Autism awareness is on the increase and rightfully so. Many many families have someone who is autistic.
Gary Doherty known in NI for all things empowerment and motivational speaking says “More importantly i’m a husband , father and grandfather at only 45 years of age to not one but two beautiful autistic boys .
This is very rare indeed. Gary & his wife assist their daughter in parenting the 2 boys in addition to 3 of their own. They all live together in one home.
Gary says the challenges and adversity they have faced both socially and educationally has been immense but it can be overcome.
He explains . “As a father of three children myself I had never experienced having an autistic child .My daughter who was in a relationship at the time became pregnant and had a beautiful baby boy , after a short while it was apparent he was autistic and we received the official diagnosis after a period of time.
2 years later the exact same thing again .
Anyway the main challenges immediately where external the ones society puts upon us. My grandson went to nursery and was put in a room on his own as they hadn’t the resources they said to give him the attention he needed. Then they asked us to collect him earlier than all the other children. This caused massive upset and hurt both for him and us.
Anyway I can say with regret we didn’t fight this/ We didn’t b cause we didn’t know we had a choice. We felt alone. We felt isolated.
1 year later he attends main stream school and all the fears of anxiety and exclusion flood back: The school showed empathy Andersen truly amazing We fought this time for a assistant with the schools support and support we got one. My grandson is now flourishing !
We still struggle with the social challenges , going into restaurants and getting stored at of if he has a ‘meltdown’ comments about our parenting skills , looks that say you aren’t doing enough. .
An article I read recently said the life expectancy of autistic people is late 30’s. This horrified me.. The stress they suffer has health implications including stress on the heart and also suicide. I want my 2 grandsons and other autistic people to live long lives ! “
Gary continues “ we as a society have a lot of work to do so that families like mine don’t feel this way . It happens far too regular and I know we are not alone from social media engagement when I mention it . I would love more businesses and their staff to have more empathy for autistic people.. It should’nt be a badge of honour if their is a sensory room in a shopping centre. It should be the expected norm: . We need to do better and we can do better. Let’s all be our best selves for the inclusion of everyone in society . We all deserve it:. My two autistic grandsons deserve it ‘
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