Belfast Telegraph

Asperger’s dad finds light at the end of the tunnel by writing book for son Ethan (5)

 

Jude Morrow, author of Why does Daddy Always Look Sad, with son Ethan
Jude Morrow, author of Why does Daddy Always Look Sad, with son Ethan
Donna Deeney

By Donna Deeney

A man with Asperger's syndrome has written a book about how he struggled with becoming a father, in the hopes of giving an insight into how adults cope with the condition.

Jude Morrow (27) was diagnosed with Asperger's, a form of autism, when he was 11, but with the help and support of his parents and schools, by the time he left university he thought the worst was behind him.

When his son Ethan was born nearly six years ago, Jude realised he was not coping as well as he had imagined.

Years later, his little boy started to notice he was struggling.

"I was diagnosed with Asperger's when I was around 11," Jude explained.

"When I was at school, I learned coping mechanisms that included planning my day and knowing what to expect.

"I wrote lists and I wrote things down in books, and I still do that.

"It (his Asperger's syndrome) isn't something that has gone away, but I did have support right up until I was 18.

"I thought Asperger's was something I had grown out of and left behind, but when I found out Ethan was on the way, the behaviours I thought I had left behind came back.

"I was two weeks away from my 23rd birthday when Ethan was born. It is very difficult for me to describe emotional responses, so I wrote them down, which is one of the main reasons I wrote the book.

"When he was just born and sleeping and eating at regular intervals, my routine was largely unaffected by him.

"As he grew up and his sleeping and eating patterns changed, I took that really personally, to the extent that Ethan asked his granny - my mum - 'Why does daddy always look so sad?'

"That's when I realised things had to change.

"My vulnerability was such that he could see it and pick up on it, so I wrote my journey of change in the book.

"It's not a happily-ever-after story, but for people in their teens or early 20s who know they have this feeling of being different, or denying their diagnosis or who they are, it can show that there is a life for them.

"My life got infinitely easier when I made peace with Asperger's and with who I really am."

Jude wrote his book primarily for young adults living with autism-related conditions who don't have the same level of support as children.

"One in 30 children has autism, but there are very few families that don't have autism somewhere in the family," he said.

"I want people to read my book and know that this is how my mind works and that I am similar to how the person they know is.

"There is so much support for autistic children - and I was one of those children - but then I became an adult and there was nothing.

"I have autism absent of a learning disability and there is no support out there for adults like me.

"One of the biggest challenges I have is trying to articulate how I feel. I know this is the same for other people with autism.

"Even though I work as a social worker, I have a son and a mortgage and I still rely on my parents for a lot of support.

"It isn't something that will ever leave me.

"I denied the idea that I would have Asperger's all my life, so I thought the best way to raise awareness of autism was to present the world through my eyes and through my ears.

"It is something that not many people can understand unless they live with it, but I hope the book will change that."

  • Why Does Daddy Always Look So Sad? is available on Amazon

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