Four kids with arms in air laughing
16 Apr

It’s black and white...

Autism mum’s new perspective.

I have two children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), both boys, Philip, 15, and Giovanni, 11.

They are as different as different can be, which is one of the most interesting parts of autism. My brilliant sons are unique and gifted and have so much to offer the world.

Sadly, majority of the world doesn’t accept them yet. Of those who accept them, not many understand how their minds work.

How could they, when even I, their own mother, is still trying to figure it out.

My children are both ‘high functioning’, but in completely different ways, but I am learning each and every day how to best help them navigate the world.

But I can’t do it alone.

Since each of my boys have been diagnosed, I’ve gathered together little crews for each of them, made up of those people who help them become the best versions of themselves.

I’ve been more surprised by who hasn’t formed part of their crews than I have about who has.

My mother has been a surprise member of my eldest son’s crew. She is the other parent to him, since my separation from my husband in 2018. Together, we understand exactly how my son ticks, and what to do when it all falls apart.

We are joined by his little sister Caterina, nine, who together with me helps Philip and Giovanni through daily life, checking in on them and accepting their autism and the highs and lows living with two very different people with autism can bring.

My nephew Peter is a crucial member of Philip’s crew. Then there is his psychologist Jodie, who for the past two years has been crucial to his health and well-being.

For Giovanni’s crew, we are joined by both Philip and Caterina. I call Philip the ‘Giovanni whisperer’. He knows better than anyone how Giovanni is, and Caterina is one of the only people in the world with whom Giovanni can play for hours. But the most important member of Giovanni’s crew is his occupational therapistKaren.

Giovanni was diagnosed years before Philip, and through Karen I have learned so much. She has generously shared her expertise and as a result of her incredible work, I am a more than capable autism mum. She gets almost more excited than I do when Giovanni makes a major breakthrough. Giovanni’s teacher at his new school is a new and treasured member of Giovanni’s crew.

I don’t know what I’d do without each and every one of these incredible people in my son’s lives.

I find the way we choose to live in the modern world quite strange. We each live in separate houses and try and do everything ourselves. How? Why? We struggle at the best of times, not to mention when you have children with additional challenges.

It takes a village, or a ‘crew’, as Autism Awareness Australia calls it, and this April, during Autism Awareness Month, I want to let my son’s crew members know how incredible grateful we are to have them in our lives.

Jo Abi

Writer and autism mum

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