Dream Mum prepares her family for the Group Trip

Meet the Mum who won't let autism win over family life

19-year-old Conor lives in Blackpool with his Mum, Jacqui and four other siblings. He has severe autism and loves all things Disney.

Conor’s obsession with Disney stems from his very childhood, when the only thing that would settle him was Jiminy Cricket on TV. It sparked a lifelong love of Disney that actually helps Conor settle and communicate, as mum, Jacqui, explains;

“Conor was a child that didn’t want to go in shops because of the smells and the noise but he always loved the Disney Shop. He would go in and collect up toys and DVDs, as if they all belonged to him! Back then, I didn’t know much about autism, so I used to buy them all for him. As I grew to know more, I stopped doing that, but Disney still remained a big part of his life. Conor is so fascinated and comforted by Disney that he will often watch three Disney videos at the same time on video, DVD and the iPad. He also loves crafts and makes beautiful little Disney characters out of paper.”

Over the years, Jacqui has worked tirelessly researching autism and working with Conor to progress his development – even converting her garage into a private classroom and hiring teachers for Conor to undertake Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) therapy.

Although Conor is non-verbal and will always be dependent on care, he has developed many new life skills. He goes to a gym and can make his own tea and toast. Jacqui also believes that Conor learns a lot through observation and being part of a big family.

“As one of five children, Conor has always also been surrounded by normal family life and we don’t do everything for him. We ask him to carry shopping and put dishes away along with everyone else and although he sometimes needs to be shown how, he’s really good. The way I see it, the greatest love I can show Conor is to teach him to live without me. We would have never got him to a barbers or a dentist if we’d settled but we’ve pushed Conor (nicely) so now he has some coping techniques and is comfortable and relaxed in many new situations. We don’t let autism win over us.”

Next week, Jacqui and Conor will join several other families as part of Dreams Come True’s annual group trip to Walt Disney World in Florida.

Jacqui wanted to join the group trip, so they could be with other families in the same situation.

As she says, “This will be well out of my comfort zone, so it will be much easier to be with an organised group. I function well in a group and I’m really looking to meeting other parents of children with disabilities and making new friends.”

Jacqui has told Conor that he is going to Walt Disney World and although she isn’t sure if he understands the concept, she does believe he will be absolutely fascinated when he gets there and sees his favourite characters in real life!

He is aware what travelling means and can become distressed when he only sees one suitcase, so Jacqui is being careful to pack their suitcases together, so Conor can see that no one is being left behind. She has also been encouraging him to try on his new clothes ready for the trip – Conor is now 6’4” so he needed some new summer togs! 

We can’t wait to catch up with Jacqui and Conor again after their trip.

 

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Author: Sally Ketley, The Word Creative

Date: 08/05/2018

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