Autism Interview #14: Ron Sandison on Autism Advocacy

Picture of me at Barnes & Noble

Ron Sandison works full time in the medical field and is a professor of theology at Destiny School of Ministry. He is an advisory board member of Autism Society Faith Initiative of Autism Society of American. He recently published the book A Parent’s Guide to Autism: Practical Advice. Biblical Wisdom.

You’ve said that you are grateful for the support your mother provided seeking an accurate diagnosis and using your interests to guide academic instruction. A lot of parents consider themselves autism advocates and want to support their children in any way possible. What can they learn from your mother?

Parents who have a child with disabilities can learn from my mom to use every available resource and network with other parents. When the Rochester school specialists tried to diagnosis me as emotionally impaired, my mom refused this label and informed the special education experts, “My son’s disability is not emotional, but neurological.” She networked with other parents to find the best neurological testing and had Henry Ford Hospital properly diagnose me. This diagnosis helped me receive the speech therapy and autism treatment I needed to be successful in academics.

During my senior year of high school, the Michigan High School Athletic Association would not allow me to compete past the age limit in track and cross country. I was past the age limit due to being held back in kindergarten. My mom contacted every lawyer in Michigan. Attorney Richard Landau took my case Pro bono. She did not give up until I won my case Sandison vs MHSAA. By running on the track and cross-country teams, I received an athletic scholarship to college.

My mother used networking resources during my junior year of college to help me get a new $1,200 computer donated. This computer helped me develop my writing skills which empowered me to be able to write a book.

What mistakes do autism advocates make?

The main mistake autism advocates make is giving up. One of my favorite quotes is Charles Spurgeon, “By perseverance the snail made it on the ark.” I also love the quote, “The only difference between a successful person and a failure is a successful person rises one more time then he falls.”

What are some of your daily professional responsibilities?

Some of my responsibilities working in the mental health field include leading groups on topics like building your self-esteem, substance abuse, coping skills, and dealing with grief. I also work one on one with clients helping him or her to learn coping skills and life skills. As a professor of theology, I teach church history, eschatology, Greek, Life of Christ, and many other classes. I prepare lessons and share my personal insight from studying the Scriptures.

Your new book A Parent’s Guide to Autism offers biblical wisdom as it relates to autism. Why do you think this is an important perspective for parents to understand?

I believe biblical wisdom is important because we need God’s perspective in raising our children and His grace. Many parents who have a child with special needs feel at times overwhelmed or defeated, and the Bible offers these parents hope and encouragement. The Apostle Paul wrote, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.”

What motivated you to write this book?

My motivation for writing this book was to encourage parents who have a child with autism to never give up and never put a limit on the things their child can accomplish. The experts told my parents I would never attended college, have meaningful relationships, or excel in athletics.

I have bachelor degrees in theology and psychology with a 3.90 GPA and a Master of Divinity with a minor in Koine Greek from Oral Roberts University with a perfect 4.0 GPA. I received an athletic scholarship for track and cross-country my freshman year of college. I am happily married going on four years and have a baby daughter, Makayla Marie, born March 20, 2016 at 3:13 am.

How did you learn to develop a positive autistic identity?

I learned to have a positive autistic identity by my mom. She used art and sports to help build my self-esteem. She also taught me to never allow a label to determine my ability to succeed in life.

What are some of the challenges you currently face?

My current challenge I experience in life is stress. My wife Kristen and I had our first child, Makayla Marie, and I feel stressed out at times with raising a daughter and also participating in a book tour. During the last three months, I have spoken at over 30 autism events. I also work forty hours a week at the hospital and part-time as a professor of theology. My book tour and hospital work can be very stressful.

What is it like being a new father?

I feel blessed to be a father. Before I met my wife Kristen due to my disabilities and autism, I thought I would never be a dad. I love seeing my daughter Makayla smile at me and laugh. I also love teaching her to play her musical toys. It feels amazing to hold in your arms a child who you have created and also a great responsibility.

What can people do now to improve autism acceptance?

Three things people can do to improve autism acceptance are:

First, help people with autism to be included in social activities. By doing this people learn that individuals with autism are like everyone else and desire to have friendships. Second, help people with autism to be employed. Many individuals with autism have great gifts that can help companies. Third, allow people with autism to feel comfortable with who they are. Don’t try to change someone with autism, but help him or her to learn social skills and life skills.

Me Speaking at EMU

Sandison is the author of A Parent’s Guide to Autism: Practical Advice. Biblical Wisdom published by Charisma House. He has memorized over 10,000 Scriptures including 22 complete books of the New Testament and over 5,000 quotes.

Ron has published articles in Autism Speaks, Autism Society of America, Autism File Magazine, Autism Parenting Magazine, Not Alone, the Mighty, the Detroit News, the Oakland Press, and many more. He frequently guest speaks at colleges, conferences, autism centers, and churches. Ron and his wife, Kristen, reside in Rochester Hills, MI, with a baby daughter, Makayla Marie born on March 20, 2016. You can contact Ron at his website http://www.spectruminclusion.com or email him at sandison456@hotmail.com

Related Links

Buy Ron’s book A Parent’s Guide to Autism: Practical Advice. Biblical Wisdom:

https://www.amazon.com/Parents-Guide-Autism-Practical-Biblical/dp/1629986712

Website Spectrum Inclusion: https://www.spectruminclusion.com

WXYZ Detroit Interview: http://www.wxyz.com/sports/autistic-man-uses-track-field-to-springboard-life-achievements

Harvest Morning Show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77A_Njk9qW0

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3 Comments

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