Note from Team GR: Warrior Dads are an important part of a child’s journey, which is why we reached out to one of the most dedicated dads we’ve had the pleasure of getting to know through our annual Autism Education Summit. Meet Dave…
Written by Dave Borden
On September 29, 2017, Generation Rescue will be hosting its 4th Autism Education Summit (AES) in Dallas, TX. I have yet to miss an AES, and my wife & I fully intend on attending our 4th summit this fall. I always leave the conference feeling empowered with new treatment strategies that may help my son. Most of all, I leave with a renewed sense of hope and a feeling of connection with the autism community. It’s these latter 2 that keep me coming back to the Autism Education Summit (AES) every year.
One thing I have noticed over the past 3 years is the increasing number of Dads who attend. In the beginning, Jenny (McCarthy) asked all the Dads to stand. As I stood up and looked around the room, I noticed maybe 10-20 fellow Dads standing. However, this past year, wanting to recognize us Dads, Jenny again asked us to stand. This time, when I looked around the room, I said to myself, “WOW”. The number of Dads in the crowd was significantly more, and I was proud of my fellow Dads for joining their partners at AES. After talking to some of them and reading what they’ve written on social media, I know many Dads realized the same benefits from attending AES that I did. If you’re a Dad on the fence about attending the Autism Education Summit, here are 4 reasons you should join me and GR in Dallas this fall.
1) Connect with Leading Medical Practitioners
AES allows us to hear the latest in medical research through science-based lectures from experts in their fields. It’s important for us Dads to hear about this research straight from the source. When our wives or fellow parents tell us about a potential therapy, we may quickly dismiss it if it doesn’t make any sense to us.
I’m personally guilty of this despite being quite open-minded about autism treatments. For years, I dismissed the Ion Cleanse as a potential treatment tool for my son. It was expensive, and the theory behind it just made no sense to me. Someone affiliated with AMD (the company selling the Ion Cleanse) or other parents were always the people talking about it. In my head it made no sense, so I dismissed it. It was not until we won a free unit last Christmas where I was opened to the idea.
(Thanks GR and AMD for the 12 Days of Giveaways) We’ve used the Ion Cleanse for almost 6 months, and I am now a believer!
We guys have a tendency to be overly logical beings, so if we can’t make sense of it, we deem it illegitimate. Hearing doctors and scientists explaining their experiences and research helps us better understand. If we still can’t make sense of it, there are Q & A times where you can ask the presenters your specific questions. When we hear it from the source, it gives the science more credibility even if it’s just in our own minds.
2) Connect with Other Dads
Every year at AES, there is a special event for Dads only. Guys always come out of this event with positive things to say. We’re able to relate with one another, share stories, and get advice from other Warrior Dads. It’s good to hear that you’re not the only one feeling this way or that way. Dads of newly diagnosed kiddos can chat with veteran Autism Dads to help them learn to accept the diagnosis and how they can best fit into their kid’s life.
Before autism entered our lives, we all had a picture of what Dad life will be like. Many times that dream gets shattered, and we feel lost. We wonder what this new life will bring, and how or where we will fit in. Rest assured. You’re not alone in this sentiment. There’s a learning curve that comes with being an Autism Dad, and we’ve all stood in those shoes. AES offers us Dads the opportunity to connect with one another, so that we don’t feel alone in this journey. Whether you’re a 10 year veteran Autism Dad like me, or brand new to this autism world, you’ll find inspiration and camaraderie with fellow Warrior Dads at the Autism Education Summit.
3) Connect with Your Spouse
Attending AES with your spouse has the added benefit of solidifying your marriage. As you sit in lectures taking diligent notes, your wife will notice and undoubtedly be grateful that you are there with her. This will show her that she is not alone in this journey. Moms need support just like Dads. Having us sitting next to them will go along way in forging that partnership. The autism road is hard, and it’s much-much easier when you have a true partner. I could not imagine how tough my life would be if my wife and I did not have this unity. Staying a few nights in a hotel without kids might have extra benefits for your marriage too. (wink, wink)
4) Connect with Your Kiddo
Spending a few days learning about autism will help you be a better Dad too. It will transform you from an ordinary Dad into a Warrior Dad. Hearing doctors discuss specific medical issues, you’ll have several moments of epiphany. You’ll say to yourself, “I bet that’s why my kid does that”. (whatever “that” is) You will learn the how and why certain behaviors, outbursts, or tantrums happen. It will help you better understand your child. When you can understand why they act a certain way it helps you have compassion for them and makes it easier to find ways to connect with them.
It’s All About Connections
As you can see, it’s really all about building connections at the Autism Education Summit. You leave with a clear picture of what’s next for you kid’s treatment, but most of all you leave with a sense of connection to the community. The autism journey is full of twists, turns, and a massive amount of potholes to slow you down. Finding that support group is critical to helping us navigate the path.
Warrior Dads Assemble!
While the increased number of Dads attending AES is inspiring to me, we Dads have some work to do. We’re still outnumbered 10:1 by the Moms in the crowd. This year let’s show them how committed we Dads are to our families. Let’s make this year be the biggest turnout of Warrior Dads that Gen Rescue has ever seen. I’ll be in Dallas this fall, and I hope you will join me there.