It was a special 2-day workshop for super mums and dads in our Indian community

By Neena Badhwar

It was an opportunity to meet super mums and dads in our Indian community in a 2-day workshop organised by the Positive partnerships, an initiative funded by the Australian Government Department of Education & Training. The workshops were held on two Saturdays in the month of May, May 18 and 25, 2019 at the Telopea community Centre organised by Veena Sashikumar, Rajni who have formed the community group that approached the Project officer, Srilakshmi Ajjampura of Multicultural Programs. The workshops were aimed at parents/carers of children on the Autism spectrum to help understand, share and communicate the challenges they face while bringing up their special kids. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that affects communication and behaviour, difficulty with communication and interaction with other people, restricted interests and repetitive behaviours. Symptoms that hurt the child’s ability to function properly in school, work, and other areas of life.

Parenting as such is a difficult and challenging responsibility, though highly enjoyable at the same time, it is as if one has been given a task to shoulder bringing not only a life into the world but to carry it with conviction, love, nurturing and a lifelong commitment. But when you meet these super parents from up close you realise how difficult and demanding their roles are. These are the parents, mums and dads, and even grandparents who have children diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum, kids with special needs, yet equally loved and cherished like any other. Or may be more. When alone the parents are working hard and feel isolated but through the workshops they came to attend, it gave them insights into evidence-based knowledge of autism disorder and how to better understand its impact on their child’s learning.

In the two days they shared various unique behaviours of their kids and discussed practical strategies which they could use at home and school to improve their kids’ learning outcomes. It gave them opportunity to network and connect with others in similar situations. The workshops were helpful and conducive where the parents felt comfortable to discuss and share knowledge through group activities and discussions. They discussed the diversity of autism and different characteristics as every individual child can present differently depending on age, health and emotional state and environment. Different planning matrices were discussed from primary to secondary aged students, the workshop material included articles on Autism and the modules suggested which can be found on Positive Partnerships website ( to help the parents to identify their kid’s behaviours and characteristics that can be perplexing and rather difficult. Rewards, reinforcements, sensory processing and many issues were discussed to do with bringing up a child on Autism Spectrum as parents shared their experiences and sat in group discussions and were given tasks to come up with answers. Parents were encouraged to team together and work collaboratively with each other, with the teachers, the school and their child’s peers.

Said the presenter, Emma Dresens, team leader ”“ CALD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse) Program, to TIDU, who conducted the workshop along with Kim Healy, “There is a lot of helpful information that parents can take from these workshops that’s why we have them over two days. The information is quite complex and highly beneficial. The workshops help parents in swapping ideas with each other. That they are stepping through similar challenges and similar opportunities. Often parents with older children love hearing what kind of help they have when their kids are starting high school.”

The 2-day workshops energised and motivated the participants in knowing that children on Autism Spectrum can be very special as some of the world famous people were on autism spectrum and that autism is not necessarily a negative thing, Emma said, “Its not that your child’s brain is not working properly, its that it is working differently.”

By the end of the session these super mums and dads felt positive about their child on Autism Spectrum and felt quite motivated to discuss the pressures they face at times. One parent said he gives his wife a break by cooking dinner every now and then and having a glass of wine himself while doing it. Another mother said that she relies on yoga and meditation to help relieve her stress.

Definitely one could see that the parents had connected by the end of second day and made friends as they shared contacts with each other. It had been a positive experience as they felt empowered and in control to plan education options and other activities for their special child whose responsibility the destiny had bestowed on them.

For any future workshops contact Srilakshmi Ajjampura on 0435 967 226

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