Dad supporting Dads

Ian lives in South Australia with his wife, Rhonda, and their four children. Incredibly, three of the children have a diagnosis of autism. The family are passionate about raising awareness about autism and supporting others in similar situations.

Ian volunteers for a group Asperlutely Autsome, a community organisation formed by and for families that are living with autism. They organise social events and special family group weekends away.  Ian also supports other men through a “Dads and Lads” weekend program for dads and their sons with autism. Ian has also set up and monitors a Facebook page called “Autism Dads Rock” – a closed group for dads to support each other.

Last year, Ian attended a Positive Partnerships Parent Carer workshop, and as part of the community action plan raised the suggestion of alternative sessions for men, who were unable to access the regular workshops. Similar sessions had been trialled in Victoria, but not in Ian’s home state.

As a result of Ian’s support, two evening sessions “Mens Business” were hosted in Mawson Lakes in May this year. They were attended by 20 men, including dads and grandads of children on the spectrum. Facilitated by Positive Partnerships delivery team, Ian was a key link in contacting families and assisting with registrations. Ian also supported men at the sessions to talk openly, have a laugh and also share some of the challenges that may arise parenting a child with autism.  For some men it was the first time they had attended anything like this and they enjoyed the opportunity to talk to other men in similar situations to themselves.

Ian says it’s important for men to look after themselves…….“ I think it is really important to understand that, there are lots of other dads out there dealing with the same stuff as you. While we have this macho image to uphold, you can still reach out to these people for advice. But if you don’t, your physical and mental health is going to suffer. So look after yourself, that means going to the doctor for a check up, being selfish and find a couple of hours each week for ME time”.