Over the last wee while, I’ve had contact from several families who live with children with different needs. These families are all so amazing in different ways and I though it would be great to hear some of their stories as part of our series on Great Kiwi Families. In this post, we talk to Ataahua Solomon, a kiwi living in Australia, and hear about life with her son, Kereama. 

Tell us a bit about yourself and your family.

I’m a full time, stay-at-home mother. Eventually, once our son is in school (hoping for mainstream but he starts a special education program next month that specialises in children with disorders or disabilities who may need the extra help academically or special attention), I will start studying to become a Behavioural Therapist.

My husband works as a truck driver. We have a five year old daughter in primary school, a three year old son, and a one year old daughter. Kereama, our three year old, was diagnosed with severe ADHD, Autism, Development delay and Speech and Language delay in December 2014. It was a very long process involving different specialists from child development and also mental health.

We were told right at the beginning that we may not get a diagnosis, as he is only three years old. However, after a few assessments, that started to change, as they noticed the severity of his disorder.

Tell about how Kereama’s disorders affect your family.

We love to try get out of the house every weekend and often venture off to Wet ‘n’ Wild (a great way for our son to burn some energy). Unfortunately going out does depend a lot on our son’s mood. It’s far too difficult to take him out if he is having a bad day.

Kereama’s Autism/ADHD does keep us at home a lot of the time as he becomes far to much for me to handle alone (physically) if he has a meltdown. This makes simple tasks like school drop offs and pick ups very hard. It’s like he has no fears in the world and will go to any lengths to get his frustration out. He doesn’t realise there are consequences if he hurts someone or breaks something and he gets so worked up that it takes hours for him to calm himself down. The doctors have actually labelled this ODD (Obstuction Defiant Disorder). His specialists explained it like this “He knows right from wrong, but even if he wanted to obey, his brain is wired not to.”

This makes it hard for our family, especially having 2 girls to look out for when they all play together. It’s not a nice reality having to be wary of your daughters playing with their brother. But our family is great because we all soldier on and push and give each other the strength to help him through it. We can only hope for the best and hope that with a mix of therapy and medication, he will get the best taste of normality in his life. He can be very sweet, and very caring he just needs a little more help learning how to show it.

What advice would you give other families with children with learning and behavioural issues?

For anyone going through something similar, I’d suggest really praising and taking a moment to cherish the small things, when they speak a word for the first time… even if it is something small or silly or not worth noticing… Notice it, Praise it, cherish it. That’s one thing I have learnt from this. We really acknowledge the smaller things, the things people just expect their child to do that some other people’s haven’t yet or may never.

I have started a blog to keep track of Kereama’s progress and just give outsiders a glimpse of what its like for a family living with Autism, The page is called Keeping Up With Kereama we also have a fundraising page on GoFundMe with the same name. The proceeds will go towards private therapy that Kereama needs.

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Rochelle is mum to three gorgeous daughters. She wishes she had more time to garden and read the newspaper in peace!

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