I'm Michael, Colin's dad. Colin is autistic and awesome.
This site is where I share occasional reflections and insights associated with being a so-called "autism dad." But to be clear: I'm just one of many autism dads; my experiences are my own.
For more regular updates, follow my 1 Autism Dad Facebook page. I frequently post bite-size thoughts and photos, as well as links to interesting articles about autism and neurodiversity.
A little background
Colin's path was bumpy for the first few years. He and his twin brother were born 2.5 months premature and both immediately faced numerous health challenges. For example, we almost lost Colin at 10 weeks when his heart and breathing stopped; I gave him multiple rounds of CPR to revive him. It was the scariest ten minutes of my life.
He was later diagnosed with a very rare pediatric lung disease and spent three years tethered to an oxygen supply. Fun times. In the midst of his lung issues, we began to suspect autism. He wasn't formally diagnosed for almost another year, however.
Fast forward several years
That's the hard stuff. The truth is that Colin is the sweetest, happiest child I've ever known. He's pure sunshine and non-stop energy. He's bright, but has a hard time with what are clinically referred to as adaptive life skills...basically, the stuff that comes easy to most kids can be a challenge for him. Before the DSM-V combined all autism diagnoses into a single autism label, he was diagnosed with Classic Autism. However, he didn't fit neatly into this or other categories, something I think is true for most autistic people. We decided early on that labels were much less important than who he is.
Colin has many gifts. For example, he loves music and has perfect pitch. He has an incredible memory: he can tell you what he did two, three years ago with surprising detail (and photos back up his recollections). He possesses math skills far beyond his years. Give him a name, and he can add up all the letters in it and give you a sum—instantly. If you tell him your birthday, he'll you the day of the week. His favorite color is pink, and his favorite TV and movie characters are the happiest (think Joy from Inside Out and Poppy from Trolls).
But here's the thing:
This blog isn't really about Colin at all
As he gets older, I feel ever more compelled to respect his privacy. Moreover, I want to write about neurodiversity and autism—and issues related to special needs parenting in general—not about my son in particular. Though many of my posts involve him, some more directly than others, I want to avoid making the story about him.
I've always loved writing. In fact, autism is just one of the many things I write about. Soon after Colin was diagnosed, I wanted to get the perspective of other autism parents. I gravitated toward a few parent bloggers whose insights seemed particularly helpful. Moreover, these parents weren't hosting pity parties. They were honest, but also optimistic. Some were downright hilarious.
I was inspired to add my own voice to the conversation, and I've been fortunate to have gotten very positive feedback. Parents often reach out to me for help and advice; usually they're just starting the autism journey. I've also been asked to speak on various panels to educators, students, and parent groups. I've gotten to interview people like Steve Silberman, author of Neurotribes. I've designed an autism app (and hope to do more). And I redesigned the autism spectrum diagram.
Some parents say autism destroyed their lives. Autism has brought new meaning to mine, both professionally and personally
Through this journey I've learned much about myself and others that I wouldn't have otherwise. This is true of all parenting, but especially so when your child has a disability. It's introduced me to many people I might never have met. And it's made me a more grateful and empathetic person.
What happened to ASD Dad?
I started this blog in 2011 under the name ASD Dad, and kept it that way until March 2018. I grew to hate the name ASD Dad. First of all, ASD put the emphasis on disorder, and I didn't want this to be a pity party. Second, I'm just one of thousands (millions?) of autism dads, not the autism dad. Changing the name to 1 Autism Dad alleviated most my concerns.
Here are some of my posts I share most often with others:
- Medium: My advice to parents after an autism diagnosis
- TED Ed: A Q&A about autism with Steve Silberman, author of NeuroTribes
- TED Ed: A parent’s advice to a teacher of autistic kids
- Scary Mommy: To Chris, The IKEA Employee, Who Helped Me Find My Son
If you have comments, questions, or just want to say hello, I'd love to hear from you. I can't promise I'll be able to return all messages, but I'll do my best. And, as noted, you can follow me on Facebook.