I ‘met’ Kelly a few years ago via Facebook. We both run pages about girls on the spectrum and Tink can be very similar to Eliza. We’ve actually managed to meet face to face a couple of times, even travelling to Scotland together to meet two other page owners. Our girls have met and had fun at a party too. She’s an incredible friend and an inspiration, always supporting others despite how busy she is. Here are her answers to my questions:
Tell us a little about yourself
I’m Kelly, mum to Tink and H, and married to Dave. We live in the West Midlands. I left my career in early years to be Tink’s full-time carer, and now she’s at school I have my own Virtual Assistant business, which fits in with me home educating H.
What is your connection to autism?
My 7 year old daughter was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3. We are also currently on the diagnostic pathway with our son, who is 11.
What made you start a Facebook page/blog?
I started my blog the day after Tink was diagnosed as a place to record my thoughts and feelings about this new journey we’d found ourselves on. I then added my Facebook page as a way to share updates and anecdotes with friends and family without wanting to post on my personal timeline all the time. I soon found kindred spirits in other parent bloggers and page owners, as well as autistic adults who write too.
Do you think there is enough support and resources in your area for autistic people and their families?
Is there ever enough? We have some services in our area, but they’re hard to access, limited to certain families, etc. There are a couple of parent-led support groups, but I’m not really a face-to-face kind of person! I feel there could be much more support for the whole family.
What are your thoughts about how autism is portrayed in the media?
For me, any portrayal of autism in the media gets people talking about autism, which has to be a good thing. I see autistic people complaining that we only ever see classic, more severe autism, or the more Asperger’s/ Savant Syndrome type shown in the media. I’m not sure this it totally true, but even so, the autism spectrum is so vast, and each person on it so individual, that there’s no way each person’s own experience could ever be properly represented. I’d just like to see more autistic people on TV and in film, just like there are in ‘real life’.
What 3 books, related to autism, would you recommend to people?
The first book I read after Tink’s diagnosis was ‘Toast’ by Alice Boardman, mum to sons on very different parts of the autism spectrum. I related to many of the stories she wrote about, and it was the first thing that made me feel as though we weren’t alone.
I loved reading ‘Neurotribes’ by Steve Silberman, as it gave me a good insight into much of the background to the autism spectrum.
The third book I’d recommend is ‘Talking Autism: Parenting Your Unique Child’ by Victoria Hatton. As a SEN teacher and parent of at least one child on the spectrum, her book is full of useful strategies for helping autistic children in a variety of situations and scenarios.
Can I add a cheeky fourth book? Although I haven’t read it yet, I know it’s going to be fantastic… I’m really looking forward to receiving my copy of ‘Underdogs’ by Chris Bonnello. Chris, who is autistic himself, has written a novel about a gang of ‘misfits’ who use their diverse abilities to navigate their way through life in post-war Britain, and become the neurodiverse shoulders that the surviving population’s hopes rest on.
****Absolutely!!! I have read the book and it is incredible, you’ll love it. It can be ordered here: Underdogs by Chris Bonnello
What would you like the world to know about autism?
I want the world to know that autism isn’t to be feared. We tend to fear the unknown, it’s true, so make some effort to learn about autism. Understand how it can affect those with it – the difficulties they face, largely as a result of trying to live in a world that wasn’t made for them. Then try to use that knowledge to make change happen. Autistic people are some of the kindest, gentlest, most caring, considerate, intelligent, funny and loving people I know.
You can follow Tink’s journey here: It’s a Tink thing
You can follow H’s journey here: Homeschooling H
Kelly’s virtual assistant business is here: Kelly Kemp VA