An unexpected journey for Eaton mother
Eaton mother Naomi Amat knows full well that she would not be the person she is today without her son Ethyn.
And while no one plans to face the challenges the 43-year-old mother of three has been thrown so far, Naomi says she could not see her life taking any other path.
“I wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be who I am if it wasn’t for our son,” Naomi said.
“Yes, maybe life could have been very different but that’s not the point – this is our life and he obviously came into our lives for a reason and I’ve taken this path for a reason.
“It’s a blessing in a way because it’s taught me so many different things that I would never have entertained or stepped into.”
Naomi’s second child, Ethyn was diagnosed with autism at just two years of age.
She describes her “very happy boy” as being diagnosed with the “whole combination” with Ethyn non-verbal.
Naomi said she could not quite remember what she felt when she heard the words that her son had autism, but she knew there was something different.
“I think I felt lost because it wasn’t something you can plan for, you’re not exposed to it,” she said.
Naomi delved into the unknown world of autism and it is what she discovered – or did not discover – that led her on a journey she would never have expected.
“As a parent you become lost, floundering and withdrawn quite often because everything’s changed, you don’t know where you’re going, you don’t know what’s ahead of you,” she said.
“You end up in a whirlwind because this is the way of life and you need to do what you have to cope.
“I remember a phase where I was literally existing – he (Ethyn) didn’t sleep well and he ran ragged all day, he was just full on so my days, by the end of it, I was wrecked.
“I remember that phase where people were like ‘how do you do it?’ – I actually don’t have an answer to that at this stage, I just did it for a while until I realised I couldn’t keep ‘just doing it’.”
It was the lack of services at that time along with acceptance and isolation issues that inspired Naomi to develop a space for others “living life on the spectrum”.
Naomi’s online community has grown to help thousands of families in similar situations and has more recently seen her recognised as a finalist in the 2019 AusMumpreneur Awards – the pinnacle of a nationwide online network for mothers.
Naomi said she never set out to win awards when she started on her unexpected journey.
“It was about what can I do to add value, to impact someone’s life and change it in some way,” she said.
“Our journey was what really stemmed it all because I got to the stage where we’d been on the journey for most probably 10 years and I thought nothing has really changed in the way of support out there for the parents.
“And when I looked at it, I went ‘that’s not good, that’s scary’ because that means that everybody that’s on this journey before me is still in the same place possibly and those that are coming behind me, are still going to be in the same place in 10 years.”
On being named a finalist in three different categories at the awards, a modest Naomi says it is not about her.
“It’s about the community, the awards are not just about me – it’s putting it out there that everyone in this role is important because it’s an area, I feel, that’s actually been lost,” she said.
“That to me was one of the crucial elements and the group was developed so that people that felt alone, lost, discouraged or isolated, could come together to a place that was safe, that they could share how they felt and get the support and nurturing.”
The awards will be named next month.
Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.
Sign up for our emails