MyStory___two__My son Richard has autism. I can now make this statement easily, it just rolls out; but there were times in the past that it would catch in my throat. I am so proud of who he has become and proud of how he overcame the many obstacles that he faced along the way. Richard is one of my biggest blessings, he has taught me so much more than I can or will ever teach him. It is his autism diagnosis which triggered this role reversal whereby he has become my teacher and in doing so has taught me how to love unconditionally, how to be patient and he reminds me daily to try to become a better person.

My husband and I live in Sydney, Australia and have 2 children, Emily and Richard. Emily is 5 years older than Richie and I am so thankful that my husband Elias and I have been blessed with 2 amazing children. It has been a rocky road but a road I would never trade for anything, yes we did all the early intervention and immersed ourselves in the Gluten Free Casein Free (GFCF) diet and the biomedical protocol. Did these interventions work and were they worth the sacrifice? I think so, in fact yes I will say it with greater conviction, YES!

Richard made significant progress in the early years and this encouraged us. The path through school however was
MyStory___three__challenging. We had to fight for his right to a mainstream education and we had many battles along the way, but many of these challenges were overcome. By sharing my story and lighting your way with our experiences, I hope that your journey will be easier. And once you find your light at the end of the tunnel, I ask you to then help shine the light for those families who will be following in your footsteps. I have learnt more from the parents who walked this path before me than from any professional I have come across. We need to make a commitment to mobilise our forces, our strengths and experiences to make our community stronger and well supported.

When Richie was in year 10 at school he experienced a bullying incident which almost broke my heart. Instead of calling the school I attempted to speak directly with his peers, so together with my daughter Emily, we created a video that very night. This video seemed to have hit a nerve, the emails of support, empathy and encouragement clogged my inbox and we even won the NOVA Focus on Ability Short Film Award. In this video I challenge the wider community be kinder to our children and also to the families. I would like to ask the community now, right now, to make a conscious effort and take up this challenge, to make a ripple and change the world if only for just one child:

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, psychologist or therapist. My opinions are not a result of any formal qualification. They are based entirely on having lived and breathed autism for the past 17 years. My only expertise is I am a mother of a child with autism. It is often said that once you meet a child with autism, you have met ONE child with autism, they are all so different and that is what is meant by the term ‘being on the spectrum’. The spectrum is wide and my experience on a day to day basis will vary with yours, all I want to do is try to light your path so you can eventually see your own light at the end of the autism tunnel.