About one in 100 people in Australia have autism and World Autism Awareness Day, on April 2
, aims to raise awareness about what life is like for them.
Rose’s 13-year-old son, Mark, has autism. She feels that life would be easier if people took the time to understand how his diagnosis affects him and the family.
“If I meet somebody new and I tell them that my son has autism, I don’t want them to feel sorry for me or my family. That’s not why I’m sharing the experience,” Rose said.
“I certainly think that I was blessed to have Mark. He’s with us for a reason. So, I don’t mind people asking questions if it helps them better understand autism.”
Each person with autism is different. However, it commonly affects their communication, behaviour, social skills and how they learn. When a child is diagnosed with autism, the whole family experiences the lows and highs that follow.
The challenges for Rose and her family, which includes her daughter 15-year-old Amanda, change as Mark gets older. These days it includes things like the whole family being unable to attend social functions, some of Mark’s behaviours can be hard to manage in public and their home life is different from the norm.
Then there are the highs: like Mark regularly exceeding expectations, he is thriving at his school for kids with autism and early intervention has given him independence that the family once feared he would never have.
“Mark’s achieved so much. He certainly can have a nice conversation with you. He’s independent in all sorts of ways,” Rose said.
Mark attends regular short-breaks with not-for-profit organisation Villa Maria Catholic Homes (VMCH)
and soon he will start regular visits to one of its short-term accommodation houses for children with a disability, called Oasis, in Ivanhoe.
Mark loves these short breaks. Rose and her husband feel confident that their son is being supported by well-trained and dedicated staff.
“He loves the activities. He loves to be part of a group. He flourishes and listens to the care workers. It is really wonderful.”
He will also soon start visiting Oasis regularly. Rose says this will allow the rest of the family to do things that are otherwise too hard. Things like shopping, the movies, quiet nights at home. Amanda will be able to invite friends over.
Good services, family and community support help people with Autism live more fulfilling lives that include the things we all want. Things like social connections, friendship, education, sport, work, fun and independence.
VMCH is proud to provide a range of support to individuals with Autism and their families. Our services include early intervention, activities, short breaks, school holiday programs and accommodation services. Call 1800 798 921 to learn more.