In this series we will be meeting some amazing families who have embraced their child and their autism wholeheartedly. They are passionate about spreading the word that being diagnosed with autism does not define your life. Although there are indeed challenges along the way – the positives out way the negatives in abundance.
Please meet Danni . I first met Danni through an on-line support group for families who have a child with autism. I was instantly drawn to her incredible sense of humour and her ability to convey the love she has for her son & how she manages the challenges, ups and down and joys of life being his mama.
Please introduce our readers to your amazing family-
We are a beautiful family of 3 – myself, my amazing partner Jared and our divine son Henri.
We are a FIFO (fly in/fly out) mining family so Jared is only home with us 50% of the time. Henri started prep in 2016 and I have my own small business (Tickle or Treat) that allows me to have much needed “me time” in the studio at home. We live on the Gold Coast and love each and every day that we wake up with the warmth on our skin.
How old was your son when he was diagnosed with Autism?
When Henry was two and a half years old I was told to get him tested by his day care teachers in Melbourne.
At that time I had no idea what autism was, so I spent some time looking into it so I had an understanding.
When we moved to Queensland only a few weeks later, we were told again that he needed to be tested, which we did. After months of seeing a wonderful child psychologist, paediatrician and reports being completed by us, we finally got the wonderful news of his diagnosis (November 2015). Such a great time for it all to fall into place with school starting in 2016 and the fabulous assistance about to come our way.
Many parents say they knew their child was Autistic – was this the case for you & how did you know?
Needless to say (and obviously through my posts- AUTISM – The mummy, the miner and the menace) Henri’s outlook on life is like someone who had drunk seventeen cans of Red Bull after a car battery was inserted into him. He is flat out, vivacious and quirky!
There is no doubt that each day for us is tinted with rose coloured glasses – observations unseen by most and an outlook on life that leaves most for dead.
His dressing up, storytelling and imagination abilities are well above and beyond his five years of age, and we have encouraged him to be the free spirit that he is. This has allowed him to grow into a beautiful little boy with a lot of love to give.
We have always known that our ‘buddy’ was a little different than the other kids, but we also stopped and asked ourselves “What is the norm these days?”. Kids need to be free; allowed to grow through their own experiences and whilst that is happening have guidance in a world that doesn’t slow down for anyone.
We have done our best to guide him, educate him and smother him with love. We support and encourage him to spread his wings each day on his own path of wonderful experiences. Each day is unknown, yet each day is a blessing to watch him grown.
Can you share with us a bit about the way you dealt with the diagnosis?
I was counting down the days until we got the final results and diagnosis as I was desperate for help, and Jared felt the same. Once we heard the words “on the spectrum” it hit us hard, but not without an appreciation too. I personally didn’t fear the diagnosis . I cried due to the path he will have to walk and that he may have negativity thrown his way due to people’s ignorance and inability to care. Yes, I shed tears. It is all well and good to know in your heart what the finding will be, but to actually hear it and read on paper is different.
After a few days I thought to myself – come on, stand up, be his voice, his heart and his guiding light. Since that moment I have not looked back. We have embraced this magical journey wholeheartedly and believe that we were chosen by whatever guiding light there is out there, to be Henri’s parents. We let this beautiful boy spread his wings and fly.
How has Autism affected your life?
It hasn’t “affected our life”– I guess it’s always been our life- but now it has a label.
Having an effect on our life would have meant change once the diagnosis came and nothing has changed. He and our family are still happy and content. We live a fabulous life, wonderful, holidays, sleepless nights, serve up white and beige food to him due to sensory issues, we laugh, run and swim, we attend therapy, we use the word autism daily, we open our hearts to other special needs children – we love the life we live!
We wouldn’t change it for the world as having an autistic child has added an extra beat to our hearts!
What are some things your son has taught you about the world?
Henri has taught us that life is to be filled with love, laughter and rose coloured glasses. We are standing with our heads held high, and hope that over time people will become more aware and educated on autism and the blessing it is to have a child in your life on the spectrum.
We always tell others – “Please don’t say I’m sorry to hear about Henri, as there is nothing to be sorry about – he is fabulous, funny and healthy. He is alive, laughing and living life to the max – nothing to be sorry or sad about. It’s onwards and upwards baby and if any mum and dad can make the most of this – it’s us”.
Yes, it’s a disability but it’s not a death sentence. Henry’s is highly intelligent and runs rings around us with his facts and daily antics so this is just another piece of the puzzle that shapes his life. Those that know us well know that we have given 150% when needed. Since our diagnosis in November 2015, I have dedicated myself to allowing our son to flourish and be the intelligent, quirky kid that he is whilst constantly learning about our new journey. As his parents we are immensely proud of our boy – that goes without saying.
I don’t want anyone to mistake him as naughty, I don’t want anyone to misunderstand him, treat him any differently or worry – he may not be able to do some things kids of his age can do. He runs rings around other children and adults when it comes to informing us of some of his “obsessive topics”.
Onwards and upwards, living each day to the fullest and giving him the best early intervention is what is all about. Today is the first day of doing that. Our minds are clearer than yesterday and our hearts are filled with love as always.
What advice would you give to other families who have a child with Autism-?
Live your life with an open heart.
Live your life with an open mind.
Live your life for yourself, your family and for irreplaceable memories.
Don’t let others rain on your parade and most of all…
Oh….. And drink wine 😉
Love Danni xoxo
Chaos to Calm Consultancy would like Wadawarrung of the Kulin Nation. We acknowledge the elders past, present and emerging -particularly the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents who walked before us supporting and connecting their children to the earth, water and community. Always was. Always will be.