Shafica noticed signs of autism in her baby son Ayoub very early on.
“I have a brother and sister on the spectrum, so autism is an old friend of ours,” she said.
“My concerns were validated when I met with our RCH clinician, Dr Georgie Paxton, when Ayoub was 18-months old.
“Our first clinician had been dismissive, but I finally felt supported and heard.
“I had started early intervention when he was one, as I had already seen some red flags. I feel this almost gave us a head start and helped him develop and find support while I was raising him.”
At six years old, Ayoub spent a few weeks admitted at the RCH after his appendix burst and an infection caused some of his organs to begin shutting down.
“This was a very difficult two weeks. Due to his sensory processing, all the tubes and the whole process of surgery and recovery was really traumatic for him.
“The RCH was very supportive and really went above and beyond to accommodate him and his needs.”
Ayoub was also recently diagnosed with ADHD/ADD, however Shafica says his medication is having a positive influence on his learning. Despite these hurdles, Shafica says Ayoub is thriving.
“He is doing amazing, with continuous support and a great team of professionals that are involved through his journey of development.”
Now a few weeks shy of turning 10, Ayoub adores playing soccer and is passionate about dragons. He’s a gentle, caring, and compassionate young boy.
Due to Ayoub’s autism and higher needs, Shafica was no stranger to advocacy when she was invited to join the RCH’s Family Advisory Council (FAC).
“It’s our duty to spread as much awareness to whomever we can too, to support the community to best assist and grow with children who have special needs,” she said.
“On the FAC, I sit alongside some great individuals, whom are parents from all walks of life, with many different hats and responsibilities.”
Shafica’s keen for more people to consider joining her on the FAC.
“If you feel like you would like to make a difference and can be a voice for those who need it most, don’t hesitate.
“The team is very accommodating and it’s a great platform to make change and to ensure a better experience for the most vulnerable.
“We are our children’s best advocates.”
The FAC is on the lookout for new members. If you or someone you know is keen to make a difference like Shafica to the services we deliver, visit www.rch.org.au/fac/be_involved.