Gary Dietz has two projects for people who are in some way affected by disabilities. Which is pretty much everyone.
When you hear the word “disability” or the phrase “child with a disability” you probably do one of two things: Skip the rest of the article (boring bleeding heart BS!) or thank your deity of choice that you don’t have to deal with that stuff—and skip the article.
I’m going to ask you to do something different. Please read the paragraph below and if you like it, read the rest of this piece–or at least watch the 3 minute cutout animation! Okay, here it goes:
Imagine yourself in a bright auditorium with every seat in the audience filled. Unearthly spotlights lock on each audience member individually from directly above. The emcee first calls to the lighting manager to dim the spotlight on anyone in the audience that has any kind of disability. Then, the emcee asks for the spots to be dimmed on anyone who has a wife with a disability. Then, dimmed if it is a sibling or child. Then a parent. Then a close friend. Finally, the emcee asks the lighting manager to dim the spotlight on anyone who may acquire a disability themself (even temporarily) at some point in their life.
What percentage of folks at the end of this exercise will have a light on them? And as man—a father, a brother, a son, a husband, a friend, a community member, a worker— have you been prepared to cope with what will likely be a part of your life at some point? Disability is about “other”—until it isn’t.
Now may I ask you to read on? Or at least scroll down and click on and watch the cool paper cutout animation?
My upcoming project addresses a subset of the folks in the above exercise. It is a book of collected essays is called Dads of Disability: Stories for, by, and about Fathers of Children that Experience Disability.
I want to let Good Men around the world know about two important opportunities:
1. Please submit essays or be available for an interview — Author stipends paid! Let me know if you are a father of child that experiences a disability, have a disability yourself and want to reflect on your own father or male role model, or if you are a mother or female fan of a father and want to teach other men and women a lesson from your experiences with fathers and other male caregivers of children that experience a disability. Yes, women can submit and the book is also for women! See more details about this point later in this piece.
Contributing writers or interview subjects selected for publication will be paid small stipends ($25 to $100). Visit to learn about the project and submission guidelines. In addition, poet Marly Youmans is judging a poetry contest for this book they can learn about there.
Visit this page to be guided to submission guidelines, FAQs, and the poetry contest.
2. Be a backer of the Dads of Disability Kickstarter Here is a project about dads, by dads and for dads and those that support them. And not just for Dads that currently have children that experience a disability. This book will have rich stories about the human condition—from a man’s perspective—that will help everyone. (Remember, disability is about other, until it isn’t.)
Click the image to have a look at the short 3 minute paper-cutout animation in the Kickstarter to see three vignettes of the kinds of topics the book will address. (The film was created by a high school student!) The video closes with a 30 second personal video message from me about the project.
Please back this project! Backing starts at just $9.00 and at this level the reward is an electronic version of the book when it is released at the end of March 2014. Other reward levels provide paper copies of the book and other valuable project-related content and activity.
Kickstarter backers pay through the safe and reliable Amazon payment system. If you don’t know what crowdsourcing or Kickstarter is, I’ve written a very short overview of Kickstarter for you here on my blog.
More details about the book and its approach: The book is a collection of stories, strong in place and time and context that illustrate how specific fathers felt at various inflection points in their child and family’s lives. For example, in Boxes in the Night a father realizes during a late night meltdown that he isn’t ‘spoiling’ his son as he helps meet his needs while reflecting on his own parents – and how his life is different from theirs. In Coffee, Tea, and God a father recounts bringing his son to the lavatory on an airplane and learning when and how it is OK and not OK to engage with a well-meaning stranger. Learn more about the book, its approach, submission guidelines, and the poetry contest on the book and blog site.
When my son Alexander was born, I was never offered any specific readings to help me understand, prepare, and cope emotionally for what I could face as a father. The support options I was offered were mostly targeted toward women and moms. Many have told me and I have personally experienced that in some respects, men and fathers process issues surrounding children that experience disability quite differently than women and mothers.
This book is not about a single diagnosis or disability told in a novel-length first-person narrative. It is not a list of lists or an advocacy handbook. And yes, women can contribute essays. And they are targeted as readers too! It is just that the themes and lessons of the content must support male and father’s perspectives. For example, a wife can write about how her husband’s acceptance grew over time. A child with a disability can write about his or her own dad. Or a grandmother can write about her son and grandchild.
Please, share any of this information on your public or private social networks and discussion groups and tweet about it wherever you see fit with the hashtag #dadsofdis If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to email me at [email protected]
Thanks so much for your support of this project and for the work you do in supporting families!
P.S. Here is a summary of the links again
- Kickstarter Project Page to Back the Project and Animated Video
- Links to the Dads of Disability Main Page, Submission Guidelines and FAQ, and Poetry Contest