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5 ways autism makes me a cool dad

This guest post is by Ron Sandison, who works full-time in the medical field and is a professor of theology at Destiny School of Ministry.

On March 20, 2016 at 3:13 am my beautiful daughter Makayla Marie arrived. Eight days late and weighing 8.5 pounds. After performing the C section the surgeon asked me, “How does it feel to be a dad at 3:13 am?” I smiled and having one of my unfiltered autistic moments, said, “I hope being born at the same time as the Detroit area code 313 is not a foreshadowing of her becoming a little gangster. It could be worse of course if she was born at 8:10 the Flint area code then she would never want to drink water.”

Beside my autistic quirks, comments, and repetitive behavior autism makes me a cool dad in five main ways:

1. Understanding and empathy for life’s pitfalls.

Due to autism I have experienced severe bullying in elementary and middle school. Bullies always enjoy a response from their helpless victims and with my sensory issues and meltdowns I gave them plenty of entertainment. When my daughter experiences hardships in life I will be able to comfort her since I too have experienced suffering.

Like the tale of the young boy and puppies. A young boy saw a sign puppies for sale. He asked the man selling the puppies, “Can I please sees your pups?” The man grinned and replied, “These are a special breed of K-9 and very expensive.” The boy handed the man a quarter and said, “Let me just have a quick look.” “OK!” and the man whistled and the puppies came running from the doghouse. The boy’s eyes danced in delight as five puppies encircled him—last of all the runt of the litter came hobbling to him.

The boy excitedly declared, “That’s the pup for me!” The seller surprised exclaimed, “You don’t want that pup, he is injured and the runt of the litter. He won’t be able to play ball with you or have fun like the other pups.” The boy lifted his pant leg reviewing a steal brace frame and explained, “I can’t play with the puppy the way other boys can. I understand his pain and I will love this ball of fur unconditionally.”  

2. An amazing toy collection.

Chuckie Cheese motto is, “Where a kid can be a kid.” Autism has caused me to never grow up. I have a $6,000 dollar Calico Critters collection in boxes at my parents’ house and also hundreds of toys from around the world. Makayla Marie will always have plenty of fun toys.     

3. Bedtime adventure stories.

Some of the positive traits of autism include both attention to details and exceptional memory recall. These gifts empower me to be an awesome story teller. When I was a child my dad would tell nighttime scary ghosts and adventure stories. I can still recall the details of these amazing adventures.

4. Love for books and learning.

I have over 4,000 books in my personal library. During the last decade I have read over 950 books and I can recall over 80% of what I have read. Every night my wife Kristen and I read a book to Makayla Marie. My mom kept every one of my childhood books. Makayla will be an expert on the 80’s stories like the Get Along Gang, Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys.

5. Following family traditions.

I love to follow set routines and patterns especially with holidays. One of my favorite traditions is watching Christmas Eve the movie Christmas Vacation and waking up at 6:00 am the next day to open presents.

Makayla having me as her dad is in for a fun journey. She has already learned to use music to get my attention—distracting me from my special interests. As she kicks a beat on her keyboard I come running to her crib.        

Have a story you want to share about living on the autism spectrum? Email us at InOurOwnWords@autismspeaks.org.

The Autism Speaks blog features opinions from people throughout the autism community. Each blog represents the point of view of the author and does not necessarily reflect Autism Speaks' beliefs or point of view.