Friday, June 19, 2015

Tim Sharp and Judy Sharp Interview: 'A Double Shot Of Happiness'

'Our Autism Adventures' posted a blog on the brand new Australian book 'A Double Shot Of Happiness' (read more here), and now, we are happy to share our interview with the beautiful mother and son duo, Judy and Tim Sharp.

Here they are:

Here is what they said about their journey with autism, their experiences, and their wonderful book (which, by the way, you must buy):

Interview with Judy Sharp:

1. Tell me what compelled you to write this book?

Tim is a true hero and his  story  should be shared. I hope this book might encourage other people  facing challenges, as we have had a few over the years and  also give families living with autism some hope.  What Tim  has achieved at only 27 years of age is nothing short of  magnificent  including being the first person in the world with autism to have his art turned into an animated TV series that screened on ABC TV, showing his art in some of the worlds great locations and giving a TEDx talk at the Sydney Opera House.  Achieving all this from a diagnosis of autism that included a  prognosis that "I should just put him away and forget about him,"is extraordinary. As well Tim is an exceptional young man who touches the heart of everyone he meets,  I wanted  to  share the absolute joy of Tim and his glorious art.

2. How do you explain autism to someone who knows nothing about it?

Autism is a developmental condition that principally  affects communication and the ability to socialise. For me that is the cruellest part of autism as I see connection with other people  as the very essence of life.  To think my son would not have the happiness of that connection  was  devastating. Autism  can also have challenging, restricting or repetivie behaviours. Sometimes there are obsessive behaviours or limited interests. It affects every part of life, eating, sleeping, the sensory system the ability to deal with the unknown or unexpected.  Up to 25% of people with autism remain non verbal throughout their lives.  It is a lifelong condition without a cure and although it has genetic predispostions its cause is not known.  For us, autism has taken us on a path that I knew nothing of and presented challenges that I had no idea how to deal with, but it has given us a life  with more beautiful difference and meaning than I could have ever imagined.  It has made us very closely bound together as we have stepped outside what we knew and  learnt so much from Tim about being in the moment and  building a life  that is true to who you are. 

3. There is one line in the book that floored me, about Tim's nutritionist: "I tried to explain to the nutritionist about Tim's autism, but she wasn't interested. She thought autism was an excuse for bad parenting." - How on earth did you deal with the aftershocks of that? I know you said in the book that "She was so judgemental I had to stand up and walk out of her office. I'd had enough" but how did it affect you emotionally?

By the time I saw that nutrionalist, I had heard the  same accusations in various forms for several years.  It never got any easier, constantly being told that I was lazy or a bad mother always broke my heart and made me feel guilty. It also made me feel inferriror and like such a failure. I would usually sob my heart out.     The worst part was, I interpreted what they were saying as  that I didn't love Tim enough when the truth was I felt like I loved him so much I couldn't love him any more.   After her, I decided that I was the only expert in the world on Tim, no one loved him like I did. We didn't need anyone hurting us ever again.  I would do it all by myself , we would build our own strong family and look for happiness. 

4. I am always curious to know how kids with autism grow into adults with autism, as my son has a mild autism diagnosis. Can you shed some light for parents with young kids with autism, perhaps some key thoughts and words of wisdom?

Autism has it's own time line, it can't be rushed, a lot of things will take what feels like an eternity and that can be frustrating, but like they say, slow and steady. I've seen a lot of people with autism grow into contented young adults living fulfilling lives. I know some young adults who study, work, drive cars, play sports and have a social life within the definitions of their own kind of autism, even with the difficulties of communication. I know others who  keep close to home, and have a limited social life with others, and have routines that are very important to them, but still lead very fullfilling and happy lives. I am most proud of the good and kind gentleman Tim is he has reached a place where he is very comfortable and happy with the life he builds. I think it is important to work with your own kind of autism, the strengths and the passions, it's own needs.  Autism doesn't go away, we need to work with it,not try to make it change people into what we expect. That is the gift of autism, learning another way to live, learning to care more about someone else and their needs. My words of wisdom… Accept the difference and build your own beautiful dream, Tim proves that dreams can come true.

Interview with Tim Sharp:

1. How does it feel to have your book in print and see it as bookstores?

It's fantastic.  I love going to the book shops and seeing it on the shelf.  I talk to the people in the shop and sometimes I sign the book.  I feel like a rock star.

2. Tell me how you feel about your mother, and what she has done for you over the years?

Mum is my best friend. We are happy together. She is the best mum in the world. Could I do this  without her? definitely not. I love my mum. 

3. What is next for you?

The play in New York, I am going there to work on it in December, it's called Laser Beak Man, of course. And I will keep going to book shops.

'A Double Shot Of Happiness' by Judy Sharp will be published on 27 May 2015 (RRP $32.99 ) and will also be available as an e-book.


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