Embracing difference with autism blog
AMY Iacullo describes herself as your typical mum.
The former Bundy girl is raising three kids, helping her husband run a business and now has started a blog to help other mums with autistic children.
The blog went live two weeks ago, already has a lot of media attention and is gaining new followers every day.
Her oldest Romeo, 4, was diagnosed with autism at age 3.
While Mrs Iacullo now lives in Canberra, her family are still residing in Bundaberg, she was married in Burnett Heads and was a St Luke's student.
She decided to share her family's journey with autism publicly after running the blog from her private Instagram for more than a year.
With 1000 followers on Instagram it became too hard to answer everyone's messages and so she has moved it over to Facebook.
The blog started as a way to show other mothers of autistic children that they weren't alone.
"Mums feel so alone," she said.
"I found when you go through the really rough days it's hard to look after your own mental health as a mum."
There were so many educational tools available, she said, as well as therapies but she just wanted to know if there was anyone else facing the same challenges and couldn't find anything apart from an American blog.
Mrs Iacullo had moved from her home in Bundaberg to Sydney and was managing a photography studio before having Romeo.
"Life got away from us," she said.
Romeo was falling behind and as parents the Iacullo's decided to move to Canberra and put their family first.
Mrs Iacullo gave up her job and started to look after Romeo full time, then he was diagnosed.
Before that people would say he doesn't speak because he watches too much YouTube or because he wasn't read enough books, or because his mother worked too much.
"He's messing up because you can't discipline him."
But now the family knows he's just different.
"I blamed myself for a really long time," she said.
Thankfully everyday autism is becoming more socially acceptable.
Mrs Iacullo said shows like The Good Doctor were bringing autism into the mainstream, but it was still "surprising and confronting" the people she faced everyday.
She said her son was often made to feel different.
One example was a play centre, where because he wouldn't wear socks he couldn't stay.
"It's an illness you can't see.
"We have a meltdown every day."
While she can give Romeo tools to handle his emotions and deal with the world he still reaches his tipping point.
A wrist band she was trying out that said simply had autism printed on it, was helping to change the way people see his public meltdowns, and helped to take the judgement off Amy.
"There's a lot of judgement as a parent, or mother of a child with additional needs because they are different."
While no two autistic children are the same some of the signs are difficulty communicating, with abstract thinking and social interaction.
Romeo has trouble with different situations like wearing socks or getting his hair dried after a bath.
Hair cuts are very difficult and although Mrs Iacullo tried everything including professional help they both would end up on the floor crying.
Instead she's got a pair of clippers watched a few YouTube videos and figured out how to do it herself!
Looking back Mrs Iacullo said the first sign she noticed of anything different with Romeo was that he wouldn't mimic animal sounds.
He also wouldn't stack blocks but instead lined up all the single blocks, which is very common in autism and he also has trouble with eye contact.
When he was three, Romeo would only say five words, but now at four reads at a six-year-old level.
He could also count to 100 and learnt the alphabet at 2.
"It blows my mind he can do all these amazing things. Society really segregates these kids. It's shallow minded of the 21st century.
"Things are changing now. It reassures me that if something happened to my husband and me in 10 years time that he would be ok.
"I really want to inspire people to embrace different."
"I've not had one negative response," she said of the blog.
"I've had a lot of people tell me its brave.
"It's not really bravery, I don't want people to think they're alone."
"I really love it."
Click here to visit the Facebook page.