It’ s really only been within the last 5 years that I feel I fully understand Asperger’s. Spotting my Aspies has become easier and easier over the years, and I owe a great deal of that “train spotting” to my Dad. I’ve traveled back home this weekend to visit my mom. My dad passed away several years ago, and getting back home can be difficult. My Dad was an Aspie, mild, but Aspie still. He managed to beat polio, work himself through college despite growing up in poverty through the Depression, earned a masters in engineering, and was a Master Ship Builder with his ships in museums and privates homes across the East Coast.
Today, I toured the Kinston Arts Council in North Carolina . My dad started a train club there. Trains are a common interest with Aspies. My earliest memories of my dad were his building train sets, models, etc. We once had a car garage bay filled with an amazing display. I was able to take my kids to the museum today and share with them his 10,000 hour talent. He was truly the best in the world at models and basically anything upon which he set his mind. To some degree, I am jealous of that hyperfocus.
A little cathartic writing here likely, but amazing talents and gifts are given to our Aspies. And sometimes that gift and talent can come at the expense of social relationships, grades, connections with children, and marriages. My dad cared a great deal for me and we connected around models and sci-fi. But in my practice, and in my own life, I see many dads moving through life missing time with their younglings because their special interest takes all their attention. That special interest could be work, a hobby, or internet gaming.
Fathers, as Father’s Day approaches, recognize that there is more out there than trains, Wells Fargo, Engineering, or Microsoft… Stop for a minute, put down your special interest, and make your special hyperfocus interest your little neurotypical or Aspie padawan. Give that child 10,000 hours of hyperfocus and you can never imagine what you will create.
Peace out from Dr. G and enjoy my dad’s trains….
Dr. Frank Gaskill ”Dr. G” is the c0-author of Max Gamer, a graphic novel about Asperger’s and is a founding/managing partner of Southeast Psych. http://www.southeastpsych.com Watch his Dr. G Aspie Show at http://www.southeastpsychstudios.com