Science is the New Politics: Evan Harris the bigger picture
New Book: The History of the Peanut Allergy by Heather Fraser

Happy Father's Day

Mel L baby lick Managing Editor's Note: Thank you to our friends at Autism File Magazine for allowing us to post this article. Please, click into the PDF HERE to see the complete article. Mel took the gorgeous photos of his boys.

Happy Father's Day to the Dad's (and the single Moms acting as both Mom and Dad.) Please leave a comment sharing your own Father's Day message.

A Brother for Matthew
By Mel Lindstrom

There is an old saying we all have heard: "When you fall off a horse, the best thing to do is hop right back on." I have a question though: What if you don't "fall" off the horse? What if something comes out of the blue and slams you so hard and so unexpectedly that by the time your head stops spinning and you regain your footing, the horse is already a good jog down the road? What do you do then?

Okay, I'll be more direct: What if you had always planned on a large family with wonderfully happy kids running around and laughing about the home, but your first child goes through horrific health problems and you are later told that he's autistic? After your dreams are shattered and you change your lifestyle to adapt to biomedical treatments, occupational therapies, IEP meetings, etc., what do you do then? Especially when the horse (that is, your own age) is already a good distance down the road. . . .

Mel L brothers The moral behind the original saying is that you get back on so you are not afraid the next time. You overcome your fears  right there in the moment so as not to let them get the better of you. And you learn to ride in spite of any setbacks. The reality is, however, that that's just plain hard to do.

When my first son, Matthew, reached the age of four years old, Shar and I realized that he was indeed getting better, although certainly not all on his own. We used a multitude of interventions that required tens of thousands of dollars, inconceivable sleepless hours, and huge stresses on the marriage. All of these things were utilized to help bring our son from a young boy who was so lost in his own world I never thought he would look at me  let alone speak to me to the happier child he was at four.

Things were better. But Shar and I always tend to look at things differently. For me, I saw Matthew's future as bright and wonderful. . . . Someday he will be discussing the means of obtaining artificial gravity and changing the world as we know it. He will go to college, have adventurers' journeys, and so on. So, he will need someone closer to his age to experience the emotional joys and hardships with. In my mind, Matthew needed a brother or sister.

Shar's perspective was in contrast to mine. What happens when we are not around? Who will care for him? Who will help him? Who will love him? He needs a brother or sister for these things. We came from two distinct viewpoints, but we both reached the same conclusion: Matthew needed a sibling.

Considering what we had been through the last four years, having another child was a scary thought. And it was more intimidating for my wife than for me. Fathers don't carry the "maternal gene" that causes a mother to feel a personal burden that she was somehow the cause of her child's illness. With that thought comes the anxiety that the same thing will happen once again. So, we prepared as best we could. We both had all of our amalgams removed. We both went through a personal chelation process, vitamin supplements, and even colon hydrotherapy. We cleaned our bodies up pretty well before we even considered the conception stage. And, of course, we let everyone know that we did not want ANY vaccines.

During the pregnancy, we made Matthew a part of the process. He knew what was happening inside of mom's belly. He said he wanted a sister. He would even talk to the stomach as his little sister. Shar and Matthew spent countless hours in front of the TV watching shows about giving birth and pregnancy and bringing home a new baby. Matthew loved those shows. When the child was born, Matthew came to the hospital to see his new brother. He was not disappointed in a boy. He was amazed.

Even though we had our fears and apprehensions that Matthew did not grasp the concept of his own strength compared to the fragility of a baby, we shared the new baby and the special moments with him often. Matthew tried to help feed him. He watched us change him, put him to bed, and bathe him. Matthew found joy and excitement when Adi first walked or when he first started making sounds and certainly whenever he laughed. Matthew loved it when mom brought his baby brother to his kindergarten class. He showed everyone: "Look everybody! That's my baby brother!"

It became obvious that Matthew genuinely loved his new brother.

These days I come home to a house filled with joy. My little guy Adi runs up to me to give me a hug. Matthew does the same thing and yells "Daddy!" while he is running. Matthew constantly videotapes his brother with a FLIP camera. Shar is so happy because now she can rejoice in the daily rewards that most moms receive when raising a child: a self-amused baby who finds new discoveries on his own.

Since my kids and my wife are happy, I am also filled with delight.

The other morning Adi was up early watching TV in the living room. Matthew sauntered down the hallway and up to Adi, gave him a hug and kiss, then went back to bed. Matthew tickles his brother to watch him laugh. Adi tries to tickle Matthew back and Matthew just laughs at the sight of it. Today Matthew is constantly making up new nicknames for his brother: BillBaby, ShuffleBaby, PopcornBrother. . . . Don't ask me what these names mean or where they come from. I can only tell you that it is a sign of affection when Matthew gives you a nickname.

They play like brothers. They fight like brothers. They learn from each other like brothers. They do this because they have a genuine love for each other. Like Brothers.

If asked about my greatest regret in life, I couldn't answer. But I can easily say that the best decision I ever made in life was to have another child. Another joy for me and mom and a brother for Matthew.


Cherry Sperlin Misra

I loved all the posts for this article and thought that I had nothing to add. Then I thought of the parents in India who will never have another child because they are terrified. Doctors have told them that autism is genetic. Im thankful for Age of Autism and all the others who just tell us the truth.


Thank you for the wonderful story, and belated Father's Day wishes to all!

We have 4 kids, the oldest is a teen and youngest is 2. The two in the middle are both on the spectrum. I constantly notice new amazing things that our youngest child does, the "normal" things, that I haven't seen in a toddler in my house for over a decade.

Theodora Trudorn

I spent yesterday remembering my dad. I lost him in '08. All the things he taught me, his paitence, his constant affection, his hope and love for me. I miss him every day. It is good to see others with ASDs share that love of thier fathers.

I love my brother to death!! I worry about him constantly, being in the army and all, but I don't know what I would do without him. He could always bring me out of myself and gently bring me out of my world and into the world, if that makes since.

I miss him. I remember how scared I was when the Tragedy at Fort Hood unfolded and I couldn't get ahold of him till 10 at night. Thankfully he was fine!

I conclude this with Happy Father's Day to all the loving fathers out there from a young lady with an ASD who's father went through the ringer for her!!

And love to all the siblings out there, and admiration and undying love to all our soldiers!!


Thanks Bendetta!
Bensmyson- I still really relate to what you're thoughts are.
Certainly coming no where near a vaccine, or really anyone that pushes it. As if my own son's regression wasn't enough, my 2 month old nephew then died within days of his DPT or "SIDS". We're planning on homebirth this time. I'm done working with/financing providers who have a fundamentally discrepant view on health.


Benedetta I can remember Kennedy getting shot, Im already old.

Maybe Im over thinking this but assuming there is only so much time, only so much money, only so many times you can ask family for help it seems irresponsible for me to take such a risk. Like I said, Im old.

That said though I admire and appreciate all those willing to take the risk, to live their life, to offer a playmate and helper to their affected child, but I cant in good conscious do it. I so wish I could.


Good luck Ginnie;
You are going to a DAN doctor, that is great, and a wise decision. I guess you are making plans about avoiding the Hep B when it is born.

I know for a fact that both of mine would have been just fine if not for the DPT shot. They were ahead of their milestones, not just meeting them. I know all of us say that, but it was true!
Congradulations in the coming of your new family member.


We have decided not to have another one. Our son is so high needs and with my ADHD/NVLD I feel like I have all I can handle. Sometimes I worry about when hubby and are are gone that there will be nobody to care about our son, not sometimes...a lot.


having another is a huge decision and still has a different set of circumstances to consider with each family, especially how far recovered the one with ASD is. having one child with ASD feels like having 6 kids I think. and still more emotionally draining b/c of the required advocacy in multiple areas and the fear of the future when were gone.
i did realize one day that i cared much more about recovering my son than i did of my previous dream of having more than one child- or having a neurotypical child. and there is no way around the fact that splitting your time with another child is a drawback for your asd child. we waited until our son was recovered enough to feel that he could benefit from a sibling but still feel a little conflicted since he still has a ways to go. but we're due next month and hopefully it will work out for the best. still concerned about having a child with a serious impairment that can't be prevented by avoiding vaccines. and yep, saw dan docs myself for a while before i even considered it.
good luck to everyone with their personal decisions about this.


You won't be young forever, have another.

dan olmsted

That may be the best baby/sibling photo ever taken, autism or not.

Carolyn Gammicchia

Great article and photos. Thank you for sharing this. Our son with ASD is the youngest, I couldn't have more children after he was born unfortunately. But I think we still would have. Not sure.

Our son though has been an amazing mentor to his brother with ASD. He's supported him and challenged him to meet his accomplishments. For us as parents, he's been our measurement of what to shoot for for our son with ASD. However we soon learned he had his own path he wanted as well.

My husband has been invaluable within that process. I often call him my third child, however we needed that equalizer....the parent who could have fun while I ran that road of searching for what was available to meet our son's needs.

I urge parents to be there for each other and do not ever presume other than competence in your children. No matter their abilities, open those paths for opportunity. In reading the other post I remember lying in bed one night and my husband saying "I just wish I could hear him say - I love you" - and now our son says it and means it each and every day.

Dream and wish big....our kids can!

Happy Father's Day to all you amazing dads of children with ASD who also are there for their siblings.


Thank you for sharing. This is an interesting topic I don't hear much conversation on.

Our first (and only) was very, very hard from the beginning. The second one would be much different from the first, I can believe that. I am basically not willing to risk it at this point. Our ASD child is now 5 1/2 and improving every single day, and my family keeps asking me when we are going to have another. And I want to scream, "If you had any friggin clue what this was like - where were YOU when I was in trouble?" They don't get it.

On the other hand, I am curious to know what a "typical" baby/toddler would be like. I realized the other day while watching my neighbor's 2 year old hold a conversation with her that I have no idea what that looks like.

I'm also not willing to have another child to burden that baby from the moment he's born with lifelong care for my first son. That may be an unpopular way to look at it, but if my husband and I die tomorrow in a car crash, my son is going to a friend (also the mom of an ASD child), not my brothers and SILs. Family dynamics are a weird thing.

Happy Father's Day to everyone.


My greatest wish...that someday my husband will hear the word Daddy.
He deserves it.
Thank you for sharing your story.

Autism Grandma

What a PICTURE!!! Look at that expression:) And what an inspirational story for all fathers. Thank You Mel.

You deserve a Medal of Honor and so do all of the fathers who stay with their children and take care of their needs, especially fathers who have children with autism or any other disability. It is a challenge to say the least and alot of marriages have been pushed over the cliff right along with the child with autism.

My grandson's father is only a sperm donor and has no interest whatsoever in his son, but he was that way since the beginning so we can't blame that on the vaccines. (But we sure as heck blame the vaccines for causing the autism!!!)

It is actually a blessing that my grandson's father is not involved since he does not watch out for his welfare and it would truly be dangerous to have him around. So there is a silver lining to every cloud....


what a sweet story. Happy Father's Day to all you great dads.


The only issue that has caused a huge divide in my marriage isn't the fifty or so issues facing most couples, money, sex, drugs, drinking, violence, it's whether or not to have another child.

4 years ago when Ben was born we said, this is great, let's do it again, "As soon as Ben is out of diapers..."

In a way I've kept to my end of the bargain since Ben is still in diapers, but if push came to shove a truck load of Viagra couldn't get me to intentionally father another child, even with a 100% guarantee the new baby will be fine, that's not the issue, that's not my reason for not wanting another child. No, it's that I have no guarantee that Ben won't be negatively impacted because of it, I'm scared, I'm committed to doing everything I can for Ben, to bring him back, even if that means hurting the dreams and aspirations of my wife, my lover, my best friend. I just can't do it, God I wish I could, it hurts.


Thank you for sharing this great story-- I think it's a really important one. People need to know there are ways to spare subsequent children the "autism journey" and that children with autism appreciate the companionship and closeness of siblings. The "auto" in autism is a deep misunderstanding. We've seen that even the semblance of it fades with recovery.

Something I hear all the time from families who went on to have more (and less or un-vaccinated) children was how easy it is to raise an NT child after having had to pull their first child out of the disorder. Not "easy" but easier.

I suppose the neurodiverse will complain that Matthew's brother has been "deprived" of autism. Ah well. Blessings to your wonderful family.

AnnaLaura Brown

This is great. Dads truly can be heros. My dad has always been mine. When my parents found out I had an ASD and even since then they have been great but especially my dad. He always has a way of putting things in the best light and of cheering me up and making me realize that despite that, I truly am blessed.


Awesome story for Fathers Day. I have a 5 1/2 year old daughter that forces herself on her 4 year old brother with Autism. Her social skills and constant interaction with him help him to learn to play and interact with others his size (instead of depending on parents, teachers and therapists).

I recently snapped a fantastic picture of my kids sitting at a picnic table with a shape puzzle. My daughter would hold up the shape and say it slowly to my son. He would repeat the word and put the shape back into the puzzle. It was awesome to watch.

Happy Fathers Day to all!

Bill Slimm

Thanks for sharing this story and Happy Fathers Day to all the Autism Warrior Dads out there. WE must never give up fighting for our boys and girls who have been vaccine injured and diagnosed with ASD. I am a father of 3 with our oldest son Jacob having being diagnosed with PDD-NOS shortly after his 3rd birthday. Jacob has a brother who is 2 years younger and a baby sister now who is 7 years younger than he. We immediately stopped vaccinating Owen after Jacob's diagnosis. At the time he was about 11 months old. Our daughter Lily is now 20 months old now and is vaccine free. Thankfully both Owen and Lily are not vaccine injured. There is no doubt that Jacob's younger siblings have been just as instrumental in his autism recovery journey along with all the biomedical treatments he has gone through. Would I take Jacob's autism away if I could? HELL YES..but one thing I know for sure is that having a son with autism has made me both a better father and a better person. On this Father's Day 2010 I am honored to be a Dad to a wonderful son with ASD. He is my Hero.

claudine Liss

Beautiful story! Thank you for sharing. Happy Father's Day!

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)