Lifestyle

A reason to celebrate at ASD big birthday bash

Jackson,9, and Lachlan,7, with their parents Fergus and Lee Ponder.
Jackson,9, and Lachlan,7, with their parents Fergus and Lee Ponder. Warren Lynam

JACKSON Ponder is nine years old, but he has never played pass-the-parcel.

Party hats, balloons and lolly bags have never been part of his weekend fun, because he has never been invited to a birthday party.

He has watched invitations being passed around the classroom, with nothing left in the bag for him.

This is all because Jackson has Autism Spectrum Disorder.

The stigma associated with the incurable disorder leaves many families isolated, judged and children left out of friendship circles.

There are 300 families in the Sunshine Coast ASD Support Group, with children on varying levels of the scale.

The children had a taste of party frivolities when the group hosted their very own "birthday party" at Top Shots last weekend.

For Jackson it was a welcome change from lunchtimes usually spent alone.

Jackson was diagnosed with high functioning ASD in December 2011.

His mother Lee said it was the high function cases which were commonly missed.

A prevalence study by the Australia Advisory Board on ASD in 2007 found one in 160 Australian children aged between six and 12 years was diagnosed with ASD.

It was a long journey before Jackson was diagnosed.

"Time after time I was in tears because sometimes Jackson would have hours of meltdowns yet the paediatricians couldn't explain it because sitting in front of them was a well articulated boy who can talk on an adult level," Mrs Ponder said.

Jackson has difficulties in social situations and lacks empathy, he can't recognise emotions and often misreads situations.

Jackson was first diagnosed with fine motor dyspraxia at a young age.

The disorder impairs the organisation of movement and affects perception, language and thought.

Jackson has trouble handling scissors, brushing his teeth or tying shoe laces.

"It was a long haul to get the ASD diagnosis and took about eight months of specialists asking questions for me to see," Mrs Ponder said.

"Does he line things up? Yes.

"Does he have food issues? Yes.

"It was a relief to have the diagnosis but I liken it to when I was diagnosed with cancer in 2009, it's a definite sense of loss and changes the way you perceive the future to be but it is also a sense of relief that you can move forward."

Jackson has a common trait of an autistic child - he is gifted.

While he struggles with motor skills, he has superior working memory.

His passion is computers.

Jackson has attended four different Sunshine Coast mainstream schools to find one that suited him.

While he is age appropriate for Year 3, he has been accelerated into Year 4 and there is talk of him starting an IT TAFE course next year online.

Despite this, Mrs Ponder said a day at school was difficult for Jackson.

"During a typical day at school Jackson was disruptive in the classroom, not naughty just disruptive," she said.

"It was horrible, he has not coped in the classroom and that is hard to see as a mother.

"On the way to the car the meltdowns start. He usually holds it together until school is done and lets it all out at the end."

Jackson has a laptop for use in the classroom fulltime.

"Any work a child would normally write, he can do on the laptop," Mrs Ponder said.

"He uses the computer during breaks and lunchtime as well, while most kids do handball or play soccer, for him facing that is not a break, it is work.

"He finds mateship very difficult, but what the computer enables him to do is people are noticing and coming up to him to look at his computer so that has become an avenue for Jackson to reach out."

Mrs Ponder said there was still little community awareness on ASD.

"I noticed this year that my younger son Lockie at age six was being invited to party after party when Jack wasn't getting invited to any and it hurt," Mrs Ponder said.

"One mother on our Facebook page said she tried to host a party and invited the whole class and no one came.

"So that's when we came up with the idea of the Top Shots party.

"There were some meltdowns, but there wasn't one family there who hadn't seen it before."

Mrs Ponders said support groups were key for parents of autistic children to connect and share advice.

Jackson's gifted diagnosis prompted Mrs Ponder to start the Twice Exceptional support group for gifted children with learning difficulties.

"There needs to be more awareness. There are single mums in our group to married couples who are in dire situations and need immediate respite and can't get it," Mrs Ponder said.

"When Jackson was diagnosed I've looked more into the disorder and I never realised until now the extent of the issues, and how many people have financial, social, and emotional trauma from an ASD diagnosis."

 

>> To read more lifestyle stories

Topics:  autism birthday children community health lifestyle



How to survive a bushfire in your car

IT SOUNDS like a nightmare, but it can happen.

Eight reasons to join the RFS

SPREAD across 93% of Queensland, the Rural Fire Service has about 36,000 volunteers. And you could be one of them.

What if my insurer gives me grief?

CLAIMING your insurance cover after a natural disaster can go one of two ways. It can be a breeze, or like pulling teeth.

Life devoted to Ipswich veterans

Phil Gilbert's coffin passes through a guard of honour after his funeral Tuesday.

Stalwart of Ipswich RSL farewelled

Brendon McCullum to play T20 cricket for Ipswich

COUP: New Zealand legend Brendon McCullum to play T20 cricket for Ipswich-Logan Hornets.

New Zealand legend to inspire young Hornets on Sunday

'Fuming': Graduation two ticket limit has parents upset

A post on Goodna State School's Facebook Page reminding parents only guests with tickets would be allowed into the graduation ceremony.

Parents at Goodna State School are fuming and confused.

Local Partners

FLOOD RISK: Mayors launch plan to protect $260M industry

A COMPREHENSIVE plan to deal with the flood risk to rivers and lakes in the Lockyer Valley has been launched.


Top 5 Christmas events around Ipswich

The Twighlight Christmas Parade was just the first of many events around the region.

THERE are plenty of exciting Christmas activities coming up.

It's official, Christmas has started in Ipswich

TIS THE SEASON: Plenty of families got into the holiday spirit at the Christmas Twilight Parade.

PHOTOS: Annual Twilight Parade draws hundreds, more events to come

What's on this weekend

Artist Eric Lennartson is in the process of completing his huge tape sculpture at the Ipswich Art Gallery.

Things to do in Ipswich

Taylor Lautner 'spotted smooching co-star'

Taylor Lautner has been romantically linked to Billie Lourd

David Beckham's tattoos come to life for UNICEF campaign

David Beckham has called for an end to violence against children

Pop star Liam Payne's Facebook hacked with porn

"Things that can happen to you when you don't have sex."

Tim Roth was abused by his grandfather

Tim Roth was abused by his grandfather during his childhood.

Leo designs shocker tattoo for Tom Hardy after lost bet

Leonardo DiCaprio has designed a new tattoo for Tom Hardy

Hollywood star at home on the Coffs Coast

FEELING LUCKY, SON?: Scott Eastwood visited the Coffs Coast

Guess which Hollywood star has been seen around the Coffs Coast?

INSIDE STORY: The highlights of your $150 million CBD

GRAND PLAN: The highlights of the Ipswich CBD redevelopment and where they will be located.

Work on city heart's radical transformation to begin next year

PHOTOS: World class CBD to lift Ipswich

An artist's impressions of the future Ipswich city mall.

Grand plans to transform city heart unveiled today

Developer's grand new multi-million dollar estate

NEW ESTATE: This is the only plan revealed by the property developer's new Billabongs Estate in Agnes Water.

DEVELOPER given the go ahead for a massive estate with 149 homes.

Couple's desperate $550K price drop to sell Gladstone home

Brian Headley and Kirstene Staib are selling their Kin Kora mansion for $750,000.

TELL tale sign of Gladstone's property market.

Banks reclaim Gladstone homes as job losses bite

LONG FALL: Property experts Heron Todd say, based on key market indicators, Gladstone is still travelling to the bottom of the market, with property prices set to get cheaper.

Property valuers say Gladstone housing market hasn't hit the bottom

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!