I backpacked around Africa with my autistic son

Jarrod Sierocki

When Sydney GP Dr James Best announced that he was going backpacking across Africa with his teenage son who has autism, the reactions varied from aghast to incredulous. Courtesy: Australian Story/ABC

Dr James Best and his son recorded videos throughout their journey and sent it back to a researcher in Australia who will use their learnings as the basis of a study on autism. Picture: James Best

MY YOUNGEST son, Sam, was diagnosed, aged three, with autism over thirteen years ago now.

Traditionally most of research and energy around autism has focused on early intervention, tapping into the window of opportunity that early childhood presents. Unfortunately, there’s been much less focus on older children and adults. This is a shame, because as has been said, autism is a marathon not a sprint.

When Sam reached the age of fourteen, my wife and I decided we wanted to try and push him in an intense and novel way, by taking him backpacking in Africa. However, we did so for reasons that had …

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