Can-Do-Ability: Answers and Solutions from my personal experiences of living with a disability

Chloe Maxwell admits on television; 'I wanted my Autistic son to run into traffic'

2 May 2012Not having any children myself, yet, I don’t personally know of the happiness that comes with finding out that I’m pregnant. I don’t personally know what it’s like to begin the planning process in my mind, about what my baby will be when they grow up, what they will achieve, what joys they’ll bring to my life, and all the other great things that go along with them. I can only imagine….

I can also only imagine what it would be like to have all of those hopes and dreams shattered, when learning that the perfectly healthy child I thought I had, has now been diagnosed with a life altering disability.

The only way I can relate to these feelings, is through my own mother’s experience, when she had her dreams for me shattered, once her and my father learned that I had a disability. She definitely suffered from depression, found it difficult to bond with me, and had to recreate what she wanted her goals and dreams to be for me, for my future.

Luckily, considering the circumstances, I turned out fine, and exceeded my parents’ expectations of how my life would be. But there is always a period of uncertainty for parents of children with disabilities.

Last night I watched an Australian current affairs show, which I never do, because they report on ridiculously ludicrous stories that are just created to spark panic in the minds of people everywhere. Anyway, as I said, I had it on last night, and I’m glad I did, because I caught an emotional interview with a mother of a child with autism, and the struggles she goes through with him.

The woman who was interviewed, was Chloe Maxwell, a successful former Australian model, who is married to an equally successful Australian rugby league player. The couple, who married in 2008, had two children together, Max and Phoenix, and life seemed perfect.

At the age of three, their eldest child, Max, began to retreat and become less of the cuddly, affectionate boy they grew to love, and more of a withdrawn child, who was unable to connect with them.

The family suspected Autism, but Chloe didn’t want to believe it. They took Max for hearing tests and other examinations, which all came back normal. After asking their doctor if Autism could be what is making their eldest child different from others his age, their fears were confirmed, and their doctor diagnosed Max with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Chloe confessed during her interview last night, that after Max’s diagnosis, she didn’t get out of bed for three days, and the only way she could cope with the life altering news, was by drinking alcohol. In between tears, she also admitted that at times, things were so difficult, that she wished he’d run out into the traffic.

Chloe has just written a book about life with Max, and the families struggle with Autism. She wants to raise awareness to the disorder, and let other families know that ‘bad thoughts’ can be a normal part of parenting a child with a disability, but not to give up. Parents just need to know where to turn to for help and support, so those ‘thoughts’ never turn into actions.

I followed a link on Facebook about last night’s television appearance, and there were a lot of negative comments about her interview, from parents of children with Autism, who basically said that she is weak for having those thoughts, and they did just fine without alcohol.

I think what a lot of people were missing was the fact that it seems like Chloe is still struggling to come to terms with her son’s diagnosis, and needs as much support from family, friends and the general public as possible.

Max was put into ABA Therapy, which is specifically designed for Autistic children. He attended four hours a day, five days a week, and Chloe says the improvement that they have seen is amazing, and she wants all parents to be aware of the early signs of Autism in their children, so that they are able to get assistance between the age of two and six years, while free assistance can still be given.

To watch last night’s tearful interview of Chloe Maxwell on Today Tonight, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4pBWdS_w0Bk – or, if you’re interested in her book, ‘Living with Max – Our family story’, you can take a look at it here: http://www.borders.com.au/book/living-with-max-our-family-story/30614776/

Chloe Maxwell's book 'Living with Max - Our family story'

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