A new film by Autism Awareness Australia documents the often unheard stories of fathers with autistic children.
“DAD” shares the experiences of 12 diverse Aussie dads as they navigate the world of parenting and autism.
Heart-warming and immensely real, these dads provide insights into their journeys with their children – from diagnosis, through the challenges and struggles, as well as the achievements and successes. Above all, it is the story of incredible bonds between these dads and their kids.
The documentary is designed to provide guidance, information and support to fathers with children on the autism spectrum and to let them know they are not alone.
The fathers share the range of emotions present after diagnosis, the confusion, concerns for their child and uncertainty of not knowing where to start while being driven by what is best for their child.
“Parents with kids on the spectrum, they’re a hearty bunch, and you sit there, and you think not ‘oh woe is me’. It’s ‘okay, how am I gonna climb this mountain? You know, left foot, right foot, get going,” says Alex James-Elliot, father to Taj.
Acknowledging that every child on the autism spectrum has different needs, one of the key messages is to dig deep to find what works for your child and keep doing more of that.
“We just realised that …he really likes visual stimulus so let’s use lots and lots of that. He loves getting a little bit of feedback so let’s do more and more of that. We worked on stuff that worked and stripped away everything that didn’t,” explained Richard Peake whose eldest son Liam was diagnosed at an early age.
Support networks and a common understanding.
Talking to people who have walked the path and building support networks of other parents with similar experiences, along with community health workers and family members can help according to these dads.
And while the experience of every father is different, there’s a universal message that having an autistic child has made them more patient, understanding and thoughtful, with a greater awareness of other people and what they are going through.
To find out more about Autism Awareness Australia, visit their page on the Leap in! Provider Network directory.