Single Dad Dresses As Spider-Man To Calm Autistic Son

A single father of a boy with autism has found that he can calm his son by dressing up as Spider-Man.

Dale Grounds, from Nottingham, has raised eight-year-old son Reece on his own since he was six months old.

In 2016, Reece was diagnosed with autism and Dale says it was a struggle to cope with moods and meltdowns - until he donned the Spider-Man suit. When Reece is starting to feel stressed, Spider-Dale will rock up and offer to help him with his homework, have a kick-around or read to him.

And it's not just Reece who likes spending time with Spidey - Dale has also been asked to visit sick kids at his local hospital and has had dozens of requests from parents who want to book the superhero for their kids' birthday parties.

Credit: Caters
Credit: Caters

Twenty-seven-year old Dale said: "I first started dressing up as Spider-Man as a way to calm Reece down. He would have really bad meltdowns which resulted in non-stop crying.

"I'd tried everything to help him but nothing seemed to work. Then one day I walked into the living room and he was watching Spider-Man and he was so engrossed.

"I bought this costume for £25 ($33) and decided I was going to wear it when I went to pick Reece up from school.

"When I turned up in full costume, the reaction from all the kids was crazy. Reece didn't realise it was me at first, but when he clicked, he couldn't believe it.

"For a while he didn't really grasp the fact that I was his dad and Spider-Man as well, but now he does and he thinks what I do is amazing.

Credit: Caters
Credit: Caters

"It's really helped with his moods too, so it's great that I've been able to help him in this way.

"There was a time when Reece came home from school and was really upset, he was crying a lot and took himself upstairs to bed and wouldn't let me talk to him.

"When he's in meltdown mode it can be really hard to get through to him; he enters his own world and you have to say and do all the right things to help or it just gets worse.

"So I got the Spider-Man suit on and made a super-appearance into the bedroom. It made him laugh but then he started crying again.

"I started doing some silly dances and asked him to join in and he found it really funny and decided to get his Stormtrooper outfit on and join me.

"Eventually I was able to persuade him to come downstairs and we switched on the PlayStation and spent a good hour doing some goofy dances together. He was so much happier afterwards."

Credit: Caters
Credit: Caters

Pals then asked Dale if he would turn up at their kids' birthday parties, which he did, before deciding to get in touch with Nottingham Children's Hospital to see if he could donate some Easter eggs to the kids on the wards. How nice is that?

He now goes every Thursday, dressed as Spider-Man, to hand out treats to the sick children.

"Some weeks I'm on the cancer ward," he explained. "Other times I'm visiting children in the burns unit; it varies all the time.

"I can be doing anything from playing on the PlayStation with some kids, or just having a chat with them.

"I've formed bonds with some of the long term patients and some of them really open up to me; I think the costume makes them feel more at ease.

"The parents are really supportive of what I do too; some of them even join in with my entertaining and they love it."

Dale has since set up his own company, Spidey-Tastic, entertaining children at parties and events.

He said: "It's been an awesome adventure so far and one that's really starting to become incredible now.

"The reason I started putting on the suit was for my little autistic superhero.

"At first it was a superhero taking time out to play with him, then it became his dad putting on a suit to help him through tough times when he didn't just need his dad, he needed his dad to be his hero.

Credit: Caters
Credit: Caters

"Now he's grown older and wiser he just thinks it's awesome when I put the suit on or go to work or have a little play with him around the house."

He added: "With my personality and the suit I'm able to bring Spider-Man to life for Reece and other children, and them believing that a real superhero took the time to come and see them can make a real difference.

"I love doing it and will carry on for as long as I can because even as Reece gets older, what I've learned and done with him, I can do the same for other children along the way."

Featured Image Credit: Caters

Claire Reid

Claire Reid is a journalist at LADbible. Claire graduated from Liverpool John Moores University with a BA in journalism. She’s previously worked at Trinity Mirror. Since joining LADbible, Claire has worked on pieces for the UOKM8? mental health campaign, the Yemen crisis, life in the Calais Jungle as well as a profile of a man who is turning himself into a cyborg.

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