( ENSPIRE Man Code 101 ) This Ausome Dad Is Spreading Awareness To Support the Autism Community and Fathers of Autistic Children
ENSPIRE Contributor: Anastasia Hanna
Based in Philadelphia, Jamiel Owens is the host and creator of The Ausome Show, which is run on Instagram, and co-host of The Ben and J Show. His mission for The Ausome Show is to help the Autism community, and fathers speak out and process their experiences with their child being diagnosed with autism.
Owens had a tough time dealing with the diagnosis of his son, Shayne. According to Owens, “Like many men, when we are faced with adversity in life, we tend to resort to ‘wordly’ pleasures to dim a pain whose thirst can never be satisfied. I focused more on “me” instead of my wife’s and son’s needs at this time. I lost everything!”
Amidst this ordeal, Owens found a spiritual path that helped him understand and ground his feelings but also pushed him to speak out about his experiences as an “Ausome” father so others wouldn’t have to undergo the hardships he endured (principles of the Bible). “So, I created this platform, a safe space where both adults and fathers of children on the spectrum could speak without judgement and know they are not alone but also to motivate them to align their life and actions as powerful, loving community leaders and heads of households. I also wanted those everyday individuals, parents, or caretakers to be able to speak about autism and their feelings.”
The Ben and J Show is a bi-weekly webinar which was started during the pandemic by Ben Hartranft, a 22-year-old autism ambassador for the Eagles Autism Challenge. “He and I built an everlasting bond and friendship as him and his father, Glenn Hartranft, were the first guests on The Ausome Show. This show gives a unique perspective as I am an African American father of an autistic child, and he is a Caucasian male on the spectrum. Seeing us interact and relate to autistics and neuro-diverse individuals all across the world allows us to open minds and hearts as we engage with various guests (Hollywood actors, directors, doctors, and self-advocates) in their stories and quests for unity in the autism community.”
Raising awareness and inspiring change begins with raising our voices. It is important to speak out about autism because these children and adults are our future. For anyone to say ‘that they are not’ is unfortunately mistaken. This is and has been in our communities for some time now. The thought that ‘one will grow out of it,’ or ‘it’s just a thing’ has readily taken the place of actual diagnosis and treatment. As the landscape and demographic changes for new parents, so does the importance of information when it comes to early diagnosis.
Currently, 1:54 children are diagnosed with autism. 7% more girls than boys were identified to have an intellectual disability with autism (39% versus 32%). 24% of children with autism had an IQ in a borderline range (IQ 71-85). Black (47%) and Hispanic children (36%) were more likely than white children (27%) to have an intellectual disability with autism (www.Singlecare.com).”
So, what would happen if we didn’t speak up? “I’m afraid to say that this world battles with anything it fears or sees as more beautiful than itself. We would potentially enter a very distinct and vile form of discrimination, both mentally and physically, which would try to detach anyone who doesn’t ‘fit’ the mold of current society. People find it hard to speak about autism because they are uneducated about it, don’t want to be educated about it, or because of the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality.”
However, with advocacy comes positive change. Owens has seen the effects of what happens when you fight for what’s right. “Since I have started my platform, I have been able to have both mothers and fathers who have never admitted to their child being on the spectrum, speak out to the world. I have fathers and mothers who have both thanked me for speaking to them from my experiences about their perspectives and giving light to how we process our emotions. The most amazing change is directing those men and women to God. I offer help to both men and women (if requested) with a free mailing of spiritual guidance books free of charge (out of my pocket/donation when a listener purchases a mug or shirt). And also my son, Shayne. He sees me doing the show and interviews and has verbally indicated that he loves me because I fight for him.”
ENSPIRE Magazine asked Owens if he could give us 5 tips you can give to someone for interacting with or teaching a child with autism.
1. Patience. Empathy, compassion, love, and forgiveness—these are the things that have been given through me by my religion, but always in front of me, tangible in the form of my son. Learn from these Ausome children. They are in your life to help you become a person of purpose.
2. You are not alone. There is a vast community when it comes to autism. Step out of your “comfort” zone to engage this community.
3. YOU ARE AMAZING!
4. You have an amazing blessing in the form of your Ausome child! The world needs to see them and you!
5. Men, fathers of our Ausome children—it is important for you as leaders in your community and home to be grounded spiritually. In this, we can truly find accountability and strive for real greatness. Just think, can you rely solely on another human who is imperfect or flawed such as you?