I am the father of a son with Aspergers Syndrome and through the years of my wife and I raising him, it has had many challenges for me. As a father I wanted him to take interest in outdoor activities, sports and other things that we could do together but while he was not interested in these things there were other items of interest that I had to adapt to in order to spend the most amount of quality time with him.
While he may not have had interest in what I thought a young boy, now a man, “should” be interested in, he has opened my eyes to a different world that has brought us closer together over the years. I just had to be the one to approach his interests with an open mind and with the idea that these were things we could do as a father and son.
The many times that my son was being called names or bullied by his peers I had to be supportive and encouraging in creative ways, primarily to teach him how to ignore those and look forward to the future with special father and son times together.
Some words of advice from a father of an aspie:
- Learn to be a listener;
- Take interest in his activities, not those you think a young man should take interest in;
- Find things to do outside the home that you can teach him and he is interested in;
- Be supportive and patient, as typically those with Aspergers will find it difficult to relate to things we take for granted as well as conveying their thoughts in the same manner we are accustomed to;
- Above all, be a father as well as a dad, they will never forget the times you spend with them and the memories you are making.
by Herb Allen
The inspiration behind the documentary, Coping to Excelling: Solutions for school-age children diagnosed with High-Functioning Autism or Aspergers Syndrome, Sam offers his insights into the world of Autism through his blogs and input for aspergers101.com. Currently enrolled in college working toward a degree in Engineering, Sam enjoys spending his time building high-end computers, on-line gaming and even took time to build a low-powered FM Radio station for fun. Contributing guest writer on our Autistically Speaking Blog, Sam’s take on having Aspergers is: “Don’t think of Autism as a weight but more like wings in which to soar”. We would agree!
Q: “Many people see children with Asperger’s and they don’t understand that their needs are lifelong. They don’t see that even if you watch your child succeed at a young age, there will be new territory to navigate as they get older and new situations arise.” This is so true, my son was diagnosed with Aspergers in the 90’s when there was not a lot of “buzz” about it. He did okay, but now as an adult he seems to be having difficulty especially with anxiety and confidence. I am worried for him, and keep directing him towards counseling, but he hasn’t yet. Any suggestions?
I can completely relate to this. Near the end of my high school days, I garnered several accomplishments and awards, but college was a completely different ballgame, especially since I was four hours away from home. Once I got out of college and moved back home, the working world was a completely different situation as well, and I struggled mightily at times. Each new job, new relationship, and new situation is a challenge, but an opportunity as well. Fortunately, my family could not have been more supportive of me over the years.
Ken Kellam III was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome in his late 30’s, and has worked with Autism Treatment Center of Texas since 2003. He is currently the administrative assistant to the clinical director. He also helps facilitate three different self-advocate groups, and in the Spring of 2015 was presented with the “Angel Award” by the National Autism Association of North Texas for the works he has done with these groups. He has also done public speaking on the subject of autism/Asperger syndrome, and has spoken to various educational and parental groups. When not involved with autism, Ken has led the singing at the same church since 1988, and has also been the fill-in preacher at this same church. In 2006 he was called on to sing the National Anthem at the Autism Society of America’s national convention in Dallas, and performed the same song at ATC’s rodeo fundraiser. He also enjoys writing, and formerly wrote articles for a website dedicated to reality television. In 2011 he got married for the first time, and his wife Rachel works for ATC in Adult Services. Ken graduated from Oklahoma Christian University in 1987 with a Bachelor’s in Mass Communications, and once worked as a radio traffic reporter, interactive announcer and writer, and news producer in Dallas. He views Asperger’s as a difference, not a defect, and has come to appreciate the positive aspect’s of Asperger’s.
Our increased knowledge about autism has profound implication. So in addition to discussing problems that specifically affect autistic individuals, we should explore what the mere existence of the autism spectrum can teach us about a wide range of social, cultural, political, and even philosophical issues.
Autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning it affects each person in a different way. That being said, there are certain overriding traits that unite those of us on the autism spectrum.
Matt Rozsa is a Ph.D. student in history at Lehigh University, as well as a political columnist. His editorials have been published on Salon, the Good Men Project, Mic, MSNBC, and various other newspapers and blogs. Matt actively encourages people to reach out to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.