Sydney schoolgirl's powerful lesson about autism

Nine-year-old Lana's message about difference is a powerful one.
Nine-year-old Lana's message about difference is a powerful one.  Photo: Supplied

It took just four minutes for nine-year-old Lana to teach her school community one of life's most important lessons - the acceptance of difference.

In a heart-warming short film devoted to her little brother Jack, who has autism, the Sydney girl explained that not everybody sees the world the same way.

"He was a very serious baby, until I taught him about tickling," Lana says about her little brother.

"Then we found out he has something called autism, which means he understands things in a different way.

"He might seem to ignore you, but he's not being unfriendly. Sometimes he just needs some space. 

"When things upset him he might scream or hit ... other times he makes me laugh and cheers me up."

I'm with Jack Posted by Harry Alderman on Friday, September 4, 2015

The touching video goes on to explain that many children have special needs like Jack and may seem different.

"How we treat people who are different, that's what makes us special," Lana says.


Many parents were left in tears when the video screened at her school's Film Festival on September 4 - which just happened to be Jack's 7th birthday.

Lana's dad Harry and mum Janey, who are also parents to five-year-old Luke, were touched by the school community's reaction to their family's story.

"I had grown men coming up to me in tears," Harry said. "Which is fair enough I guess, I still get teary watching it even after seeing it so many times."

The proud dad, who helped his daughter create the video, said the project had the added bonus of bringing Lana and Jack closer together.

"When we first started working on it Lana and Jack were going through a difficult time with each other," he said.

"But as Lana started writing the script she was forced to learn things about autism and why her brother behaved like he sometimes did.

"I think that helped her appreciate him and become less frustrated when he was being difficult."

The film ends with photos Lana took of students, teachers, family, friends and therapists holding signs stating "I'm with Jack".

"That idea came from Lana asking one of Jack's friends in the playground if anyone was picking on her brother," Harry explained.

"The boy she was speaking to told her not to worry, that if anyone picked on Jack his friends stand-up and say 'I'm with Jack'."

There is no doubt anyone who watches Lana's short film will be happy to say they too are with Jack - and any children who might be considered different.