Mother & Baby (Australia) - - M&b Awards -

Five years ago, Jo gave birth to her son, Ryan. Af­ter notic­ing he wasn’t hit­ting the same devel­op­men­tal mile­stones as other ba­bies his age, Ryan was di­ag­nosed at two and a half years of age with low-func­tion­ing autism. Jo and her hus­band, Grant, were sud­denly faced with a whole new set of chal­lenges. Shortly af­ter he was di­ag­nosed, Ryan be­gan to have seizures – some­times up to 15 a day – and was di­ag­nosed with epilepsy in ad­di­tion to autism.

To give Ryan the best ther­a­pies, Jo works five days a week and cares for Ryan on her own a lot of the time, as her hus­band works away for ex­tended pe­ri­ods of time. “The hard­est part is when I get sick and I go down – there is no-one. Ba­si­cally I’ve got to suck it up and keep go­ing,” she says.

Sup­port­ing others fac­ing the same sit­u­a­tion is im­por­tant for Jo, who likes to lend her sup­port on­line to other mums. “Face­book is great be­cause it’s not in­tim­i­dat­ing. I log on and tell other mums my story. It’s so im­por­tant to be pos­i­tive and show them that you do have a chance of liv­ing a nor­mal life, while en­cour­ag­ing them at the same time.”

Jo and Grant de­cided to add to their fam­ily last year but sadly Jo lost the baby. How­ever, she is cur­rently preg­nant with another boy, due in Septem­ber. “I wanted to have another boy, although it does mean we have a higher chance of autism. But Grant and I have sat down and talked about it.” she says. “We are not wor­ried, we don’t care. We are al­ready liv­ing an autistic life so we know we can do it. The pay-off is there to give Ryan a friend for life.”

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