Stephen Borgman

Stephen Borgman

Spectrum Solutions

What My Son Has Taught Me About Autism and Parenting

Here's a quick way to improve your parenting and your life

Posted Mar 10, 2015

My son David has been in my life for 15 years.

My roly poly son (years ago)
Source: My roly poly son (years ago)

Little did I know, when I brought that little roly-poly package home, how much he was going to teach about life.

You can improve your parenting and your life by becoming your child's student.

Here are life lessons my son, David, who's on the autism spectrum, has taught me.

Generosity

One day, on a father-son trip in Wisconsin, a woman was holding up a sign asking for money.

I was skeptical, and drove past her. 

David was devastated. 

"We've got to help her!"

I turned the car around, and we gave her a donation.  Did she need it? I don't know, but giving made a better person out of me.

When at McDonald's at many an occasion (don't judge me for taking him there :-), David's taken loose change from his pocket and put it in the Ronald McDonald Home coin collection.

Till this day, David's generosity will frequently amaze me and challenge me to be a more more giving person.

Humor

Whether it's quoting his favoite Big Bang Theory or Seinfeld shows, poking fun at Kim Jong Un (he's fascinated with the man), or coming up with silly puns, David's always got a knack for making me laugh.

One liners emanate out of his mouth, and I wonder where they came from!

My wife has posted a number of those one liners on Facebook.

Here's one he wrote for gym class.

See what I mean? :)
See what I mean? :)
Source: See what I mean? :)

Creativity

As long as I can remember, David's loved writing and drawing. When he was young, he created the Crude Sock comics. 

The hero of the comics is Crude Sock, who is just that: crude and smelly.

He's coined inimitable names for his bamboo plant (Champion), his bottom feeder fish (Cellar)

He doesn't really care what people think: about how he looks, or about whether he's popular or not.

An Original Take on Life

David thinks things through on his own.

He always has. It's been hard for me, but he has questioned the religious beliefs I was born with and still adhere to.

He's got his own belief system, different from the traditional beliefs I grew up with.

It hasn't been easy for him to hold to his beliefs, but he's thought them through carefully, and even though he's felt like a religious minority in our family, he's taught me to accept his personal beliefs.  (Even though we agree to disagree).

While it's been difficult to accept that he's departing from my particular belief system/religion, I respect how deeply he thinks about things.

Love of Nature and Animals

Nature

There are many friends from our neighborhood who say to me in late summer: 

"I saw your son on such a such a street."

"I saw your son at the park"

David takes long walks alone throughout the spring and summer.

David's taught me that nature is beautiful, resorative, and worthy of my time.

He soaks in sunshine and nature like the desert soaks in rain.

That's why I'm glad when warmer weather comes.

Animals

Whether it's the annual dog show, our four cats, our two former hamsters (may they rest in peace), or our leopard gekko, David thrives with animals around him.

Maybe it's because they are so loyal and straightforward. You don't have to wonder what an animal's thinking. No social nuances. What you see is what you get.

What do my learned lessons mean for you?

Become your children's students.

Honor their unique strengths, interests, and points of view.

Enjoy the lessons they can teach.

Write them down.

And share them with you children.

It will validate them, and deepen your appreciation for the magnificent people they are.

And in the process, you will become a better parent and person.

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