60 Minutes, reporter Liz Hayes shared the story of Liz and Sean Whelan, a hardworking Australian couple struggling to cope with their severely autistic, non-verbal son, Max. Since the interview aired the family have received some negative responses. They would now like to address those concerns.
In response to the overwhelming feedback to their story, Liz and Sean have issued the below statement.
People claimed that the 60 Minutes Australia segment was “undignified” and “demeaning” towards their 12-year-old son Max.
“We feel it is necessary to say a few words to help complete our story that aired on 60 Minutes last night.
Firstly, thank you all so much for ALL of the comments that have been made, we understand that everyone is primarily coming from a place of genuine concern for Max and our other children.
This story wasn’t an easy watch for everyone, including our family and we would like to reassure you that Max did not watch the program, nor was any money exchanged for it. We wouldn’t ever have agreed to sharing our story publicly if we thought for a moment that Max would be negatively impacted.
The fact remains however that this has been life for Max and for all of us now for many years. It has been a constant complicated, desperate learning journey that is still continuing today.
Striking a balance between Max’s needs and the needs of our other children has been impossible, it is extremely difficult to create a calm and low stimulatory environment that Max desperately needs, with 3 other children in the same space. That being said, we have done our best and we are so extremely proud of all our kids, they are all amazing.
Our dedication to Max began before he was even diagnosed, my wife and I knew early that Max was different. Liz has been the driving force and the rock of strength who has never given up on Max. She has heavily researched every treatment and therapy she has been able to find and set about implementing them, one by one, when he was just 20 months old.
The lack of trained specialists and dedicated programs for kids at the severe end of the spectrum in Australia is devastating.
We were given this opportunity to highlight this point and it has not been easy for any of us, we only hope that in doing so it will bring about the changes that are so desperately required while also raising awareness for our most vulnerable, for they do not have a voice…yet.”
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