“Oscar* was diagnosed as autistic at the age of five, when he started kindergarten.
There were the little signs initially with repetitive behaviour where he wanted to read the same book multiple times.
He was able to read very early on but then suddenly, he just could not pick up words.
It was definitely concerning as a parent but for me, the process (diagnosis) was to get some answers straight away and try to find the right support for him.”
Jane* noticed the reactions of other people, particularly those who were quite sympathetic, almost apologetic when hearing of her son’s diagnosis.
“It was difficult from that perspective, I’m a very proactive person and I just wanted to get on with it really.”
For Jane it was about finding things for her son to keep him as independent as possible and activities he could immerse himself in.
“I just hit the toy stores. I got Oscar the learning books, DVD players with subtitles and CD books were also great for him.
It was really important I found things he could do himself, so he wasn’t so reliant and always asking for help and just giving him more of that independence.”
Raising two boys, the eldest being neurotypical, Jane was adamant she would raise the boys the same but said she was proactive in adapting things subtly to make everyday activities and Oscar’s surroundings more comfortable and clear for him.
“We’ve just made little changes to the way we do things, for example, if we go for a drive, we don’t have the radio on, but then we know things Oscar likes that we make sure we do.
He loves whale watching and going to the park, but we just make sure we go when it is nice and quiet.”
Jane pointed out the importance of encouraging the activities and experiences her son really enjoys and thrives from.
“Anything Oscar was into, we encouraged. I have brought both boys up the same way. I’ve always encouraged them to speak up and talk about things, we’re big talkers in our family.”
For Jane, she herself was diagnosed with Autism at the age of seven and was really passionate about raising her son in a way that felt supported and listened to.
“I got pushed when I was younger so from my experience, I just don’t want to push him. I give him the opportunities, and I put those opportunities in his path and just encourage him. That is all he’s ever needed. I talk to him about things first, explain it to him, keep it and simple and let him ask questions.”
When talking with Jane about why having more conversations around supporting and accepting those living with Autism is so important, she reflected on the way Autism can often be misunderstood.
My son is just a kid who sees the world differently and thinks differently, they pick up on that straight away.
Oscar is highly intelligent and has his favourite song that he often plays to communicate when he is frustrated, there is a message he takes from that song.
It’s amazing the way that he communicates, it’s just a different way of communicating.
I used to struggle with people talking about him in front of him, he can understand, and you just want your child to be treated like a person, like everyone else. We love him, you love your kids, you do what is necessary to support them.”
*Please note, names have been changed to protect the privacy of the individual