'It's a lifetime diagnosis' - Autistic twins' journey helps thousands of parents on Instagram
A mum of autistic twin boys has created a support network to ensure families on a smiliar journey aren’t facing challenges alone.
When Lisa Parker’s identical twin boys, Michael and Jaxon Parker, were diagnosed with autism in March 2020, the mum-of-three didn’t know where to turn for support.
In an effort to connect with other families going through a similar experience, the 42-year-old set up an Instagram account, @autismjourney_theparkersway, documenting her family’s autism journey.
Her honest account struck a chord with people across the country caring for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and, in just over a year, the Whitburn mum amassed more than 3,700 followers.
"When you get a diagnosis you are kind of left hanging and don’t know where to turn after that,” Lisa said.
"I think it is unfair that parents get that diagnosis and are just left hanging.
"At the end of the day, the diagnosis of autism or any additional needs is a lifetime diagnosis. It doesn't go away – it is there for life.
"I think there should be more support.”
Michael and Jaxon were diagnosed with autism just as the country went into the first lockdown of the coronavirus pandemic last year.
The three-year-old twins, who also have a tiny deletion in chromosome 15, are non-verbal and activities like shopping can be challenging for the boys because of the sensory overload – while certain environments can also cause them distress.
Lisa and husband David Parker are also parents to Blake Parker, two, who they believe is autistic, although he has not been officially diagnosed.
Following the success of Lisa’s Instagram account, she decided to set up Facebook group, S.E.N.D Support Group South Tyneside, so families could support each other and share useful information.
"Through my Instagram page, I have met a lot of parents virtually who are in the same situation up and down the country and we all kind of support each other,” she said.
“What I want to do [with the Facebook group] is build a community of support for families rather than feeling like we are alone.
"I want it to be around supporting families in South Tyneside and sharing local information."
In just two weeks, the group has gained around 250 members.
"We have had quite a good response,” Lisa added.