Sydney MamaMag Dec/Jan 2021

Page 52

AUTISTIC UNDERSTANDING Being Autistic in 2020 has opened many new opportunities for understanding and acceptance but has equally proven that there is still a long journey ahead for equality.

There are three simple ways to support and interact with people with autism.

Whether it be in school, in a social setting, workplace or at home with family, autistic traits can be misinterpreted.

I have found that as I have become more open and honest about who we are as a family the more comfortable I feel to engage in activities and social outings. Do they go smoothly? Absolutely not, but a simple way to ease the pressure is not being offended if most gatherings are at my home.

When my boys were younger, and my husband and I were learning about the world of autism we very quickly became aware of who would remain in our lives. While our boys were unaware of the horrid gossip and judgements they were subject of, it became too much to bear for us as parents. After years of isolation we started to welcome back the supportive people into our lives. There is a strong autism community out there and it can be easy to forget that for the majority of Australians they have limited exposure to what autistic traits may be. What a lot of people do not know is that autism is a life long disability. The reason the word spectrum is commonly used when discussing the condition is because it manifests very differently from person-to-person – how they think, feel, interact with others, and experience the environment around them. The prevalence of Autism in Australia is now 1 in 70 people. It is no longer about when will I meet someone on the spectrum, chances are you have or know someone who does. Only yesterday I took my youngest son to get a haircut and he cried throughout the cut. When we walked out of the salon, I tried to console him again and tell him it was all finished with words and sign language. A man was sitting outside and loudly said “I had to put up with that noise the whole time.” I was angry, hurt and wished that I had used it to educate him but in that moment my priority was making sure my son was okay and to help him regulate his emotions.


1. Is with family and friends.

In our space the boys are the kings of their castle, they are safe and can retreat into their bedrooms if they need some sensory downtime. My husband and I can also relax much more and enjoy the company of our guests. When we attend someone else’s home, we are on edge the entire time and we walk away in a sweat and hope the next outing is not too soon. As most special needs families will tell you, having a network of people who love us and want to be in our lives is invaluable.

2. School settings Stereotypes and bullying will continue into adulthood no matter who you are, a very sad part of reality. I find that twoway communication with educators, other parents and children is an important step. If I can communicate with the nucleolus that surrounds my children, then while they still may not understand why they behave certain ways they are able to recognise that is part of who they are. The conversations at times may not be comfortable, but as the voice for my children I have had to put aside my fears and ensure that people can ask questions in order to best provide my children with the same opportunities in life and are treated with the same respect as any of their peers.

Articles from Sydney MamaMag Dec/Jan 2021