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World Autism Day

Leah Sarich | posted Friday, Apr 1st, 2016

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April 2nd is World Autism Day. According to the World Health Organization one in 160 children is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Other estimates say one in 68 kids, so a lot of families are dealing with this diagnosis. And researchers here at the University of Calgary have noticed much of the services and supports out there for families are based on the idea that there is a stay at home mom able to help the child. Assistant Professor Bonnie Lashewicz says she and her team feel this idea of the mom at home reinforces the idea that dads have little to offer, when in fact, this is not the case at all.

Her research suggests dads are thinking very hard about parenting their child with autism and reflecting on what it means for them as a person. Research already shows dads are often more hands on with their autistic child, more experimental and often help them develop language in different ways.

But Professor Lashewicz’s research suggests there is even more going on with dads. She’s found dads are boldly reclaiming their role as parent, defying the idea that just because they are a dad doesn’t mean they don’t understand their child. Lashewicz tells the story of one dad, tired of the stares and judgement he feels from strangers when he takes his autistic son out in public, had a t-shirt made for his son that says “F-U I’m fine.” She speaks of another dad who takes his autistic son to the movies and to buffer the loud noise of the theatre, he nestles his son against him covering the boy’s ears with his chest and hand.

The goal of this research into dads is to understand the needs and contributions of dads with children on the spectrum. The hope is, in the same way we’re seeing more dads washrooms with diaper changing stations, there will soon be more services, programs and resources for dads with autistic children.

Lashewicz says if all parent resources, both mom and dad, are being supported everyone’s life is smoother.

For more information about this research visit this website. 

 

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