When your child is a toddler its flattering to have them attached to you. Wanting mom, giving hugs and kisses, displaying such pleasure when you pick them up.
But when your child is seven and shows that favoritism, to a dramatic degree, it is not so fun anymore. At this point Jacob's development is similar to that of a two year old. So this phase that is common when your kid is two is understandable to us, but that does not make it easier to deal with.
As hard as it is for me to be the one who MUST do EVERYTHING for him (diapering, preparing food, playing games and coloring, putting to bed) it is harder for his dad. The level of attachment hasn't always been this strong. Chris and I used to be pretty interchangeable, as long as Jacob was getting his needs met.
Increasingly, Jacob refuses to even sit with his dad. He smacks him away and refuses kisses. Then he will turn to me in the next second and throw his arms tightly around me. It feels like a competition for my attention and affection. And I don't like it.
My most recent method of resolution has been to show him less affection if he has just refused it from his dad. A small hug and a kiss, but that is it. Then I make a big display of kissing and hugging Chris, hoping it will make Jacob see that its appropriate and enjoyable and maybe he'll want to do it, too.
I also tell Jacob to "go see daddy" when he is making a request (re: demand) of me. Chris is happy to help his little boy, but Jacob very rarely turns to him for help. If I am gone, dad is treated a little better. Jacob is dependant, and he knows that an adult needs to help him.
The withholding of affection hurts Chris, and the aggression towards him is just too much. Being pinched, kicked, hit and scratched is such a blow when all he wants to do is care for his child. It makes me very sad to see and eager to find out how to change this pattern.
With his size it is getting harder and harder for me to do everything. I can't put him in the bath alone, sometimes changing him requires a stronger hand, and I definitely cannot carry him. Often Chris has to deal with the fight and manhandle Jacob into compliance simply because he is the stronger of the two of us.
I am concerned about the time when he is stronger than me (it will not be long) and I am still expected to be his only caretaker. What happens then? Is this the point where a parent considers putting her child in residential care? The thought makes me sick to my stomach.
There are so many struggles and challenges in raising children with severe autism. These kids can be our biggest blessing and our toughest trials.