Fathers on path to autism acceptance

Catherine Trezona

We are delighted to bring you the special stories of “Dads and Autism” included in this Issue 2, 2019 edition. We know from previous readership surveys that we have more women than men reading our Journals, so we are especially grateful to the fathers and families who shared their journeys. We hope these powerful stories of fathers and their autistic sons and daughters will inspire and encourage you.

In addition to the stories, we have looked at the research into fathers and autism and found that fathers are often overlooked by researchers. A study in 2017 aimed to address the under representation of the experience of fathers in autism research. Burrell, Ives and Unwin (2017) conducted semi-structured interviews with eight fathers to help service providers have a better understanding of the fathers’ perspectives. They described their experiences as a journey through frustration with acceptance being their turning point. A key conclusion of this study was for service providers to ensure fathers feel able to communicate their frustrations to health and service providers and be supported in their journey to acceptance.

A 2019 systematic review of the impact of fathers’ involvement on youth, families and intervention concluded that current research suggests that fathers of autistic offspring were less likely to be involved in parenting compared with mothers and compared with fathers of children with other disabilities. This review found that fathers were able to effectively implement a range of interventions, and the reviewers considered that this could provide unique benefits to children on the autism spectrum (Rankin, Paisley, Tomeny, & Eldred, 2019). If you would like a copy of either of these articles, please contact us via our website or email

By autistics, for autistics

Thank you to those who caught up with us at our Connecting with Community network meetings around the country. We have been trialling a new format for network meetings, with a “By Autistics, For Autistics” meeting taking place at the same time and place as a separate meeting for families, whānau and professionals.

We will be offering this dual programme format at various locations around New Zealand in the coming year. Keep an eye out on the Events tab of our website or on our Facebook page.

We also have an additional workshop to offer as we continue to travel around New Zealand, with our brand new “Kids do well if they can” workshop. This draws from the work of Dr Ross Greene, American child psychologist, and pushes back against the idea that “children won’t” with the idea that “they can’t”. In this workshop we teach skills to reframe the way we see ‘challenging’ behaviour, so that we become detectives, looking to remove barriers to our children’s success. We will be offering this free workshop in a range of locations around New Zealand, including Gisborne, Central Lakes, Taranaki and Hawke’s Bay.

We are excited to be bringing our PRISM professionals development workshop to new places in the coming months. We were in Hokitika and Christchurch in August and will be in Kaitaia in November. These workshops are for all professionals working with people of all ages on the spectrum.

If you would like to be added to our database to make sure we keep you up-to-date with all these events, get in touch with us via Live Chat, our website, phone 0800 273 463, or email us at info@altogetherautism.org.nz.

I hope to see you at one of these events soon.

OUT VISITING: Adri Isbister, Ministry of Health Deputy Director-General Disability and former Life Unlimited CEO, visited Altogether Autism in July with MOH colleagues l-r James Poskitt and Wendy Illingworth pictured with Life Unlimited’s April Johnson and Altogether Autism’s Catherine Trezona.

Me te mihi nui / In appreciation
Catherine Trezona – National Manager, Altogether Autism

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