Age of parents:
Cameron and Cayden Hirson
Age: Cameron 5 and Cayden 3
Are these your only child?
Diagnosis of child: Cameron was diagnosed at the age of 18 months with Autism (PDD-NOS) Pervasive developmental disorder (not otherwise specified). Cayden has not yet been diagnosed, we have personally decided not to have Cayden diagnosed at this time. Cayden does show traits of Autism.
What are the biggest challenges facing your child on a daily basis?
Both boys are non-verbal, as you can imagine it can be very challenging. Cameron and Cayden have learnt ways to communicate with us by gestures, taking our hands and leading us etc. My children cannot independently dress themselves, use the toilet, brush their teeth etc. I am sure that both boys become frustrated when we do not know or understand what they require. The children are used to routine and need to know what will happen next to keep down the anxiety levels. Both boys are very sensitive to loud noises, bright lights etc. As the boys have become older things are slowly getting easier. We have become more knowledgeable about autism but there is still plenty to learn. The boys have big temper tantrums and meltdowns. For example, I only take my children with me to the shops if I absolutely have to. Cameron is very sensitive to the noises, the amount of people, and the florescent lights - it can upset him easyly. (Which is difficult more me as people are so intolerant of difference in South Africa.) A meltdown is not a very pleasant sight to see as my boy sometimes self-harms. A meltdown is very different to a tantrum, in a meltdown a child loses all control of their actions, their brain shuts down.
What are the happiest moments you have with your child on a daily basis?
Cameron and Cayden are very loving, playful and very entertaining little boys. Our happiest moments are when we get kisses and cuddles from the boys. The playful giggles when daddy tickles and high fives them. Each smile and each giggle for whatever reason brightens up each moment, and brings joy to our hearts.
Are you a single parent or married? Married, going on 6 year’s.
Has your special needs child had an effect on your marriage?
Yes most definitely, eventhough I’m sure neuro typical children would also have affected our marriage.
What has your child taught you about yourself, both positively and negatively?
This journey has shown me that I do have a lot of patience but there is always room for more. My children have taught me to see, feel and hear things differently. I am a stronger person because of my children. Our children have also taught me that it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about us.
Are your family and friends supportive?
Our family have been absolutely amazing, they have been there for us and for our children every step of the way. Cameron and Cayden have been accepted for who they are, they are surrounded by unconditional love, support and blessed by all of our family. A special thank you to all the grandparents for all that they have done and continue to do for Cameron and Cayden.
Do you take time out, if so what do you do to relax?
Time out, What’s that? (ha ha) I have and will always be a very family orientated person. I love being at home with my children. Every so often when I do get out, I enjoy karaoke but most of all I enjoy catching up on sleep.
What has made the biggest difference to your child’s quality of life?
It would definitely have to be the school that they attend - Cameron and Cayden both attend Amazing K Pre and Primary School (an early intervention and development centre for children with Autism). Cameron has progressed so much over the last two years since joining the school, the teachers understand our children and the boys love going to school. They are in a place where they are understood and not rejected or judged on their capabilities
What is your dream for your child?
Like any other parent, our dream is for our children to lead a happy, healthy and successful life. I dream that in the near future the boys will speak and if they don’t, I dream that through technology or something we will find a way for these children to speak. I dream that they will succeed in all they do and that they will be accepted for who they are.I also dream that more South Africans become aware of Autism, what it is etc. Most of all I dream that they will forever be blessed.