Autism MATES

Autism MATES

Each new year brings with it hope. This year, in 2022 we’re all hoping for a more predictable year, I think most of us have had enough of the unexpected, we’re hoping for routine, for schools to stay open and for no lockdowns.

Nothing brings more hope and joy than welcoming new baby into the family. Expectant parents are full of hope and wonder for their tiny baby.

The miracle of life is awe-inspiring, and a mother has less than 9 months to prepare, during which time her body is tested to its limits. Her power and strength, both physically and mentally, is what sustains her baby and ultimately brings it into the world. Expectant mothers have simultaneous feelings of great euphoria and feelings of inadequacy but all the while wondering, what will my baby look like, will it be a boy or a girl, will my child be academic or artistic? Parents have dreams for their baby, and they have hope that their baby will make this world a better place just by being in it.

Don’t take away a mother’s hope

Hope is what keeps us going. It’s a powerful emotion that acts as a powerful motivator and for many parents, that hope is stolen from them. A diagnosis is given and their little baby who could have been or done anything, is suddenly relegated to a life of little potential and even less hope.

Why?

To those health professionals and educators, who feel that it is their duty to pass on the worst-case scenario news, to paint the most dismal of pictures, I ask, please do not take away a mother’s hope. Without hope, a dismal prognosis can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Richard

I remember when we were given a diagnosis of autism for our little boy, our beautiful Richard, although deep down I already knew he was autistic (the signs were there), I felt like I was punched in the stomach. It was way the diagnosis was delivered coupled by how people around us reacted that had us reeling. How family and friends retreated, and how when we did eventually start school, other parents and children reacted which reinforced all the negativity and feelings of hopelessness. The reactions made us relive every negative emotion from that initial diagnosis.

So, as we start this new school year, I am here on this platform, to provide some insight, some education but most importantly, some hope to those parents who had theirs stolen from them. You see, our children, all of our children, whether they have a diagnosis or are neurotypical, have potential. As parents, it is our job to help them achieve their potential.

Richard The Entrepreneur

My son is autistic, has an intellectual disability and was non-verbal in his early years. We were told to expect very little from him. He is now 25 years old, speaks at schools and conferences on kindness and inclusion, wrote a puppet show which has been animated, and last year started his own chocolate business. He also works on Mondays as a teacher’s aide in a preschool. He has support (thanks to the NDIS) to do all of these things and he lives a happy and very social life.

Autism MATES

It’s taken a lot of therapy, work and dedication from Richard and our family. I now want to give back and help make the journey easier for other families, so I have established a charity called Autism MATES and a social enterprise called Freckly Faces, both of which were inspired by Richard. I can’t wait to tell you more about these initiatives in upcoming posts. I am here to serve you because I have learnt so much from the families who have walked this path before me, and I want to share with you what we learnt through trial and error so that your journey is less bumpy.

I hope to also encourage more conversation around inclusion and acceptance, so that we raise the standards for all of our children, not just those on the spectrum.

So please reach out if you have any questions or queries about

  • Raising a neurodiverse child
  • Bullying
  • Inclusion and acceptance
  • The NDIS
  • Or any other subject in this space

 

To those parents of neurotypical children who are reading this, if you want to make a ripple, if you ever wanted to make the world a better place but were not sure how, encourage your children to befriend kids like Richard, those kids who are different.  You will never know how much this will mean. Even better, lead by example and invite the whole family over, you may make lifelong friends as a result.

While no-one plans to have a child on the spectrum, Richard is our priceless blessing. To those of you with newly diagnosed kids, I wish you every success, peace and blessing on your journey, and please know that although your life may have taken an unexpected direction, this new path will also bring you much joy.

I look forward to hearing from you, to connecting with the Kiddipedia community and to the connections we will create together, ‘because we all need a mate’.

Randa Habelrih