Sunday, May 24, 2015

'A Double Shot Of Happiness': Book On Adult Autism by Judy Sharp

This book by Judy Sharp - 'A Double Shot Of Happiness' - is a real treat to read, for a gazillion reasons. For me, it resonates because I have a son with a mild autism diagnosis, and I am always curious when I meet the mothers of sons with autism. What will my boy be like? What will his world feel like? Each child - and each diagnosis - is vastly different of course, but I am always thirsty for knowledge on this rare insight.

Says Judy: 

“I live with three superheroes - my sons Tim and Sam and a colourful, funny, masked character called Laser Beak Man…”.

Laser Beak Man

Tim Sharp was just three years old when his mother, Judy, took him to a paediatric specialist and he was diagnosed with autism.  Judy was told the autism was so severe that Tim would never speak, go to school, learn to live in a normal household and would be incapable of love, even towards his own mother.  She was told she’d need to have Tim institutionalised and that she should just “forget about him”.

WOW. This is reminiscent of the scene in the movie 'Temple Grandin' where the lead character (played by Claire Danes) and her diagnosis (back then, autism was referred to as 'infantile schizophrenia' - can you even believe it?) is discussed by a specialist with her mother, and how institutionalisation was the route suggested for the child. If you've seen the movie - and read the myriad books by Temple - you'll know this is not the life path chosen by mother and child.

Likewise for Judy, this was not the path chosen for her son Tim.

Judy resisted expert advice… and, struggling to have Tim communicate with her, Judy one day picked up a pen and started to draw.  It was an action that would change their lives forever.

Now in his twenties, Tim’s leading a fulfilling life as a world-famous artist, creator of the joyful ‘Laser Beak Man’. It’s a true testament to the instincts his mother trusted all those years earlier. BLESS YOU, JUDY!

Tim’s art has been exhibited internationally in some of the world’s greatest galleries, has been the cover of a band’s CD, turned into an animation for TV and is an off-Broadway play in New York. 

'A Double Shot Of Happiness' is Judy’s beautiful and heartfelt account of Tim’s odyssey from that terrible diagnosis to his emergence as an acclaimed artist and a fulfilled, loving and loved young man.  This is a story full of many hurdles, moments of despair and incredible hard work from Tim, Judy and his brother Sam, but ultimately their story is one that’s moving, inspiring and triumphant.

“Most people are charmed by Tim but sometimes they aren't. When we come across these uninterested people I want to rush up and implore them to listen to him. ‘You should listen to his story, you really should. You won't hear another one like it. You will hardly believe it. Sometimes even I can't even believe it!’ I have shared every minute of this unbelievable adventure with Tim and that makes me feel like the luckiest mother in the world.” – Judy Sharp

More about Judy: she raised two boys, Tim and his younger brother Sam, as a single mother. Sam is a former state swimmer and trialled for the Olympics.  He now works as a high-level swimming coach.  Tim’s art is exhibited all around the world.  He spends much of his time helping organisations and schools that work with children with autism. They live in Brisbane.

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

An interview with Judy and Tim is on its way right here, so stay tuned.