Autism and Christian Parenting
Voices from the Frontlines

When: 13th April, 7:30pm

Speakers: Mike Bird, Naomi Bird, Louise Griffiths

Join Ridley faculty Rev’d Dr Michael Bird, his wife Naomi, and Student Support Educator Louise Griffiths for a special Ridley webinar, as they tackle the hard topic of parenting children who live with autism in a Christian setting. They will share their own personal journey as parents/educators of children who have been diagnosed with autism, bringing their own biblical perspectives to this complex experience.


Mike Bird Academic Dean Lecturer in Theology

Michael grew up in Brisbane before joining the Army and serving as a paratrooper, intelligence operator, and then chaplains assistant. It was during his time in the military that he came to faith from a non-Christian background, and soon after felt a call to ministry. He graduated with a BMin from Malyon College (2001) and Honours and PhD from the University of Queensland (2002, 2005). Michael taught New Testament at the Highland Theological College in Scotland (2005-9) before joining Brisbane School of Theology as lecturer in Theology (2010-12). He joined the faculty at Ridley as lecturer in Theology in 2013.

Michael describes himself as a “biblical theologian” who endeavours to bring together biblical studies and systematic theology. He believes that the purpose of the church is to “gospelize,” that is to preach, promote, and practise the Gospel-story of the Lord Jesus Christ. Remembered by students for his mix of outlandish humour and intellectual rigor, he makes theology both entertaining and challenging.

Michael is married to Naomi and they have four children.


Naomi Bird Assistant Families and Children’s Minister, St. Alfred’s Church Blackburn North

Naomi Bird is a follower of Jesus, wife to Mike, Mum to Alexis, Alyssa, Markus and Theo, Children’s Minister at St. Alfred’s Blackburn North and a Connect Leader for MOPS Australia. Her world was changed in 2015 when an Autism diagnosis of her son changed the way she saw parenting and life in general. As a Christian parent of a special needs child she developed a passion for helping churches think through how to best care for families and disciple children with special needs. She finds it encouraging to walk alongside a family who are struggling in the world of autism, sharing her story, and what she has learned along the way. In her spare time she enjoys a good coffee (unlike her husband who hates it!), spending time with friends and family, and a new hobby of video editing.


Louise Griffiths Student Support Educator

Louise is a follower of Jesus, wife to Cameron, and mum to Cody and Leila. In 2008, Cameron and Louise discovered that their newborn son was profoundly deaf. This took them on the journey of experiencing life as ‘parents of a child with additional needs’. As a result of her experiences in supporting her own children and working with young people who find mainstream education and church-life overwhelming, Louise completed a Master of Special Education. She presents lectures on supporting children with additional needs, including autism, to educators, para-church organisations and Church groups. Her reflections on education can be found on her facebook page and blog ‘Exploring all options’. Louise is a regular contributor to Christian Education National’s magazine ‘Nurture’, where she reflects on the interaction between curriculum and theology.  Louise works at Mount Evelyn Christian School, as the Butterfly Centre coordinator, seeking to provide a calm, welcoming classroom for children who find school life to be overwhelming. Her deep hope is to see the church as a whole become a place of acceptance and inclusiveness for people who live with autism or other additional needs.


We respectfully acknowledge the Wurundjeri People, who are the Traditional Owners of the land on which the Ridley College campus is built.
Ridley College is an affiliated college with the Australian College of Theology, CRICOS Provider Code 02650E.
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