WHEN her little boy was diagnosed with autism at just two years old, Mackay mum Corissa Ivory felt "angry, ashamed and cheated" and hid his condition from the world.
With Logan not being able to speak a full sentence until the age of four, Ms Ivory said it's been a heartbreaking learning process over the past few years.
"A lot of the times... I am a stranger to his world and would do anything to understand," Ms Ivory said in a post on Facebook.
On the eve of Logan's fifth birthday, Ms Ivory shared a very personal letter to her boy via her business page, Funk It Up hairdressing.
The brave mum said the reason behind sharing her story came about as she aimed to raise $1500 for Go Blue for Autism month and to "tell people why the cause means so much to me".
Here's her post in full:
For Logan - by mum Corissa Ivory
As you know this month Funk It Up are raising awareness and fundraising for autism.
Logan is the inspiration behind our Go Blue for Autism month and it feels like the right time to share our/my story.
I can start by honestly saying I absolutely never thought I would be doing this, when Logan was diagnosed at age of 2.5 years I was angry and ashamed, I felt cheated, robbed even and didn't want anybody to know... this grievance time and it is grieving, lasted for at least a month before I started the journey into knowledge, assistance and understanding my wonderful son.
The thing is Logan didn't change, he was Logan, wonderful, quirky, loving Logan. I was the one with the problem and desperately needed educating and assistance to be the person he needed my husband and I to be.
What I can tell you is ASD Autism Spectrum Disorder is not a condition to be ignored or swept under the carpet or hidden because of your own pride. Acceptance is the biggest challenge!
Google the characteristics as there are many....
Some of Logan's were/are as follows:
COMMUNICATION: Logan said his first full fluent sentence at approx four years old. He doesn't communicate like normal children.
If you ask him a question that is not a yes or no or basic answer he may not open up and tell you until 6 hours later once he has processed his answer and it's magic I can tell you, when he opens up but you have to be ready. I can't even describe the joy I feel when he tells me something he did that day.
There will hardly be eye contact but never for a second does that mean Logan is not engaging.
DIET: (around 1.5 years he completely refused to eat anything bar mac n cheese and biscuits and occasionally foods such as banana or yoghurt for example if yoghurt was the in food we would purchase 3-4 dozen a week (same brand)... now at 5 we go with whatever we can get him to eat and substitute with probiotics and vitamins. Always trying something new. Logan basically eats white, plain food - unless it's chocolate.
FIXATION: Logan had an obsessive fixation on certain objects, shows, locations, eg trains, Lightning McQueen and swimming at the lagoon. Logan always had to have an object in his hand through showering, playing, even sleep which is not ideal when you wake up with a steel train in your back (yes Logan co-sleeps) .. this has progressed to multiple likes with age and also that we encourage Logan to do, try and watch many things.
ANXIETY: So this one could easily be mistaken for bad behaviour as the anxiety when at peak creates tantrums leading to melt downs, what this means is Logan needs to know where we are going, what we are doing and who we are seeing. If we say this is what we are doing and we change our mind or the place is shut etc this inflicts anxiety of the unknown and can end in a complete meltdown (a meltdown is when Logan shuts down, it can result in destruction, self Hurt or to those around him. Logan will always be an emotional wreck after a meltdown passes and it breaks my heart)
Don't be mistaken Logan can still be naughty and test the boundaries (he's also clever)
SENSORY: Logan can love people and chaos one minute and completely lose it the next. We learnt these things the hard way e.g Easter shopping on Saturday. Logan was already tired and I (knowing better) took him into a bright, busy, loud environment and expected an easy shop... I was wrong. Lesson = be more organised. Hair cuts, angry voices, nail cutting, certain clothing, footwear the list continues. He also is highly sensitive to other people's emotions.
EVERY person with ASD is different.
What I do know is the characteristics we see as negative are also Logan's positive...
Logan is intelligent, empathetic, he is high functioning and his memory is flawless! He knows each and every toy or item of clothing he owns and where he has left something... he always knows. He also doesn't forget... he knows his class mates, their parents, their school bag, the type of car they drive and most likely the direction they drive it.
I am Logan's person, what does this mean?
It means he loves me, like all children love their mother. It also means he can be 100% himself with me, he can release the tension the anxiety and torment he has been holding in all day around others. It means he will talk to me when he's ready, I can cut his hair (just), his nails (just) and I just know the things he needs me to know so I can tell others. Logan says to me, "tell them please Mumma".
A lot of the times though I don't know and I am a stranger to his world and would do anything to understand.
So I am a freshman to autism and really know nothing but I love my son for all that he is and all that he will become. If raising awareness is going to help Logan then that is exactly what I will do. I wish for so many things for Logan and determination is something he and I have in common so reach for stars I say!
First step for parents with children requiring assistance is see a paediatrician.
If diagnosed Autism Qld Centre East Mackay will help, the system is there to help and it works.
I never understood a support network until now and it's a necessity, We have one with friends, family, Autism Qld, Mackay Cubbie House Child Care and Educational Centre, Fairy Annabell & Butterfly Friends clients and the Funk It Up team.
The more I open up the more support... who would have thought?
Thank you to all of you, especially to those whom we lean on the most and to everyone involved helping our beautiful and loving son in this journey, we call 'Life'
Kindness wins, I am counting on it.
Counting up the donations
Via her salon, Funk It Up, Ms Ivory set herself a mission for Go Blue for Autism month to raise $1500 for the cause.
With the salon being closed for the first week due to Cyclone Debbie, Ms Ivory was still proud to have raised $1047 for the cause and will present the donation to Autism Qld Mackay on Friday.
She said money raised would help children like Logan transition to being ready for school.
"A lot is involved, with early intervention for pre-prep age children including group therapy with four teachers and five children in the one class," Ms Ivory explained.
"There's also an OT, a speech therapist and really intense early intervention to get them ready for mainstream prep."
Ms Ivory said she decided to enrol Logan into the Autism Qld classes because she wanted him to be "100% ready" for prep, which he will start next year.
"(The school) helps them with being in a structured classroom, teaching them how to write their name, eat food as (many children with autism) are fussy eaters, how to get prepared for school and as not all kids can go to mainstream schools, hoping they'll be able to," she said.
Logan is hoping to be accepted to St Joseph's for prep next year, and his mum is sure he'll fit right in.
"He's ready academically," Ms Ivory said. "It just might be an anxiety and social situation now... but every week he's progressing and he's really inquisitive.
"He's a sponge and just wants to learn. But he does get anxiety around too much noise, so that side of thing is still a work in progress.
"But he loves other kids and making friends, so I'm hoping he'll be okay."
How you can help
You can still make a donation to Autism Queensland via a bank deposit:
- Name: Autism Queensland
- BSB: 034 109
- Account number: 130277
- Reference: 17043
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