Autism Parenting

Special Needs Super Dad: Tim Gonzalez-Smith


In honor of Father’s Day, I want to shine a light on the Super Dads within our special needs community. Meet today’s Super Dad, Tim, father of two.

What is your favorite thing about being a special needs dad?

That our journey is different. We are a neurodivergent family: we think different, feel different, and experience life differently and we’re proud to own that and celebrate our differences.

What do you wish people knew about being a special needs dad?

I can admit that I mightily struggle with my work/life balance, trying to float a career while working to stay present and supportive on the home front. I take my son to most of his therapies, deal with the insurance logistics, and have to get up with him as soon as the daylight finds his eyelids while trying to advance myself in my day job. Sometimes a little patience and flexibility goes a long way when interacting with others and I think every special needs dad could appreciate that type of empathy and understanding.

What advice would you give to other special needs dads for cultivating a meaningful relationship with their special needs kiddo? 

If you are having trouble connecting with your child, don’t be afraid to try a new way in–go (way) outside of your comfort zone. For many special needs dads, the model of a traditional father/child relationship is ill-fitting and outdated. Know that common ground will show up where you least expect it. Find your place in their world and embrace the role. Find a way to make them smile, to make their eyes twinkle, and do it until you can’t anymore.

As a caregiver, oftentimes, we give so much of ourselves that we forget to take care of ourselves. What do you do to take care of yourself?

I meet with a talk therapist on the regular and try to get outside for some fresh air as often as possible. I took up disc golf last year and definitely think it’s helped keep me somewhat sane and clear of any mental health crises. It’s crucial that I find time to purge emotions and find time to “reset” so that I can be present with my kiddos (and my wife)!

What makes you “super dad” in the eyes of your special needs child?

For me it’s about being well-rounded and in tune with my son’s wants and needs, not a specific thing I can do. Asking him about his special interests, praising him for hard work, supporting him when he’s struggling, and laughing at the little things that make him happy. When he knows and feels that he’s at the center of my universe nothing else really matters.

Free e-book for parents

I wrote a free e-book for parents, “8 Ways to Support an Autistic Child & Improve Yourself” and would encourage anyone who is trying to support an autistic kiddo to give it a read.

You can connect with Tim on Instagram at: @autismdads

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