29 May 2008
Autism Awareness Week – A different way of thinking
This Autism Awareness Week, June 1-7, Evan and Veronica Kidd would like Canterbury people to know their nine-year-old son Callum simply has a different way of viewing the world.
"People get caught up on the 'fixes' and expect everyone to be normal. Sure, our whole world changed when he was born and I'm not saying it is not hard… we just want him to be allowed to be who he is," said Mrs Kidd.
“Callum is highly gifted and has an extraordinary ability to tune in to what is happening to other people and animals...” Callum, who has autism, is enrolled at the Correspondence School. He enjoys playing with his friends, his six-year-old brother Oliver, music, maths, Hi 5... and writing lists! Mrs Kidd said Callum spends a lot of time writing lists and working with patterns.
"For Callum to make sense of the world, he uses patterns to make connections, which is why he needs to write lists, create songs and compose music. The best way for us to communicate with Callum is through music. We sing instructions to him which enables him to process the information." Karina Schreurs is a Children’s Therapy Team Occupational Therapist who works with Callum and other children with Autism at the CDHB's Beacon House. She said for too long the focus had been on changing children with Autism to make them fit with how the majority of the population sees and interprets the world.
“Although living with autism can be challenging for both the child and their families, seeing things through “different eyes” can also be an advantage." She said an Occupational Therapists role in working with children who have Autism is about understanding their sensory processing rather than treating a dysfunction.
"We see our work as a journey alongside children and their families and the child is our best teacher." Autism New Zealand's National Operations Manager Cheryl Moffat said the organisation had more than 4,800 families registered with Autism, Aspergers syndrome and related disorders, 870 of which were in Christchurch.
“We estimate more than 40,000 people are affected by an autism spectrum disorder- many of the higher functioning adults are undiagnosed.
“Autism New Zealand provides support, resources and information on autism spectrum disorders to people with these conditions, their family and whanau, caregivers and the professionals working with them." she said.