Troy Montero Marks Father’s Day With A New Purpose As An ASD Awareness Advocate
This year marks an extra meaningful Father’s Day for actor Troy Montero as he becomes an ASD awareness advocate for daughter Rocket
Father’s Day just got sweeter and more meaningful as actor Troy Montero tied the knot last June 9 with actress Aubrey Miles. This marks the pair’s over 18 years of relationship which blessed them with son Hunter, 13, and daughter Rocket, 3. Maurice, Aubrey’s son from a previous relationship, completes Troy and Aubrey’s family.
“It feels great. Father’s Day for me is always just a nice little reminder of all the things that I’ve gone through and dads go through in general and even of my father. It’s always a nice little moment to reflect on how things are going with you, yourself and everything. I’m very happy too when Father’s Day comes around,” Troy says.
Father’s Day feels a bit more special this year after the wedding.“I think everything is a little sweeter. Although, since we have been together [for] 18 years, we said naman that we wouldn’t change. Everything is the same. It does make me feel a tad bit sweeter and more patient. It reminds me of why we’ve lasted this long,” he smiles.
Just two months earlier, the couple also opened up about their daughter Rocket’s ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) diagnosis. This year’s Father’s Day, Troy is also set to participate in ASIC’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series, a nighttime fun run event that will be staged around Manila’s famous landmarks.
Clearly, Troy is marking a new season in his life as a husband and a father.
A Father’s Heart
If he is the kind of husband who’s appreciative of his partner and wife, there is another side to Troy Montero that will melt your heart, and that’s being a father to his kids.
“[As a dad,] I would describe myself as my father’s son. I probably have taken a lot of how my mom and dad raised me and my brothers. I probably try to take those experiences and all those gifts and lessons that were instilled in me and find the best ones that worked for me. But definitely not a total carbon copy because times have changed so much and there are just some things that I’ve done on my own,” he says.
Troy is the kind of father who’s fascinated by his kids’ journey and having the privilege of being a part of it.
“The best things are, of course, just being around the kids, having them look for you when they need you. I think that’s what’s wonderful when they’re in the ages of 0-4, when they really need you. After four, they kind of get a little bit independent. Now when they get older, they need you but for different things. Sometimes now I’m having a hard time because my son will be saying ‘Dad, I need help with school,’ and I’m looking at his school work and I’m like ‘Oh my gosh!’” Troy laughingly shares, not exempted from the hardships of seeing how tough the current homework and school lessons the kids are facing now.
It is Troy’s innate joy in getting involved and being hands-on with his kids that led him to noticing Rocket’s ASD symptoms. The actor shares that his experience with Maurice and Hunter as two-year-olds and being familiar with their basic average milestones made him notice things that are different with Rocket.
“With Rocket, we noticed that she’s a lot quieter than her siblings and even though she would laugh, giggle, run around and things like that, we noticed her activities were different and she would play differently. She was very obsessed with the wheel of a car and not so much the car. She would, if given let’s say a little playset of little dolls and little toys and things, normally that age will gravitate towards the little doll but she would go to the little computer of the accessory of the doll or something different. I just kind of noticed something and it got me kind of wondering,” he shares, adding that observation led him to Google symptoms. While there were symptoms that were on the autism spectrum disorder, some didn’t match at all.
“I also read, don’t look to it too much on your own, you’re not a doctor and to go get professional help. We mentioned it to her pediatrician and the pedia said ‘I’ll also give you a number to someone here who’s good and an expert.’ Once we went in, the expert told us ‘Yes, your daughter has something.’ And we went through tests to determine what those things are and when she came out, she’s definitely on the autism spectrum,” he discloses.
Troy admits they were in denial at first but whenever they think of how Rocket responds to them and how affectionate she is, they think more of their daughter’s struggle on speech delay because some of the other symptoms weren’t there. He finds it’s something they will be able to handle as a family.
“Once we had her diagnosed, it's almost like it hurt that it was confirmed but it was almost like we knew and we had a feeling already so we’ve already kind of accepted it when the doctor said that. We looked at each other and now what? What can we do? What’s the next step?” he narrates.
Starting their advocacy
The couple decided to keep it to themselves first to educate themselves and find out more about the condition. They researched on schools and therapists in their area, on information available online and even locally on what steps to do. Troy and Aubrey also started following a few Autism Spectrum support groups on Facebook.
“There’s so much information there and everyone’s always so helpful and willing to share. We did just kind of quietly sat there and just read a lot of information from these parents and then from there, we eventually enrolled her into a school and what she’s doing now,” he shares. Rocket is currently taking speech and occupational therapies for ASD.
“We wanted to educate ourselves first before we do it because we know there’s going to be a lot of questions,” he starts, explaining the creation of Rocket’s ASD Awareness Facebook page.
“The whole idea of it becoming like our advocacy was kind of like by accident. When we announced it, we thought this is okay for us to share. We can only get her more help if we’re open and it’ll be easier for everyone and we weren’t ashamed of her or anything like that so it wasn’t like we wanted to hide her or anything,” Troy continues.
As their family opened up to the public about their journey as parents to Rocket, the feedback and the support they received have been positively overwhelming.
“I think it totally helped. It just so happens that we have an outpouring of feedback, of support, of questions and then from there, there are so many people messaging us saying thank you so much for saying this and coming out. Some were embarrassed, some were scared, lots are curious and then some are also very proud. That’s when we decided, let’s start something of our own and see where it goes from there but at least, we can share progress with other parents. We can be a connector for parents who have been through this and are going through this to new parents who are just finding out, so that’s when we decided that we would start this page for Rocket,” Troy explains.
Asked what piece of advice he would give to fellow parents who have kids with ASD, Troy began with how much patience parents should have because of all the support and attention they’re going to give.
“Raising kids is hard and challenging enough but also the most rewarding thing you can do. Having a child on the spectrum will definitely be challenging but there’s support out there. It’s good to go and hear stories from other parents and share some of your experiences. It is a lifelong commitment raising a child anyway, what more if you have a child on the spectrum? So you just have to hang in there and be strong. Have faith and make sure that you have really great communication with your partner, with the support group and that would definitely help you.”
“Get ready because it’s not the end of the world. They are wonderful, amazing children and you know, you’ll just be surprised how thrilled and how fulfilled you’ll be over some of the smallest things and the small victories feel so enormous and great,” Troy notes, sharing the sense of fulfillment he also feels.
Though it’s certainly a challenging journey, Troy chooses to think and savor his favorite moments as a dad. You can tell by the way he shares stories that he finds real joy in fatherhood and in being in the front seat of his children’s journey. He says he cherishes those days when the kids were born but also the first time he found out he’s going to be a dad and even the first time he heard the heartbeats of his kids.
“Seeing their eyes light up or seeing them when they’re full of wonder, looking at them looking out in the water or even looking down at a bug or something ‘Oh, what are they thinking?’ I think those are really fun moments when you can see their little brain is working and trying to figure things out and they’re curious. I like things like that and especially even with Rocket that she is at this point still non-verbal, a lot of it is actions. To see her doing those things is one of the most fulfilling things as a dad,” he thoughtfully remarks.
To mark Father’s Day, Troy shares one of the best pieces of advice he ever received.
“The one thing that all of us have in common and one thing that we cannot fight or beat or anything is you cannot take back time. Time is definitely not on our side. You need to take care and take every minute for what it’s worth. You never know what’s going to happen so treat every day like it’s the best day. I lost my father right before the pandemic happened—that’s one thing that I always thought of, that you just also never know what is going to happen. Treat everything as if it’s your first and last minute, just go there and be kind to people and don’t take time for granted.”
This also applies to how fathers, or parents in general, should bear in mind when it comes to their children.
“The kids just keep getting older and older so yes they go through different stages from baby cuteness to all the sudden spirited teenager but one day, they won’t be that either so you definitely have to cherish every moment,” he meaningfully concludes.
Follow Rocket's ASD Awareness Page here.
Lead photos from @troymontero