If you are lucky enough to know my husband, you’d know that mobile gaming is his jam. He manages 11 accounts on Clash of Clans, but he swears he only really plays 6 of them. He’s an avid sports enthusiast and will call-out every bandwagon fan he comes across. He prides himself on his photographic memory. He’s counting down the hours for the Games of Throne season premiere on HBO. If we could afford it, he’d be the best stay-at-home dad there ever was.
Juan is a doting father. He loves on all our children, all of the time. Our oldest will prefer him when she wants advice about boys. She thinks he’s really funny and boasts about his gaming abilities to all her high-school friends. Our middle is also quite partial to his father, especially when it comes to playing i-Pad, watching TV or lounging around the home. I’m the parent who reminds him he has to do spelling homework, Juan is the parent who convinces him that as soon as he finishes spelling they can play a game together. Juan will tell you that he loves all his children because he truly does.
But there’s definitely a special place in his heart for Jacob.
I suspect it’s all the time they spend together. Juan is the dad who wakes up almost every night to tend to our crying toddler. Several times a week, Juan will lay on the floor next to the crib in the boys’ bedroom because that’s honestly the only way Jacob will fall asleep. He’s also the dad who will care for sick babies because he swears his immune system is just stronger than mine. He’s the dad with the flexible work schedule that allows him to take the kids to their appointments. As much as Juan loves Jacob, Jacob loves Juan; the feeling is certainly mutual. Jacob will follow Juan around the house and look for him if he’s out of sight for too long. He wails every time his father steps into the garage, even if it’s for a couple of minutes. They play together, laugh together and watch TV together. Like two peas in a pod, there’s an undeniable bond these two share.
About a month ago, Juan approached a co-worker, Michelle, with an idea. He wondered how many other families they worked with were in the same trenches as us. Who else would understand the weight of an Autism diagnosis? Who else could relate to the sleepless nights and meltdowns? Who else might serve as a local resource for early intervention recommendations? It was then they decided to see if there was enough interest to start an Autism support group.
Juan and I had chatted briefly about his idea. In the midst of chaos, it’s hard to remember a lot of our conversations that happen before 8:00 p.m. Truthfully, it wasn’t until Juan sent me an email at work telling me more about the support group that I realized it was more than just an idea. It was his mission.
Fast-forward to April 1st. Juan and Michelle have added the support of three other co-workers who also want to be part of initiating the Autism support group: Trece, Marco and Christina. Their group has an official title: Across The Spectrum. The 5 of them have met several times to plan specific events for Autism Awareness Month in April. They will officially kick things off on Tuesday with “Light It Up Blue”. We spent our weekend making shirts for the group to wear to work that day. Later this month they will host a TED Talk discussion event to promote Autism Awareness. Within 24 hours of advertising the event, one showing was almost at capacity.
Their goals are many: awareness, acceptance, connection, support, and visibility.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate Autism affects 1 in 59 children in the United States. There is no doubt in our minds that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of families who work alongside Juan who might benefit from this group.
I have no idea what the diagnosis means for Jacob long-term. I don’t know what kinds of classes he’ll be in at school. I don’t know if he’ll ever get the opportunity to build a career. I don’t know if he’ll experience love like I want him to. I don’t know if he’ll ever be able to communicate with us using words. I just don’t know. But what I do know, is that Jacob has a dad who is willing to do whatever he can to make this journey of ours a little bit easier. I stand confident in Juan’s unconditional love for his son and his desire to advocate, not only on behalf of our family, but for others as well.
What I loved most about Juan when we started dating was his desire to make me happy.
What I loved most about Juan when he asked me to be his wife was how well he loved me and my girl.
What I loved most about Juan on our wedding day was how safe and secure he made everything feel.
What I loved most about Juan each time we brought home baby boys from the hospital was how important he took his role as husband and father.
What I love most about Juan today is each of those things written above, but also the sacrificial love from which he operates.
I love you Juan Crespo. I am so proud of you.
We’ll keep you posted on what comes from the Across The Spectrum support group. I know that the support from our family, friends and co-workers means the world to us, so to be able to lend support to those who might not have it is such a gift and honor.
Signed with love, Kat.