A Nova Scotia man got the best Father's Day gift ever when his 5-year-old autistic son said "daddy" for the first time.
Simon Squire was in disbelief over the weekend when his son Corran walked up to him, said "Hi, Daddy," and handed him a magnetic drawing toy where he had scribbled, "I like Dad."
"I was stunned. It's still kind of unreal,"
Squire told the Toronto Star. "I've been waiting for this for five years."
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Diagnosed with autism in February 2012, Corran had been completely non-verbal up until a few months ago. The child was then able to say a handful of words, including "Mommy," but had never before acknowledged his father.
"I was just another person to him. He'll let anybody play with him. He'll show anybody his toys. But he never called me by name," Squire said. "I used to tell my wife, 'I understand it may never happen. He may never call me Dad.' It hurt. It really hurt. I was Dad, but I didn't feel like Dad."
Squire took a snapshot of the "I like Dad" that his son had written on the magnetic drawing board and uploaded it to social news site Reddit, where it soon went viral and sparked a passionate discussion about autism.
Autistic children often show a wide range of characteristics. Corran, for example, is gifted when it comes to technology and can understand complex ideas, but he avoids eye contact and gets overwhelmed by loud noises and crowds of people.
His verbal breakthrough has been reassuring, Squire said, but despite all the challenges, he wouldn't change a thing about his son.
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"Why would I want to do that? He’s perfect," Squire told the Star. "He's very smart, he's funny and he has his moments where he's really affectionate. I wouldn’t have him any other way."
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