren’t really there, or aren’t what they appear to be? This is your child. You owe it to him to give him the best start in life possible, and part of that is an unworried, present parent.

If you’re truly concerned about your child’s development, then there are resources you can utilize. Your pediatrician is always there to talk to, and you should feel comfortable enough with him or her to speak freely and share your concerns. Pediatricians are not experts in the autism spectrum, however, so if you are still concerned or your gut is telling you something, you can have your child evaluation at any point by Early Intervention. Early Intervention assists children and their parents with developmental milestones and provides services if there are developmental delays. The CDC maintains a searchable statewide database of Early Intervention providers that can evaluate your child for free, with no insurance necessary. Click here to access it.

I asked my wife if there was anything she knows now that she wished she had known then, anything that she would tell other parents that were concerned about their child’s development. She said that she wished she really had understood that kids do weird things all the time, and that there is no definitive checklist for autism. Take hand flapping, for example: developmentally typical children and atypically developing children at young ages will often hand flap when they are excited in order to express themselves. In other words, just because your child does one or even several things that may indicate that she may have autism does not mean that they actually have it. Try to look at your child as a whole and wait and see how their developmental trajectory plays out.

… And Remember

…your child is still perfectly them! They haven’t changed at all. Labeling something doesn’t change the nature of it, nor does it have any bearing on the future. All labels do is allow people to easily categorize things to sort them. It’s important to define something for what it is, but don’t let this definition limit the potential outcomes of a given situation. If your child has autism, it’s not their defining attribute. It’s just one aspect of a myriad of things that make them who they are.

Just one part of many

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