The world of autism can feel like a place of difficulty, loneliness, frustration, and fear, but that is all about to change with the launch of Welcome to Planet Spectrum by Geelong author, teacher, and mother, Kate O’Donnell.
Kate spent the last year writing the book that she wished existed when her family received the first autism diagnosis for their child. She found the diagnosis left them reeling as a family with limited tools provided. Kate’s decision to find real answers and solutions was life changing. This journey opened up an entire path onto early intervention and research that transformed her, her husband Rob and her children’s lives. Their youngest son was deemed to have severe problems as he was positioned very high on the spectrum. This same child has transformed into a little boy full of conversation starting mainstream school, something the professionals said might never happen. This same family had every perception changed and their children, in turn, educated them in ways they never thought possible.
“There is a negative dialogue happening all around us, this feeling that Autism is a disease, this notion children on the spectrum are ‘less than,’ ‘not normal’ and the perception out there in the world is certainly lacking. A fresh and educated narrative needs to begin in our community. If you want change to happen, you need to act, so that’s what I did” says Kate.
Kate asked herself the question; why wasn’t there a book that tells us this stuff? Something whispered to her; write it. She put pen to paper the very next day. Planet Spectrum is a resource for parents with references, anecdotes, action plans, tips and tools, a blueprint guiding people through and educating them about autism in children. “I put every ounce of energy I had into working autism out, how it affected our little ones, how the community impacted us, and how to assist our children with these acquired tools. If what I have discovered, learned and they have achieved can help other families, then this is wonderful” says Kate.
Kate gained her degree in education and anthropology at Deakin University in Geelong, then traveled extensively around outback areas of Australia; as a teacher to children in remote indigenous communities. She then returned to Geelong with husband Rob to settle into family life. Life changed very dramatically in the space of 4 years, when both of their children, a little boy and girl were diagnosed with autism.
When I asked Kate who her greatest mentors are, her response was quick; “Temple Grandin is a game changer, this incredible lady has transformed the world’s understanding of autism in a truly remarkable way. I would also say Maggie Dent as the parenting all rounder, I respected Maggie dearly when I was teaching and now even more so as a parent.” It seems Kate too is becoming the go-to person for many parents struggling and looking for answers for their children, many grandparents are getting in contact and buying the book too, since it’s release this month. Yoga expert and meditation specialist Sonia Anear also featured in the book with tips for parents as well as best selling author and therapist Maggie Wilde.
When we enquired as to Kate’s week since the launch, she said much of it has been spent sending copies of the book and trying to respond to all of the messages coming through the Planet Spectrum Facebook Page.
Kate knew the book and the website Planet Spectrum had to be professional and high quality, so thanks to the generous crowdfunding support of a handful of business owners, as well as prominent autism psychologists, the local kindergarten, family, friends and support groups a hardcover version of the book has been published with much anticipation and excitement, as well as a go-to website http://www.planetspectrum.com.au.
After being approached by various schools in the Melbourne area to do Professional development and public speaking, Kate is excited to be taking Planet Spectrum to the masses, in what will impact change and make lives much easier. At Pink Sky we wish this gorgeous woman all the best in her path and cannot wait to see the impact she is going to have.
Kate O’Donnell is a teacher and currently resides in Drysdale, Victoria with her tribe of kids, husband and 2 Labrador fur-kids Delilah & Maggie. She has a phobia of birds and moths and a passion for helping children achieve understanding, love and education. Kate loves fairies and all things Disney, basically anything that makes the inner-child tick and she encourages us to do the same at least 3 times a day. She is determined to change the education around Autism in the community and to assist families and little people as much as she possibly can.