Michael’s Story – Central Park Plunge 2018
Michael is a bright energetic young man of 20.
I have raised Michael and his younger brother on my own for the last 10 years, but due to Michael’s behaviour I have found I can no longer cope. As my younger son has expressed, “it’s like we all have Autism Mum, as we are forced to live in Michael’s world”.
Michael was diagnosed with Autism at the age of four – I must admit, after I heard the diagnosis I didn’t hear anything else that the paediatrician said… I just went numb, as I knew this little boy would always face a world of challenges. People have often asked me about that moment. I reply telling them that,” the moment you’re told it’s like being stuck on the railroad tracks and there is a freight train coming and you can’t get off “.
Because of Michael’s behaviours, we spend a lot of time by ourselves as I can’t take him to people’s houses to visit. It has also come to the point where people who once visited cant because Michael sees his environment out of his control and will do things until I have to ask people to leave, then he will calm down.
Michael and I have spent the last 4 Christmas alone… his world and mine is very socially isolating.
About 6 to 8 years ago, Michael started coming to Cahoots. He loves being active & experiencing new places and Cahoots provides that as well as the opportunity for some independence from me.
Sending Michael to camp gives my other son and myself some breathing space. The house at times is filled with anxiety, have to always be alert as Michael is quite the escape artist and wants to explore the world away from me, which I understand… he is 20 after all. But the way in which he wants to explore it can be confronting to others and socially inappropriate, so being able to do different things, different faces gives him that.
Cahoots have been wonderful to not only Michael, but to myself & his brother.
I have to rely on government funding to send Michael to camp and have always stressed to disability services how important these camps are for all members of the family. But there is only so much money to go around and I’m always grateful for what I have received.
I work full time in a locked dementia ward, but after paying rent, food and utility’s there isn’t much left over to afford to send Michael on more camps.
With people helping Michael it will enable him to spend more time enjoying the community in a safe manner, experience new things and enjoy himself as mostly I think Michael is a very frustrated young man & being non-verbal also contributes to his frustration.
Michael, if he could talk would thank people for considering him to support.
Michael battles obstacles and prejudices everyday but keeps getting on with life and finding ways to deal with fears and the unknown… even if at times it’s all too much.