Many fathers have difficulty coping with the reality of having a child with autism – many others simply do not know how to properly forge a connection with their child. As a father to an child with autism, Nando Caporicci weighs in on the importance of fathers in the lives of autistic children and outlines ways that fathers can better connect with their child.
The Importance of Fathers
Mothers and fathers have very different methods of parenting. When it comes to children with autism, Nando Caporicci states that using the different strengths of both parents can help balance out family life and negate the weaknesses of the other parent.
For instance, fathers tend to communicate differently than mothers. Where mothers will focus on the child’s interest to promote conversation through questions and comments, fathers often use a more directive tone.
The two parents’ play styles also vary greatly – fathers will often participate in more elaborate play sessions as well as more active and rough activities.
Children will also use longer and more complicated sentences and stories with their dads due to a father’s tendency to use a higher level of language than mothers when communicating with children, which is great for the development of a child with autism.
Overall, Nando Caporicci states that having an involved father as well as a mother can help autistic children get well-rounded stimulation and development, without counting the benefits of having two highly present and caring figures in their lives.
Ways to Connect With Your Autistic Child
Because children with autism can struggle with sensory challenges and motor skills, the traditional activities used by fathers to connect with their children – sports, roughhousing, and coaching – some fathers can find it difficult to connect with their child. Nando Caporicci suggests the following activities:
Because they are so simple, these types of games don’t require particularly difficult motor skills and can be adapted to children on any section of the spectrum. They allow you and your child to spend a lot of energy while having fun at the same time.
However, be sure to stay flexible and to adapt to your child’s preference, especially when it comes to setting rules. Some children with autism will thrive with a more open-ended style of play while others will be confused by the lack of concrete rules.
If you have enough spare time, consider coaching for a sports time with children with special needs. Not only will this be quite fulfilling for you and your child, but it will provide a great opportunity for bonding. Plus, it will allow your child to participate in a team without the usual challenges and expectations associated with traditional teams.
Finding Common Interests
Any child has interest, and in the case of children with autism, these interests are often very passionate. As a father, it is important to take interest in your child’s passions. Even if you don’t have a particular fascination in a particular subject, try digging deeper and finding something you enjoy.
These will allow you to spend more time with your child and build a positive foundation for your relationship. Creating this bond between father and child is truly beneficial for children with autism and allows fathers to feel more fulfilled in their role.