About one in 100 people in Australia have autism and it affects each individual and their family differently.
Rose’s 13-year-old son, Mark, has autism. She feels that life would be easier if people took the time to understand how his diagnosis affects him and the family.
“If I meet somebody new and I tell them that my son has autism, I don’t want them to feel sorry for me or my family. That’s not why I’m sharing the experience,” Rose said.
“I certainly think that I was blessed to have Mark. He’s with us for a reason. So, I don’t mind people asking questions if it helps them better understand autism.”
Each person with autism is unique. However, autism commonly affects their communication, behaviour, social skills and how they learn. When a child is diagnosed with autism, the whole family experiences the lows and highs that follow.
The challenges for Rose and her family, that includes her 15-year-old daughter Amanda, change as Mark gets older. These days it includes things like the whole family being unable to attend social functions, some of Mark’s behaviours can be hard to manage in the community and their home life is different from the norm.
Then there are the highs: like Mark regularly exceeding expectations, he is thriving at his school for kids with autism and early intervention has given him independence that the family once feared he would never have.
“Mark’s achieved so much. He certainly can have a nice conversation with you. He’s independent in all sorts of ways,” Rose said.
Mark attends VMCH’s short-breaks for kids and soon he will begin regular visits to one of our houses for children with a disability, called Oasis, in Ivanhoe. Oasis is beautiful short-term respite accommodation for children with a disability aged between 10 and 15 years old.
Mark loves VMCH’s short breaks. Rose and her husband feel confident that their son is being supported by well-trained and dedicated staff.
“He loves the activities. He loves to be part of a group. He flourishes and listens to the care workers. It is really wonderful.”
Mark’s time at Oasis will allow the rest of the family to do things that are otherwise too hard. Things like shopping together, the movies, quiet nights at home. Amanda gets one-one attention from mum and dad. She is also able to invite friends over.
Good services, family and community support help people with autism live more fulfilling lives that include the things we all want. Things like social connections, friendship, education, sport, work, fun and independence.
VMCH currently has vacancies for children and teenagers aged 10 to 15 years old at its short-term accommodation house Oasis.
VMCH provides a range of support to individuals with autism and their families. Our services include early intervention, activities, short breaks, school holiday programs and short-term accommodation services.