Aaron Deland

Becoming a Dad

Over the last fifteen years I have worked and played with hundreds of families and their children on the autism spectrum. I rough house, I tutor, I teach, I learn, I laugh, I change diapers, clean up vomit, I get hit, bit and scratched from time to time, but mostly I am reminded over and over again the impact a loving, playful, connected relationship has on any child, or parent for that matter. When you work with families in this way you inevitably become part of the family. In doing so I have often felt like an older brother or uncle to many of the kids I work with. But in just a few weeks I will get to experience becoming a father for the first time.

I am completely and speechlessly excited….. and terrified about this. For over a decade and a half I have been someone that parents have turned to for help connecting and playing with their children. And while I am very experienced and very good at what I do I am not a parent….yet.

Everyone tells me that I will be such a great dad. Really? How do you know? I am experienced at helping parents with their children, but that hardly gives me a pass at becoming and growing into a good or even great father to my son. While I may be better prepared than many people, I still have to show up and deliver. I don’t for a second think that this is a “gimme”.

I often say that my greatest teachers have been the children I work with, and so I expect this little 8 pound human that is about to rock my world will be my greatest teacher yet (and cutest). Of all the unknowns of raising a human being, of one thing I am sure is this, I am about to learn a whole lot more about myself. Some of which I may not want to see, but I will embrace all of it.

Thank you to EVERY family that has ever allowed me the pleasure of working with them. I have learned and grown so much and feel incredibly grateful for how prepared I feel to be a dad.


Aaron DeLand

Founder of Play. Connect. Grow.