Paul and Monika Croll
Executive life coach Training
Age of parents:
36 and 35
Age: 8 Years
Is this your only child?
No, younger sister Jada.
Diagnosis of child:
Autism Spectrum Disorder
What are the biggest challenges facing your child on a daily basis?
Difficulty expressing himself and communicating - Cullen is non-verbal. He can get very frustrated! Sensory difficulties - needs lots of modulation and regulation. Fine motor co-ordination challenges too.
What are the happiest moments you have with your child on a daily basis
There are a few. Cullen LOVES water, from showers to swimming pools to anything to do with water ( eg. messy play in water). So the moment he realizes he is going to swim or shower or play in water, he has the biggest grin on his face, which is really awesome. Secondly, the post bath SQUEEZE, I get loved and hugged and kissed -its a special time for Cullen and I. We really cherish this and above all appreciate the eye contact, and the deep bear hugs. We connect deeply. Thirdly, is that moment Cullen sees you drive up the school driveway to collect him, he knows his nana, mommy or daddy are here just for him. He skips to get his bag, and that makes for a happy special moment.
Are you married?
Has your special needs child had an effect on your marriage?
WOW - we would be lying If we said it didn’t. It was really tough initially and still is at times...Managing expectations, time alone, time together, and just the “WHAT NEXT?” takes more than you realize. Its important to take time out, re-evaluate, redefine goals and regroup, team up and look ahead.
Are your family and friends supportive?
Yes! We are so blessed and so thankful for all the wonderful supportive family and friends in our lives! Nana - Monika’s mom - is an absolute angel, without her, well...it would be damn scary! Our friends are so accommodating and jump hoops for Cullen’s needs. It so precious and we value our family and friends so much.
What has your child taught you about yourself, both positively and negatively?
No one can give you insight, and challenge you, like your children can! I know for sure that I’m resilient! I know that I am not always easy to live with, mostly because I get tired, and yet one thing I do know is that love, prayer and the power of the mind supersede everything.
Do you take time out, if so what do you do to relax?
Time out is actually a part of self-care! And although difficult, it needs to be scheduled in ...so when we can, we do date nights, and I try as much as possible to get a massage and a pamper in. Spinning my heart out three times a week, helps with stress relief and makes me feel a little more human and ready to take on the day!
What has made the biggest difference to your child’s quality of life?
The amazing support structure we have, his nana and his new school - Faery Glen. My close sister Adele and Judd and her family, our friends, our new baby sitter. Knowing that autism is not something to be cured but something to relax into, to adapt to and to accommodate. As Cullen grows, so do our views on handling the future with him... we are less stressed about OT, speech therapy and, and, and...and more invested in what makes him happy. It has been an important mind shift for us, we believe that our boy has so much still to teach us.
What is your dream for your child?
The things I really want for my son, is for him to be happily self-sufficient... So: toileting, self-care, self-regulation, communication and being able to enjoy a passion, an interest. To live in absolute bliss whilst not relying too heavily on others. Independence is pivotal to my dreams for his future.