On the 29th September 2018, a Workshop on Autism and Gender Identity was held at the Medical Research Center of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Porto (FMUP). This initiative was promoted by the Unit of Psychiatry and Mental Health of the Department of Clinical Neurosciences and Mental Health of FMUP, director – Prof. Rui Coelho (Professor Catedrático) in partnership with the Clinic of Psychiatry and Mental Health of the University Hospital Center São João (director of the EIG – Prof. Rui Coelho). The guest speaker was Prof. Wenn Lawson of the University of Queensland and the University of Birmingham, autism consultant for the Department of Education of the Australian Government. Prof. Wenn Lawson also collaborates with the University of Queensland’s Autism Cooperative Research Center (ARCR) and has published several books and scientific papers on Autism Spectrum Disorders and Gender Identity. Gain4parents gave a presentation on the importance of the attitude that surrounds the child and the use of motivations in learning, also highlighting the importance of parents and the need to support parents so that they can best help their child.
Our story starts back in 2011 when the three of us met. Parents from different countries, wanting the best for their children and determined to do everything possible to get there! Our boys are the same age but back then were on very different phases of their individual journeys.
Fast forward seven years and here we are. We still believe that parents are the child’s best resource and that it is not possible to predict what a child will be able to do (or not do) based on where the child is now. We believe that amazing things are possible, we believe in patience and persistence, and most of all we believe in unconditional love and acceptance.
Our boys are still on different phases of their journeys, but the gap is much smaller now. Both are happy, lively and considerate. Both love friends and peers. One is into sports, the other is a Marvel fan. One is in school, the other not yet. Both will reach their full potential, of that we are sure.
We have helped each other over the years, sharing experience and information, and keeping ourselves motivated through the days that felt harder, celebrating each other’s victories and celebrating the enormous progress that our boys have made!