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.
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!
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.