Lee and boys.jpg
Beckett window.jpg
Lee and boys.jpg

The Chisletts


The Chisletts

Nick, Leanne, Simarah, Portland and Beckett

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The Chisletts


The Chisletts

Nick, Leanne, Simarah, Portland and Beckett

 
 

When Nick and Leanne found out they were expecting their first child together, they admit that autism “wasn’t something we felt we should spend a single moment worrying about.” In October 2010, their healthy baby boy, that looked just like his daddy, was born. Portland’s earliest checkups were always easy. “He was doing everything he should have been, exactly when he should have been doing it. We were so proud.” At 10 months, Leanne began to recognize that something was off.

 

"His eye contact was limited to none. He didn't know his name. His cuddling was rare. It was like he didn't want it, need it or understand the point of it. He had almost no interest in anyone; not us, not his sister, not other children. He didn't play with toys "properly." His arms were weak, the weakest part of his body and he flapped whenever he got excited. He tip-toed constantly. He was obsessed with lines, and couldn't handle when those lines could no longer be lines. His dinner had to be in lines, his toys, everything he saw. He couldn't understand a simple direction like sit down or no. It was as if we spoke completely different languages. He never spoke. Not a single word. He was completely non-verbal until about the age of 3 and a half."

 

Portland enjoying his favourite snack, fruit!

 
He never spoke. Not a single word. He was completely non-verbal until about the age of 3 and a half.

Leanne and Nick were nothing but excited when they discovered they were expecting their third child. They were unaware that their odds of having a second child with autism had significantly increased. Upon learning of this during Leanne's pregnancy, fear began to set in. They decided to do everything differently during her pregnancy, and after the birth, in hopes of decreasing Beckett's chances. From food choices, filtered water, all natural cleaners, baby products and diapers to a prolonged vaccination schedule. However, by Beckett's 6 month check-up, they knew. Their pediatrician reassured them that it was still too early to tell, but their parental instincts were correct.

 
No matter how many times you go through this, I am convinced it does not get easier. In some ways, it may actually be harder. The second time around, you are aware of the struggles ahead. You know what it feels like to grieve the hopes and dreams you had for your child, and accept the reality of new ones.

Baby Beckett

 

Simarah with her two brothers.

"She truly has a beautiful soul."

 

Simarah is big sister to Portland and Beckett. She is a great helper that is always looking out for her brothers. She is always bringing home things she's bought for the boys, all paid with her own money. She still shares a room with her two brothers, which doesn't give her much space for herself but she never complains. "Sometimes Beckett will crawl into bed with her until he falls asleep," says Leanne. Being an older sibling to two brothers with autism impacts Simarah's life in a big way and likely contributes to her kindness and patience.

 

 

Leanne and Nick are like many parents in the autism community. They are not alone in receiving looks and even words of disapproval from strangers. Many just don’t understand the level of sensory overload their boys can experience. They are not alone in feeling guilty, as if their child's diagnosis was somehow their fault. They struggle to find balance between the time and patience their boys require and quality time with their daughter Simarah and time as a couple. They make sacrifices financially; they have lived in the same 2 bedroom 1 bathroom townhome for the last 7 years.

 A bracelet helping Portland say what he can't say for himself.

A bracelet helping Portland say what he can't say for himself.

 

They worry about their boys' safety. Children with ASD will often run off and are unable to tell others who they are or where they live. They are concerned for their boys' future; will society accept them? Will they make friends? Find a job? Form relationships and even marry? They worry for the children as they grow older because the adult world for those with autism is far from where it should be.

Despite all their concerns, Leanne and Nick’s positive attitudes are inspiring. One look at their social media accounts and you’ll see they’re showing the world that families living with autism are happy families with happy children. Yes, they have their challenges, but they advocate for their boys, cheer them on through the chaos and show us all what wonderful, intelligent little kids Portland and Beckett are.

They are doing their part to increase autism acceptance and understanding, now it's our time to do ours.

Beckett window.jpg

Beckett


Different is not broken.

Autism.

Be aware. Be understanding.

Beckett


Different is not broken.

Autism.

Be aware. Be understanding.