To say becoming a mother to a child on the Spectrum, has changed my life would be a huge understatement. Every day, I encounter new challenges, but that also means every day I am learning something new. I now see the world in a new light and have met some amazing people along this journey.
One of the groups I discovered along this road is KultureCity. The aim of KultureCity is to be the number one leading non-profit organisation in Australia focused on Sensory Inclusion and invisible disabilities so everyone feels like they belong – inclusion for all. At the end of 2022 I heard KultureCity were starting an Australian Board, and I could not resist contacting the Executive Director, Renae Inglese direct to see if I could be a part of this Board. I was delighted when in May 2023, I was appointed as part of the board, and we had our first board meeting. I heard the inspiring stories of both the founding Directors Michele Kong and Julian Maha and knew this group was something special.
In addition to becoming a board member, I am extremely proud of the fact that Spectrum Lawyers & Consultants is the first law firm in Australia to be Sensory Inclusive certified! What does this mean? This means that all staff have completed the Sensory Inclusive training, and that our business is more accepting and inclusive to all our clients (or members of the public who enter our office). This is not limited to just people with Autism, but includes people with PTSD, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, ADHD, and many other visible and invisible conditions. It also means that if someone attending our office has sensory needs, then they will have access to the KultureCity sensory bag which is filled with items that can help lessen their sensory overload so they can engage and focus on the core reason of why they are attending our office. Items in the sensory bag include a headphone, marble fidget, noodle fidget, and ID cards.
It is an honour to be associated with KultureCity along with many other organisations in Australia, including without limitation, GMHBA Stadium – Geelong Cats (of course!); Marvel Stadium, John Cain Arena, Melbourne Vixens & Netball Victoria, the GABBA, Carnival Spirit, the Penguin Parade in Phillip Island and Churchill Island – just to name a few! And there are some very exciting venues and organisations in the process of being KultureCity certified.
And if all of that wasn’t enough to keep us busy, we thought we’d add more to that, and are working with Altona Sports Centre to also become KultureCity certified. We will then look at having a Spectrum Group / KultureCity Inclusion Round mid this year! This will allow children and adults who play sports such as netball and basketball, regardless of abilities, disability and/or preferences to enjoy the sport they love in a safe and welcoming environment.
Why is this so important to me? Most people know that Fred (Director of Spectrum Coach) and I have a child born on the spectrum and he was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 2. There are plenty of times when people say to us “but he doesn’t look autistic” or “but he seems normal”. We know people are not meaning to be hurtful, but these words have an impact. There are also plenty of other times where Jayden is having a meltdown or having a sensory overload or does not understand the social interaction, and then we have all different sorts of looks and questions.
The Inglese family have made a massive impact on my family’s life by having the Inglese Family Sensory Room at John Cain Arena, because this means my whole family can go to the Netball and watch the Melbourne Vixens, and my daughters can feel part of the stadium and the game and my son can have his own sensory quiet space when he needs it. And, KultureCity have changed my life, by having their sensory room in the Deakin Cats Community Centre at GMHBA as again this means my family can go to the AFL and cheer on the Cats, but then when Jayden needs his quiet space, then has that too. So, if I can do something small, like be on the board of KultureCity, or create an Inclusion round at a sports stadium, then hopefully I am making a big change in someone’s life.