Father, son share their story for Autism Awareness Month


April is Autism Awareness Month and a local father shares his story with KNWA about raising and building a relationship with his autistic son.

NORTHWEST ARKANSAS, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – At three-years-old Cameron Leachman was diagnosed with autism.

“We’ve started a new phase with Cameron since he turned 18 and we’ve had to go through the guardianship process,” John Leachman said.

John is Cameron’s father. He says Cameron is on the severe side of the autism spectrum.

“I remember thinking about having a son and playing football, going fishing going to see the Razorbacks play or that he might be a Razorback or Dallas Cowboy,” John said. “I was looking at the equation wrong – I was looking at Cameron for what he couldn’t do instead of exploring things he could do.”

One of those discoveries was Cameron’s love for running with his best friend by his side.

The ongoing pandemic hasn’t stopped Cameron from lacing up his shoes. Recently, he ran his 11th half marathon  – the virtual Hog Eye race.

“I’ve peaked and I’m going the other end,” John said. “He’s 18 and getting stronger and so it’s all what dad can do to keep up nowadays.”

John says the month of April holds a special place in his heart – it’s a time of reflection, looking back on the relationship he’s built with his son and a time to raise awareness about the disorder.

“Things feel differently today,” John said. “People are more aware and more accepting. If anything, people are more curious nowadays than judgmental.”

John says he’s even written a book titled One Mile at a Time – to share his personal story with other dads who are raising a child with special needs.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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