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    Happy Father's Day to All Awesome Autism Dads

    Topics: Parents, Autism in the Media

    And a Special Shout-Out to Five Autism Dad Heroes! 

    In researching material for this Father’s Day article to appreciate autism dads, one thing was clear: fathers don’t get nearly as much credit as they deserve when it comes to their role in raising their autistic children. Perhaps this is because in general, most early intervention practices focus more on supporting mothers than involving fathers in the process. 

    A father’s involvement and contribution to their child’s development are equally important, and the articles and video clips I found of fathers actively engaged with their autistic offspring couldn’t illustrate this more clearly. They had me teary-eyed and filled with awe at the difference these dads are making in the lives of their children. 

    Although every situation is different, I hope that any dads viewing these clips of other fathers in action will feel recognized and appreciated for their unique and important role in raising their child with autism, and that the rest of us watching will have a renewed appreciation for all the amazing dads in our midst. 

    father and daughter with autism with tutu skirts dancing like ballerinas

    1. Youth motivational speaker David Flood has been speaking with and helping teens and young adults for over 20 years. He teaches teens through the telling of his own very personal stories about his family in the past and present. In this video, David Flood chokes up telling the story of his autistic son, Justin, and the lessons we can all learn from him. 
    2. Daniel Harrison, a 15-year-old who has autism, wished he could make friends. His dad posted about his son's wish on Twitter—and Daniel ended up getting more than 50,000 responses from new "friends" on his birthday.
    3. Chris Davis was born with neurological damage, severe autism, and physical disabilities. His father Bill was told it would be best to put Chris in an institution as he would be so difficult to look after. But Bill and his wife refused. Instead, they set out on a journey to seek answers and improve Chris's quality of life. They achieved so much through their determination, dedication, and unconditional love that Chris is now at college. Bill’s unconditional love for his autistic child turned his son’s life around.
    4. This dad and his son found a way to communicate by memorizing movie lines. 8-year-old Shawn has autism, and in this video, his dad uses lines from “The Incredibles” to improve his speech and communication abilities.

    5. When Rodney first learned of RJ's autism diagnosis, he spiraled into deep denial and struggled to face the truth. But then he tackled his son’s autism diagnosis head-on and grew from complete denial to full acceptance, and ended up leading a support group for other autism dads.


    These short clips are just a small representation of all the dedicated fathers who love, support, and do everything they can for their autistic children and their families. Many of you are unsung heroes, doing similar things and more to better the life of your special children. To every one of you, thank you for “showing up” and making a difference in the lives of your children.


    Happy Father’s Day!

    Father and son with autism in nature

    Are you an autism dad, or do you know of one, who has a story to tell? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.


    We hope you enjoyed the information in this article. STAGES also offers free downloadable resources to support teaching and learning with individuals with autism. Start with our free Picture Noun Cards and see our collection of other downloadable resources here!
    Ymkje Wideman-van der Laan

    Written by Ymkje Wideman-van der Laan

    Ymkje Wideman-van der Laan is an author, public speaker, and Certified Autism Resource Specialist from the Netherlands. After working abroad as a teacher and humanitarian for 25 years, she moved to the US in 2006 and assumed the care of her then 6-month-old grandson, Logan. There were signs of autism at an early age, and the diagnosis became official in 2009. She has been his advocate and passionate about promoting autism awareness and acceptance ever since. Logan is the inspiration behind the Autism Is...? (tinyurl.com/5aj73ydd) series of children’s books she initially wrote for him and later published. Ymkje currently lives in California with her now 15-year-old grandson, and besides writing, presents autism training workshops for early childhood educators, parents, and caregivers. You can read more about her story in her newly released book, Autism on a Shoestring Budget, [Early] Intervention Made Easier (https://tinyurl.com/ysxhxbmf). For more information, you can visit www.autism-is.com, www.facebook.com/AutismIs, and/or contact her at autismisbooks@gmail.com.