Teresa Hedley and a copy of her book, “What’s Not Allowed? A Family Journey with Autism.” Photo supplied

Teresa Hedley and a copy of her book, “What’s Not Allowed? A Family Journey with Autism.” Photo supplied

Comox Valley parent pens book about her family’s journey with autism

Teresa Hedley’s book, What’s Not Allowed? A Family Journey with Autism did not start out as a memoir; in fact, it did not even start out as a solo effort.

“This book didn’t end the way it started,” she said. “It started in Ottawa back in 2016, when a therapist invited eight of us to write a book.”

The book was to be a collaboration of eight mothers with children on the spectrum, discussing the trials and tribulations of having a family member on the spectrum, and explaining what works, for them.

“We worked on this for months and months, and it became apparent that it would be really hard for eight people to fit everything they wanted into one book, so …it evolved from a group project to a singular thing.”

Teresa’s son, Erik, was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum 16 years ago, when he was six years old. The family lived in Comox at the time. Being a military family, they were posted out east, and eventually ended up in Ottawa, where Teresa regularly consulted with parents of families living with autism. That is where the collaborative book idea began.

The Hedleys moved back to Comox last year, finding that the bigger cities were not conducive to Erik’s comfort level. At that point, Teresa started working in earnest on her book.

“I hooked up with a publicist who said ‘yes, I see this as a memoir and I’d like to publish it,” explained Teresa. “So that’s how it evolved.”

Teresa said that while the book is a memoir, it’s full of information she says is useful to any families dealing with life on the spectrum.

“There are a huge amount of topics – all of those things that bombard you,” she said. “When I got the diagnosis, everything that went through my head – I was blindsided, but I shouldn’t have been. I write to all the little things that led up to it [diagnosis], all the little red flags that were there that I either didn’t see, or tried to deny. It’s a very emotional journey, when you find out your child isn’t exactly as you thought they were.”

She said the book addresses life in the military for a family member with autism.

“That’s really hard. There’s so much moving around in the military and for individuals with autism, change is hard. Transitions are hard. But that is the Armed Forces life, so we had to deal with it.”

The book addresses siblings and autism (Erik has a brother and a sister), speech, making connections.

“There are stories of laughter, stories with tears, hitting the wall and getting up again – it’s a very human story, which is why it had to be a memoir, and not a ‘how-to’ kind of book,” said Teresa. “I think people really need to see themselves in these stories, and they do – that’s what they are telling me. I hear ‘oh, that happened to us’ and ‘this is what we did.’”

Teresa said she and the family have always considered themselves to be very fortunate to have been living in Comox at the time of Erik’s diagnosis.

“It was a fortuitous time for us, because we were here. The Child Development Centre (now the Comox Valley Child Development Association) was fabulous – that was our oasis,” she said. I wrote about it for a magazine when I was in Ottawa, talking about this child development centre, because it really stood out. It was that good.”

ALSO: Comox Valley Child Development Association Telethon raises more than $96,000

Teresa’s book, which features a foreword by the renowned occupational therapist and public speaker, Kim Barthel, is available at Coles in Courtenay, the Blue Heron in Comox, Laughing Oyster in Courtenay, and online at amazon.com and chapters.indigo.ca

“Kim has been our mentor the whole journey,” Teresa said. “She is in the book in several places and she is one of the best things that has ever happened to us,” said Teresa. “I remember the first time Erik met her, she made him feel so good. He wasn’t even speaking that much back then, but after they met for the very first time, he said ‘Kim is a believer.’ He knew.”

Teresa said the purpose of the book was not to write a book, but more so to deliver a message.

“I think this book really helped me sharpen my intent,” she said. “I don’t do it for a book; I do it for a message. It’s kind of like handing out a catcher’s mitt. If we all know more, we will all be better. When we know better, we do better, and I think we can.”


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter



Erik Hedley poses with a copy of “What’s Not Allowed? A Family Journey with Autism.” Photo supplied

Erik Hedley poses with a copy of “What’s Not Allowed? A Family Journey with Autism.” Photo supplied

The Hedley family - Heather, Teresa, Scott, Erik, Frank. Photo supplied.

The Hedley family - Heather, Teresa, Scott, Erik, Frank. Photo supplied.

Just Posted

Mark Henderson’s exhibit, “Bikes and Barbies,” is now showing at Artful : The Gallery on Cumberland Road in Courtenay. Photo supplied.
New exhibit at Courtenay art gallery

Artful : The Gallery is showing art by Mark Henderson until Saturday,… Continue reading

Charles Hawkswell, Commander, of the Cape Lazo Power and Sail Squadron, presents a $1,000 cheque to the Comox Valley Marine Rescue Society. File photo
Comox removing moorage fees, hydro for Comox Valley Marine Rescue Society

Last year, the unit and society responded to more than 50 rescue missions in the past year

A Saanich man received almost 10 years in Supreme Court in Courtenay for a shooting incident from 2018. Record file photo
Shooting incident north of Courtenay nets almost 10-year sentence

Richard Daniel Vigneault was arrested without incident and faced 16 counts

Dr. Aref Tabarsi, a general pathologist at the North Island Hospital Campbell River Hospital Medical Laboratory, spoke about the issue of service in the region at a meeting in February 2020. Black Press file photo
Comox Strathcona hospital board wants pathology service back

UPDATED: Board supports move for chair, vice-chair to engage with Island Health on issue

Danielle Egilson has been awarded a $40,000 post-secondary scholarship with The Cmolik Foundation. Photo supplied
Student from Courtenay’s Vanier Secondary lands prestigious scholarship

Cmolik Foundation provides opportunities for youth who’ve experienced adversity

While the route to get there is a little different, downtown Courtenay is open and accessible right now. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Bridge — and downtown Courtenay — are open, say businesses

Incoming BIA president Sean Ferguson says parking is available

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

The only access to 5th Street bridge heading east (toward Lewis Park) is via Anderton Avenue. Photo by Terry Farrell.
Single lane alternating traffic controls on Courtenay bridge now in effect

Single lane alternating traffic on the 5th Street Bridge is now in… Continue reading

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. Dr. Ben Chan remembers hearing the preliminary reports back in March of blood clots appearing in a handful of European recipients of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Science on COVID, VITT constantly changing: A look at how doctors keep up

While VITT can represent challenges as a novel disorder, blood clots themselves are not new

Poached trees that were taken recently on Vancouver Island in the Mount Prevost area near Cowichan, B.C. are shown on Sunday, May 10, 2021. Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have all become valuable targets of tree poachers in British Columbia as timber prices hit record levels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne.
Tree poaching from public forests increasing in B.C. as lumber hits record prices

Prices for B.C. softwood lumber reached $1,600 for 1,000 board feet compared with about $300 a year ago

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Most Read