When parents first learn that they have a child or children with autism, their responses vary enormously. For some people, the news comes as almost a relief because it verifies what they have come to know and understand of their child and the diagnosis serves as an explanation of sorts. For others, the news comes as an overwhelming shock, which lingers in the recesses of their memory for a lifetime. Just as the initial responses vary enormously, how people cope and what people do in response also varies.
Breaking through the wall is an extraordinary example of a constructive, helpful and elucidating response of 2 parents, Kieran and Anne O’Grady of Maynooth, Co. Kildare. In this 24-page, home-produced desktop publication, they demystify the essential knowledge that every parent requires about Autism. The document includes comprehensible information on:
- What is Autism?
- School services
- Teaching methods including Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) and The Education of Autistic and related Communication Handicapped Children (TEACCH)
- Dietary interventions
- Vitamin therapies
- Tax relief
- Welfare entitlements
- Making a Will.
The booklet is full of helpful addresses and websites—as well as humour. The authors conclude with ‘A Prayer for the Stressed’: ‘Remember, when I’m having a really bad day, and it seems that people just don’t understand, it takes 42 muscles to frown and only 4 to extend one’s middle finger.’ Talking to the O’Grady’s gives you a real sense of their resilience and capacity to fall back on their own sense of humour: ‘My two are a scream; and at times they make you scream.’