A family journey

Videos highlight the experience of families affected by Autism … now helpfully translated into six languages

For 2 April 2015:  A great step forward for education and awareness on autism is now available in the form of a new short video, aimed specifically at fathers.  It is being launched this week as part of World Autism Awareness Day – Thursday 2 April. 

The evidence-based material has been written in an animated storytelling format and has been translated into Greek, as well as Arabic, Thai, simplified Chinese, Turkish and Vietnamese.  

“A Family Journey” is a 10-minute video made available through the Australian Government’s Positive Partnerships initiative.  Much help was generously given by parents from culturally and linguistically diverse communities and with the assistance of italk Library.

The resource is for parents and family carers of school age children with autism, and other diverse learning needs. The video, in animated format, tells the story of a father learning about how autism affects his child and the impact that it has on the whole family. 

At critical moments a parent firstly wonders why their child is not developing social skills.  A quick succession of scenarios, including a shopping outing, shows the viewer some of the challenges that families face. We learn of the help they were offered and their gradual understanding of how to manage these situations.  They learn too to take heart in little steps along the way; ending with the 17 year old playing soccer with his team.

In the sessions with people from culturally diverse backgrounds, one father’s dream was that he could put his head on his pillow with a clear conscious that, ‘I have done everything for my child.’

One session featured two cultural groups coming together (Arabic and Turkish). “Initially each group sat at different tables with their translator (Hub worker), but as the sessions progressed shared conversations developed. Finally familiar behaviours, regardless of cultural differences, were acknowledged and support and encouragement was shared in an effort to try each other’s successful strategies. The group moved from two separate cultural groups to one of concerned people working together to support their children and families. We created a little community," said the Hub Co-ordinator.

‘Words like ‘disability’ and ‘autism’ are not easily defined.  For many reasons, conversations about the impact of a child’s autism spectrum disorder diagnosis can be unfamiliar amongst many communities,’ said Karen Jones, National Project Manager for Positive Partnerships.

Research suggests that almost one percent of the entire population of Australia is now being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, a disability that it is four times more common in males than females and has a profound impact on a person’s life experience. Studies also indicate that prevalence of the condition does not discriminate by racial or other demographic background.

A Family Journey is being released on World Autism Awareness Day (April 2) at a special event – a breakfast at Melbourne Aquarium (Flinders and King Streets) at 7.30am.