Randa believes in the right for children with autism to have an education and be accepted as members of the community. She promotes inclusion, early intervention and the expectation of a child with autism to be treated with fairness and respect. She advocates seeking out doctors, specialists and teachers who are supportive. Randa and her husband had many obstacles in finding the most appropriate primary and secondary schools for Richard but along the way they encountered many angels and heroes.
Randa is realistic about the strain having a child with autism places on the carers and their families. This can lead to loss of identity, isolation and depression. She describes the stages parents go through when they learn their child has a lifelong disability, and also acknowledges the need to care for oneself as a parent. She emphasises the importance of hope, especially to new parents of a child with autism, and encourages celebrating successes. She describes joyful moments along the way such as at the school athletics carnival where, without any prompting from teachers, the Year 6 boys in the running race slowed down to let Richard win.
The book includes a chapter written from the perspective of Emily, Richard’s older sister and a chapter titled, “If I ran the school system” which includes a MATES program for other students to support children who have autism. The appendix of the book includes a sample letter to teachers, facts of autism spectrum disorder (definition, common signs of autism, causes of autism, early signs, making the diagnosis, treatment and tips for everyday living) as well as a comprehensive list of resources.
Randa travelled on a pilgrimage to Medjugorje to ask for healing for Richard but her prayers were answered in an unexpected way. She gained perspective, inner peace and acceptance of Richard as a gift. I attended the same high school as Randa. I admire her persistence, resilience, profound love for her child and her generosity in sharing what she has learnt with others.
There is a wonderful message in the YouTube video made by Randa and Emily, “inclusion4autism”.
To learn more or obtain a copy of this book, please visit http://dealingwithautism.com.au/my-book-dealing-with-autism/