I am 9 years old, standing in my backyard. My dad stands 10 yards away as we toss a black-on-pink Nerf football back and forth. This might sound like one of dad's unwritten obligations. But you should know that he was in his sixties...and had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma...which he had already outlived the six-month diagnosis for...after having fractured one of his vertebrae due to a steroid designed to help him feel less anemic. He never had much lateral quickness, so my little brother caught each pass away from my dad's chest. It made fatherhood appear easy. Just be there, leave everything on the field, and you'll look like an MVP.
You'd also want someone like my Grampa on your team. During a visit one day when I was 14, he rebounded a basketball for me...with a bad rotator cuff which made it hard to raise his arm. He could still make bounce passes. I prefer both men's best traits to athletic genes, with the pressure to perform so that your worth is only based on athletic success. All it ever was is a shared activity.
It was obvious that my old man was on borrowed time. At a time when I felt extreme alienation, I could ask him almost any question and receive a good answer. He was interested in many subjects and understood people in addition to book smarts. There's a reason I hung out in his jacket pocket when I had free days. I tagged along when he was around his friends. I learned more from them than I learned in school many days. Many fathers of autistic kids wonder how to reach them. Unless those dads are also part of my club and understand their kid's quirks. Because he was retired, I had extra time to pick his brain. Having said that, I have a few suggestions based on opinions and actions I've witnessed over the past few years.
Many fathers will experience sticker shock when they see the full suite of services that their kid(s) are recommended for. Dads have been conditioned to be the breadwinners for their families over countless eras. Autism is confusing. Even I don't know what it is. I don't know what expectations you or your kids have. All I know is there's only two purposes to raise kids: Learn to fend for yourself, and try not to break under stress and trauma. How is it possible to show that kids are taking one step at a time to stand on their own? Anyone who knows the first thing about budgeting with their time and money understands how to operate under all kinds of constraints. This can't afford to turn into a boondoggle when you're talking about any kid's quality of life. Learning how to do more with less is a large reason how I'm able to approach you today.
Do not micromanage. Any kid must learn about failure and backup plans. Also, talk through both yours and their own thought processes when making decisions. Many parents want to protect their child from every possible problem. From personal experience, overprotecting them can easily put a straitjacket on your child. Those of us who learned from our mistakes without feeling too weighed down have the greatest teachers.
Having many interests helps. Your kid will lock onto things. It's unpredictable. They will know more and more about less and less. If your child possesses tons of specialized knowledge, they might need someone to sit them down and ask questions about what they are ignoring or missing. They are already inquisitive. Someone's got to direct their curiosity. Most times, home is the best place for this.
Our world has become more and more reliant on electronic screens to teach and to entertain everyone. Entertainment is one thing, but I never got invested in what celebrities are doing, and treating them as role models, following and fawning over their every step. I always knew it's just entertainment when I watched Braves baseball, football, other sports, and movies since childhood.
I personally knew my role models growing up. They led by example. Anyone who can say that hit the jackpot. For this, a simple thank you isn't enough. Now go play catch or do something else awesome together. I wish I could with my dad.
It just so happens I agree with Charles Barkley here. Role models are found at home and among pillars of the community.