Having a Son with Asperger Syndrome: A Father’s Perspective
For a dad (and a mom too), the arrival of your child is often like a gift from heaven. The package is perfect; the possibilities are endless, as are the expectations and hopes. With our first son it was that way for me.
As time went by, the realization that our son had something “different” going on was at first difficult to deal with. Many of the hopes and expectations I had for my son started to shift for me, but it was those same hopes and expectations that held me back from accepting help, or even a diagnosis. I simply felt that a diagnosis would be a label placed on my son and an admission that he was “broken.” That did not sit well with me. After all, I still viewed my son as a perfect gift from heaven with endless possibilities. Those two realities seemed to be impossible to resolve and I did not want to admit—when we received the diagnosis that he had Asperger Syndrome (AS)—that he was broken.
With the diagnosis came a ton of “churned-up” feelings that I described at the time as a cement mixer. I remember all of these heavy thoughts turning over and over in my heart and mind. What would this mean for our family? What would this mean for our plans? How would it affect Cam's future? How would it affect my career? Once we built up a support community around Cam, moving due to a career opportunity would mean rebuilding that team. For us that was a huge consideration.
A major turning point for me was the realization that kids with AS are not broken. They are, in fact, still perfect gifts from above that simply have different obstacles in front of them. As a dad, I was now in the obstacle-removal business. Individuals with AS have infinite potential as long as we can help them remove their obstacles. Fixing things that are broken is often thought of as a dad's role in the home. And although I couldn't “fix” my son, I could help him remove obstacles and enjoy watching him accomplish his goals. That was an infinitely more appealing idea than trying to “fix” him, at least to me.
Reprinted with the permission of the Autism Society.
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