When Archie was born, we knew immediately that he was different. We didn’t know or understand what that difference was, we just knew.
When Archie was three, he was diagnosed with autism. In those days, he was regarded as a ‘high functioning autistic’ although now we understand that autism is an infinity spectrum and we, as a family, no longer use that term. We simply say, he has autism.
Archie also has ADHD and has sensory processing differences that make everyday tasks like eating or visiting a medical appointment incredibly challenging. This is why we decided to base our animation scenario on Archie visiting the dentist.
Could you imagine how impossibly difficult it is for someone to sit in a waiting room, that person already feeling anxious and overwhelmed, having strangers stare at you or talk about you and you have no idea why. You are sitting in that waiting room trying to calm your own anxieties in the only way you know how (in Archie’s case, this is fact stimming).
To get Archie to even enter the dentist seat takes weeks of preparation. An appointment needs to be made long enough in advance for us to create a social story, repeatedly watch YouTube videos of the procedure ahead and a day-by-day countdown so that Archie feels comfortable enough to sit in that dental chair.
I would like to say a personal thank you to Dr Robyn Hughes (Archie’s dentist). Robyn takes care of Archie in exactly the same way as he takes care of our neurotypical children. He is kind, calming and uses his wonderful sense of humour to put our family at ease. Thank you Robyn.
As a proud mum, an advocate of ASD, and founder of a non-profit designed to support children with autism, I would ask you to never judge a person if they are behaving in a way that you perceive as different. Archie (and our other children) are the love of our lives and people’s unkindness towards a child that was born differently abled is utterly heartbreaking.
Archie and I would love to encourage you to be an Autism Ally. Be kind, accept differences and understand.
Thank you for your time.
Rebecca Clapcott, Awesome Archie Non-Profit Organisation.