Autism Awareness Month - April 6
Throughout April we will be sharing a different story each day to help raise Autism Awareness and highlight how peoples' lives have been touched by Autism and Autism Queensland in different ways.
I remember very clearly ‘Dress Differently Day’ last year, with a family of five, four of whom are diagnosed with ASD; we love the opportunity to show our support for helping those with Autism.
I went all out; bought my son a very funky wig and costume for the day, he looked great. We arrived at kindy with all the kids looking fantastic and there’s my boy within five minutes of arriving, stripping down to nothing because he has definitely had enough and he was quite vocal about it. With all eyes on us, we calmly got dressing into his shirts and shirt with everyone else around in costume and I though, well in a way that moment defined our family, Dress Differently Day is to promote awareness of how people with Autism feel every single day… Natey didn’t need his costume… even with everybody dressed differently; we still stood out in that crowd.
I expect our family is always going to get the funny looks and odd stares but I am extremely proud of my children. Those people who are giving us the looks in the shopping centres or craning their necks to stare to see which child is making that awful noise while we are waiting for the school bell to ring, they have no idea how far the family has come. The fact that we are there at that mainstream school waiting, noisy or not, means that my children now have the ability and skills to cope with a mainstream school environment, something I wouldn’t have believe possible a few short years ago. When you have children who at three years old are still in nappies with barely any speech, stress levels so high that just ducking into the shop for a bottle of milk is an hour and a half screaming, head banging, violent experience, there is not way you can see a future in a mainstream school environment, sometimes you’re really not sure if you can even see a future – day to day living is more than enough to try and cope with.
We have been receiving help from Autism Queensland (AQ) for over three years and the difference in my children is remarkable. My son was a boy with very little speech, still in nappies, with NO tolerance for other children when he first started the AQ Early Intervention Program. He is now a very proud toilet trained preppy, who has so many kids saying hello to him in the morning on the was to his classroom is takes us 10 minutes longer than it should to get there because Kate just has to stop and chat with all his friends. Nate still needs a bit of help now and then especially with his fine and gross motor skills, and figuring out that some things really aren’t socially acceptable but with the help he is receiving from the AQ Outreach Program, he is going to continue to thrive and enjoy school like any other ‘typical’ five year old.
We are so fortunate that my youngest son, Tristan, was able to get a place in the AQ Early Intervention Program this year. He has only been attending AQ for a few months and already his speech has improved and the girls have got him going to the toilet – YAY! After seven years of nappies, this is an extremely exciting event for our family. I honestly believe that without Early Intervention my children would not have the speech ability or copying strategies they need in order to function and attend mainstream school five days a week.
It is amazing how much difference the right help can make!
(Mother of Kiana, Nate and Tristan)