News

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



Parking changes at Orion after 'lost' customer sparks action

David Harris has made a sign to put up in the Orion carpark so he can locate his vehicle.

Shopping centre introduces new signs in underground carpark

Puppy seller rubbishes dog law changes

POUND PUPPY: This little pig-dog cross is one of dozens of puppies that may be put down if no home is found for them, or they remain unclaimed by their owner. Photo Lisa Machin / Dalby Herald

Council say the new rules are designed to stamp out puppy farming

Trio to face court after assault on woman and her dog

New Ipswich District Court Judge: After nine years in the role, Ipswich District Court Judge Greg Koppenol will move to Brisbane Court.He will be replaced by Judge Dennis Lynch QC. In court on Tuesday, Judge Koppenol was recognised for his "brisk and vigorous approach" to the role.

The group is facing a host of charges including animal cruelty

Local Partners

MOVIE REVIEW: King Arthur - Legend of the Sword

Why the critics have got Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur all wrong.

Concert death toll revised up to 22, tour suspended

There have been multiple confirmed deaths after 'explosions' heard at Ariana Grande concert in Manchester

"We saw blood on people when we got outside."

Casual Keanu says fame is ‘cool’

Keanu Reeves in a scene from the movie John Wick: Chapter 2.

NOBODY expected much of John Wick when it was released in 2014.

Ariana Grande breaks her silence after fatal blast

According to reports quoting witnesses, a mass emergency evacuation was prompted after explosions were heard at the end of US singer Ariana Grande's concert in the arena.

The entertainment industry is in shock after attack on concert

Pitch Perfect star suing Woman’s Day over ‘liar’ articles

Actor Rebel Wilson outside court on Friday.

REBEL Wilson's career destroyed by grubby campaign, court hears.

Seven Year Switch: The boner to end all boners

Johnny’s outraged over claims he has a cracked boner.

She gulps. Her face says it all.

Bay to star in Hollywood shark thriller ‘Cage Dive’

Cage Dive, written and directed by Gerald Rascionato, is now screening in the United States of America. It had scenes filmed in Hervey Bay.

And our visiting humpback whales also make appearance.

How Toowoomba house prices compare in Australia

For sale sign in front of home.

Here's what $700,000 will buy you in Toowoomba, Brisbane and Sydney

One of Maryborough's most historic homes is still for sale

FULL OF HISTORY: Trisha Moulds is owner of the historic Tinana state known as Rosehill. The beautiful home is currently for sale.

It has been the scene of both joy and tragedies over the years.

The face of the Sunshine Coast's overpriced rental crisis

Alyx Wilson had to rent a $385 unit in Currimundi because the market was too competitive for cheaper rental housing. She is now renting a room from friends who own a house in Currimundi, and says its much more affordable.

Young people feel the strain in competitive, expensive rental market

WATCH: Take a tour of a tradie's dream home

5a Bruce Hiskens Court, Norman Gardens, going for $720,000. INSET: Lea Taylor.

Huge block with potential for anything

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!