This Australian Mother Approaches Autism with a Great Sense of Humor and Fun
Before I met Judi Huxedurp I had never known a parent of an autistic child that lived outside of the United States. A nagging question I always had was if they were the same with their treatments, beliefs, and approaches as far as autism went overseas as we are here. What I have found is that, yes, basically they are; when it comes to Judi Huxedurp however, there is so much more to it than basic therapies and treatments. She is an amazing friend, support, author, and most importantly she is a mother like no other you will find.
Some Background Information
Mrs. Judi Huxedurp is really a kid at heart. She is an amazing resource when it comes to autism, as I said, she is an author. Her book, “My Child's Got Autism: Don't Panic” is just amazing. When it comes to life, she is the first to pick someone’s spirits up in the event they need a shoulder to cry on. She is never afraid to turn her silly on. Judy lives in Australia but is actually from New Zealand. She is the mother of 8 year old Ricky. Ricky has P.D.D.N.O.S. Judi’s relationship with Ricky is priceless. They play video games together and do crafts all the time. Her whole life is aimed at helping him grow as a person. I can’t think of a better home for a disabled child. In Judi’s home there is no such thing as a disability. She finds the ability is every one!
Brooke: Judi, I can’t thank you enough for doing this interview. Let’s start off on a different pace than normal. A majority of people outside the autism community have this perception that raising our children is nothing but tears and frustration. While that is a big part of it, it isn’t all of it. Can you tell me something that always makes you laugh that Ricky does? Maybe something that he said, or did.
Judi: I’m stuck – he is amazing, wonderful, and funny. I think that one of the funniest things was when he learnt how to lie. It’s toilet humor, I’m sorry, but one thing you’ll get from Autism parenting is a lack of stress around disgusting toileting stuff, go anywhere and it’s bound to come up. Anyway – His first lie went like this:
- [Farting noises became this script]
- “Did you fart?”
- “No it was dad”
- “Dad’s not here”
- “A dinosaur thwacked his tail”
- Then lots of giggling
Brooke: That has to be the most hilarious story I have heard in a long time! Your son is amazing! Why don’t you tell me about Ricky’s diagnosis.
Judi: Ricky’s first diagnosis was “classic autism in the severe range” however recently they changed it to PDD-NOS. Currently he has no co-morbids. He hasn’t been assessed for any though. It stresses him out when we get regular reassessments. I figure he is succeeding in the world and doesn’t need the extra stress of the assessment centre.
Brooke: If you see no direct concern then I agree with avoiding the assessment centers. We have a million different emotions to deal with daily, as do our children, last thing we need is the hopelessness of a public meltdown at a doctor’s office! Speaking of emotions, finding out that your child has autism affects every parent differently. What emotions did you feel after his diagnosis?
Judi: Though I know it’s not an emotion I thought, “HELL NO!” I didn’t think that autism would lock my son away from me. I thought that I could make him see the world and its wonders, bring him joy, and let the world receive joy and love from him. I thought that with work, love, time, and patience (and shaving cream and laughter) I could bring him out of his shell – he’d still have Autism but it wouldn’t stop him from succeeding. I think that so far we are working well to achieving this.
Brooke: That is a remarkable way of looking at this whole thing Judi! Ricky is so lucky to be growing in under your influence. How old is Ricky now? Tell me about your family? Is Ricky’s father in the picture regularly?
Judi: My amazing wonderful son is 8 years old. And though there was a break in our relationship, my husband and I are still together. We live in a home with musical beds (like the game musical chairs), a cat (who can be very naughty but is the love of my sons life), a room dedicated to sensory play or just plain wrestling, a swimming pool for extra movement and fun, a trampoline, and lots of coffee.
Brooke: Oh man! Your home sounds like a dream! You mentioned a break in your relationship. Autism is hard. It is hard on every aspect of life. What has been the hardest part about raising Ricky?
Judi: We are lucky, he is our only child, so all our energy can go into making his life easier, richer, and fuller. The hardest part is letting go of the dreams you have for your child. This wonderful human being was with me for 9 months before we met and in that time, I created dreams of university, doctorates, friends, perfect sleeping moments, parties, girlfriends, and all the other dreams that parents have. When you live with Autism those dreams get taken away. And every small thing is a challenge, everything that goes on in the world has to be taught, it’s not just learned through osmosis like other kids. People’s expectations break my heart.
Brooke: Changing those dreams is probably one of the hardest parts. You are an amazing mother, tremendously dedicated to your son. I am interested to know what you believe raising autism has taught you the most about yourself.
Judi: It’s taught me that I am able to be a mum, therapist, wife, friend, and playmate more than I thought I could be. That others see me with greater ability than I see in myself. And that I love someone with Autism, not because of or despite of but because of the wonderful person they are.
Brooke: It is safe to say that you don’t give yourself enough credit. You are brilliant woman Judi! Your home is completely geared towards Ricky’s success. You are a legend. What I want to know is, how do you keep yourself sane?
Judi: I have 4 ways, firstly the gym (with a crèche) and secondly humor. Next is amazing support from people around me, that believe in me, and lastly support groups both physical and cyber ones.
Brooke: Support groups are an amazing resource! I have gotten so much from them the last few years. One thing we talk about a lot is what we have done to help our child succeed. What would you say has helped Ricky?
Judi: Play, love, play, love and repeat over and over and over again.
Brooke: There couldn’t be a better answer than that! In conclusion, if you could give some advice to a fellow parent of a child with autism what would it be?
Judi: Look after you, because if you fall who will be there to do it all. But also believe in you, you are your children’s expert – you know them best, do what works and never give up.
I’d like to thank Judi for taking the time out of her day to participate in this interview. Interviewing Judi has given me a whole new appreciation for how a parent interacts with their child. I have never seen a mother that is more dedicated to her child’s therapies, mental well-being, and sensory needs than Judi. Her family is direct proof of what constant positive reinforcements and love can do for an autistic child. Judi defines patience and she lives for her son. What better qualities could you ask for in a mother? I can’t think of any.
Other Autism Related Stories by Brooke Price
- Exemplary Father Talks about Autism, Support and Thinking Outside the Box
- Story of Mother with Cancer, Daughter with Autism and Selfless Love
- Mistakes of A Special Needs Mother: Tips From a Parent of an Autistic Child
- Piecing the Puzzle Back Together: Tips from a Mom of an Autistic Child
- Melting Down the Autistic Meltdown: Sometimes Tantrums aren't Tantrums