There are many other parents who have travelled the path before you, and one mother in particular is making massive positive change within the schooling system to better support our kids on the spectrum. Randa Habelrih openly shares her story of how her son, Richard, experienced chronic bullying and completed high school without ever making one friend. This broke Randa’s heart, but served as rocket fuel for her autism mission. Randa developed a program called MATES (Mates Assisting To Engage Socially) which facilitates friendship between two students by pairing a student on the autism spectrum with another student who does not have an intellectual disability. This much needed program promotes a sense of belonging and inclusion in the school community. Randa is a beautiful passion driven mum who is changing the the landscape of how children on the spectrum experience school life. Her incredibly resilient and talented son Richard, is an autism advocate and sought-after speaker who travels to schools to spread awareness and a message of inclusion.
5 Rapid-Fire questions
1. What is one habit parents can implement today?
I think so many professionals can take away your hope in the early years. So keep your hope alive. Look for the positives. Look blessings. There is always something positive that happens in the day – look for that and just acknowledge that at the end of the day.
2. What do people never ask you that you wish they did?
Well, back in the day when I was reprimanded by the men in the supermarket, I would have loved for somebody to come up to me and say “how can I help?” Or even if a friend would phone me and say “look you know you haven’t been out with us for so long, how about I just come and have a cup of coffee with you at your place?”.
3. What book would you recommend all parents read?
Thrive by Arianna Huffington.
4. What is your top unfinished bucket list items?
Get Model MATES into Australian and New York Fashion week.
5. If you could only offer one piece of advice to parents, what would it be?
There’s always hope. There’s always hope. It doesn’t matter what they say. I was told my son would never ever speak. We’ve just come back from a speaking gig where he got the reception of a rock star. They were screaming and cheering for him at the end of his speech. And he was amazing. So there’s always hope.
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So….until next fortnight, I encourage you to open your mind, respect the differences and above all believe that YOU can make a difference from homebase!
With love and hope,