When Louise Cummins was pregnant, she was so excited to think about her son’s future – she dreamed of him doing amazing things and taking the world by storm. But an autism diagnosis forced her to reconsider her view of success and happiness, and what that might mean for different families. As part of awareness raising for World Autism Day, she tells her story.
After 18 months, I could see my son Lachlan was different. He was just in his own world. He was happy but always running around and not interacting like other kids. As the time went on his energy levels became worse and family and friends kept questioning my parenting.
After a series of assessments (including a childcare visit) I received a call from our developmental pediatrician with the news. ‘Yes, I’m afraid your son does have autism’. Some people feel relief at the diagnosis but my heart just smashed. This pediatrician painted a picture of the worst case scenario, saying it was unlikely my son would live independently, have friends or have a job. He took away the one thing parents need…hope.
Over the next four years I threw us into early intervention in an attempt to prove that specialist wrong. The trouble was, there was no clear cut path for early intervention with so many choices. We did everything – from lying in hammocks, behavioural therapy, music therapy, water therapy, speech therapy, and even alternative therapies. One thing was clear – our world now revolved around therapy and all experts kept telling me we were still not doing enough. After spending most of my savings we started seeing improvements but we were both exhausted.
After one particularly gruelling week my little man was watching Trolls on his iPad and the ‘True Colors’ song started playing. He had never really sung before and he said ‘Mummy listen to this’ and he sang it. When he sang ‘your true colours are beautiful like a rainbow’ tears rolled down my cheeks. I realised in that moment the person I needed to change the most wasn’t him…it was me.
I set out on a mission to find hope in our diagnosis. I researched success stories, deleted negative news feeds on my social media and focused on making my little man the best version of himself. I started to embrace his quirkiness (like carrying around a sweet potato instead of a teddy bear). I even felt braver to respond to people’s negativity and regained confidence in my parenting.
For Lachlan’s Christmas present last year I decided to write a book for him to understand his autism. A story featuring famous people in history who had autism, such as Einstein, Michelangelo, and Mozart, who all used their special autistic gifts to change the world. I wanted him to see his uniquely wired brain as a gift not a curse.
Lachlan loved his book and I did extra copies to help our ‘village’ understand him. Their support was overwhelming and more orders from friends of friends started coming, so I decided to launch the book online. I was overwhelmed once the website went live with people sharing all over the world.
My goal for the book is to spread the word of acceptance of differences and make children on the spectrum feel more confident about their uniquely wired brains.
Lachlan is now thriving and I can see mainstream school in our future. I don’t stress so much about the future now as I’ve regained the one thing all parents need…hope.
More about ‘A Different Kind of Brilliant’
‘A Different Kind of Brilliant’ is a children’s book reframing the perceptions of autism. Louise Cummins wrote and published book to help children better understand and support their autistic classmates or siblings in a positive way.
The book is designed to show how many successful people, all over the world and throughout history, have used their uniquely wired brains to change the world for better.
Louise says “I wrote the book to help my son, Lachlan, and kids all over the world to understand how their brain works and how people with autism have changed the world for the better. Writing the book has helped me to understand the autism spectrum and given me hope for the future.”
“A Different Kind of Brilliant” is available for purchase here for $24.95. 10% of all Australian direct sales from the website will be donated to Autism Spectrum Australia