Fathers and autismPosted by in Uncategorized
Happy Father’s Day to all the great dads out there who are totally involved in their children’s lives. Especially those who are devoted to their children with autism spectrum disorders. When our son was diagnosed, my husband became a full time parent. He spent hours with our son. He “schlepped” him to and from school, therapies, playdates, birthday parties, and wherever he needed to go. He took him shopping and on errands. He spent hours with Floortime. He built countless tracks for the Thomas the Tank Engine trains. He went to countless meetings. While not all fathers can be this involved, they can certainly be there for their autistic child in many enriching ways.
When I give a diagnosis to a family, I try to insist on both parents being present. In many families, it is the mother who takes the child to appointments and who gets the diagnosis alone. The father is left out of the loop, and gets all his information from the mother. Often, the father’s reaction is denial and withdrawal. The divorce rate in families with children with disabilities is very high, often due to the father’s withdrawal. When the father is present at the diagnosis, it is more effective for him to hear the diagnosis from a “authority”. Both parents need to hear that this is not a horrible diagnosis, there is hope, and many children will have a good outcome. Fathers need to hear that optimism. They need to hear that they have a vital role in their child’s outcome. Men have a different approach to children. They use different language, and they interact differently. Children need a balance of both parents’ approaches. When a child receives a diagnosis of an ASD, we surround them with women. There therapist, teachers, aides, and frequently their doctors are usually women. Like all children, these kids need men in their lives. They need their fathers.
So Happy Father’s Day to all you special dads out there. Your children with autism spectrum disorders need you as much or more than your other children, even if they don’t show it as much. Go out there and be a dad!
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