Laura and Connor’s story
Bringing up, and caring for, a disabled child or young person can and should be a positive and rewarding experience. It’s really important that families with a disabled child or young person are supported at an early stage to enable them to cope with the stresses and demands of their caring role, and to look after their own health and wellbeing. Laura shares her and Connor’s experience…
My name is Laura and I am seventeen years old. I live in Perth with my parents, an older sister and a thirteen year old brother, Connor.
At the age of nine, Connor was officially diagnosed with Autism. Soon after he was also diagnosed with ADHD. From a young age, it was apparent that Connor was not like other children. His ability to effortlessly complete a 500 piece jigsaw at age five and his extensive knowledge of all things dinosaur related was what caught our attention. As we had no previous experience of Autism, it took a while to request a diagnosis and to fully understand how to support him.
Before a full diagnosis and the support of PAS, life at home was very difficult and family relationships were strained. This was due to the intensity of his needs and the little knowledge that myself and my parents had of Autism and how to deal with those on the spectrum.
Life with Connor can be hard at times. I have spent many night in my room to escape from meltdowns and arguments, and struggles that the ordinary family wouldn’t go through. From losing a board game on purpose so to not cause unnecessary situations, to having to do the things that he wants on a holiday or trip to town. This somewhat deprived myself and my sister some of the experiences that a young girl may go through, such as browsing shops or going out with friends as we also had to support Connor. Although we were very understanding, at a young age we didn’t fully understand the extent to which Connor needed supported and, as typical siblings would do, tended to tease and wind each other up without realising the extra stress this caused due to escalated impact.
In October 2018, I began volunteering at Perth Autism Support. I wished to be a volunteer and PAS was the first organisation to come to mind. As they had provided so much support and help for my family, I thought it only right for me to give something back. My time at PAS has improved my ability to assess situations and assist where necessary, which is certainly apparent in the home environment. This has benefitted both myself and my family. It has allowed me to learn and cope with other situations as well as enhanced life skills. Being at PAS five hours a week and working with many children of different ages has increased my knowledge of Autism as a whole and the training which I am being provided with has allowed me to also help Connor at home in more constructive ways.
Read more about support for families and carers of disabled children and young people and get more information on the Supporting Disabled Children and their Families website.