Hello, my name is Max. I am autistic.
I am the same as you but different.
When my great grandfather Alfred Haigh started in chocolates in 1915 I am sure he could not have imagined the positive impact our chocolates could have on people.
Haigh’s has always strived to help the community and individuals where possible and new research is showing that some chocolates have health benefits. Even the Harry Potter series claimed chocolate is a ‘cure all’ and while this claim may be exaggerated, chocolate has long been used as a motivator and reward.
Recently I learned of an autistic child named Ewan who was unable to speak and be understood due to poor muscle tone in his mouth. In order to build this muscle tone he had to endure laborious and repetitive speech therapy exercises over many years. His mother Cassandra, who is the author of this book, found motivating Ewan a challenge but knew he had a penchant for chocolate and would do just about anything to get some.
As Cassandra grew up in Adelaide she knew and loved our products, and found our milk chocolate frogs and speckles were a great motivator and reward for Ewan to do his exercises. After years of perseverance, Ewan at the age of five began to speak and be understood.
Having had the pleasure of meeting both Cassandra and Ewan I can see he has gone from strength to strength and is now attending a mainstream school. I think this is testament to the love and perseverance shown by Cassandra and if some of our products have helped along the way we are absolutely delighted.
This book reflects Cassandra’s words to explain autism in children’s language and Ewan’s interpretations through the illustrations should help others understand this condition.
I am delighted to be asked to write this foreword and be connected with such a touching story. I look forward to helping the autistic community in the future and watching Ewan grow into a fine young man.
10 December 2012
Hello, my name is Max. I am autistic.
I am the same as you but different.
I don’t like to look at other people’s eyes.
Same but different.
I am not very good at speaking. Same but different.
I don’t like it when people tease me and say I’m strange, I have feelings too. Same but different.
My favourite colour is blue. I only use blue crayons. I only wear blue clothes.
I only play with blue lego. Only blue. Same but different.
I find it easier to understand pictures rather than words. I find it hard to remember what people are saying. Same but different.
I really like to do the same things every day in the same order with no changes to my routine. This is because I get very worried when I don’t understand what is happening. Same but different.
When I walk I sometimes bump into people and furniture because I am concentrating very hard on where I am going, not how I get there. Same but different.
When people call my name and say, “Hey Max” sometimes I don’t hear them call my name because I am busy thinking about something else. Same but different.
I like to hang upside down on chairs because it’s hard for me to sit up straight. Same but different.
My favourite toy is Thomas the Tank Engine, I like him so much I want to play with him all the time. I find it hard to share because I don’t understand how other people feel. Same but different.
Sometimes I pee my pants because I am so interested in trains that I forget to go to the toilet. Same but different.
I like to laugh but sometimes I don’t understand jokes because it’s hard for me to tell when people are happy or sad. Same but different.
I am very fussy about my food because most food hurts my mouth. Same but different.
When I am talking I sometimes can’t stop. It’s hard for me to tell if someone else wants to say something. Same but different.
I really like to do the same things, like blowing bubbles, over and over and over again. Same but different.
I don’t like it when people get too close to me or touch me. Sometimes I need to be alone. Same but different.
I really like to watch television and play on the computer and I get very angry when I can’t. Same but different.
I don’t like wearing shoes because they hurt my feet. Same but different.
I get scared when I go with my Mum to the shops because there are so many people. Sometimes I get very angry but I can’t tell you why. Same but different.
When I get mad, I might hit or bite people but I don’t mean to hurt anyone. This isn’t because I don’t like you, I still want to be your friend. I know that it’s hard to understand why. Same but different.
I really like to watch myself in the mirror. I like looking at water too. Sometimes I can spend hours looking at small details. Same but different.
I like to squeeze into small spaces and wrap myself very tightly in sheets. I do this to make me feel safe. Same but different.
I know I am different but now you know why.
My name is Max, I have autism.
You cannot catch autism like catching a cold, you are born with it.
Thank you for learning about me.
I am the same as you, but different.
Ewan Scott was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2. Just like diabetes, autism cannot be cured but with a herculean investment of time, money and the right people at the right time, it can, if you are lucky, be managed. In Ewan’s case there was a referral to a brilliant speech therapist, occupational therapist and psychologist; years of weekly therapy sessions and daily repetitive speaking, gross and fine motor skill and sensory processing exercises, training of babysitters, carers and teachers; courses in music, multi-lit and speech
software; 3 years in 3 different autism schools and assistance in mainstream school classes; years of Judo and swimming. After spending the GDP of a small country, Ewan is in a mainstream school and holding his own with gusto and joy.
Ewan’s progress would not be possible without some extraordinary therapists, carers, childcare workers & teachers, including: Susan Marden, Emily Saunderson, Sue Rennie, Rocio Florez, Ashleigh Laughton, Alex Sofopoulos, Suzie Stipanovic, Sarah Duff, Fateema Sabsabi, Amy Ahern, Louise Gilman, Rowena Perritt, Hanna Poulten, Faye Gray, Vanessa Jaegers , Peta Morgan, Sophie Pousatis, Con Papalodopolous, Zoya Anderson, Warren Rosser, Sue Hill, Katherine Horner, Luisa and Simon Helwani, Sally Anderson and Daniel Hurd.
Surrounding Ewan’s parents was a tremendous network of family, friends and work colleagues who were there through the meltdowns, hair-pulling and tears especially as Sydney was not the natural home to either of us.
These extraordinary people who kept Ewan’s Mum and Dad vaguely sane and made all of this possible include: Andrew Johnson, Jenny & Ash Byron, Paul & Saskia Campbell, Martin & Jessica Harris, Peter Harris, Julian Moore, Sue Gelade, Jim Scott, Sylvia Mullen, Simone Blakeman, Catherine Payne, Michael Grealy, Phil Burgess, Sol Trujillo, Rhonda Griffin, Margaret & Peter Lehmann, Alison Byrnes, John Culleton, Simon Banks, Justin Dilollo, Eden Katz, Grainne Grande, Tanya Johnson, Ross Hayes, Nicole Grocke, Emma Tattam,
Adam Fletcher, Anthony Radford, Angus Russell, Phil Lehmann, Ingrid Schroder, Catriona Carver, Steve Lewis, Rebecca Worner, Nicola Gray, George Haddad, Jo Chichester, Duncan Kerr, Anna Pafitis, Kristin Boesenberg, Matthew Cossey, Mary Berejiklian, Kata Farrell, Sarah Young, Eri Vlass, Nick Tyler, Jo Bosben, Tim Harcourt, Wes Riches, Matt Dummett, Sally Murkin, Rebecca Sexton, Tony Gibbs, Brett Dutschke, Duncan Bremner, Nick Horne, Myfanwy Horne, Carl Driesener, Karin Klugman, Chris Schacht, Gordon Bilney, Andrea Ashley-Brown, Chris Cheah, Michael Cosgrave, Mike & Sally Talbot, Matthew Bauer, Elizabeth Bardwell, Di & Mark Triester, Damon Hickey and Louise Biggs. Thank you Luke Twitchings, Neil Clugston, Olivier Costa and the company of strangers who gave Cassandra the privilege of living to make this dream come true. Some say when you die, you are who survives you. To those mentioned and the many more who touched our lives, who gave their love, guidance, support or a hug when it was most needed, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
© Contextual Communications Pty Ltd, Sydney, Australia 2013
How do you explain to a child why another child with autism may be unable to speak, have an obsession with their reflection or refuse to wear shoes?
How can we replace teasing with kindness?
Come on a journey with Max who has autism to find out why we are all different yet also the same.