Heather Smith (29) is the mother to Callum-Jay (9) a young boy diagnosed with High Functioning Autism.
Heather kindly agreed to an interview with me so as to raise awareness of Callum-Jay's condition and to help put a stop to the stigma surrounding it.
An Interview With Heather (mother of an autistic child)
Have you and/or your child ever received 'stares', comments or people in general being judgemental in regards to your child's autism?
What advice would you give other parents/guardians of a child recently diagnosed with autism?
What is your name and age?
What is your child's name and age?
When was your child diagnosed with autism?
Diagnosed 2015, after years of fighting for a diagnosis.
How was a diagnosis made?
Cahms (child and adolescent mental health) diagnosed after we were having appointments for suicidal behaviour and self harm.
What symptoms did/does your child have?
Callum-Jay needs routine, if something is going to change he needs notice weeks beforehand (school holidays are a nightmare).
He loves bright lights and will watch them for hours.
He will only wear certain materials.
He doesn't like his hair and nails cut.
He still has toilet accidents daily.
He doesn't like crowds and noise, we can't take him shopping.
He has severe anxiety.
He doesn't like to be touched so cuddles are a big no no unless on his terms.
He is very literate and doesn't know how to joke.
What type of autism is your child diagnosed with?
Callum-Jay has high functioning autism
How is this treated?
Callum-Jay has play therapy, dog therapy and medication.
Did/does your child attend regular school or special education?
Callum-Jay attends a mainstream school but spends majority of time in the unit attached to the school.
Did/does your child attend any of the following;
Before/After School Care
Callum-Jay has just been awarded direct payments so will start respite next month.
In your own words, what is autism?
To me autism is a different world.
Is it hereditary?
I do think it can be hereditary.
Does other family members have autism?
My cousin has autism.
I have mental health problems which can mimic autism.
Have you and/or your child ever had stares, comments or people in general being judgemental in regards to your child's autism?
We get stared at by the older generation a lot and have had things said to us.
What advice would you give other parents/guardians of a child who is recently diagnosed with autism?
The advice I would give is the following. Once your child is diagnosed it is normal to feel guilty and alone.
Please remember that nothing you could of done while pregnant would make any difference and you are not alone, there is plenty of autism mummy's and daddy's out there who also feel the same.
You may even grieve as you come to terms with the diagnosis and the future for your child.
Reach out for support, join groups and meet up with other parents who 'get it'. Join autism groups on Facebook for round the clock support, they are amazing!
And mostly keep up the good work!
It's hard being an autism parent but we are the real superheroes.
Help & Support:
High Functioning Autism: