Amazing, Special & Different: A Father’s Journey through Autism Advocacy

Stories have the power to educate, inspire, and further understanding. For one parent in the Birch Family Services community, he created his own story which has become a way to shed light on his child’s autism and start an important dialogue.  

David Jacobo’s children’s book “Amazing, Special & Different” follows his seven-year-old son, Dariel, as he describes living with his older brother with autism, David Anthony, and his uniqueness. David Sr. invites readers of all ages to understand the amazing qualities of children with autism, to embrace diversity, and celebrate everyone’s strengths. 

David Anthony, the inspiration for the book, was diagnosed with autism at age one. Even though he was working as a special education teacher in the Bronx, his father felt unprepared and alone for the journey that lay ahead.  

“It was a shock,” David Sr. said. “When my son was diagnosed, it was a very difficult situation for me.”  

After being referred to Birch Family Services, David Sr. brought his son to tour the Springfield Gardens Education Center, and while he was nervous about fitting in, the staff welcomed him and his son with open arms, providing answers to questions, encouraging engagement, and supporting him at school and at home.  

“As soon as I walked in those doors, I was embraced by everyone,” David Sr. said. “It was one of the only places where I could say, and still feel that I feel completely comfortable with my son being there.” 

Initially, his son had difficulties with eating on his own, but after two months at Birch, his teacher revealed to David Sr. that he was beginning to feed himself on his own. He also began to be more social at school, even singing for his classmates and reading to them. 

“One thing about David that was a joy to discover is that he is an amazing reader,” said Springfield Gardens Education Center Teacher Robyn France. “Whenever David offers to read aloud, he will change his voice for each character and read with gusto.” 

As his son progressed, David Sr. thought back to his first feelings of uncertainty and began to wonder if there was something he could do to help parents who may face similar situations with their children. 

 “If I could reach out to kids and they are nice to kids with autism, teachers that could embrace them, or parents that can feel at ease with their child with autism or another disability then that is a beautiful thing,” said David Sr. 

David Sr. decided to write a children’s book, highlighting his son’s autism and how it makes him amazing, special, and different. The book is now featured in all Birch classrooms, where students and their families can read the inspiring story. David Sr. also read the book to Birch students for Autism Acceptance Month, something he said was a way to give back to Birch and those who helped him and his son.  

 David Sr. plans to turn the book into a trilogy to promote autism acceptance, while continuing to include David Anthony and Dariel in future reading events, eventually hoping they can read the stories on their own.  For now, he is still happy to have his son attend Birch where he continues to be amazing, special, and different.  

 “Seeing him happy to go to school is amazing,” said David. “I feel privileged to have gotten to know all of them and for them to work with one of the most important and valuable things in my life: my son.”