Challenging Misconceptions as a Father with a Disability

Dominick, a man using a wheelchair and wearing a pair of glasses smiles against a backdrop of an LGBTQ/Trans flagDominick Evans, also known as Dom, is an incredible father – but as a disabled person who parents a disabled child, much of society doesn’t view him that way. Dom has Spinal Muscular Atrophy and is hard of hearing, while his son is autistic with other psychosocial disabilities. When Dom met his partner Ashtyn on an online forum 22 years ago, she was a single mother of an 8-year-old son and Dom was in college studying theater and acting. They lived five hours apart, with Ashtyn in Michigan and Dom in Ohio. After speaking every day for a few months and starting an online relationship, the couple finally met in person and have been inseparable ever since. Now, their son is 26 and the family is thriving. Sure, there are still challenges along the way – including people’s misconceptions about their relationship and parenting – but Ashtyn and Dom continue to provide the support their son needs as he goes through life.

“I love kids. I’ve always wanted children,” he said. “I knew that I could try to help [our son] navigate the world as a disabled person myself. I’ve never been able to formally adopt him, but he wanted me to be considered his dad and we’ve always had that kind of relationship. Sometimes he calls me dad, and sometimes he calls me Dom, but he definitely is my kid.”

Dom is the parent who provides emotional support, as well as guiding his son through education and teaching him social skills. Dom and Ashtyn’s co-parenting skills are what keep the family working. While it is difficult for Dom   to be unable to hold his son when he is upset or hurt, the emotional connection the two have more than makes up for it. They also love spending time together playing video games, and bond over that shared hobby. Dom said, “I remember the look on my son’s face when I helped him win Super Mario Sunshine. In that instant, I became his hero! That’s the thing parents aspire for… moments like this.”

Dom also knows it is important to have someone in your life who understands your own experiences. “I feel like, because I’m disabled, I gave my son a much different perspective,” he said. “He really got to witness the way I was mistreated, and I think he’s a better person because he’s more compassionate and caring. He was bullied a lot in school, and I was able to connect with him because I was also bullied. Having someone who really understands what you’re going through is important for disabled kids. I was glad that I got to be that for my son.” He also said that, in addition to his disability, his son gets to see Dom’s advocacy for LGBTQIA+ rights, and this makes him more empathetic and understanding of diversity and inclusion.

When teaching him life lessons, Dom says that he wants his son to know that it’s okay to fail – you have to just keep trying. He wants him to know that he will always have a shoulder to lean on and listen to without judgement. When the world tries to tell them that their very existence is wrong, they can lean on each other and their found family for strength and pride.

“All we have is each other and we are a very strong family unit. I wouldn’t change my family for the world!”


 

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  1. thealthack.com Says:

    This is such an amazing thing that we all want it.


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