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Parenting an Asperger’s Child

In, “How Two Presidents Helped Me Deal With Love, Guilt, and Fatherhood” veteran political journalist Ron Fournier details how Bill Clinton and George W. Bush taught him how to understand his son, Tyler, who has Asperger’s syndrome. It’s a long read but worthwhile.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.


  1. SKI says:

    A very good read.

    As the father of a child with autism, fairly high functioning but no where near an aspie, that underlying lesson to accept and appreciate him for who he is is a a hard one to achieve. My first born son was diagnosed on the spectrum when he was about 5 (we had known he had issues from the age of 2 but the initial diagnosis was auditory processing, not autism). It took me years, if I’m even there now, to accept it in my gut.

    The discussion of learning appropriate scripts is very much on point. The best analogy I veer heard explaining autism was written almost a decade ago and went as follows: Most people in this world as PCs. They use the same operating system and software. A small but significant portion of the population are Macs. They use a different operating system but have the same basic software options and can share files fairly easily with PC-folk. People with autism are unix systems. You can get them to interact and exchange information with the rest of the the world but each type of transaction needs to be specially programmed for that one machine and exchange.

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  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    My sister has an Aspergers child. Due to her training as a teacher she saw the clues far earlier than Fournier. By the time he was in K or 1st grade he had been diagnosed. This made my nephews road a lot smoother but my sis had to fight every step of the way to get him what he needed. That was back in the mid 80’s. It would seem things have improved since then.

    One would hope.

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  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Oh, and he is doing fine. He found his one great love in the outdoors and is presently working as the…. groundskeeper? of a Boyscout camp.

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  4. Steve Hynd says:

    Ugh. Fournier doesn’t come out of his own story well. I’m the father of a fairly high-function autistic child and the notion that you couldn’t/wouldn’t notice and would spend years trying to fit your kid into a mould you created for him…all I can say is Fournier was less of a journalist than I thought if he was (and far less of a good father than he thought he was) if he was that unperceptive and hidebound for so long.

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  5. Peter says:

    One thing that will become a very big issue when Tyler gets older is that barring a miracle he will never have girlfriends or a wife. Being much more conformist by nature, women have little or no tolerance for males who are “different.”

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  6. Steve Hynd says:


    Being much more conformist by nature, women have little or no tolerance for males who are “different.”

    It might be your sexism, not your non-conformism, that’s stopping you getting a date.

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