Being in lockdown made Jessica Hita and Tuhoro Paki realise they have the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to help their autistic son Te Aurere Hita-Paki on his takiwātanga journey. This is their story, one year on.
We would not have imagined how things would pan out for us.
Though one thing remains the same, lockdown for us was a huge blessing. All that we had achieved, all that we learnt and the time we got to spend with Te Aurere, we’ve realised not to take those precious moments for granted.
As we settle in to 2021, no longer with Nana, Koro, Uncle and Big Cousin by our side (well not physically at least, as we are no longer under the same roof), we return to work full time and Te Aurere and his sister Te Ata Hāpara back at kohanga, time just seems to be passing by. It all seems so chaotic at times, though we constantly remind ourselves that despite the rat race, despite the challenges and hustle and bustle of work we must remain committed to the time and effort we put in to spending time with Te Aurere, Te Ata Hāpara and with each other. We know all that we can achieve when we are giving each other time and so that remains constant.
After lockdown we made the decision to purchase our first whānau home, I guess you could say it was a celebration gift of making it through level four lockdown, that partnered with a dream that we had been working towards for quite some time. It proved challenging at first, we had just spent a large part of our lives living under one roof with all Te Aurere’s favourite people, now here we were moving into our own home as just our little whanau of four.
We had some concerns on how Te Aurere might manage with the change, with a new home, new environment, new neighbourhood and no longer having Nana & Koro by his side, though he has managed it well, we all have. It’s a place Te Aurere knows is his home, a place he is extremely comfortable and very familiar with, bonus is it’s only two minutes from his kōhanga and Nana & Koro not too far away either, so we are over at their house weekly. Again, he has surprised us with his ability to adapt to change and a reminder that he is capable of several things that we worry about.
Te Aurere turns 5 this year in July and we often get nervous of the thought that he will be off to a new Kura and that he will no longer be our little baby anymore, so we are currently in the process of visiting kura and trying to find one that fits for him. We admire his Kaiako, his kōhanga and especially his whaea marahia, who since returning from lockdown has been with him every day supporting us as a whānau and guiding Te Aurere through his day-to-day tasks. Lockdown helped us appreciate the importance of routine, time and effort when it comes to Te Aurere and his development.
He has his days, but we’ve been fortunate as a whānau and with the support of kōhanga to establish routines and working weekly to achieve some huge milestones especially with Te Aurere’s vocabulary. He has continued to grow and surprise us, he loves dancing to music at home, at kōhanga and at McKenzie Centre which we are still visiting weekly with our key support worker Suzanne.
We are now working with her to organise school visits for Te Aurere. It’s very daunting, the prospect that he will be off to big boy school, but at the same time we know that the support we have received from whānau, kōhanga, kaiakao, Suzanne and the McKenzie Centre, Te Aurere will be more than ready when the day comes. We truly are empowered to take on this new adventure as daunting as it does seem.
A lot has changed but still plenty has remained the same, a new home and new job for Māmā working at a new law firm which has taken up a lot of time and energy, however change is exciting for our whānau. As Te Aurere and Te Ata Hāpara grow older we are reminded how precious time is, time spent with each other, time spent with whānau and friends and were reminded to never to take a day for granted, that’s certainly something we learnt during the COVID19 global pandemic.
- Jessica Hita is a lawyer with Tukau Law
- Tuhoro Paki is a settlement and claims advisor at Waikato-Tainui
- Te Aurere Hita-Paki, is 5 in July and was diagnosed in 2019.
- Read Life in a Pandemic
- This article appeared in Altogether Autism Journal 2021.