Dear Teacher: From an Autism Mother

Dear Teacher: From an Autism Mother

It’s been 2 years since our son graduated from high school. There were times I never thought he would, but the night of the graduation was our family’s proudest moment. Our son was blessed to have attended 2 very caring schools, his teachers did their utmost to help him succeed and we are indebted to them. Despite this we had our challenges particularly in his first school, which we left fairly quickly. Having spoken with many parents of children with autism over the years, it seems many of our challenges with schools are the same, so I have penned a letter to teachers everywhere in the hope that they may see things from our perspective: Dear Teacher, Please know I am truly grateful that my son is in your class. You see I had to fight to enrol him in your school. Please know that I will think 10 times before contacting you, his teacher or the school. I know that our needs are high, so I will pick my battles and only address the most serious concerns, I don’t want to burden you any more than is necessary. Rightly or wrongly I feel like we are a burden, and I feel I should be grateful that my son attends your school even though it is his legislated right. Please know that I know you don’t have the training for this; it’s not fair on you, or on my child, but that’s the reality and if I can help you I will. Use me as a resource. Out of necessity I am an expert on the subject of autism...
Bullying Gets A Right Royal Serve!

Bullying Gets A Right Royal Serve!

Prince William makes headlines today as he lends his support to the anti bullying message. He rallies us to ‘stand up to bullying’ because “bullying affects young people in particular, and can have a profoundly damaging and long-lasting effect…research shows that victims of bullying can become more susceptible to depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts”. This is not new ‘news’ and the Prince is to be congratulated for placing the spotlight on this issue and rallying us to “stand up to bullying”; but this is only a partial solution to the problem. It is a reactive solution – by standing up it means we have noticed the bullying behaviour but by then it can be too late, the damage could already have been done. It’s time to re-engineer our response and implement a proactive solution. Exclusion is very often the first form of bullying and as a society we should aim to encourage inclusion and a sense of belonging, especially in school communities. MATES is a social inclusion program which addresses this very issue, it’s an acronym for Mates Assisting To Engage Socially and it highlights the importance of Social Inclusion in our schools and in our society. It’s a compelling metaphor because we all need a mate. Too many young people feel that they do not belong, this is so damaging to their self-esteem. Imagine how schools would benefit from a peer led approach to encouraging and facilitating a sense of belonging, what would happen to self-esteem and motivation? Imagine if schools could develop the leadership skills of more students and allow them the authority and autonomy to implement...

Radio Interview

Last week I had a radio interview with ABC Adelaide’s Ian Henschke. Here’s the audio file. Received great feedback from mother’s new to the autism scene in South Australia. Listen to the full interview HERE.

Richard Shines at Book Launch!

Last week my book “Dealing With Autism” was launched by Professor The Honourable Dame Marie Bashir AD CVO and The Minister for Ageing and Disability, the Honourable John Ajaka at Notre Dame University, Sydney. We were truly humbled by their words and support for the book and its message. However Richard’s speech was the real highlight of the evening! I’ve never been more proud, he received a standing ovation even from the dignitaries! Richard’s high school principal, David McInnes was the M.C. for the evening, and many of Richie’s teachers were in attendance. He was so pleased with himself and very much enjoyed the accolades…he has come such a long way from our early years, who would have ever thought that he could or would deliver a speech to such an audience? Never could I have imagined back in those early years when Richard was non-verbal, non-compliant and just wanted to spin in a circle that this could be possible. I had no idea back then that there was indeed a light at the end of our autism tunnel. I have now taken time to process the magnitude of the events of that night and I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Gratitude for his teachers and therapists who were there to watch Richard shine, gratitude that the audience heard my message to be more inclusive of our children with autism, gratitude for my beautiful family; my daughter Emily who continues to amaze me every day, my husband Elias who is the rock solid foundation which supports me unfailingly, and my son Richard, who teaches us all to be better human...

Feature On The Archdiocese of Sydney Website

Feature that was published on Sydney Catholic News on May 22nd, 2015 A Son With Autism is a Great Blessing and Precious Gift Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese, 22 May 2015 Raising a son with autism is an ongoing challenge in a world where most people know little about autism, and where most teachers and the school system provides almost no training to support a student with special needs. But Randa Habelrih, the dedicated and devoted mother of 18-year-old Richard is determined to change this. Randa has written a moving, insightful and inspiring book, “Dealing with Autism: How I successfully Raised My Child with Autism and How You Can Too…” The book will be launched next week by the Hon John Ajaka, NSW Minister for Ageing and Disability at a ceremony attended by Bishop Peter Comensoli at the University of Notre Dame. It is very much a personal journey and shares the great joy Richard has brought to herself, her husband Elias and elder daughter Emily, enriching their lives with his quirkiness, sense of humour and above all his courage and unconditional love. “As a parent, I teach him but in a way Richard is MY teacher. He has taught me so much, including the meaning of patience, understanding, acceptance and honour. He teaches me every day how to love unconditionally. How? By example. That’s the only way he knows,” she writes. She describes her son as her hero and a precious gift from God. Randa Habelrih’s personal story shines a light on autism and the courage and outstanding achievements of her son Richard Richard’s sister, Emily who is currently...