1) How does it feel to be a dad with a child diagnosed with Autism?
Being a father of any child diagnosed with Autism is definitely something that is hard to take at first diagnosis. I think it hit me especially hard with Max because he was my 1st born son.
All of the things you envision doing with your son that you did with your Dad are potentially no longer possibilities and that is difficult to take. Most importantly, you immediately become fearful of all the what ifs and your initial lack of education of what Autism really means and all that it entails. I was very fortunate to read a book by Rodney Peete called Not My Boy soon after Max’s diagnosis and it really helped me a lot. It gave me great insight and what to expect as well great motivation to do everything we could as a family for Max. It was also very helpful in how to be supportive of your spouse. The book had a major impact on me. So much so that I still read it over again at least once a year. My Dad read it and really enjoyed too. I would definitely recommend it for any Dad that has a child diagnosed.
2) What advice would you give another father, who is living with a child on the spectrum?
I don’t think I am in any position to give any other father advice on their own son or daughter, but I think the most important thing is to be on the same page with your spouse or the mother of your child. I think you should listen to your wife 1st and your gut 2nd and not let ANYBODY try to tell you what is best for your child. Nobody knows a child better than their mother and nobody besides a child’s mother knows them better than their father.
Make sure you are on the same page with your child’s mother defer to her, support her and do everything you can to show your child how much you love them for exactly who they are.
3) Please share with the community what it is like being a dad with a kiddo diagnosed with Autism.
I think the biggest thing about being the father of a child of Autism is your antennas are always up and you are always on guard. You are constantly worried for your child that they will be misunderstood, mistreated, or judged. All of our four children are special gifts to Carla and I, but Max has taught us the most about ourselves. Carla and I both feel like we are much more kind and compassionate people because of Max. Don’t get me wrong I think we were both good, kindhearted people before Max’s diagnosis, but we are so much more aware of things. We never judge others and we have so much more patience and compassion because of what having a child with Autism shows you about yourself and the world around you. Families with Autism need people that show compassion and patience and most importantly not be judgmental.