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Oh, Good Grief!

A Dad's Perspective on the Autism One Generation Rescue 2012 Conference

Cody and Harrison swingingBy Cody Jordan

I’ve only been back from Generation Rescue/AutismOne 2012 for a few days, but I take a look back from a dad’s perspective.  This was my fifth year coming to the greatest conference in the history of the world, and in those five years, there’s something I noticed when it came to the dads who were there.

In my very first year at AutismOne, I noticed a distinct difference when it came to the number of moms compared to the number of dads.  I had many moms say things to me like, “Oh, it’s so great to see dads at this,” and the egocentric part of me was eating it all up.  I thought it was great at first, but then I started asking myself, “Why aren’t there more dads here?”  The dads I did meet were great and ranged from dads going to presentations to the doctors/presenters to editorial staff members of the greatest online Autism publication.

But in this fifth year at Generation Rescue/AutismOne, I noticed an increase in the amount of dads, and it was more of a gradual increase over the past five years.  I’m not just talking about attendance either.  The level of involvement of dads was much greater as well.

The first thing for dads took place last year and was started by a guy who isn’t even an “autism dad” but saw the importance of dads in attendance.  When the moms were at the annual Spa Night, this guy started “Dad’s Night Out,” a night of pizza, bowling, and (sometimes) beer.  It was absolutely perfect; the attendance was great, so it happened again this year.  The attendance was even better.

I mean, sure, we talked about our children, and there were times when a few dads grouped together  to talk about their children’s specific needs.  It did seem, however, like it was more about a bunch of guys with a common bond just getting together for some fun, and we talked about anything.  I learned what zip cars are (Hey, I’m from Iowa, and we only have zip cows), and I also talked to another dad about the futility of overtime periods in playoff hockey.  What I took from this night is that there are dads out there who do have their children’s recovery at the forefront of their thoughts and will come together for the sake of their children.

There was even a track of presentations at this year’s conference specifically geared towards dads.  There was even a panel of them who took the time to share their thoughts and experiences about being the father of an autistic child.  At the end, they took questions from the audience.  I was there, and it really made me feel like there are “autism dads” out there who not only care and work for the recovery of their children but also to help guide the newer dads in this as well.  It was truly inspiring to see so many men coming together for one common purpose: our children.  The one unique thing about Generation Rescue/AutismOne this year was that I didn’t have a single (not one) person say to me, “It’s so great to see dads at this,” and the egocentric part of me didn’t mind this at all.  In fact, the absence of compliments is a compliment for all dads who were there.  It’s becoming more commonplace, which is definitely a good thing.

What would be really cool to see is the Dad’s Night Out fill to capacity like the Spa Night does.  I’d love to see the number of dads there keep growing and growing.  I’d love to see even more dads guiding newer dads in this fight and for all dads to spread the word that we need to do it for our children’s sake.

I don’t want to even come close to sounding like I’m taking anything away from all the Autism Moms out there because I’m really not.  What I am saying is that you all have carried more than your fair share of the burden for far too long.  But things are changing, and I’m offering this as a beacon of hope to all the Autism Moms that there are a growing number of dads who are ready, willing, and able to join all of you in this fight against autism.

Cody Jordan is an Age of Autism Contributor.  Please take a look at his post A Proud Report on Autism Recovery from last November.


Ken Siri

Nice job Cody.


Thanks Cody for sharing a dads perspective.

The thought of getting together with other Autism dads is a pretty amazing concept. Heck, just getting together with other 'biomed' parents would be a welcome treat for me. As laid-back as things are Iowa, you should see what it's like here in rural Canada.

Its not that we don't have our share of autistic children, because you literally see them everywhere these days. And my wife and I are fairly involved in our local Autism community. The problem for me, is that I have yet to meet another person who even knows what biomed is. And for some reason, most aren't open to learning anything about it. Couple this with the fact that it has taken 5 years (... with a DAN! doctor) to get my spouse on the biomed train, and well... lets just say its been an isolating experience.

I've always wanted to attend an AutismOne conference, and the thought of being part of a burgeoning dad presence might be just the thing that forces me to find a way. Thanks again for sharing your experience.

And thanks as well to everyone else here. This website has literally become a safe place for me in recent years, where I know I can share thoughts freely without worrying about who's listening. It means a lot.

Todd Eccles

I attended this year and honestly we couldn't both go in the years past due to financial reasons. We went to different talks throughout the event except the major talks of course. My wife has been going since 2005 and I have attended 3 so far. I wish I could go to each one of them but paying for someone to watch your autistic child for 4 days is very costly. So I salute all the dads staying back and helping keep the household in order while Mom gets away for some R&R and enlightenment. It was so encouraging meeting so many parents who are going through exactly what we are going through. We all need to connect up more with each other and share ideas, stories, challenges etc. My wife is now reading the blog put together by the Thinking Moms Revolution. She is loving it. Thank you to everyone who attended and made this an awesome event. A big thank you to all the doctors putting it all on the line especially Andrew Wakefield. You guys are my hero!

Lenny Schafer

Don't think autism dads have played a minor role in their children's lives. Every major autism organization, Autism Society of America, Autism Research Institute, Cure Autism Now (predecessor to Autism Speaks), Generation Rescue, Autism One were initiated or co-founded by autism dads.


I can't say it better than Zed, but thank you Cody! I'm so glad to see dads like you working to heal their children and speaking out. We need you!!

Carter's Daddy

Nice to get represented here Cody. We haven't gone to an A1 conference yet due to time and work conflict, lost wages issues(even though it's free it still ends up costing a pretty penny), which as I ponder it now seems odd since it was Jenny's book that started it all for us, but we've been doing ARI once a year(east coast ones) since the time it was called DAN. While nobody looks very surprised there are dads there, we are a slim pie piece there. It's reassuring for me that a good number of the speakers and doctors are Autism dads. Some of the dads must stay home to earn a living to make it possible for the moms to go to the conferences, and even I have to volunteer to save the admission price, but there are also plenty of moms doing all of it alone, who either have naysayer husbands or are single, and I fear for how seeing dads there might make them feel. If it's unsettling then it might be even worse that they need to interact with me as I help them as part of my tasks there. I try to make everyone feel as comfortable as possible. I recommend either conference to dads. There's value there for us too!

Teresa Conrick

Hi Cody,

Thanks for such a great summary of the Dad perspective. I noticed too, more dads this year and think it is a beautiful thing! Also want to comment on your description here-

--- "The first thing for dads took place last year and was started by a guy who isn’t even an “autism dad” but saw the importance of dads in attendance." ---

That creative and super passionate person is David Geslak. David started and heads Exercise Connection Corporation He is a huge support to many in the autism community and I am sure came up with the ideas about supporting more dads at A1 as he always has the best interest of our kids and our families. Bravo to him and all of you dads!


Bravo, Warrior Dads. Silent eyes applaud you!

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