Gold Logie winner Waleed Aly has opened up about his son Zayd’s autism, describing the nine-year-old as a “lovely little man”.
Aly, who is beamed into our homes every week via The Project and has creating a hugely successful media career discussing tough issues, says he decided to talk about Zayd’s diagnosis after a discussion with his wife, academic Dr. Susan Carland.
He told TV Week his son’s diagnosis in 2011 has been a “major” thing for the family, but “because of the early diagnosis, he was able to get the support he needed”.
“He’s a lovely little man, and it’s lovely watching him grow through all of these things,” Aly continued.
Aly and Carland, who were married in 2002 and are also parents to Aisha, 13, say Aly’s fame and his new gold statuette won’t change the dynamic of life together in their Melbourne home.
“They might say congratulations and then I’ll say ‘Alright go practice your piano,'” he told the magazine after his Logies win.
Aly speaks about wife Dr Susan Carland in his Gold Logie acceptance speech. Post continues after video…
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics most recent data, one in 53 children aged between four and nine will register on the Austism spectrum in Australia.
The condition affects a range of behaviours, including the way in which people respond to situations, environments and interactions with others.
Aly explained, “I’d decided I wasn’t going to talk publicly about it partly because I thought it was his [Zayd’s] call.”
But after a “good chat” with wife Susan – who Aly spoke lovingly of in his Logies acceptance speech – and a discussion around whether or not going public would be a good thing to do, the pair decided to share their son’s story.
Aly saying he felt the stigma often associated with autism was beginning to slowly break down.
"We did a story (on the Project) and that was the moment the seal was broken. It was like, 'OK, well, I can talk about the topic," he said.
Five years on from his initial diagnosis, Aly says Zayd is "just coming on in leaps and bounds."
Find out more about autism via the Autism Awareness Australia.