'Don't just stare, stop and offer to help'
THIS Autism Awareness month, one South Burnett mother wants people to know not to be afraid to stop and offer help.
Serena Lindbergs, mother of three children with autism, said she would welcome the help.
"People need to help parents whose kids are having a meltdown at the shops, instead of staring,” Ms Lindbergs said.
"I look at other parents whose kids are having a meltdown, have a chuckle and ask if they would like some help.”
After Ms Lindbergs' first child, now 21-year-old Maija, went through childhood with undiagnosed autism, she didn't realise there was anything unusual about the behaviour of her two younger children Tālis, 11 and Andreas, 9.
Doctors said Maija was gifted and had a high IQ, but she was not diagnosed as autistic.
"When she was two years old she was telling me that I had no style and that she could dress herself,” she said.
"She wouldn't be able to put her sandals on if there was a speck of dirt on them.
"I didn't realise that that wasn't normal, I just thought that she was a quirky child.”
At school in the Moreton Bay region, Ms Lindbergs was told that Tālis was just naughty, ignorant and lazy in school.
"Or it was something I was doing at home, that he wasn't getting enough sleep, he needed to go to bed earlier,” she said.
"We moved to Nanango and the principal said we should see the occupational therapist who suspected that he was autistic.”
They have also recently been diagnosed with several other disorders and anxiety and depression.
Ms Lindbergs said it could be challenging going out as a family.
"There can't be many people around, we might have to leave, even if we have no food in the house,” she said.
For more on Autism Awareness month see page 50.