Family

Real life: The touching tribute this mum made to her autistic son

''I wanted him to know that I was so proud of him and so proud that his brain was different.''

By Alex Lilly
It's not often that you hear a good news story about autism but Louise Cummins' story with her son Lachlan will warm your heart.
Despite struggling with her son's official diagnosis at first, the mum-of-one has honoured her son's condition in a move that started as a Christmas present but has since transformed into a viral sensation.
This is her real life story.
When her son Lachlan was around 18 months old, Louise knew that he was different.
"He just couldn't focus. A lot of kids that age are running around and stuff but they start to sort of focus on what's going on whereas he started to be more in his own world.""You could see other kids progressing and sitting and actually being able to do blocks or engage in something, Lachlan couldn't do that, like he was just running constantly."
Despite exhibiting other symptoms like being unable to look people in the eyes when talking, Lachlan was still energetic, loving and really happy.
But it was after a series of evaluations when a developmental paediatrician told her the diagnosis when Louise was feeling like all hope was lost.
Louise knew that Lachlan was different at around 18 months but he was always a loving, happy child. (Image: Supplied)
"He painted the worst picture, the worst case scenario; 'It was unlikely he would live independently, have friends or have a job'. I just left pushing Lachlan in the pram and I was bawling my eyes out in the middle of the street."
"It was awful, there was no level of hope, there was nothing. What he was doing was being like 'based on this data this is the statistical likelihood,' but as a mum you don't want to hear that, you want to be able to get some sort of level of hope and I found that so confronting."
Over the next four years, Louise threw herself and Lachlan into therapy doing everything from behavioural therapy to lying in hammocks to prove the specialist wrong. Though they saw improvements, it was draining for the pair of them.
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But the turning point came when Lachlan was watching Trolls one day and was singing along to the song True Colours.
"When he sang 'your true colours are beautiful like a rainbow' tears rolled down my cheeks. I realised at that moment the person I needed to change the most wasn't him…it was me."
"He was getting to the age and stage where I knew I needed to start researching myself and also he was going to start asking questions and I didn't want to be thinking on my feet, I wanted to be really clear about my response to him."
So for Lachlan's Christmas present, Louise wrote A Different Kind Of Brilliant, a book to help him better understand his autism and featured prominent figures such as Michelangelo, Albert Einstein and Mozart who were also on the spectrum.
"Can you imagine having a parent thinking you were less than what you should be or not as brilliant as you should be? I didn't want him to ever feel that way. I wanted him to know that I was so proud of him and so proud that his brain was different so that's why I wrote it."
Louise's book features plenty of rainbows as a reminder of the True Colours song that inspired her book. (Image: Supplied)
It started as something designed just for Lachlan, but after friends and family members showed their support and started to request more and more copies, Louise made the move to share it online.
And since then, it's gone worldwide.
"It is one mum's view. Even my description of autism, I'm a mum not a doctor, this is my description of it. I've been overwhelmed by the response, people in the US are sharing it and I only put it online six days ago with no promotion. I was shocked by all the sales already."
"As autistic parents, we don't get a lot of good news stories and there tends to be this whole thing around the negative. We have reasons to be hopeful and excited about our kids' futures but you just don't hear enough good news stories so I thought if this helps a couple more children feel great about themselves, I will be happy."
"I'm already getting calls and emails through saying how much it meant to their kids and their siblings and that's why I'm doing it. I'm not doing it for fame or money I'm doing it just to spread a bit of hope."
Louise still reads him his story, but it's not made to be a huge deal.
"It's very subtly brought in. But he loves the superhero page with the L on it so for him that's very exciting. I have to make it so it's part of his childhood without making it so big."
"He loves the superhero page with the L on it so for him that's very exciting." (Image: Supplied)

Louise's advice for parents with autistic children

Louise says that one of the best pieces of advice she's ever received is to just focus on the next 90 days.
"All of what you have control over is what you can do as a mum in the next 90 days- what early intervention, what support structure, how can you make their life the best it can be in the next 90 days?
"I could think about his future in a hundred different ways and it wouldn't be right, I'm not a clairvoyant. What's the point in projecting because he could do or be anything so I just had to keep focused for the next 90 days. And all the stuff that the developmental paediatrician had predicted is already not true, Lachlan's already doing all this stuff that the developmental paediatrician had said statistically he wouldn't."
"Dedicated to Lachlan, and to all those people who are different enough to change the world around them for the better," Louise's dedication reads. (Image: Supplied)
She adds that having a child with autism is not a one size fits all situation and that so long as you talk to specialists, do the research on academic sites rather than social media and stick to your guns, it's about knowing what works for you as opposed to others.
"Be really mindful of who you listen to because when he was younger you get so caught up in what people say. I'd see a woman in the morning and she'd go 'My grandson didn't speak until he was eight and now he's a CEO' and then you'd hear another person say in the afternoon, 'My grandson didn't speak until he was eight and now he's in a group home,' and I'd go 'What am I meant to do with this information?' because neither of it is relevant to Lachlan. I had to be really clear about listening to people as a story but not comparing that to my child."
"I remember hearing that children are like snowflakes, they're all different. It is different people that change the world. If we didn't have different people, there would be a lot of things that would never have changed."