Dad the Hero

Dan Coulter Headshot.jpg
By Dan Coulter

Dads, did you ever imagine yourself as a superhero? Sure you did. I have a mental picture of you as a little kid, in your underwear, with a towel tied around your neck for a cape. You’re jumping off the bed and running through the house pretending you’re superman. In your mind, you can fly. You save the day.

The circumstances change, but we all hold onto a bit of that hero dream.

We dads have another dream that starts when a child is born. What he’ll be like. How she’ll grow. What we’ll do together.

But when a child has Asperger Syndrome, that dream can veer off course.

It can be frustrating when he or she doesn’t follow the script in our heads. When he continues to do things after we tell him not to. When she can’t seem to understand things that seem obvious.

And let’s face it. Most moms are better at the unconditional acceptance thing than most dads.

Even if we love a child with Asperger Syndrome, we’re more likely to hang onto our expectations and occasionally be impatient as he grows older. Sometimes more than occasionally.

That’s where the hero part comes back in.

On the real-world hero scale, being patient with a child is not the same as running into a burning building to save a life, but it’s still a challenge. It’s everyday heroism.

Everyday heroism strives to understand how a child with Asperger Syndrome feels when he tries his hardest and still gets teased or rejected by kids and criticized by adults. To accept that he can be doing the best he can -- and still misunderstands what you want. To not just correct her when she’s wrong, but to help her practice doing things right, and praise her when she succeeds. To let go of old expectations, and help him live up to his capabilities.

The earlier we start the better, but it’s never too late to make a difference. To be the father he knows he can turn to. The father she knows she can trust.

Some dads are natural everyday heroes. The rest of us have to work at it. But natural or self-made, everyday hero dads often find their children succeeding in surprising ways. Sometimes in ways they never imagined possible.

If you’re not there yet, your family story is casting for a hero. And the part has your name written all over it. You can save the day. Save the child.

Your child.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dan Coulter is the producer of the DVD, "Asperger Syndrome for Dad: Becoming an Even Better Father to Your Child with Asperger Syndrome." You can find more articles on his website at

Copyright 2010 Dan Coulter All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.

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