“It’s like you’re playing some kind of new sport and nobody has told you the rules, but everyone else has magically figured them out.”
That’s how Chris Bonello describes his Asperger syndrome diagnosis, at the age of 25.
He's a former primary school teacher and now an award-winning writer and speaker.
Chris told Kinderling Conversation his life experience has left him eager to raise awareness of autism and Asperger’s syndrome, from the perspective of those experiencing it.
A happy child is taught to celebrate their strengths
Chris says parents need to be careful not to define their child by the diagnosis and that the most important predictor of a happy child is to celebrate their strengths, wherever they happen to be.
“I spent most of my 20’s wondering if there was something diagnosably wrong with me. So I refused to believe that my neurology is wrong, or incorrect or inferior,” Chris said.
Acceptance of difference is at the heart of Chris’s advice for children with autism and Asperger’s syndrome, as well as their parents and carers.
He says there are three significant things children and their parents can do to ensure the diagnosis does not define them .
1.Know what your strengths are and play to them. You will hear a lot about what you are not 'supposed' to be good at. If you are human, you have strengths. So find your strengths and also the opportunities in life to play to them.
2. Help your child understand that there's nothing ‘wrong’ with them; they're just different.
"Self-perception is such an important thing. The difference in a positive self-perception versus a negative one for anyone with autism or Asperger’s syndrome, is huge," said Chris.
3 . My parents saw me first, not just my diagnosis. Autistic children are different from each other in the same ways that normal children are different from each other. Look at your child’s personality needs and strengths, rather than their diagnosis.
How to stop the leading cause of death for autistic children
There are some pretty scary statistics - here's how you can help.
Why an autism diagnosis doesn't define your child
Autism advocate Chris Bonello has an important message for parents and carers.
Meet Gary Eck: The comedian who just loves to be called 'dad'
Gary Eck is a stand-up comedian and filmmaker who's been entertaining Australians for two decades. He's also a father of two.
Charlize Theron's 'Tully': What motherhood looks like when you're truly supported
A movie that takes you to the depths of motherhood and demands women ask for more help, writes Shevonne Hunt.
Does age gap matter once you become parents?
Sharing similar values, beliefs and goals about your relationship are key to success, according to researchers.
How young is too young for the facts of life?
A book about the birds and the bees has sparked a fiesty online debate. Where do you stand?
This is what Olivia White's ideal date night looks like. How about you?
Want to keep the romance alive? Throw the rule book out the window!
Child uses parent’s credit card for solo trip to Bali
A 12-year-old boy managed to book flights and check into a hotel. Solo!