On a Journey with James – Interview with Sharna

I have said it before and I will say it again…I LOVE MEETING PEOPLE ON INSTAGRAM! Never in my life would I imagine that I would connect with so many like minded people over a social network. In fact I used to absolutely loathe the idea. Now, I find it a source of inspiration, community and positive ,proactive people power. Yup…I sound like a hippie but it is true. Finding someone who is going through similar experiences, sharing idea’s and honestly posting about their every day life ( especially with children in toe) can be a sure fire way to put a spring back in your step if you a feeling the emotions. You remember other people are going through it too and you are not alone ( cue Michael Jackson song)
No really…it’s true. One mumma I found, absolutely blows me away on a daily basis. With her never give up attitude and radiant and resilient focus on doing what’s best for her son and of course family. Her name is Sharna Mahanidis and her son is James , who is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
It’s a breath of fresh air to see all the small and big steps celebrated on her Instagram account. There are of course hard days, stress days. days of tears and meltdowns but Sharna continues to do ‘”whatever it takes” ( as her motto is)  to champion her son and raise awareness to others what life for children on the spectrum and their families is like.
I caught up with this amazing lady to get a little insight on her and her beautiful family…..
SMXLL

 

Tell me a bit about yourself and your family?

I am Mummy to 2 beautiful children, one on the Autism Spectrum James (3) & Scarlett (2), I am a wife to Theo a very talented Chiropractor. I once was a professional ballet dancer, I am a  qualified ballet teacher through the Royal Academy of Dance.Today I am dedicated to all things Autism. I am a passionate Autism Advocate.

How did you get into blogging?

To communicate! To De-brief! Its my therapy, my way of giving back to the ASD community. My way to talk through things that are eating me on the inside. I am a communicator, I like to get my feelings and thoughts into the atmosphere to make my soul more peaceful. When we started this journey with James I felt so alone. It was like someone slapped a label on his head and sent us away. I tried to talk to people around me but no one was listening and it seemed like no one really cared. So now I just pound the keyboard everyday. Its RAW, REAL and hopefully entertaining.

What was your diagnosis process ?

I knew there was something not right when James was born.He was so uncomfortable in his skin. Screamed constantly, never slept, didn’t eat and had pretty severe anxiety. When he was 2.5 his speech regressed (he only had 4 words anyway). I took him to our paediatrician at the time and he said there was nothing wrong that everything I was concerned about was totally normal. I didn’t argue with him but I knew he was WRONG. So I took James back to the paediatrician that delivered him.He sent me home with ADOS paperwork and told me ‘Sharna NO bullshit, fill it out with honesty’, it took me a week to fill out the paperwork because I just needed some time. I emailed the paperwork the our Dr and he emailed me pretty much straight back and said ‘I believe James is on the Autism Spectrum’. He then referred us to a child psychologist that specialises in younger children. She meet with James 3 times, on the 3rd meeting was the assessment. Two weeks later we were in her office to hear the ASD diagnosis. I never forget that feeling in my stomach. I started to cry and she said ‘Sharna you knew this was the outcome, you have the ability to change the course. He is young. She told me to dedicate my time to bringing him out of the shadows.’ I replied with WHATEVER IT TAKES

How much has changed for you since then?

The biggest thing is that I have changed. I have thicker skin, I am the one that deals with all of James’ team, his future is in my hands and I have to fight a lot for his rights. I am much more resilient and I don’t sweat the small stuff at all.
We are also insanely busy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What conceptions did you have about the spectrum before the diagnosis ?

 

I suppose I didn’t realise how broad the spectrum was. Every child on the spectrum is so different.

And after?

ASD is really just a different way. Its so important to build a team around these children. Find their strengths, use their passion to teach them new things. Give them time, love and lots of praise.

What have been the major challenges you have faced and overcome?

The biggest challenge for me is other people’s view on what ASD is to be honest. I face this on a daily basis. Ignorant people who have no interest in trying to understand the disorder. Because of my ballet training I really have been able to overcome a lot of obstacles with great dedication, focus and drive. The one thing I really struggle with is close minded stubborn  individuals who refuse to allow themselves to become educated on a disorder that really does effect the greater community.

What has been the biggest help for you guys?

My husband. He works really hard so that I don’t have to. When James was diagnosed I had the desire to open another ballet studio. After some thought I decided that it was more rewarding for me to put in my all to James’ development. With my husband providing for our family it allows me the time that is needed to go into James and his chaotic schedule. My husband Theo is also very hands on. When he is home he will do what he can with both our kids to help out as much as possible. He really is our rock! He holds our family together in so many ways!

What would be your advice to other parents out there?

WHATEVER IT TAKES!

Don’t give up! On the hardest days especially! Sometimes its 1 step forward and 5 steps back but keep climbing.

Engage them, love them, include them, talk to them, PRAISE them endlessly!

How do you take time out for yourself?

Float… I love to float. The sensory deprivation for 1 hour resets and recharges my batteries. This is my favourite Mummy time. I go once a month. The local floating specialist was a big reason I started my blogging journey. She gave me that final push I needed to get our story out there.

If you haven’t tried floating, DO IT! Especially if you are an ASD parent where our whole day sometimes is based around the sensory needs of our little person.

What would you tell your 12 year old self?

Don’t let someone dim your light, simply because its shining in their eyes!

SMXLL

 

Find her at…..

Sharna Mahanidis

@jameshealthjourney

FB James’ Health Journey

http://www.jameshealthjourney.com

You can be assured we will be checking back in with this amazing lady!!!!

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