Explore life of an autistic child during #Autism Month

EDUCATE yourself this Autism Awareness Month.

The True definition of autism ♥️ #autismawareness #southafrica #unique

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According to Yogie Padayachee, whose son Tristan was diagnosed with autism at two-years-old, autism warning signs include a child not responding when their name is called; avoiding eye contact; preferring to play alone; no fear of danger; oversensitivity to some textures, sounds or lights; aggressive or self-injurious behaviour; poor gross and fine motor skills and a lack of interest in toys or a child who plays with them unusually.

“When Tristan was 18-months-old, we noticed he was not making any verbal or eye contact and there was no response when we called him by his name. He was limited in what he ate and would rock himself back and forth while sitting.

I was told by some family and friends I shouldn’t worry because boys were slower in developing compared to girls. I gave him some time to progress but to my disappointment, there wasn’t much improvement by the time he turned two,” said Yogie Padayachee.

“He would cry when he was sick and when he needed something. We would all get into the car at crazy hours of the night or morning and go for long drives to try pacify this now-screaming child.

Trips to the doctors, dentists and the hairdresser were a nightmare and up to this day, at the age of 11, they still are.

1 in every 110 children is born with autism You can help spread awareness!! #southafrica #autismawareness

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Tristan could never eat on his own therefore I would feed him his meals. For quite a few years, he ate dhall and rice for breakfast, lunch and supper daily as he refused to eat other foods.

Life was becoming very challenging for my husband Trevor, my daughter, Lucretia and me.

At 26 months Tristan was diagnosed with autism, which was new to us. Tristan had to undergo a series of blood tests followed by an MRI brain scan and an EEG to check for epilepsy. Thereafter he was put on neurological medication. Then he started speech therapy and occupational therapy with therapists at Entabeni Hospital.

Travelling by car was a nightmare for us. Tristan hated being strapped in, which resulted in him having tantrums while I was driving. I had to always take a third person in the car. The tantrums would be so bad that I would have to turn the car and go back home or leave during a session.

Tristan has many sensory issues, and can’t tolerate the sound of cutlery tapping crockery, which happens when cutting steak with a fork and knife. Tristan has irregular sleep patterns. He can fall asleep at 10pm and wake up at 1am with energy to last the entire day.

When Tristan is awake, I have to be awake with him therefore I am sleep deprived. I wake up not knowing what the day has in store for me because I am exhausted. I survive the day by the grace of God.

Every three months, Tristan sees a paediatric neurologist Dr L Mbaiwa who assesses his progress and adjusts his medication. As a family we have a restricted social life due to limited resources.

At the age of seven, Tristan was enrolled at a private autistic school. At Star Academy he followed the applied behavioural analysis (ABA) programme. There he was trained to eat independently and to sit in a car seat. He attended Star Academy for three years. Presently he attends Pathways, a special needs school in Westville which accommodates autistic children. He is accompanied by a caregiver as he can’t be left unattended.

Tristan enjoys the use of technology by watching videos on YouTube using an iPad or a cellphone.

Did you know Einstein may have been autistic? Being autistic does NOT make you unintelligent!!


Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or autism is a brain development disorder that affects social interaction, behaviour, language and communication. Autism occurs in the first three years of life. No two children with autism are the same. Boys are four times more likely to have autism than girls.

The cause of autism is still unknown, a mystery to many. While autism is not curable, it is treatable. For many autistic people, going to public places is unbearable due to the crowds of people as well as loud noises. A few years ago it was estimated that 90,000 people in KZN had been diagnosed with autism. Currently international statistics indicate that 1 in 80 children has autism.

As a mother with an autistic child for the past 10 years, I have come thus far by applying the four Ps, in my life which are:

  • praying consistently,
  • persevering,
  • planning ahead and
  • having lots of patience.

If there are any parents whose children are affected by autism that require help or support, contact either Yogie Padayachee on 084-587-2416 or Kasturie Nadasen on 083-786-8553.”


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Erin Hanekom

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