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(Australia) Autism's on the increase; parents seek help

Feb 19, 2023, SBS: Seeking expert support for a child with autism: 'If we hadn't asked for help I might have lost my mind'

"Having our child diagnosed with autism was the biggest challenge for me and my husband. Our marriage was even on the verge of breaking down, had we not sought help from experts," mum-of-two Ghia Man reveals to SBS Filipino.

Ghia Man and her husband, Jason consider themselves blessed with their two children. Hudson is seven years old and Penny is five, both are in primary school.

But while many Australian students have already settled into their classes after over two weeks since the school year started, there are families, like Ghia Man’s who continue with daily adjustments to be able to support their children with autism to attend school.

Getting each child ready every day to go to school is already a struggle in itself and even more challenging for children with autism.

Ghia's first child is now in Year 2, one may say that she has enough experience in sending children to school. But it was not easy for the Man's.

In fact, preparations for school were different for each of their child.

'Preparing Penny for Kindergarten only took us about two weeks. For Hudson, we have to condition him for at least a month prior to school start.'


Detecting autism

Hudson was three when he was clinically diagnosed with mild autism….

"He has mild autism but he's fully functional. The primary challenge with him now is his anger problem.

"When he doesn't get what he wants, he'll have a big meltdown, crying out for quite a while, sometimes for about half an hour. But after crying out everything, he'll be okay."

Prevalence in Australia
In 2018, one in every 100 people in Australia has Autism.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics Survey of Disability, Aging and Carers, there are 205,200 Australians with autism, that's a 25% increase from the previous 164,000 in 2015.

In the 2015 data, about 83,700 children and youth between the ages of five and 20 have autism who live with their families and attend school.

'The various therapies helped and continue to help our son with his autism and in getting him into school.'

Therapies and family support

Mrs Man is thankful that she and her husband were able to seek help and let their kid undergo different therapies to help him improve his condition….

"The hardest part for me and my husband is thinking ahead about our son's future which is wrong. We were thinking will he be able to go to school and finish his studies. Will he have his own family?"

"For parents like us, we have to take each day at a time. We have to deal with the problem at hand instead of overthinking," Ghia points out.


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