My version of the open letter to Skatepark Facebook Post going around

So, by now you have seen this tweet, from 10-Oct-2015:

Here is the special needs version of that story, by me, told much earlier, and published in my 2013 book Dads of Disability™: Stories for, by, and about fathers of children who experience disability (and the women who love them!)  


My attitude about dads is that they need to protect their children for as long as possible based on the child’s individual needs. With that in mind, it may seem that allowing my young son to walk into a skatepark, go up to an unshaven and rattily-dressed skateboarder, introduce himself, and ask in a broken sentence if he can try out his skateboard is a situation I probably wouldn’t have approved of.

But here’s what happened.

image / flickr Ernst Moeksis creative commonsimage / flickr Ernst Moeksis creative commons

Skateboarder looks to Dad for permission. Dad reluctantly nods. Skateboarder says, “Sure” to Son.

Skateboarder takes one hand of Son; Dad takes the other. Son mounts skateboard. Skateboarder and Dad push Son slowly for twenty feet.

Dad prays there is no fall or cuts or sprained or broken bone or worse. (Dad imagines conversation with Son’s mother based on worst-case scenario. Dad quickly ceases that line of thinking.)

Son dismounts with hands held tightly by Dad and Skateboarder. Son remounts and tries again for another twenty feet.

Son says, “All done” and dismounts skateboard. Skateboarder offers to show Son tricks.

Skateboarder shows off for about ten minutes. Impressive tricks. Son, Dad, and Skateboarder have fun doing, watching, and being watched. Time to leave.

Dad tells Skateboarder, “You are very good with my son. Thanks for being so kind.” Skateboarder tells Dad, “I have a 3-year-old child with developmental disabilities. No problem. Your son is a joy.”

Dad and Son walk away. Son and Skateboarder both having taught Dad a number of lessons.

– Gary Dietz

This story is Copyright 2013 by Gary Dietz. I provide permission to share all or part of it as long as you link back to this blog at




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