Father to Taj
Hey, I’m Alexander James-Elliott. I’m a commercial real estate agent and Taj’s dad.
Taj has been raised by his mother and my family through amicable and equal co-parenting arrangements since birth.
The reason I got involved with this project is because I am a huge believer in the importance of men’s mental health. As a father of a child who was diagnosed on the spectrum, I also appreciate how difficult and lonely that experience can be.
I hope that fathers, families and the broader community in general are able to take comfort in the joy that the experience has brought my family and me. When fathers watch my interview, I hope they can understand that they’re not alone in what they are feeling and experiencing.
It’s okay to feel sad or to not feel like yourself, and it’s crucial to talk with the people close to you about how you are feeling.
Hi, I’m Professor Brian Owler. I’m a paediatric and adult neurosurgeon, and an autism dad.
Being a part of the medical industry means I’ve always been a strong advocate for public health and childhood injury prevention, , and now with my child’s diagnosis I work closely with Autism Awareness Australia.
I chose to be a part of this documentary because I want to improve the lives of all Australians on the autism spectrum and their families.
Father to Sophie and Alex
My name is Chris, I’m a software developer and public servant, and I’m the proud father of Sophie and Alex.
I became a father later in life. My boy Alex has autism, I’ve found being an autism dad challenging at times but also life changing. Being Alex’s dad has opened my eyes, and made me a more thoughtful and caring person.
Although I make my living as a software developer, my dream is to become more involved in the autism community because I want to make a tangible difference to people’s lives. Recently I took one step closer to this dream by completing a degree in psychology.
Father to Tim, Charlie and Alex
Hi my name is Greg and I’m a farmer based in rural NSW, where my wife and I raised our three boys, Tim, Charlie and Alex.
The older boys, Tim and Charlie, are now independent adults. The youngest, Alex, has autism along with a developmental delay and epilepsy. Alex has level 3 autism, meaning he needs a great deal of support. His epilepsy, which often goes with autism, has at times been life threatening, resulting in an induced coma at age 9 and on another occasion inducing a cardiac arrest requiring CPR.
To access the autism services he needs, Alex and my wife moved to Sydney 13 years ago – I still live out west and travel between the country and city every week and assist them where I can. Our boy is our world, and we are determined to pursue whatever will help Alex achieve his happiest life possible.
Autism has played a large part in our family’s lives being both extremely challenging yet amazingly rewarding at times. This is something I wanted to share to help other men in similar situations, especially those with younger children with autism.
Men like to fix things, especially for their families, but autism can be isolating and no easy fix. But with effective evidence-based treatments it can certainly improve. Even with severe autism, life brings unexpected joys and rewards you never saw coming.
Father to Jack and Tom
Hey I’m Ian, a media broadcaster, and I’m the very proud father of my two sons Jack and Tom, and husband to Nicole.
Diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder when he was a toddler, Jack could barely speak, was hyperactive, and was unable to express ordinary affection. At that point, my wife and I knew we had to do whatever we could to make sure Jack could lead the best life he could. When Jack was diagnosed we made huge lifestyle changes but all these years later, we wouldn’t change a thing.
Nicole is the CEO of Autism Awareness Australia, and together we are continuously working on educating and increasing awareness and support for children, parents, and families impacted by autism.
I became involved with the DAD documentary because I think the best person to talk to dads about raising an autistic child is someone who has been on the same journey.
Father to Lachlan and Connor
Hey I’m Lai and I’m father to Lachlan and Connor, and an optometrist.
My older son Lachlan was diagnosed with autism when he was 3 and a half years old, just after Connor was born – it was a lot for our small family all at once.
I first heard about the DAD documentary when our ABA therapist suggested I look into it. When I realised it was a film to support fathers of children with autism, I was more than happy to help.
Men generally find it hard to talk about their feelings and struggles, and I hope my role will increase awareness, support and openness for fathers and families with children on the autism spectrum.
I want fathers to know that it’s ok for us blokes to talk about these topics.
Father to Jack, Skyla, Max and Phoenix
I’m Mat Rogers, ex-Australian Rugby representative, Titans NRL captain, and most importantly father to Jack, Skyla, Max and Phoenix, and devoted husband to Chloe.
Chloe and I lead busy lives, juggling our public careers with our personal lives – having four children really keeps us on our toes, in particular our youngest son Max who has autism.
In 2009, we went public about Max’s battle with autism and created the 4 ASD Kids charity to support other families in similar situations. For me, being a part of the DAD documentary was another way I could help more people understand the struggle and the enormous impact having an autistic child can have.
It’s the fastest growing developmental disorder in the world, and I’m hoping that with my profile I can help more people to pay attention who may not have previously.
I hope the documentary helps to educate people so that perhaps when there is an opportunity for them to help in some way, shape or form, they will.
Father to Connor and Lachlan
My name is Michael, and I’m an Associate Professor, academic, writer and musician. My son Connor is on the autism spectrum and has inspired me to become an autism advocate and share our family’s story.
As an artist, I’ve tried to weave my advocacy into my work to help educate people through the arts. In addition to my memoir – The Other Country: A Father’s Journey with Autism – I’ve also written a documentary film for Autism Awareness Australia called What are you doing? – an educational film for schools on social inclusion and autism.
In 2014, I joined Autism Queensland where I developed and commenced delivery of Studio G, a post-school transition program for young people with autism which is based upon skill growth in game development, animation and music technology. Now as an Associate Professor in Music in the Creative Industries Faculty at Queensland University of Technology my research is focused upon post-school transition for young people on the autism spectrum.
For me, educating the community and creating pathways for children with autism like my son is the most important thing I can do. The DAD documentary is another way I can help communicate this message, and I’m so proud to be a part of it.
Father to Max
I’m Monir, a pharmacist, and my son Max was diagnosed with autism at two years old.
Max attends a mainstream kindergarten but is primarily in a support class due to his multiple diagnosis. He has an early learning delay and is non-verbal. My wife and I take Max to an ABA integrated class five days a week.
When we were approached to be a part of the DAD documentary I jumped at the chance. I’ve always wanted to put a greater focus on the father’s role in childhood development and increasing cohesion in the family unit.
I want fathers in particular to see how important it is to keep the energy in their family, and to see the positives in the challenges of this new life with their autistic child.
Hopefully from this documentary, we can encourage families with autistic loved ones to become more involved in shaping policies to support both the family and the child.
Father to Marcello and Lucia
Hey I’m Nick Orsatti and I run a national audio visual systems integration business.
Both my son Marcello and daughter Lucia are level 3 on the autism spectrum. Being level 3, Marcello and Lucia are both non verbal, however they make up for it by being exceptionally cheeky and cute.
As neither of our kids are typical developers, I believe that it’s important for my family to share our stories in a hope to provide a better and more wide spread understanding of the challenges of people with learning disabilities.
Our family lives by the motto “Different not less”. This is something we want to share with people. I hope my involvement can assist in some small way to provide a better understanding of what autism is, and in turn assist in gaining more acceptance of those on the spectrum within the community.
Father to Raahi
Hi my name is Raj, in 2016 my wife and I, with our daughter Raahi, moved from India to Australia.
Since we found out about Raahi’s autism, my wife has put her career on hold to focus on being a full time mum. When we first received the diagnosis, we felt that our society and community needed more awareness on autism and that’s when we first heard about Autism Awareness Australia.
When we heard about the documentary we were so excited to be a part of the process and to provide as much help as we could. For my wife and I, we saw this as an opportunity to connect with other parents and families who are in the same boat as us.
Father to Kelsey, Evan and Liam
I’m Richard, I’m a marketing executive, and the proud father to Kelsey, Evan, and Liam.
Liam is the youngest, and proudly autistic member of the family. He was diagnosed quite early with a not too helpful prognosis.
After years of ABA therapy and the loving and tireless support of his friends, family, and community our boy is now a flourishing, strong and increasingly independent bloke, an avid video-gamer, and piano player. We’re so proud of everything he has achieved.
Being a dad to an autistic child doesn’t come with instructions. It can often be a lonely place. Not many, if any, of your mates or male family members can relate. There is no one to bounce ideas off.
I am increasingly hopeful that with initiatives like this documentary and a broader more positive dialogue in society around autism, dads like me realise it doesn’t have to be quite so lonely, and actually talking about “it” can only help you and your child.
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