Neurodiversity Celebration Week, Mila's Story
To mark Neurodiversity Celebration Week, we are so lucky to bring to you Mila’s story shared by her mother. Neurodiversity Celebration week is held from the 13th-19th of March and challenges stereotypes and misconceptions about neurological differences. Focusing on an individual’s strengths not only creates a more inclusive society but a stronger one. We hope you love reading Mila’s story.
Look at that strong, impressive, and confident young girl. She is on the netball team and does gymnastics; she has a great circle of friends and just got a student of the week award at school.
You may not have noticed something by looking at this photo...she’s autistic.
She gets overstimulated quickly – particularly by lots of noise. She becomes non-verbal when she is overwhelmed and needs her blankie to navigate everyday life. She has a deep sense of justice that can sometimes be overbearing and leave little room for grey areas, and she struggles to understand non-verbal communication.
For Neurodiversity Celebration week, I wanted to share this pic of my little girl to challenge the narrative that is played out about autistic kids. I also wanted to share how the NDIS has helped her achieve her goals.
I wanted to take the opportunity to celebrate her strengths, which include her persistence. She is beyond committed to whatever she loves doing. An example was attending her cheer class when she felt unwell, wrapped in a blanket and watching from the sidelines so she could still be there to support her team and make sure she learnt any changes to their routine.
Her sense of justice is a gift, as I know she will do the right thing, even when no one is looking. Her courage to go into therapy sessions and work on skills that don’t come naturally to her but help her navigate the world. Even to face the challenges of school environments daily that can be non-inclusive. Luckily for us, her current school is pretty awesome. I could go on as she really does have so many strengths, but we have also had to work on some challenges too.
Having an NDIS plan helped Mila get to this point. To be confident and accepting of who she is, we have had to work with Occupational therapists, speech pathologists, psychologists and more. The NDIS funded all of these supports that I wouldn’t have been able to provide financially.
A year ago, Mila was screaming at the top of her lungs more than once a day, in a state of constant overwhelm. I didn’t understand what was going on, and neither did she. Now she understands her needs and can help care for herself. I understand her better and can support her better. We both understand how her brain works and how to communicate in a way that works for her. Meeting her at her level has given her the confidence to try new things, make real friends and do the things she likes.
Neurodivergence is not detectable from the photo above and is unique to every person. Let’s celebrate the strengths of neurodivergent people and take the time this week to understand them a little better too.
For anyone wanting to understand the experience of autistic kids a little better this YouTube video, called “Walk In My Shoes” is amazing. The more we take the time to understand someone’s situation better, the stronger we become as a supportive, inclusive community.