AUTISM STORY: Julie Cole (mom of 6 and co-founder of Mabel’s Labels)

he said mom what is it that’s all up
with me and I was like well bud you actually have something called autism do
you know any other kids with autism yes I do
hey parents of all types Chelsea here from Mabel’s Labels headquarters our
co-founder Julie Cole isn’t shy when it comes to the story of her eldest son’s
autism diagnosis she shares with us this story and also how we can help support a
parent whose child has an autism diagnosis she also shares about
communicating the diagnosis to siblings and how to communicate your own child’s
diagnosis to themselves before we begin make sure you subscribe to our Channel
and click the little bell so you can be a part of our parenting community and
without further ado here’s Julie hi there my name is Julie Cole I am a mom
of six and co-founder of Mabel’s Labels and today I want to talk to you about
autism because my eldest child who is now 19 got an autism diagnosis when he
was 3 years old so the things I want to talk to you about today are how you can
best support a family or friend whose child has an autism diagnosis or if
there’s a little friend in school in your child’s class what you do to make
things easier and better for that kiddo and I also want to talk about how to
communicate the diagnosis to your child’s siblings and also to the child
himself or herself because sometimes you need to out them they know they’re
different they know something’s up and you need to let them know what exactly
it is so we’re gonna talk about all those things first of all I do want to
talk about how you can best support families I’ll tell you like as a mom the
things that were most important for me obviously my child being included in
things sometimes our guys have a hard time socially I can remember the first
time my kid got invited to a birthday party where he was invited just because
a little friend liked him and I didn’t know the mother he came home with this
invitation and I cried and I cried and I and I put it in his baby book and I will
never forget the name of that child his name was Jonathan and he invited my son
to his birthday party just because he liked him so if there’s something that
you can do if there’s a little friend in class and something seems a little bit
up they might not they might be that kid who doesn’t get a lot of invitations for
birthday parties so try to make your child include them and see what you can
do and also playdates I mean having social opportunities are
so important if ever a mother came up to me and said look I understand Mac is on
spectrum but you know what I’d like to learn a little bit more about this is
there any reading material I could do anything you can share with me because
I’d love to have him over in the house if you’re comfortable with that because
he’s an important friend to my child are you kidding me you if you said that to
me I would have lose it my appreciation would be so high you know what we’re
moms like any other moms we like to hear good things about our kids so if you
happen to be volunteering in a classroom and you know you see the child of autism
you see them growing and having some good interaction you know when you see
that mom be like hey I was in the classroom and I noticed that you know
he’s speaking much more or his eye contact just improved you seemed a
little bit more engaged hearing those things is so meaningful to us so if you
can include our child and tell us great things about our kids that would be
awesome for like parents like any others we love that stuff but you have to
remember that our guys having social opportunities are even more important
because that’s how they learn so if you can help provide them that would be
great don’t be afraid to ask questions at all we love answering questions
because it shows us that you’re interested in our child
and nothing warms the mom’s heart more than that and so communicating their
diagnosis so for me very much because my son was born and then 15 months later my
daughter was born and then 20 months later another one was born so we had
like by the time he was actually diagnosed he already had a couple of
siblings even though he had just turned 3 so in a lot of ways they just kind of
always knew an accepted Mac and because there were always therapists in our
house we did a very intensive therapy program our basement
was turned into a Therapy Centre so that was very much a part of just our family
life and our kids our other kids are neurotypical kids were also integrated
into his therapy program because often you wanted a double session so that you
could have him working with a therapist and then having a neurotypical role
model so the cousins all did therapy siblings all did therapy so it was kind
of just something everybody was involved with but they certainly did know
something was up with Mack and they definitely became almost like his best
little therapists I’ll give an example I never would feed my son the answer
because I would always say for example I would say I couldn’t say to him who did
you play with at recess because that was too open ended I would say did you play
with Michael Joseph or Joshua he’d be like Oh Joshua and I noticed my
daughter’s picked up with me doing this and when one of them I think Mack was
about 5 Posey was about 4 and we just moved to a new house we’d been in there
for a couple of weeks and I asked Mac to go get me a spoon and he walked in the
kitchen he had no idea where to go and his little sister goes in and says Mack
do you think the spoons would be in this drawer or do you think the spoons would be in that drawer he’s like oh I think they’re in this drawer so it’s
interesting how siblings just kind of roll with it and they’re you know kids
they’re just so accepting now when you want to tell your own child
that that they have a diagnosis it actually is quite a long program so I
had actually plan to spend about a year working up to it and it would start with
you know talking about difference and having programs around differences and
talking about inclusivity and then eventually it would be like and this is
your difference so that all got interrupted when my son actually asked
me what his deal was and interestingly it came up because there was a little
kid in his Scouts group who something was up with and we use that term around
here very frequently when you know we don’t know what child’s diagnosis but
there’s something up so we’ll be like guys you know what that little girl at
whatever I just we need to remember to be a little bit more patient with her
cuz something’s up or we need to make sure we invite that kiddo for a playdate
because something’s up so that’s a term that we use and it was funny because we
were in the car and I’m driving him to Scouts he was saying how this kid kind
of does some weird behaviors or whatever which I mean the irony of that and I
said look you need to be patient with so-and-so because you know I don’t know
what the deal is but there’s something up and he said mum what is it that’s all
up with me and I was like well bud you actually have something called autism do
you know any other kids with autism yes I do
and I said like these are this is why we have do all the therapy this is why we
did this speech this is why you go to these programs this is why you know
because you have these areas of deficit that we need to work on and you’re doing
awesome he’s like oh that’s what it is okay that makes sense
and that was it here I was planning on spending a year gearing up to tell the
kid and it came out in the car on the way to Cub Scouts so there you go I
don’t know if any of you are working on outing your child to your child or
to the siblings or to i I do want to mention one other thing about outing and
this was when we just got Mack’s diagnosis it was very it was very hard
those of you who are going through this you know when you get that diagnosis
it’s it’s a tricky time because you don’t know what the future holds like I
thought am I never gonna have an empty nest am I gonna have this child in
my home forever is he not gonna have social relationships is he never
gonna have a partner our friendships could it be hard you know all these
things these questions and without a crystal ball you just don’t know so I
wanted to communicate to all of my family and friends that he got this
diagnosis this is what we’re doing about it this is our attitude towards it and
this is how they can help and it was a great way to do it and this was 19 well
16 years ago so I couldn’t put it on my facebook I couldn’t send you know a
blast email what I actually did was I wrote a letter and I made a ton of photocopies
it of it and I mailed it off to all my friends and all my family and it was a
brilliant way to deal with it cuz I didn’t have to tell this story a
thousand times it didn’t want to talk about the whole like how we went through
the diagnosis what we noticed what we were doing so it gave me a way to
communicate in the way I wanted it to be received and then they knew okay we can
help by doing this we can help by reading that I gave required reading to
everyone and and that’s a great way to communicate a diagnosis I think it’s a
great way to communicate any news that’s tough to deliver even if it’s like a
marriage separation or another child with a disability whatever story yours
is and you just don’t want to say it a thousand times because you don’t have
the energy but you want to make sure it lands the way you want it to that’s a
great way to go and you have more tools now – with
social media so good luck communicating and I can tell you now I just want to
have a little braggable moment about my 19 year old with autism he is living
away from home at university in residence he’s in his first year he has
his driver’s license he is a lifeguard he’s got a black belt in Taekwondo he’s
a great hockey player and he’s got loads of friends so he’s done amazing it was a
lot of hard work and a lot of money for therapy but if you can do the things beg
borrow and steal and do what needs to be done but I want to tell you this his
executive functioning skills are still like I’m still like the time management
the organization that stuff we’re still on so even when they grow up they’re
still gonna drive you crazy but hey like I say on my deathbed I will always say
he’s my life’s greatest achievement and that the other five are okay too – thanks for
checking in and there you have it thanks for watching if you have been enjoying
what we’ve been doing here on the Mabel’s Labels Channel make sure to let
us know by liking our videos and send us a little comment and let us know if
there’s any other content you would love to hear from us we are here to support
you so whatever we can do to do that we’ll do that does that make sense I
hope that makes sense do we do that do that
doo doo doo doo doo Ok bye

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