May 16, 2022
EP. 319 — Raising a Son With Autism
A father in Portugal opens up to Geth about fatherhood and raising a child with Autism. He explains how his son’s diagnosis made him start to question if he too might be on the Autism spectrum. He also discusses where to vacation in his home country and some things you might not know about Portugal.
319 — Raising a Son With Autism
Chris [00:00:04] Hello to everybody who doesn’t know the correct pronunciation of pastries. It’s Beautiful/Anonymous. One hour. One phone call. No names, no holds barred.
Theme Song [00:00:30] (THEME SONG).
Chris [00:00:30] Hi, everybody. Chris Gethard here. Welcome to a new episode of Beautiful/ Anonymous. First thing’s first, apologies to the people of North Carolina. For months I’ve been plugging that our first Beautiful Anonymous shows back would be in Durham and Asheville, and I was so bummed. I did some stand up shows in Florida, first weekend back on the tour, and then right after that, not even me. I was the one out on tour. You’d think I would have been the one who caught Covid. Somebody else in my household did. So I had to stay home. Because you can’t be out there spreading things around. And when you have a toddler and also COVID in the house, that means you have to put in, you know, quadruple the work as as usual, as a parent, to make sure that your house doesn’t descend into a Lord of the Flies like garbage pit where a toddler is in control. Anyway. Those shows will be rescheduled soon. Got shows coming up this week in Pittsburgh, Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids. I’m really hoping they happen. Keep your eye on my social media and I’m hoping everybody’s happy and healthy and safe and that we’re in the clear to get out there and have some fun and do some shows. Anyway. We’ve had some real great episodes recently. I’ve seen in the Facebook group and on Twitter people going crazy. The show is on a hot streak lately and I am inclined to agree. The callers have been stepping up. They have been great. I’ve always felt it. I feel like the- if I’m going to be honest, you guys know me. I’m not a cocky guy. I think the hot streak for this show is 2016 to present day, man. I think from the very beginning we’ve been on a hot streak, but I know what people mean. I’ve been very happy with the episodes recently. This one continues that. Last week’s episode, of course, was the caller in a mixed orientation marriage, explaining what it was like to find out about her husband’s attraction to men and how they were finding a way to navigate that and stay within their marriage. It was gripping and something that I feel like probably happens more than we know, but people don’t talk about it so thanks to the caller for opening up. This one is a little lighter than that. Caller is from Portugal. And we spent a lot of time talking about Portugal and what to expect from the people of Portugal when you visit and and things to be proud about in regards to being Portuguese. Then, because this is Beautiful/ Anonymous, we also have a just stunning stretch about this father realizing, you know, one of the things I’ve come to really understand it myself, you learn things about your children, in this case, his son, and it starts to make him go, oh, there might be some things I need to figure out about myself, because I see myself in that. It’s really interesting. It’s a really interesting look towards the end about sons and fathers and him looking at himself as a father and a son. And… Really interesting stuff. I think you’re going to like it. Enjoy.
Voicemail Robot [00:03:31] Thank you for calling Beautiful/ Anonymous. A beeping noise will indicate when you are on the show with the host.
Caller [00:03:40] Hello?
Chris [00:03:41] Hello? Hi.
Caller [00:03:43] Hi.
Chris [00:03:45] How’s it going?
Caller [00:03:45] Oh, wow, I made it through. It’s going great now that I’m talking to you. How are you?
Chris [00:03:53] I’m good. I’m good. I’m in uh I’m in Los Angeles, California. I got called out here short notice to do an acting gig. And that’s always nice. Counts towards the health insurance. That’s good. But I did want to you know, I’m not in a studio. I’m just in my friend Will Heinz’s living room. So you might hear some traffic noises or things like that. So I’m feeling good. I miss my- mostly I just miss my family. I just miss my kid really. That’s how I’m doing.
Caller [00:04:21] Great. Great.
Chris [00:04:22] You might hear my friend Will. My friend Will is laughing in the other room at something, something else. Anyway. Anyway, how are you? How are you?
Caller [00:04:31] Yeah, I’m. I’m fine. I’m fine. Now that yeah. So I had a little bit of a struggle with my health in the last few weeks. I have some back pain, but now I’m getting better. So, yeah, it’s good news.
Chris [00:04:46] That stinks. Back pain stinks, but I’m glad it’s, uh. Glad you’re feeling better.
Caller [00:04:52] Yeah. So, yeah, I just came home from work, so I’m I’m calling with a different time zone from yours. So I’m, I’m in Europe. The timezone same as the UK.
Chris [00:05:06] Oh that’s cool.
Caller [00:05:08] I’m calling from Portugal. Yeah, I’m calling from Portugal. I think I can disclose this location. It’s at least 10 million people. So so it’s a medium country, let’s say.
Chris [00:05:22] So you’re in Portugal. I’m in Los Angeles. We’re like opposite sides of the world almost now.
Caller [00:05:27] Almost.
Chris [00:05:28] That’s many- that’s many time zones. Yeah. Wow. How’s Portugal doing?
Caller [00:05:32] So there is still be still in the morning, correct? Morning time.
Chris [00:05:36] It’s it’s yeah. Coming up on 12. Coming up on 12. Coming up on noon. Yeah.
Caller [00:05:44] So yes. So I, I’m calling from from Portugal and I love your your show. I found it like two or three years ago. It makes me company when I’m commuting to work, driving by car. And and yeah it’s it’s good help for me. I laugh a lot and I sometimes I get emotional hearing of some of the stories, but most of them are really funny. And you and you have a great way of of talking to people. And, and and so they open up and and share the feelings and the stories. And it’s great to to hear your your your show.
Chris [00:06:29] That’s awesome. That’s really awesome. Glad to help.
Caller [00:06:34] Yeah. So I maybe I can talk a little bit about myself. So I’m let’s say mid-forties old. I have one son. I’m married. And yes, so I work a little bit far from home every day driving by car. And so I use this time to listen to some podcasts. And and so I work in the international environment. So mainly I speak English all the time, writing or, or calling people from, from other countries, which is, which is good. And it’s interesting to work in a, in a multinational company. And, and yeah so I think when I talked to your producer, Anita, she told me that, you never had a call from Portugal. So I think it’s great if you have some questions to ask me, just go ahead.
Chris [00:07:36] I do. Now, my first question is… I feel like in the past handful of years I’ve noticed that Portugal has become like a real vacation destination for hip people. Have you picked up on this? I feel like everybody I know who’s like a Brooklyn person, all the hipsters, they all started going to Portugal at a certain point. Became like a cool spot. Have you noticed this?
Caller [00:08:01] Yeah, yeah, yeah. There, there there has been a huge spike in in in in visits from abroad. Abroad, so actually from Europe. So we have these local companies fly in from from actually from North Europe. From England. Holland. The Netherlands. Now they want to be called the Netherlands, Germany also. And yeah, so we have a- we have some differences between north and south. So north is colder. The water temperature in the summer is not great in the south. A lot of tourists there enjoying the warm water in the sea and also and sightseeing and so forth. So it’s it’s becoming more and more international. So we are members of the European Union since ’86. And and yeah so there was a lot of investment in the tourism in the tourism industry, like building hotels and and having all these services to tourists. Now, of course, people we were here by the COVID situation. That was a struggle for many families that depending on this, the tourist business. But now we are recovering. And and yeah, so we are a friendly, friendly country, let’s say, because we are on the on the top three or five of the most safe places to live. You can walk around during the at night in the middle of the town or outside of the town. No one bothers you. So we are really relatively safe places compared with other countries. And I think tourists like that. And and and yeah, we are also in the top ten of people that who speak a good level, that have a good level of English so you can go anywhere and you offer help to someone in the in the world or in the streets, on the squares, central squares. And everyone will help you. And we are this kind of people.
Chris [00:10:33] Now, I think I’m going to be doing the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland again this summer and my wife and son are going to come meet me for a bunch of it. And then my wife said, What if we come and then after the festival we go to Portugal. So this feels meant to be, this conversation right now. My wife wants us to go there later this year. You think- you think we should do it?
Caller [00:10:51] Yes, you should. Definitely. Yeah. Yeah. So in which month it is?
Chris [00:10:58] It would probably be September.
Caller [00:10:59] September. Yeah. We are there is still nice weather to to enjoy the summer time. I don’t know if you want to have sightseeing in the cities for the in our capital, Lisbon, or in the north (UNCLEAR). There are now historical places with lots of monuments and so forth. If you are more for the tourist sightseeing, I would recommend the South, the Algarve region. So it’s in the southern coast of Portugal, warm waters and and and yes so there is a lot of things to to choose if you which kind of vacation you would like, if it’s more cultural and architectural sightseeing or if you still if you want to enjoy the warm weather… You are already in California, so you don’t you don’t need the warm weather.
Chris [00:12:01] Yeah, I’m getting enough of that now.
Caller [00:12:01] You are already enjoying it.
Chris [00:12:03] And now how do the Portuguese feel about pale men with low self-confidence?
Caller [00:12:09] Hmm. Low self-confidence.
Chris [00:12:12] Yeah. Like me.
Caller [00:12:16] Hmm. Mhm. We don’t, we don’t make any those kind of differences, choices between between people. We we, if we, if we see someone lost like kind of lost in the, in the city, we will approach them and say, Oh, do you need some help? You seem lost. And yeah. We are used to have many British, the British love Portugal. So we those red skin, when they, they catch a lot of sun.
Chris [00:12:49] Yeah.
Caller [00:12:49] They, they don’t have some of them, they don’t wear enough of sunblock and they get red very easily. So it’s, so it’s also there are some characters. They also like to drink beer and party. And we are okay with that.
Chris [00:13:08] Well, let me ask you this, because there’s kind of a trope out there, right? There’s kind of a cliche I’ve picked up on, which is that the British love to travel, but that the rest of Europe- the rest of Europe doesn’t… The stereotype is the rest of Europe doesn’t necessarily love British tourists because they’re known for like showing up and getting real drunk and throwing up in the streets and fighting and stuff. Is, is this the cliche over there on the on the continent? – Ooh, baby. Here I go. That old easy thing. Let’s make fun of British people for drinking too much. Is he going to go for it? I don’t know. Who knows? We’ll see when we get back. Everybody loves when you make fun of the English, right? Even the, except maybe the English? Even some of the English like it. I don’t know. Anyway. We’ll be right back… Thanks to all of our advertisers. Now let’s get back to this phone call… Is this the cliche over there on the on the continent?
Caller [00:14:09] You hear few cases, but it always depends on the location. For example, we have for some cities and also Spain has those places they are packed with the bars open all night and these kind of places they attract like, yeah, single British people that come to party and meet other beautiful people and hook up and enjoy a good time. So sometimes there are some news about some, you know, some conflicts, people punching each other and so forth. But I don’t think it happens too too much. We also have some locations where the whole family comes as a unit. So we have friendly, family friendly cities and places. But there are some others that are more driven to attract this kind of tourist that yeah, they spend a lot of money on drinking beer and, and so and enjoying themselves. Um, but yeah, in, in, in general, we are a very calm country. We embrace all the differences, all the cultures that want to live here. And for example, for the gay community, we, we, we were one of the first European countries to legalize gay marriage. And so we don’t, you know, we are a Catholic country. So in the back of the day, like 40 years ago, it was a very closed country. We were in a dictatorship, so we were not a democracy. But since ’74, we are a democracy. And since we joined the European Union, you know, there was a big development economic wise and also in the in the in the mind in our mind, we, we we enjoy meeting other cultural cultures and so forth. We also have a big community from all the colonies. I don’t know if you are aware for Portugal back in the day, like the British and the Spanish, we have some countries in Africa that were colonized by the Portuguese kingdom like in the 15, 15th century and in 16th century. And so we have many people from those countries in Africa like Angola, Mozambique. Um, they, they, they, they come here also. They come here to live and work here. So we welcome them. And of course, we have the largest community that is Brazil and Brazil it’s like 40 times the size of Portugal and something like this. So they are also big community that come here to work, especially in those times when they have some economic struggles in those countries. They come to Portugal to make some good living and then maybe a few years later, they come back to their family. Others they they they stay, of course. And for example, a few years ago, we had some Ukrainian people coming like ten years ago. There was a lot of immigrants from Ukraine here. Then they came back to their country. And now with this war, they we are welcoming them. We rent busses. Portuguese people, they group together, we rent busses and we go to Poland to near the the the, the, the, the, the, the, the frontier and, and bring them back here to Portugal so they will rejoin some acquaintances or some family they have a deal here in Portugal. So we are welcoming those Ukrainians that are fleeing from the war.
Chris [00:18:17] I have to tell you, kudos to you. I I’m sitting here trying to bait you into talking shit about the British. I’m sitting here trying to set you up for the easy laughs of, like, oh, yeah, the English come over here, they get too drunk, and then. And instead, you give a beautiful answer about how Portugal is simultaneously family friendly, LGBTQ friendly, and how, while it has an imperialistic past, that now in its present, it’s using it to become a multicultural bastion that’s accepting of people. And you manage to also not manage to dodge my attempt to shit on the British and say, I won’t talk bad about the British, but I will point out our sympathy for the Ukrainian people and our efforts to take in refugees from there in a worldwide crisis. Kudos to you. No one’s ever- no one’s ever not taken the bait on an easy joke and spun it into more tender goodness than that. How much is the Portuguese Tourism Bureau paying you to make this call?
Caller [00:19:22] No, no, nothing. Nothing. I don’t even work in- None of my family that I can recall that no one works in the industry of tourism or hotels or something like this. So yeah, I’m just (UNCLEAR) And and all the British that I met in the past, so currently I have one contact- daily contact- that is living in England and we have a very good relationship. I am a customer, he is our supplier. So we have this kind of daily work together and I enjoy talking to him every day because this- they have this kind of British humor that it’s so funny the way they they the British humor. It’s so funny for me, at least. And yeah, when when I have a good experience, when I married like 35 years ago, we went to, to, to Spain and in the hotel we were just, okay, we don’t feel like going to the beach. Let’s stay here in the hotel and see what they have to offer entertainment wise. And and there was these two older British couples. They. They. We would talk with them every day. They were so funny. They were so, so nice. So I only have good things to talk about then.
Chris [00:21:02] I love it. Now I do have to ask, I mean, we’ve brought up the British, you’ve mentioned Brazilians, Ukrainians. You’ve mentioned people from formerly colonized African nations. And you’ve described Portugal as this beautiful melting pot. I do feel obligated to ask you, what’s the popular view on Americans? That would be funny. If you’ve been, like, so kind and effusive in your praise to everyone and then you’re like, but Americans come over and they never pick up their garbage and they’re loud and obnoxious and they can all stay in America. That would make me laugh so hard.
Caller [00:21:39] No, I. I don’t have I don’t have any acquaintances. Also, there is not a lot of American tourism here, at least that I know. So you told your experience that you have many friends that came here. But honestly, I don’t have this- our view of America of the United States that’s okay. It’s a friend. It’s our allies. So we we we are let’s say we are glad that we have this military alliance, because we are just a small country, that we need someone to be our friend, to protect us, even though there is no real threat. But it’s always nice to to have this friendship with America. And then we also have a large community of Portuguese living, living in the in the New Jersey Newark area.
Chris [00:22:41] Yeah. Yeah. That’s in the Ironbound. That’s in the neighborhood that my grandparents used to live in. Famously. I’m I’m shocked you know about that.
Caller [00:22:51] Yeah, I know because, for example, I was talking about the Azores Islands. So this archipelago in the middle of the Atlantic, it’s like nine islands. And many of those Azorian people, they are Portuguese. And they the they they they immigrate to the United States. So we know that, for example, when we have the 10th of June, it’s a national holiday and it’s a national holiday that we also remember those Portuguese that are living abroad. And every almost every year there there is some article in the press or some journalistic interview with the the people with these communities that live abroad. So we have a lot of in South Africa also. And in and Newark is one of the biggest also. I think they also celebrated the 10th of June. So there they make some kind of some party there to celebrate the nationality day.
Chris [00:23:57] Well, I tell you. So Newark, New Jersey, is known as a very tough town. I grew up in the suburbs of Newark. My dad went to high school in Newark. Two of my grandparents grew up in Newark. One of them immigrated from Ireland to Newark. So I have these connections to Newark and there’s the neighborhood my grandparents are from was called Down Neck back in the day and then they put trains around it. So became Ironbound because it was surrounded by train tracks as the border of the neighborhood. And that neighborhood has always been known as an incredibly strong Portuguese neighborhood. And it’s kind of, you know, Newark, there’s been a lot of tough times that have faced Newark. There were riots there in the sixties and in the in the eighties, there was a magazine that said it was the most dangerous city in America, I think was the phrase they used. So it had a lot of stigmatization. But in the face of all of that, it’s always been known. But if you want to go into Newark, one thing you can do, you go into the Ironbound, you’ll get the best Portuguese food you’re going to find anywhere in America. And it’s always been kind of this like beacon within the middle of the city. And Newark is now kind of experiencing a bit of a comeback. It seems it’s starting to move, and I think a lot of it is because of the Ironbound leading the charge. So yeah, strong connection between my Jersey Essex County roots and and the Portuguese and I’m shocked. I never I had no idea that that you would actually know about that off the top of your head.
Caller [00:25:27] Yeah. Yeah, yeah. And what’s your your feeling about the Portuguese?
Chris [00:25:34] Well.
Caller [00:25:35] Usually they are known to be hard working people.
Chris [00:25:38] Well, I was going to say, you know, I’ll be honest with you, is that, you know, Americans, we all think we’re the center of the world. We don’t think about other people as much. And I when I think of the Portuguese, I do think of Newark, New Jersey. I think of the Ironbound. And that neighborhood, too. It’s also kind of a beautiful thing because I think now it’s also becoming a Brazilian neighborhood, too, because of the shared language. I think a lot of Brazilian immigrants are heading to Newark as well. So I think of that. And then, um. I know that a lot of like the shipping and sailors who come through Newark are Portuguese as well. So I do I think of it- I have fondness for like a very working class, proud neighborhood near me. And I know my buddy Nick, I got this friend who we all call and Bonaduce. I went to high school with him and he works in construction and he says he works with a ton of Portuguese, Portuguese guys from the Newark area. And he says they’re all like super badasses who just get a lot of stuff done. So just like you said, hardworking people with- hardworking people with good, good food and a cool neighborhood in Newark. That’s what I think of personally. But I can say that I haven’t met too many Portuguese people in my travels.
Caller [00:26:52] Okay. Yeah. So I think that in the United States they are close together in some areas and maybe also in California. There is a few of them, I think in in, in, in in L.A. There there is also some Portuguese community living there. And and yeah, so yeah, there are a lot of the Portuguese all around the world in Australia also. So yeah. Yeah. Because before we joined the European Union, we were really a very poor country, so not financially strong. We lived under a dictatorship for 40 something years and while the other countries advanced technology and their economy um, we, we stayed behind. The only good thing is that we, we were not participating in the World War Two, so we were neutral. We were not affected directly. But the economic wise, it was really struggling for that the 20th century. And only a few years ago, we started to develop more and more.
Chris [00:28:11] It’s it’s wild to hear you talk about it, you know how much joining the European Union affected Portugal. Because, you know, you brought it up a few times now that, you know.
Caller [00:28:26] Yeah.
Chris [00:28:27] Before that, it was a marker. You know, that that is a marker of real change.
Caller [00:28:32] Yeah.
Chris [00:28:33] Because all of us, I think all over the world, people have seen Brexit and they see England leaving the European Union. And now that story extends with everything happening in the Ukraine and how Ukraine is, you know, it shines a real spotlight on their efforts to get into the European Union. So that all feels very real right now.
Caller [00:28:53] Yeah, yeah, yeah. There are lots of people, other countries, they want to come in. For example, Turkey, they are they are trying so hard to get it to enter European Union. But yeah, there are some political issues that it it’s make hard for them to to come and because when you are part of the European Union, you you you lose a little bit of your sovereignty, of your- you need to follow some rules in that the other countries dictate. And this is what the UK wanted to step out because they they wanted to live their own rules, but now they are so angry. The people, I think the population is so angry because they are suffering from economical downturn because of this decision. And but so we but in generally it’s it’s it’s a very confusion union because we have different languages between different ways of living between the north and the south. Sometimes there are some misconceptions or of the Northern people saying that they are lazy, which which is not true. It’s really, really not true. But they have this misconception that the people from the North, they work harder. They all have one one big advantage because they are to get them in, in distance, they are very close. So the Netherlands, Germany, they are- in France they are, they are close together and part of Spain and Italy. So if I want to go to Germany, I have to cross three or four countries to get there. So it’s not easy. The communication and the transport of goods between the two countries. So we are suffering to be in the outer limits of the European Union, but we will get there. So there is. But but it was always a positive and we were so sad that the UK. Because of the Brexit we were so sad they they did wrong wrong decision. They they have this madman running their country that we- so you want me to talk about negative things about someone? Because I only say good things? I don’t like Boris Johnson.
Chris [00:31:47] We finally found the one person that even you will talk shit about. The nicest person I’ve ever met and the nicest person I’ve ever talked to on the phone. Boris Johnson. That’s the guy.
Caller [00:31:57] That’s the guy.
Chris [00:31:58] There’s the guy that you’ll, yeah. Yeah, yeah. It was hard to. I mean, the whole world went crazy for a minute.
Caller [00:32:07] So. Yeah, well what, what, what the Americans think about the Brexit? About Boris Johnson?
Chris [00:32:13] It’s really. I think from our view, so much of it ties into politics over here in the sense of… You know, every European nation has- every European Union nation and probably every European nation has to think about the economic impact of of of Britain leaving. And then everybody keeps it keeps an eye on, well, now is Scotland going to break off and rejoin the EU? Is it going to start to break up the United Kingdom? And you start you know, you see I can see even just from reading what I read, you start to see countries going, Well, how punitive should we be? How much should Britain have its feet held to the fire? Is that will that make sure no one else leaves? Versus is that going to make it worse economically for all of us? All of those things seem to be swirling around over there in a way, in a way that I’m sure is like very much front and center for people all over the European Union. I think, in America we can read up on it, but a lot of it seems to come down to it becomes a companion issue to the extremes of American politics, where I think it’s fair to say that a lot of people who are pro Trump are also pro Brexit just because those things have gone hand in hand. And I think a lot of the people who would swing more towards progressive democratic politics are anti-Brexit. But I don’t know in in a way that I think is sadly probably very American. I don’t know that too many people living on either of those extremes are necessarily trying to understand the nuances of of Brexit and the European Union and how much of it is, you know, this very layered and complex thing, so much as it just kind of becomes a box that you check as far as how it corresponds with our politics here. Even though we might not know all the details about it. So I think that it ties into a little bit of how Americans will maybe tunnel vision on their own politics the past ten years and just go, now, Boris Johnson was Trump’s friend, you know, or no, it was ignorant right wing fascism that led the charge on them leaving. So I think we boil it down to an attachment to our own politics, but I don’t know that we dig too deep into the nuance here on a daily basis beyond that. Would be my guess. Cuz basically I think we’re a little ignorant to it, except if you are if you are in the Trump world, you probably go, yeah, Brexit was good. Because that’s where that landed. And, and then the opposite extreme will say the opposite thing and it’s part of that echo chamber. And, and what’s so frustrating in life lately, if I’m being honest.
Caller [00:35:14] Okay. Interesting. Yeah.
Chris [00:35:16] And now you work- you said you work with people outside of Portugal. You said you’re raising a family. You’ve been married many years. Where else would you like this conversation to go? Because I don’t want it to just make you- like like I said, I don’t want you to just be a human brochure for the country of Portugal.
Caller [00:35:38] Yeah. So one of the reasons that I also want to talk with you is just to share some, some some information about myself. So, yeah, a few years ago, I when my son was younger, I started to notice some details about the way he behave, the way he socialize with other people and some struggles, some anxiety. And I and when he was little, I didn’t think much about it. But then some media video about autism and Asperger’s and I started to watch that video and I say, oh, check, check, check, check. So all the symptoms that it was explained in the video, I started to see my son in those traits, in those symptoms.
Chris [00:36:44] Let’s pause right there. This has really taken a turn. I wasn’t lying up top in the intro, right? Second half of the call we’re going to dive deep into this and a lot more. We’ll be right back… Thanks again to all the advertisers who help us bring this show to the world. Now let’s finish off the phone call.
Caller [00:37:09] I started to see my son in those traits, in those symptoms. And then for me, it was it was surprising because I never thought about it. But then instead of getting sad, I was happy because I think, oh, oh, that’s why he has those strange behaviors. Now I can understand him better. Because before that, if I was thinking for myself, I’m doing am I doing something wrong? Are we as a family not working as we should on developing social skills and so forth? And, and then, okay, so my first impact was, okay, now I understand. I’m glad that I know this. And then when I start to read more and more about the issue, I saw, wait a minute, it says here that this is highly genetic connect connection between parents and sons. And that and then I thought to myself, am I also Asperger’s? And I think of all my childhood how I like to be alone instead of going to big events. I, I like to be more alone. Of course, I love friends and I have friends. But if. If I want some downtime to recharge from alone time. And also I want to think about all the struggles that I had in school and making friends and some tantrums that I had in the past where some little thing that doesn’t have so much value, I valued them too much and and get frustrated and nervous and emotional when after one week or so, I look back and say, Oh, that wasn’t so bad. Why did I react that way? So definitely I’m also Asperger’s. And even though I don’t have medical or psychological treatment or I never I never talk about this with my family, no one knows about this. And then I start to look back and I think, oh, yeah, my father, I get I get I got this from my father because he was also like this when I when I remember how he also behaved socially and then and all the emotional struggles he had in the past. I also saw this, I started to build to draw a line between my son, myself, my father. And and yeah. So this was a big eye opening moment for me when I, when I saw this. And that and now I, I handle it a little bit better because now I understand when I get frustrated and I think, okay, this is Asperger’s. I need to calm down because this is not so big issue. Um, maybe I need to be more calm. Of course, this doesn’t work all the time. I still get my my low and deep emotional state. Um, but, um. Yeah. So this this is why else I like to be more alone. Going to work. One good thing for us, the pandemic forced this isolation. No social gathering, no big parties, so my son was very happy. Though he was no- there is no birthday parties. He didn’t like to go to big events to where there are more like ten or 20 people in the same room. So he didn’t like that. So this social distance thing was good for us. The Asperger’s. This was a very good time for us to have this more solitary moment. Of course, this is not positive. We need to meet people. We learn from them. We need to meet our our family to strengthen those bonds with with my brother and also my nephews and nieces. So, yeah, this was something that I want to talk with you because something that is not in my control. So if this is genetic, this is this is what it is. So we need to accept it.
Chris [00:42:27] Now, just so I’m clear and I’ve got the details sorted out, you mentioned that you see it in your son, you see in yourself, and that you see it in your dad. And I want to talk a lot about that. But just so I’m clear, it sounds like you haven’t been officially diagnosed. Has your son? Like are there doctors saying, yeah, this is what’s going on, this is some form of autism here? Or is it just based on what you’ve read and seen, you’re going, this checks every box, so I know we’re dealing with this. I wasn’t sure how much actual doctors or professionals were involved at any level.
Caller [00:43:01] Yeah. Yeah, not, not yet. So this is still, still only through my observations that I came to this conclusion. I haven’t gotten to the doctor to a psychologist to have this checked because, yeah, I am afraid. It’s stupid but I am afraid of his reaction, my wife’s reaction, the family reaction that say, oh, he’s autistic, oh, oh, this is bad. Oh, this is not this is not good. So and so this is wrong. This is the wrong thinking from my side. I know that I’m keeping this like like a secret. I know the secret that I don’t share with anyone. It’s not good.
Chris [00:44:04] And you haven’t even sat down with your wife and said, Hey, I think this is going on yet?
Caller [00:44:10] No.
Chris [00:44:11] Wow. And how old is your son?
Caller [00:44:14] Let’s say that he’s a teenager.
Chris [00:44:17] Oh, he’s a teenager.
Caller [00:44:19] I will not disclose. Yeah, I will not completely the age, but the is is a teenager. So of course, the teenage years are we all struggle during that period of time. So I’m keeping an eye very close on him to check if he’s- how he’s dealing with school, how he’s dealing with the stress for the exams, for the tests. So I’m very happy now that I know this secret let’s say. I am really watching him to see if if he if I if I notice that something will come off of the rails, I will take I will take him to get support. I will I will get him at any anyway. I will I will do this. But the indecision from my side is also killing me. When I look back, sometimes I think I wish I knew this when I was younger. I wish that someone if someone knew, I wish they have told me. Not finding myself in my forties that I have this condition. I wish that someone would tell me when I was a teenager or in early twenties, because I struggled so much when I started to work. The… Dealing with other people. Different types of personality was very difficult for me to handle those. And I think that if if I knew then, I would have a different reaction. Sometimes I cannot handle it. And I have some responses that are negative that I don’t control yet. But at least I am aware of them. And I apologize because I know what was the root cause. What was behind my my reaction. Negative reaction. And I say to myself, you need to to have this conversation with him, with my wife. But I am afraid of their reaction. If it is going to be negative, if it is going to be denial, if it’s going to be that I am crazy, that I’m inventing things in my head, this will not go well. And this is what my my struggle is. Um. But. Yeah. I think, I think this year will be the the year. So I don’t know. I don’t have this information or at least this feeling from myself for a long time, like I have two or three years ago, I had this real realization that this could be the the situation with him. But during this three years, I’m keeping this information only to myself. And I need to step ahead and and do something about it. What do you think?
Chris [00:48:02] Well, it’s I mean, I have so many thoughts. The the first is… This is a very complicated thing to deal with and understand. And you’re taking your time and I’m sure you have your reasons. And it sounds like you feel stressed out by the fact that you’ve been sitting on this suspicion for so long. And I get that. But I also sit here, I go… It’s a difficult conversation to have, like you said. And but I am struck by the fact that, you know, in the course of what you just said, you even mentioned all these things that I’m learning about that I saw in my son and that I now see in myself, you say, you know, or if I had known this when I was younger, I could see how it would help me. And as hard as it’s going to be, if this is in fact what’s going on and your son does get a diagnosis, that will, in effect, be a gift that you’re giving him. Right? The same way that you’re saying, oh, if I was younger and I knew about this, I can I can look at points in my life where I would have known how to navigate things easier. I would have known why I wasn’t locking into stuff or connecting to stuff in a way that it seems like maybe I should have been. So I will just say… The awkwardness of the conversation, the potential tension, the potential stress, I get all that. But if if you really do feel like this is what’s going on with your son, you can give him that gift that you just expressed you wish you had of, you know, finding out before you were in your forties. Because it certainly sounds to me- and I am no expert on any of this, and it’s it’s one of the more fascinating things, and, you know, I’ve talked about it with people on the show before- there’s such a wide range of things that fall under this umbrella. And it seems like… Between you and your son, you even mentioned your dad, that there’s a lot of stuff that makes sense, but it doesn’t sound like it’s necessarily something that people would be noticing or calling out day to day. So while it may seem unbelievable for people, internally, if this is something that is affecting your son, to have that knowledge, I know there’s all sorts of medical professionals out there that can be focusing on how to process information and different techniques on connecting with people. And sometimes just having that knowledge can circumvent a lot of the roadblocks that things like this present. Now, again, I’m no expert, but I am struck by that. You know, your nervousness about having the conversation versus you saying, oh, if I had found out when I was younger, it would have really helped me.
Caller [00:50:46] Yeah. But you know, now, looking back, I wish I did, but I don’t know exactly what also would be my reaction when I was in my teens, someone revealed that to me. Because I had one event that at that time- one situation when at that time I didn’t give (UNCLEAR) but my first reaction was not very good because when he was in kindergarten and before going to the first grade, he then the teacher told me something in the likes of, yeah, he doesn’t know how to handle his emotions. She didn’t say black and white that he was autistic. But she said in a way that my reaction was not very good, even though after that we took him to a psychologist that works with children and teenagers. And she made the diagnosis that he was okay, that he was a bright, bright kid who is very intelligent. He is good in school. So, even before going to first class, she would engage in some exercises that involve some math thinking, mathematic, mathematical thinking and say, oh, he’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with him. And we say, okay, we are glad with this diagnosis. Let’s move on. But then when the years were passing and I continue to see this struggle through, for example, when there was some party in the school, when they need to go to the stage and perform some song or any dance or something like this, he wouldn’t. He was so nervous. He was the only kid that could not perform anything because of his nervous nervousness, his awkwardness in front of the crowd. And yeah, now looking back to that, it was so clear. It was really in front of my eyes and I and I couldn’t see. But then, you know, now that in a few years he’s going to go to university if he wants to or if he wants to go straight to yeah to start to work, he will need some tools, some guidance from professionals. He needs to be taught some social skills. We are always pushing him to go to parties and to meet friends and go to lunch with them or. But now, during this two years of COVID and everything stopped these parties- birthday parties and so on. So it was not good these two years for to help him integrate in society and with friends. It was a really bad time… For all, but especially for him it was really a bad time, this situation. But now that we are slowly coming out of the COVID restrictions, um, it’s time to move ahead. To do something. To put the cards on the table, as you say in English. Put the cards on the table and.
Chris [00:55:14] Nailed it.
Caller [00:55:15] And. And deal with it, you know?
Chris [00:55:19] I tell you. I hope. I hope that happens, if only because… It will help, you know, it will help sort out things for your son. And your son’s at an age where social stuff is so difficult already. And if there are techniques that a professional can lock in and say, you know, oh, when we’re working with people who have autism at your level, this can often help and this can often help. And it could be such a breath of fresh air. But you know what else I’m struck by on a broader level? Because I see it all. And my son’s only three. But you’re talking about him being in your teens. And I go, wow, that that just never stops happening. You kind of grow up and you only think about time moving in one direction. And then you have a child. And I have been really in awe at how, you know, you kind of assume, okay, I’m going to be a parent. It’s my job to teach him. But the kids never stop teaching you. Huh? Like it moves backwards. You learn about yourself. Things you never understood. You learn about your father. Things you never understood. That’s a really that’s an aspect of of parenting they don’t tell you about. And it’s really profound. Like your son, I’m sure you see his behavior and you’re going- in an effort to understand and help you- oh, there’s all these things about me that make sense. I’m looking at my dad in a different light. That’s a really profound thing. That keeps happening, huh?
Caller [00:56:55] Yeah.
Chris [00:56:56] That’s not just because my guy’s tiny. That just keeps happening.
Caller [00:57:00] Yeah. My father passed away a few years ago. And this realization that I had about my son was after his passing. So. And then I. So I didn’t have the greatest relationship with him. I was often (UNCLEAR) relationship with him. But if I knew if I knew this before his passing, it would give me so much information that I could use it to understand him better than I did. Cause I. I believed him about some things in my head. I never told him, but in my head I had a view of him. And after I got this realization, after I saw my son struggle with emotions and so forth, and also me, then I looked to my father in a very different way. And it was really it was really just a shame that I didn’t get this information or this this understanding before this passing, because I would have… The relationship with him, I would be more understanding person. But. Really a shame. It’s not a good feeling to have these thoughts. Now, I cannot do anything. I only can what I can do is to to reach to my family and be as great as a family member as I can be. Even though I still have this this tendency to be alone, to not visit them as often as I should. To not call them as often as I should. And and, yeah, I still am. I’m still processing this in my head. And I know that I need to make some, some, some changes in my life and be more understanding of other people’s struggles. Because now, I I know that I have my own. So, I mean, I know- and I started to do that. Before I was more just judgmental about other people’s behaviors or life choices. And now I am more understandable of how they behave and what their decisions- life decisions are. I shouldn’t be so judging what they do and what they think about. It was a good thing that I- now that I have this information in my head. But unfortunately it came too late to heal my relationship with my father.
Chris [01:00:19] It’s really profound.
Caller [01:00:21] Yeah.
Chris [01:00:22] It’s really profound.
Caller [01:00:24] Yeah.
Chris [01:00:27] I feel like it’s and again, it’s it’s it’s a medical thing and it’s a thing that involves your child. So the last thing I’d ever do is presume to be like, Well, you got to do this or that. But I go, it is it is another… Another… Another reason I can see in the column of good reasons to go, well, if you think there’s a diagnosis to be had for your son, it’s another one to get there. Because you sit there and you go… Any any child… It’s impossible for the kid to totally understand their parent. There’s a whole past that happened before they were around. There’s all these choices that you have to make that you don’t have time to slow down and explain. And there’s things that happen because they have to happen. And any kid is going to sit there and and have those things that they need to unwrap. And again, it seems like you’re saying this is information that if you had it, it would have helped you understand your dad. And it’s a real regret that that only happened after he passed. And I go, well, again, the sooner you can start having these conversations about your potential diagnosis, your son’s potential diagnosis, the sooner you and he can have those conversations and maybe it doesn’t need to wait so long from his end rolling towards you, if that makes sense.
Caller [01:01:45] It does. And another thing that I realized a few weeks ago, because when we talk about suicidal thoughts, I heard some trend, some commonality between some cases that I heard on your podcast and on some articles from other podcasts that people struggle when they are around the age of 18, 19, especially male. Especially men around that age. Suicidal thoughts. And that creeps me out. I’m really, really afraid. I’m always checking with him to see if he’s okay. Is there anything stressing you out in school or with friends or something that is causing you to be sad? Because when I found this this age of 19, 18, 20, that there are many suicidal thoughts, specially in men… Oh, wow. That gave me- I was so afraid to to know this information. And now I’m really, really, really afraid of if anything could escalate in his anxiety, that this these kind of thoughts. They never- I was never- did this never happen to me. Honestly, I never had this thought. But I am always looking at him and checking him out if he if he’s happy with life. And he’s so we have a we are like, let’s say middle class. We are not rich and we are not poor. We have what we need financially. And and he has all the gadgets that teenagers normally have. So there is nothing material missing. Also at school he’s a good kid. One of the best in this class. So from that point of view there is also no struggles. But we never know what inside the heads of the other people.
Chris [01:04:29] Yeah.
[01:04:30] And it was really frightening to me to, to get this information. And now I’m always watching out. And also the bad thing about autism or Asperger’s in particular is that there is no cure. So obviously one of the things that we read in the article, there is no cure. The only way, the only thing we can do is to understand. And try to mitigate the consequences. The downside? And I want some help from the doctors to find some strategies, some guidance, both to educate them. And yeah, so these are the kinds of thoughts that I’m thinking about daily.
Chris [01:05:31] Well I tell you what, our time is up, but that is an incredible note to end on. And I just want to note there, we didn’t even get to, you know, you indicated some stuff about your dad and who he was and your relationship. We didn’t even have time to get into it. But I will say, just the level of thoughtfulness you displayed right there is such an asset for your son and such a safety net for your son. It’s such a source of strength for your son. And I heard what you just said. It makes me feel like your son is in such safe hands.
Caller [01:06:06] Thank you.
Chris [01:06:07] And I know there’s so much to sort out and it’s such an uphill climb and such a daunting conversation to have with with with him and your wife and family and doctors. But when you have it, I feel like, wow, I feel very, very inspired, one father to another to say, wow, that’s… That’s you stepping up. That’s you looking out. That’s you keeping an eye on things in a way that… I don’t know, I don’t know everybody does. And I don’t know that previous generations did. So I wish we had even more time to talk. But. A daunting challenge, but it sounds like you are so on top of it. And I am. I, as a I feel like one of the highest compliments I can give is to say as someone who’s learning how to be a father, I am very, very impressed by what you just expressed as a father.
Caller [01:06:56] Thank you.
Chris [01:06:57] So kudos to you, and I hope it all works out. I hope it all works out.
Caller [01:07:02] Yeah, it will. It will. Usually, I’m pessimist about everything, but I have a good feeling that he is going to be a very, very good human. And and we will have a very happy relationship in the future. And thank you for your kind words.
Chris [01:07:31] Of course. Good luck with everything.
Caller [01:07:34] And I wish you all the best.
Chris [01:07:36] Same to you. Same to you.
Caller [01:07:38] Come to Portugal, yeah?
Chris [01:07:38] Well, I was going to say the next time I’m in Newark, I’m going to go to the Ironbound. I’m going to go to the- everybody. It’s the it’s the pastries. Everybody always talks about the Portuguese rolls and the bakeries and the the pastela- is it pastelas?
Caller [01:07:51] Pastais (UNCLEAR)
Chris [01:07:51] I got to go get some of those.
Caller [01:07:57] (UNCLEAR) Yeah, they are very famous. They’re very good. Yeah. And and the I hope you, if you come to Portugal, enjoy. And if you come to the north of Portugal, give me a call and we will- we can meet.
Chris [01:08:13] Sounds good. I’ll be in touch. Caller, thank you so much. If I’m in the north of Portugal, maybe I’ll be able to shake your hand someday. Who knows? Who knows how it’ll go? What I do know is that you’re a good dad, and your son is in safe hands. And I hope you keep looking out for him and yourself, and that everybody winds up with all the tools they need in life to succeed at their utmost capabilities. Thank you for calling. Thank you to Anita Flores for producing the show. Thank you to Marcus Hahm for engineering the show. Thank you to ShellShag for contributing our theme song. If you want to know more about me, including the dates and locations of Beautiful/ Anonymous live tapings, go to ChrisGeth.com. That’s ChrisGeth.com. And hey, wherever you’re listening, there’s a button that says Subscribe, favorite, follow- some version of that. It helps us so much when you hit that button. So please think about doing so if you like the show. It’s one of the simple things you can do that just really, really helps. If you want to find our latest merch, go to pod swag dot com. There’s mugs, shirts, posters and a whole lot more. And if you want your episodes ad free and you want tons of other shows with episodes ad free, you’re gonna want to sign up at Stitcher Premium. You can get a one month free trial if you use the promo code “stories” at Stitcher dot com slash premium.
Recent EpisodesSee All
March 27, 2023
EP. 364 — The Chill Priest
Catholic, but without the guilt. A priest discusses why the Episcopal church is often described as “Catholic-lite.”
March 23, 2023
Geth has a new book out called “The Lonely Dad Conversations,” and you’re about to hear a sneak peek!
March 20, 2023
EP. 363 — Jersey Italian Grandma
Kidnapping mobsters, a phone call from beyond the grave, and holy water in a vodka bottle. A Jersey Italian grandmother always has stories.