Tanya Kharina - the inspiring Cheshire mum who wrote a book to raise awareness on autism
PUBLISHED: 00:00 22 July 2019
Many of us only see autism as a negative, but Tanya Kharina, from Altrincham, is determined to change that with the help of her son, Alfie.
I didn't hear the word 'mummy' until a year ago when my son Alfie was four. I'd known for years he wasn't developing the way he should be - he just didn't interact and communicate in the way other children did - so by this point I'd already taken him to see a specialist. The official autism diagnosis didn't surprise me at all. In fact, hearing it from a professional was a relief - knowing what we were dealing with meant Alfie's father and I could put a plan in place to help Alfie as best we could.
I began reading all the books I could on the subject. It quickly dawned on me that while there were loads of books about the challenges of autism, there was nothing that really celebrated it. Because while having an autistic child comes with huge challenges, it also makes Alfie who he is and I love all sides of my son and everything that makes him the gorgeous, unique little boy he is.
I don't want him to be ashamed of his autism and I want other people to realise that there are positives to being different.
So I decided to write a book in which Alfie could see himself in a positive light.
'Alfie's Way' follows a family of bears. Little Alfie Bear is different from the others and prefers to play by himself. But when disaster strikes, his special way of seeing the world helps save the day.
It's a book for everyone but parents who have an autistic child will recognise some of Alfie Bear's behaviours - one scene depicts how he lays out his toys in one long line of size order. This is one way autistic children like to play.
I worked tirelessly on it and found an illustrator who captured my vision beautifully. I self-published the book on Amazon earlier this year. It's selling well but this isn't about profit. I just want to get the word out.
Alfie's five now and knows the book is about him. His younger brother Seth, four, loves it too. We often read it together before bed and I hope Alfie goes to sleep feeling good about himself. I want him and all autistic children to feel proud of who they are and what they can achieve.