Mother facing hidden disabilities
IT MAY just be baby steps, but Lyndall Delves knows she has to start somewhere.
For years, this single mother of five has struggled to find help and support as she juggles family life as well as raising two children with Asperger's, oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
She has experienced discrimination, ignorance and outright rudeness from those who do not understand, and said it was time people realised that not all disabilities were visible from the outside.
This has prompted her to start up a Facebook page, Living Under the Cloak of Invisibility, for people in the Clarence Valley who have disabilities that are not physically-noticeable.
A place they can seek support and advice, plan social outings and lend a helping hand to one another.
"I'm a mother who has dealt with this for a long time and I need help; I need to talk to people in the same boat," Mrs Lyndall said.
"I'm just one little family, but I know in the Clarence Valley community there are lots of people affected by depression, Crohns, fibromyalgia, Asperger's - there are so many disabilities that fit under the cloak," she said.
The Facebook page is designed to unite those in similar situations and Mrs Lyndall said having a place where there was no discrimination could do the world of good.
"Sometimes, it's like being a square peg in a round hole," she said.
"So I want somewhere where people with these disabilities, or with affected children/friends, can come together.
"Sometimes they don't have the confidence to talk face to face, but behind a computer screen, they might talk, or even just get some relief from reading others' posts."
For Mrs Delves, her story starts 17 years ago when her third child, Tihjanna was born.
"I knew straight away there was something wrong, but it took such a long time for them to come up with a diagnosis that she was no longer in the early intervention age group," she said.
The same happened three years later when she had her fifth child, Jayden, now 14.
"I moved here from Sydney (in 2008) to get the children out of the rat race; I knew the country life would benefit them a lot more," Mrs Delves said.
But when her eldest daughter, 24, moved to Western Australia, and her eldest son, 20, went off to the Army, Mrs Delves said her support crew was depleted.
"I had no one," she said.
"I did find an Asperger's group for children, but mine were adolescents and things were escalating; I didn't know who to turn to.
"There is so much awareness for children, but what about teenagers and adults?"
She said the Facebook group was a small step to help curb this issue and create more awareness that invisible disabilities effected all ages.
She has even enrolled in a diploma of community services to help expand her knowledge of how she can grow the support group down the track.
Mrs Lyndall encouraged anyone interested to join the group.
"I don't have to be a doctor or a specialist, I'm a mother and I want to help."