Autism doesn’t announce itself in the delivery room. You can’t detect it from a blood test or any type of pre-natal screening. In fact, children with autism are typically born as healthy, bouncing babies with 10 fingers and 10 toes. Their parents take them home from the hospital and all is as it should be. A happy family.
Sometime around 18 months to 2 years later, parents might start to notice signs that their child’s development is not like that of children of a similar age.
It could be a delay in language, it could present as a child who lives in their own little world, or it could be a child with limited communication and challenging behaviour. Either way, parents tend to start down a well-worn track to work out what is affecting their child’s development
Autism … the word once said is now your new truth. ‘He has autism’. Good luck with that!
This was my family experience in 1999 when our son Jack was diagnosed with autism.
At the time, the shock was enormous. What did this diagnosis mean? What would his future hold? What did we, as his parents, need to do to help him? So many questions needing answers at a time you’re emotionally not capable of clear thinking.
Funnily enough, 19 years later, this is still the same experience parents of newly diagnosed children on the autism spectrum go through – with the exception of Google!
In my experience however, mums and dads often have different approaches during this period.
OK, so I am over generalising here but typically women tend to be better ‘sharers’ of their emotions. I mean, we just are! From the beginning, there are constant formal and informal structures that allow women to access support as a new parent, from mother’s groups, the early childhood centres, to pre-schools.
If we need support, we seek it out and it’s easy to find. I just didn’t find this was true for dads. In my 15 years of running an early intervention centre, I saw mums turning up to workshops and support groups in far greater numbers than Dads.
How do we ensure that those dads feel supported and have good information and advice? So how do we reach the Dads? Apparently … they will watch YouTube!
So Autism Awareness Australia set out to produce a documentary film, especially for dads new to this world of autism.
DAD – a film about autism and fatherhood has just been released and will be available to watch online around Australia and for free at www.dadfilm.com.au
We bought together 12 gorgeous dads of children with autism, who share their stories and bring a raw and brutally honest account of this type of graduate level parenting. Sharing their successes, feelings and struggles, the film is full of wonderful advice and will hopefully be an invaluable gift to Dads who are newer to the world of autism.
The fathers in the film come from a wide range of backgrounds, locations and ages all with one thing in common. Autism.
You can watch the preview here…
The film was produced purely to help dads who might be struggling to understand their new role, it is a filmic note from the future, encouraging them, supporting them and letting them know that there is hope.
Seeing these fathers talk about their journey is both emotional and inspirational. While the film was made for new dads we suspect a lot of parents of children with autism will take great comfort from the beautiful stories and advice shared by these twelve dads.
It is quite simply a celebration of fatherhood.
The Bub Hub is proud to support Autism Awareness Australia
To view the film and find out more, visit www.dadfilm.com.au