Rachel (mother of 4 children, including 3 autistic children): I don’t think I ever really had a view of my future until we had kids with special needs and I was like ‘OK, what do we want them to be able to manage?’ Obviously I want… our goal for them would be to to get independence; to be able to do what they want to do. To have the job they want, to go to school, to get married, do all those ‘normal’ things. But we’re also very aware that that might not happen. We might have someone living with us forever and that’s cool. We’ll just set up house for that. We’re looking into a few houses, to build more of a purpose-built home so it’s got like a granny flat, so if there is that slight chance of anyone that might need assisted independence, then they’ve got that option.
I think it’s just planning for all sort of cases. The only thing I sort of worry about is, God forbid anything happen to us, I don’t know what would happen there. And I don’t have a plan for that, which [knocks on table] touch wood, I don’t need it, but I just don’t know anyone that could take over.
Shannon (father of 4 children, including 3 autistic children): I think we’re prepared that there possibly could be one, or if not, all of them, might end up staying at home. Umm, yeah I mean I’d like them to be able to get the job they want to do and get married if they want to get married and sort of be as normal as possible.
Bobby (father of 2 children, including 1 autistic child): Our concerns are basically would he be accepted by society, for who he is, not what he has. Would he be able to develop into a man that all fathers want their sons to grow up to. And also to live his own independent life as well.
Sharon (mother of 2 children, including 1 autistic child): My concern for the future was always making… I suppose I looked forward to the normal things, like, you know, girlfriends and my son getting married. It’s not to say that will never happen, because anything’s possible. I didn’t even think that Peter would be able to form a sentence, two years ago. As he goes through his early intervention and therapies and so forth, I guess the hope for the future always changes. Umm… I guess with Peter it’s… it just needs to be managed more so than anything, but I always, I’ve… He really loves his numbers and letters and you know they’re the things that he really gets motivated by. So what are my hopes for the future? That he’ll have a career in something that he enjoys, and that he’s just generally happy. And whatever happiness looks like for him, that’s what my happiness is. And the same for [my other son] Michael, it’s no different.
Bobby: Basically, regardless of Peter’s condition, I would not change him for the world. Peter’s been a delightful little boy and put on this earth for a reason. And that reason is for us to be there and assist him, and help him live to the full extent of his life. So there’s no regret, there’s no thought back that if we knew we would live this life, would we ever want it? And the answer is yes, we want it because basically, he’s our child.
Sharon: Like I said, since having Peter, have I adjusted my view of the future? I don’t think so, because I would always want him to be happy. So it really hasn’t changed. I guess what happiness looks like for him may be a little different. But you know, he’s got a brother that absolutely adores him and I suppose when I look at the things that help me sleep at night and will help me leave this earth in a bit more of a peaceful manner, it’s those kinds of things – knowing that he has a brother that’ll look after him, and things like that, when I’m not around.
Joanne (mother of 4 children, including 2 autistic children): I hope people see the twins for their strong skills that they have, and not for their autism, which is often how they are viewed, sometimes, before their skills. And I hope that they’re able to go out into the workforce as adults and be a part of society. That’s all I hope for, I don’t expect them to be doctors or nurses or the prime minister of the country, but I just hope that they fit in and there’s a place for them. Which I’m sure they will be but there’s a lot of hard work to get there.
Shannon: There’s, you know, a new hurdle nearly every day, for something. So it’s just trying to get through each day and fix – or try and help – as much as we can.
Rachel: Everyone talks about how hard it is and everything like that and, like, it is. It is hard work. But they’re healthy, they’re here, they’ve got all their bits and pieces, they can walk they can talk, even if it took a long time. They’re healthy – inside they’re healthy. And they’re happy.
Alison (mother of 2 children, including 1 with Asperger’s): I just want to stay having a really good relationship with both my children. I really want to always have a connection with them. And for them to know that I love and support them whatever their choices. And I’ll always be there for them when they need me.