In my “spectrum” circles, I feel fortunate to know plenty of dads who are completely involved with their kids. I get lots of valuable insights from fathers of young adults, age 20+, as well as dads of teens and younger.
As we celebrate dads today, I’ve asked a few fathers to share some thoughts with us. Certainly having a child with autism spectrum disorders presents a wide range of challenges. But as you’ll see here, these inspired patriarchs have not let a different way of being stand in the way of a nurturing father-son relationship.
Mike, father of Andrew, 16:
What’s the biggest thing that autism has taught you?
Autism has taught me patience and acceptance and joy, in ways I never thought possible.
The patience is simply a necessity. It comes from a realization that my son must do things, not my way or even the typical way, but rather his way, at his pace, with his own spin and set of priorities.
The acceptance part comes from the need to agree that the ‘non-typical way’ I just noted is okay.
And the joy comes from the little moments of accomplishment and humor and intelligence and personality that make him so great. I wouldn’t change him for the world.
Scott, father of David, 16:
What things do you do to bond with your son?
I try to do whatever he is interested in. We play a lot of video games and read books together. We also like to go out for a hamburger every Saturday.
I read every page of every Harry Potter book aloud to David. Harry Potter was my attempt to get him to like books. He did like those, but generally has no interest in reading. Fortunately, he likes shorter books now, like Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
Neil, father of Benjamin, almost 17:
Advice for dads who are new to the diagnosis?
Though this world seems like a dark and difficult place to the parent brand new to autism, the truth is, just beyond the fear and anxiousness, there’s a wellspring of warmth, closeness, achievement and happiness to be found, if you’re willing to engage the journey. It’s not always easy. But it’s immensely rewarding—if you’re willing to be patient, accept and move ahead.
Wishing all you dads a very special day. Thanks for being there–through thick and thin! And a singular shout-out to my own father, who has done a wonderful job understanding my son.