Fathers' Perspectives: Supporting Your Child on the Autism Spectrum Through Their K-12 Journey

Fathers' Perspectives: Supporting Your Child on the Autism Spectrum Through Their K-12 Journey

Jason C. Yarbrough (West Texas A&M University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-7732-5.ch005
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Abstract

I am a dad. Not a common dad. Rather, I am uncommon. Uncommon and very much like Dan Marino, Doug Flutie, Joe Mantegna, Sylvester Stallone, and Ed Asner. We are all dads to children with autism, or, as I will call us, “Autism Dads.” Having a child on the spectrum is a unique dad experience. And having a child that receives an autism diagnosis can be surprising. Adjustment to this new information can take some time. When we have a family member with autism, each family member's role must shift a little with unknown expectations. This chapter has the purpose of sharing from one dad to another some of the important steps you should consider taking to support your child on the autism spectrum in the kindergarten-through-high-school academic journey. First, a discussion of relevant literature and finally some tips and suggestions based on experience are presented.
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Review Of Literature

A brief definition of autism may be in order. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a lifelong condition characterized by very mild symptoms to severe impairments in communication skills, social interactions, and unusual behaviors that interfere with independent functioning and interactions with others. ASD may cause financial, social, and emotional difficulties that negatively affect the entire family. With an examination of this definition, it is clear that fathers of children with autism will have some unique challenges in front of them. Literature highlights this unique experience and the unique role of the “Autism Dad.” In the following sections of this chapter, I will offer some ideas and strategies for fathers helping their children navigate the kindergarten through senior year school system.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Caregiver Survey: Survey developed to better understand how informal caregivers of nonelderly people with disabilities and chronic health conditions successfully assist an individual with a disability.

Autism: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a lifelong condition characterized by very mild symptoms to severe impairments in communication skills, social interactions, and unusual behaviors that interfere with independent functioning and interactions with others.

Long-Term Disabilities (LTD): An injury or an illness that causes a person to be unable to work for an extended period of time.

Broad Autism Phenotype Questionnaire (BAPQ): Measures behaviors associated with the broad autism phenotype.

Children Without Disabilities (W/OD): Nero-typical children, not classified with a disability.

Three Sub-Scales of the Caregiver Survey: Homemade questionnaire measuring perceived social support.

Broad Autism Phenotype (BAR): Set of personality and language characteristics that reflect phenotypic expressions of the genetic liability to autism, in non-autistic relatives of autistic individuals.

Autism Dad: A father of a children on the autism spectrum.

Role of the Father Questionnaire (ROFQ): Measures the extent that a parent believes the father’s role is important to child development.

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