Autism expert speaks in the Mountains

On an adventure: Dr James Best with his son, Sam, sitting next to the Victorian Nile in Uganda.
On an adventure: Dr James Best with his son, Sam, sitting next to the Victorian Nile in Uganda.

A father and son's life-changing journey through autism, adolescence and Africa will be the subject of an evening with Dr James Best - an educator, father and adventurer, as well as a GP specialising in autism.

Mountains Youth Services Team’s  Disability Programs Co-ordinator Sue Campbell-Ross invited the Sydney GP to the Mountains after hearing his ground breaking story on ABC’s  Australian Story.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for our community to come and listen to Dr James Best speaking about his journey to Africa with his autistic adolescent son, Sam,” Ms Campbell-Ross said.

“James wanted to try something radical: putting his 14-year-old son Sam in a situation that was completely unpredictable to see the effects it would have on his development,” she added.

"Sam could play the piano and he could reprogram computers and pick up maths really quickly but he couldn't go to the shop by himself or have a normal long conversation with a friend," Dr Best said.

It was based on the idea that adolescence represents a particular opportunity for learning, similar to the period during infancy when the brain is highly receptive to change. Their experience and approach highlights the possibilities open to us in supporting young people with autism to learn and develop.

James Best will be at the Blue Mountains Theatre and Community Hub on Tuesday, September 19 to talk about this father-son experience and what they learnt. The event starts at 6pm and finishes at 7.30. Coffee and tea will be available after the talk at the Springwood Youth Centre - a five minute walk from the Hub.

Ms Campbell-Ross said the evening would explain more about their experiences in Africa than the TV show had done.

“There’s so much more to the story,” she said.

There will be time for questions and answers afterwards and an opportunity to also explore the links between the value of an outdoor experiences program that MYST has used with teens experiencing tough times.

Tickets are available at 

Only 100 tickets are available. Adult tickets cost $15. Dr Best’s book will be on sale at the event.