March 10, 2020

18 Alan Haefele on being a dad of a child with autism

18 Alan Haefele on being a dad of a child with autism

Alan Haefele is an entrepreneur from South Africa. He has been married to Christy for 14 years and together they have four children. Three boys and one baby girl. Alans oldest son has autism.


Alan Haefele is an entrepreneur from South Africa. He has been married to Christy for 14 years and together they have four children. Three boys and one baby girl. Alans oldest son has autism. Alan’s shares, explanations and insights were truly valuable and personally I learnt a lot from his experience shares.

Alan takes us through his own journey as a dad, his initial denial phase, his learnings, his son’s symptoms and the stigma attached to autism. I love Alan’s practical advice on the topic and it is obvious that he has gone through some healthy introspection and applies himself with this.

Alan shares how the autism affects his relationship and the rest of the family and how they deal with it as a family. In short Alan opens up and allows us a beautiful insight into a family affected by autism in a very positive and approachable manner.

The most powerful takeaways for me as a dad where:

  1. Seeking perfection as a dad is not sustainable. Humour helps - mostly.
  2. The spectrum is wide and fluid and I realise now that more people are actually on the spectrum than I ever thought. Take it one symptom at a time. It’s important to make boundaries clear for outsiders when it comes to your own family matters.
  3. Ritualising solutions that have proven successful is a very powerful strategy.

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Correction: Following the podcast, Alan messaged me just to wrap up his incomplete comments on SMA that he couldn’t recall in the recording (around 46 minutes in). He wrote: “..SMA is the childhood onset of ALS, both debilitating motor neuron diseases. Apologies for blanking Philipp, I was also confusing Christopher Reeves with another actor, Christopher doesn’t suffer from ALS although his ALS-like paralysis symptoms threw me in the moment. Stephen Hawking, of course, is a memorable case of the debilitating effects of ALS. Apologies for my confusion!

Alan Haefele (guest): 

  1. Alan Haefele's Linkedin

Philipp Hartmann (host): 

  1. Philipp Hartmann
  2. Philipp Hartmann on LinkedIn

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Alan Haefele

Ex-coder. Curator of talent. Entrepreneur. Husband & father of 4.

Alan grew up in Sandton, Johannesburg, schooled through Bryanston Primary and Bryanston High Schools, matriculating 1997, and studied Computer Science (B.Bus.Sc. Hons) at the University of Cape Town, graduating class of 2001.

He is the 4th sibling among 5 of us, all pretty independent and entrepreneurial in their own ways. His late father, Basil Raymond, was also an entrepreneur across a few ventures from Haefele Publications and Haefele Construction in Johannesburg in 70s, 80s, and 90s, so there is a definite sense of risk-taking in the family!

Alan married Christy (Dudley) in January 2006 and, having established Haefele Software in April 2006, their marriage has been defined by entrepreneurship, bearing every high and low together which has certainly helped the journey so far, and makes every turn that much more meaningful.

Alan and Christy have 4 wonderful children together, Zac (almost 9), Caleb (7), Levi (5) and Summer (15 months) making home life just as active as work life.