To coincide with Autism Awareness Week (1-7 April), broadcaster Stuart Cosgrove and communications specialist John Hatfield will host two special events sharing their experiences of being fathers of autistic children.

The ‘A conversation with fathers about autism’ events will take place on Monday 1 st April at Glasgow Film Theatre and Wednesday 3rd April at Eventspace, Edinburgh. The events are the first in a series presented by Speaker Buzz, a new specialist speaker agency based in Edinburgh, which focuses on mental health, wellbeing and making a positive social, cultural and behavioural change in society.

Broadcaster, author and media personality Stuart Cosgrove will be speaking publicly for the first time about his six-year-old son’s autism diagnosis. Stuart is a widely recognised media figure having been a senior executive with Channel 4 for many years, a successful author and one half of BBC Scotland’s ‘Off the Ball’ team.

He will be joined by John Hatfield who has a teenage son with Asperger syndrome. John is a media and communications specialist and board advisor to the National Autistic Society.

Intimate and informed events

The ‘A conversation with fathers about autism’ events will focus on the personal experiences of these two fathers who are at two very different stages in their autism journey.  The aim is to encourage more fathers to be open about their own situations and experiences. There are more than 700,000 autistic people in the UK, with more than 50,000 in Scotland.Having an autistic child can put pressure on relationships, with a high percentage of marriages affected by autism ending in divorce.

The intimate conversational events will see Stuart and John share their experiences of autism in their families. The pair will discuss the physical, mental and emotional impact of autism in a family, educational and social environment.

The events will be suitable for parents or carers of a child with an autism diagnosis, those concerned about childhood development, professionals working in education, social care or the third sector and employers wanting to understand autism’s effect on their workforce.

Stuart said: “I’ve never spoken publicly about my son’s diagnosis, but it is obviously a huge part of my life. I’ve been researching all aspects of autism and the neuroscience since it entered my world. When I was introduced to and met John, I got more out of the two-hour conversation with him than I had done from any medical journal, book or meeting I’d had.

“His honest and frank insight into his experience as a father of a son with autism allowed me to learn so much more and I hope that by sharing our experiences in this way, we can help others to learn about this condition.”

John added: “My teenage son has Asperger’s syndrome, which is a form of autism. This is a topic I’m very passionate about and through my own experiences and my work with the National Autistic Society, I want to help debunk the myths around autism and highlight the incredible achievements of autistic people.”

Debbie Byers, co-founder of Speaker Buzz, said: “We launched Speaker Buzz with a purpose to represent inspiring speakers who are passionate about making a positive, social, cultural and behavioural change. Our speakers are already providing inspiration with impact at conferences and events, but this is the first in a series of events we have created.

“Both Stuart and John are passionate speakers with a shared personal experience. We hope that by holding this open discussion about autism from a father’s perspective that it will help others in the process. It’s good to talk and both Stuart and John are never short of things to say.”

Tickets for each event are available via Eventbrite for £10 plus booking fee, with a donation of proceeds being made to the National Autistic Society.

‘A conversation with fathers about autism’:

Monday 1 April, 6-8pm, Glasgow Film Theatre, 12 Rose Street Glasgow G3 6RB – tickets available from Eventbrite here

Wednesday 3 April, 6-8pm,  EventSpace  at Whitespace, Norloch House, 36 King’s Stables Road Edinburgh, EH1 2EU – tickets available from Eventbrite here

Glasgow Film Theatre (GFT) is Scotland’s most diverse and best-attended independent cinema. Its ethos is Cinema For All and, as part of that, GFT runs Access Film Club, a monthly autism-friendly screening and discussion group. GFT works alongside Scottish Autism to provide this opportunity for people with additional needs to enjoy a mainstream social activity that may ordinarily be out of reach, and was the first cinema in the UK to be given the National Autistic Society’s Autism Friendly Award.