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Judy Sharp raised two boys as a single mother, Tim and his younger brother Sam. Sam is a former state swimmer and trialled for the Olympics. He now works as a high-level swimming coach. Tim's art is exhibited all around the world. He spends much of his time helping organisations and schools that work with autistic children. They live in Brisbane. Judy's reflection on raising her sons, A Double Shot of Happiness, is out now. You can read an extract here.

What advice would you give a mother who has just been told her son has autism?
To believe in yourself that you are the worlds expert on your son and know what is best for him. Create your own dream and make it come true. It will be a different life but it will be a beautiful life that will you give you more meaning and love than you can ever imagine. Some days will be so tough you will doubt that you can survive but you will and when you feel you have nothing left you will give more and the rewards for that belief will be more than you could imagine.

Did you have to think outside the box when raising your son?
Every single minute of every single day. Tim took me into a world that I knew nothing of and rarely understood and that is the true gift of Tim. Without him I would have been limited with a small knowledge of one way of looking at life. He taught me another way to live, communicate and do things, it was very much about little things and being in the moment. Tim taught me to look for smaller things that are so easy to overlook and they are things that have given me the greatest meaning and deepest connection I have ever had in my life.

What lessons have you learned from raising both your sons?
Family and love is all that matters in life. The greatest gift in life is watching your children grow. It is a joyous miracle. Also, I can't believe how cuddly boys are! They are also very sweet and kind to their mum. Boys are great.

Tell us about the Laser Beak Man?
Laser Beak Man is a super hero that Tim created when he was 11 years old. Tim had always loved super heroes and wanted one of his own. Laser Beak Man is not like other super heroes, there's not a lot of kapow and extraordinary super powers about him instead there is a lot of humor and a different way to look at life. His is in command of his universe and a very cool character. He is funny, cheeky and sometimes a little irreverent and I think there is also a lot of Tim in there.

Do you have a favourite memory from Tim’s childhood?
When Tim was around four years of age and with very few words and enormous difficulty in trying to communicate and connect in any way and spent most of his day in absolute misery he would run up to me, take my face in his hands and press his nose against mine, look deep into my eyes and say the words “Numma numma no”and I knew that he was saying “I love you”. No one had ever tried so hard to tell me what was in their heart for me. For him to overcome the restrictions of autism to do that, touched my heart more than I can ever explain. Even with different words I knew exactly what he meant. It still makes me cry with joy and love.

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