Local mother inspired to help others in the community with Autism

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Photo courtesy of Lisa Anne Chatten[left - Noah, middle - Aiden and right - Lisa]. Chatten told me what she defines as a hero."I define a hero as being someone who changes another persons world for the better- that could mean saving someone,but could also mean giving someone hope. It could mean helping ,caring,or just being. And by that definition, I am one and so are you. In fact, everyone in this community , either is a hero already , or is one in the making for someone else. It’s what keeps us connected , what keeps us connected , what keeps us moving progressively forward together towards better outcomes," she said.

BELLEVILLE – Since Lisa Anne Chatten's two young sons were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), they have been the driving force behind all of the work she does in the community.

Both boys were diagnosed with ASD at a young age; Noah was diagnosed with moderate to severe ASD at 21 months and Aiden at was diagnosed with severe ASD at 19 months. ASD is a neurodevelopment disorder that impairs ones ability to communicate and interact with others. It includes a wide range of symptoms and severities which is why it is referred to as a "spectrum" disorder.

Noah, now nine years old and Aiden now eight years old continue to be incredible influences in Chatten's life. 

"What I always see with both of my sons is that they don’t know that they can’t and because they don’t know that they can’t, they do," she said.

"I came across a quote once that was about a bumblebee. Based on the laws of aerodynamics and the body of a bumble bee and the span of its wings. it is impossible for that bumblebee to fly, but ignoring that law it goes ahead and flies anyway," she explained.

I' ve got a tattoo that runs up my arm that says, I wouldn’t change you for the world, but I will change the world for you. It's a tribute to my children," she said. Photo courtesy of Lisa Anne Chatten.

Chatten says that the quotation explains why there is nothing that her boys can't do if they set their mind to it.

"As children they don’t realize that society has already put a cap on what they can and can not do, so therefore they go ahead and do and show everybody up," she said.

Chatten believes that through her own experiences with her boys she can help others in the community as well.

"I think that's the whole point to being here and being a part of this community is to share with the other people in this community how your different experiences make you so much stronger and able to contribute back," she added.

Currently she runs a peer support group called Attachment Autism, which allows her to connect with other families to help them identify behaviours that are specific to ASD and help them find a better way to communicate with and understand their own children. 

"I can provide them links to resources. I can help them to find science-based evidence that will actually help their child as opposed to the hearsay or the misinformation that just gets passed around by very hopeful people in regards towards their children's development," she explained.

If there is one thing that Chatten wants her boys to know it would be to always be themselves.

t;"I hope to show the rest of the world that it's okay that differences aren’t something to be ashamed of or be afraid of. We need to actually celebrate those differences because it makes us so culturally richer to have these beautiful people showing us the way they think," she said.

Chatten would like to see a change in how society views people who have disabilities.

"The world of disability has a long way to go yet to strip the misconceptions an stigma and 'negativity' away from being different. But it is 'less worse' than 10 years ago. It is less worse than it was yesterday - and it’s because we are allowing ourselves to be heroes and inspirations to others that those changes are taking place," she added.

Chatten's heroes will always be her two sons.

"They  have taught me more than I can teach them in my lifetime. I still say my superheroes are and always will be my children first and foremost, for teaching me how to step out of my world and into theirs, instead of constantly trying to pull others into my world to connect. I am unbelievably grateful for their tireless perseverance through their developmental hurtles, and their constant passion for living and loving life. I am beyond blessed I get to mother these two boys, who have changed my world undoubtedly for the better every single day of their lives," she said.

Chatten will continue to help others in her community through her own life experiences and hopes to see others do the same.

"I want to spend my time changing lives here in the community, in the place I was born; in the city that I love," she said.

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