Our autism story: ‘I won’t lie, Ollie’s diagnosis was a huge blow. Six years on, we don’t want to change his autism. He has made all of us better human beings’
Amaze first came into contact with the Amiatu family in 2017, when dad Elloy was putting himself through extremes of physical and mental discomfort.
So thankful had Elloy and his family been for the support offered by Amaze through their autism journey that Elloy had decided to engage in the boxing match to raise funds for us.
On his Fight Fit fund-raising page, Elloy said: “I am participating in a boxing challenge through Fight Fit that ends in a three round bout in front of a thousand people.
“I thought it would be a good opportunity to raise some money for Amaze, an organisation that aims to spread awareness and acceptance of autism in the community.
“As many of you know our son Oliver has an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) so this cause is very close to our hearts.
“The more people that know about Amaze, the greater their impact.”
His son Will is also working to raise understanding of autism, having received an overwhelming response to the following video, titled 5 Things About My Brother Ollie
After being approached by Amaze, Ollie’s mum, Susie, has written the following story about the family’s experience with autism
Our son Ollie was diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder at the age of two.
Six years on, it’s hard to remember the details of when we knew that there was something different about him.
We’ve covered a lot of ground since then. At the time we noticed that he wasn’t talking, but his older brother had talked at a very young age and we thought that maybe our perception of what was ‘normal’ was warped.
There was no need to jump to conclusions. But then there was the fact that he didn’t seem to respond to his name.
We thought that there might be something wrong with his hearing. I can’t tell you how much I hoped that it was his hearing. I was crushed when the hearing assessment indicated that he was within a normal range, because that meant that our fears were closer to becoming a reality.
We eventually made our way to a paediatrician, who all but confirmed Ollie’s diagnosis during the first appointment.
In hindsight, it was blindingly obvious, but hindsight is always 20/20. I look back now and there were signs from birth, but we weren’t looking for them.
I won’t lie, Ollie’s diagnosis was a huge blow to us. We were devastated. We didn’t know anything about autism.
We didn’t know if we were equipped to deal with it. We were terrified about how it was going to change our lives. And it did. But not in the ways that we expected.
What we didn’t know was that having Ollie in our lives, just as he is, has made all of us better human beings.
It has given us a perspective in life that we never would have had in different circumstances.
We have been reminded about what is really important. Family. Enjoying the simple things in life. Celebrating successes, no matter how small. Having compassion for others. Understanding that you don’t know what other people are going through unless you have walked in their shoes. Friendships springing up in the most surprising of places. Communication that is beyond words. Love that truly knows no bounds. A recognition that no matter how hard things seem, tomorrow is a new day with new possibilities. Joy in watching how our older son, Will, has evolved into an incredible big brother to Ollie. How he has begun to appreciate that differences should be celebrated and nurtured, in a way that he would never have learnt if his brother was typically developing.
I could go on forever about the ways in which Ollie’s autism diagnosis has changed us for the better.
There have been challenges along the way, and those challenges will continue. What is very clear to us is that we want Ollie to feel accepted for who he is. We don’t want to change his autism.
What we do want to do is help him to work through the challenges in a way that is helpful to him, and to do that we need help.
We have been very lucky to have had contact with a range of professionals who have been just wonderful for Ollie.
They have taught all of us that autism is not a tragedy. They have helped us to change and adapt to help Ollie to learn, and most importantly to be happy and healthy.
It’s time for us to give back.
Last year my husband, Elloy, competed in a boxing challenge and managed to raise over $16,500 for Amaze.
Amaze really helped us in the early days when we felt lost as to what direction to take, so we wanted to return the favour. We also used the fundraiser as a way to spread autism awareness by making some short videos to share on social media.
This year we have decided to raise some funds for Ollie’s wonderful school, Southern Autistic School, and again spread awareness through videos on social media.
The school, located in Bentleigh East, has programs extending from early education through to secondary age.
Through our event, Run For Autism, my husband Elloy is going to be running a half marathon (21.1km) with Ollie, who will be doing it in style in his running pram.
Our older son, Will (10), and I are going to be running 5km. We have recruited a small army of 50 friends and family to run various distances with us.
We will be running on the 23rd September at the Sri Chinmoy Yarra Boulevard Half Marathon. So far we have raised over $9k for the school, with the funds being used to purchase resources such as communication devices.
So now I’d like to ask you this – are you running with Ollie?