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...

Thumbs up to Microsoft for actively recruiting people with autism

Usually the news is full of doom and gloom, but today thankfully it was very uplifting! Not only was the lead story in Australia about finding an 11 year old boy with autism alive and well, after wandering away from his family’s campsite and was lost for 4 days in the bush , (my heart just jumped with excitement when the news broke!) I also came across an article that Microsoft will be actively recruiting people with autism to work for the corporation! I have included the link at the end of my post if you would like to read the full story. How wonderful that a global conglomerate is setting the example for others to follow. I know the cynics will probably argue that they are only looking for the high functioning computer geeks, (which my son is not) but let’s for now just give them credit for at least singling out people with autism in a positive way. They are also giving publicity and raising the discussion around the issue that our children need active support from the major players in the corporate world. Our children do grow up and they do need to find their place in our world and if one company is starting to make room for them then I feel they deserve credit. So from this mum, I say CONGRATULATIONS Microsoft, I use a PC and was toying with the idea of switching to a Mac, but for now, I’m going to shelve that idea. Read Article on Mashable  ...

Today, April 2 is Autism Awareness Day!

On 18 Dec 2007, the United Nations declared with consensus support from all Member States that 2 April each year will be World Autism Awareness Day, with the goal of bringing attention to those diagnosed with autism and to help give them a voice. So Richard – today is your day! What can I say to you other than, thank you for the joy that you bring me every day and thank you for loving me always and unconditionally. I continue to be in awe of you and again wish to acknowledge how proud I was when you graduated from high school last year. But today is not just about you Richie, it’s also about all the parents worldwide who look after children like you. To those parents I would like to ask you to step back and enjoy the successes that you have had in helping your child to navigate our world. Enjoy how you now see this world in a totally different light, a light which shines through your children; and enjoy the fact that both you and your child have and will continue to overcome obstacles that you never thought you would have to face. Today I walk a little lighter and smile quietly to myself as I sit back and acknowledge what we have achieved together as a family, and I thank God for all the blessings which have come our way via Richard!   If only I could have spoken with a mum who had travelled down this road when I was “new” on the scene, the road ahead would not have appeared so...

Dealing With Autism Blog

Join me in my ongoing journey with autism, parenting and just getting on with life. Together let’s also share the joys that our children bring and although I may be well down the autism path, our family still has its interesting moments and I still face the daily challenges which life in general throws my way. Not every thought and post will be autism related because after all, my whole life is not autism related! Want to Write a Guest Blog Post? I invite you to be a part of this community and to share your story right here. Tell us what’s happening in your life. Not only will you feel that you are not alone as you read the stories of others, we might also provide a glimpse into our lives for those people who have no idea what goes on daily with the unexpected arrival of autism into our homes. Your story may be about something humorous, yes funny things do happen in our lives, your story may be about how you were told of the diagnosis or your story may be about school experiences. Whatever you wish to share, we want to...