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The extraordinary challenge and joy of raising a child with autism.

A mother speaks openly about her courage and unwaivering commitment to raising her autistic son.

At Morgan’s autism diagnosis session, I sat on my own in the corner of the assessment room and was told not to interact with him in any way.

Tears ran down my face.

Helplessly, I watched Morgan (Morgie to us) move through each task, unable to understand anything about his environment or even basic instructions.

READ MORE: To the people who think my son doesn’t “look” like he has autism.

My heart broke as I saw confusion and fear in his little eyes – at the sight of just bubbles and a toy doll, toys that would usually see a child burst with joy.

Morgie’s disability is mental so it’s often assumed that he’s ‘badly behaved’ or, as is often the case, that it is simply bad parenting – an accusation we’ve had told to us in the flesh many, many times.

On holidays we always need to sit in the same chair at breakfast and at the pool each day. While I know that can be difficult for people around us, we are just managing what can be an incredibly challenging situation.

It’s World Autism Awareness month and because awareness is so integral, I have decided to tell our story. This is my most honest and open account to date.

Awareness about autism can have a huge benefit to kids like Morgie and their families, but not only that. It can also help you the commuter, or you, the passenger be it on the plane, bus or train. It can help you the diner, out enjoying lunch, the woman at the hairdresser, or you, perched at a cafe table enjoying your coffee, a little uncomfortable and unsure where to look.

“Awareness about autism can have a huge benefit to kids like Morgie and their families.”

Awareness can help change us all and help us understand why the little girl wearing pink crocs doesn’t want her feet touched.

Awareness can help other children who don’t get why Morgie doesn’t like the taste of chocolate or sweets.

It can help the people that stare at him when he uncontrollably screams with delight if he knows he’s going horse riding or swimming, or when he’s in the pool and he sloshes water into the corner over and over again because it makes a cool wave and it makes him feel good.

TRY THIS: “I finally know what caused my son’s autism”.

Morgan has an older brother and a younger brother and it’s so important to acknowledge them because they’re the ones who really suffer post one of Morgan’s meltdowns.

On occasion this is all before breakfast and a full day of school.

Hugs and kisses are free and generous in our house. We are not short on lots and lots of cuddles – that’s one thing that’s absolutely steadfast.

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Morgie’s mind is programmed differently to ours and as his Mummy, I’ve worked hard to understand his world completely and I will always strive to see the world from his eyes.

Ears are funny looking things on the side of your face, while hair he understands as being long, something that needs yanking like a pony tail or a handle. Spiky hair is kinda weird to touch, and no hair at all is quite unbelievable to Morgan.

If Morgan wants to watch the same part of the movie over and over … then sure – why not – it’s clearly the funniest bit of the entire movie!

In the early morning when the house is still, it’s always Morgan who jumps into bed for a cuddle first and I know that just as a neuro-typical child would, he loves the warmth that love brings. He loves the feeling it gives him in his heart, that love that reaches to the depths of your soul.

I know that when he sees his brothers after school for the first time and hugs them tightly that he’s saying; ‘I love you, I’ve missed you. Where have you been?’ For the record… he does this every day.

It is unlikely that Morgan and I will ever live an independent life. He will live with my husband, Craig, and I – and that is most definitely our goal.

READ MORE: OPINION: “Marriage is f**king hard work.” – Em

Autism has tested us as a married couple over and over again.

But it has also engaged us in an incredible sense of understanding and ultimately, the highest respect for each other and our individual limits: emotionally, mentally and physically as we often work under intense sleep deprivation.

I couldn’t get through each day without my friends and family support. Those who I can always count on. Those who never get angry when I cancel drinks and coffee – repeatedly.

Autism is a day to day challenge – not a day to day condition. It has high highs and low lows often in the same day.

Following Morgan’s diagnosis, we were introduced by our wonderful cousin and his family, to the world of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA).

It goes without say, but we will say it over and over again, that we are incredibly grateful, because this has been a life changing ‘unlocking’ for Morgie, and his progress on the program has been extraordinary.

He has worked so hard for every milestone.

He is, quite simply, incredible.

What are the challenges you face with your children?