Samantha Chapman is so full of gratitude for the charity who helped her cope with two children with autism that she is doing a special fundraiser.
Samantha was born and raised in the Hastings and lives in Wauchope with her husband and three kids.
Their son, Carter is five in kindy at Wauchope. Ciena is four, and Cooper is two. Carter and Ciena are on the autism spectrum.
“When he was two, Carter got funny little quirks where he had to line everything up and if anyone disturbed that, he went into meltdown,” said Samantha.
“He’s over-affectionate. His teacher has to tell him to stop hugging and kissing her. He has social frustrations. He doesn’t understand how friendships really work. He takes things very literally,” she added.
The biggest challenge is his sensory issues. Carter can’t stand loud noises. He also has visual issues. If things come towards him, he can’t process it quickly.
HIs younger sister, Ciena has also been diagnosed with autism and as a selective mute. She won’t speak in public.
“Even if she cries, it’s a silent cry. She’s just paralysed with fear,” said her mother.
Recently, her occupational therapist has been doing activities to help her break down this barrier by whispering.
“Her teachers are just as excited as we are. They’re in tears. It’s beautiful to have such an amazing team surrounding us,” she said.
Samantha says she’s ashamed to admit that when they first received Carter’s diagnosis, she was so nervous about how the larger community would treat her kids that she hid.
“I distanced myself from friends and avoided the topic. Mentally I suffered for this and in turn, my family suffered. I want the families of the Mid North Coast to know they are not alone,” she said.
In April, she joined Aspect, an organisation supporting autistic people and their families.
“They have made it possible for my family to get the best early intervention possible. They have changed our lives,” she said.
As payback she did the 2017 Walk for Autism and will run the 14-km city2surf with them in August and has an everydayhero page.
She’s received huge community support. Businesses have donated vouchers to be auctioned off online on August 3 and 4. The Facebook page is Sam’s Auction for Aspect.
Samantha says autism is something we should celebrate not shy away from.
“My kids spread happiness with their quirks everywhere we go,” she said.