My name is DeAndra Perry. I am 32 years old and I live in NYC. My son Cameron was diagnosed with autism when he was two years old & he is now ten. I recently self-published my first children’s book “Cam’s World” last summer. I wrote this book to show the world the very few things that go on in Cameron’s daily life. I also wrote this book to create a fun but educating way to help children and adults who are not on the spectrum to understand autism more in-depth.
In 2016 I hosted a brunch for special needs mothers. This was my way of networking and connecting with other mothers who were on the same journey as me. There was a time where I didn’t have autism mom friends and I felt alone. This was my way of introducing myself to the autism community. I then took a big step by pitching the idea of hosting an autism walk in my community to bring awareness and it was a success. After coming together with my community to make this happen I then suggested having autism traffic signs in every park. Now every park has an “Autistic Children Play Here” sign.
After those amazing accomplishments, I started writing “Cam’s World”. I had no clue about starting a children’s book. I was observing everything that my son was doing and going through and I would write it all down. I would go to the “New York Public Library” on my lunch break to read other children’s books to understand what children loved. I wanted to make this fun but educated as well.
After publishing our book, my hopes are through reading this book, many little ones will understand that it’s okay if other children are different from them and that we are all different in our own way and shouldn’t judge one another for being such. My goal is to make a difference in any way that I can for my son and other special needs families in the world. I am not a doctor, nor do I have all of the answers for autism but what I do have is a voice and if using my voice and taking action can make a difference, and inspire then that is what I will do.
1. What inspired you to write Cam’s World?
What inspired me to write “Cam’s World” was the daily autism challenges that my son has to deal with. When Cameron was first diagnosed with autism I didn’t know what autism was. I was told by doctors that he would never talk or even do the normal activities that children who are not on the spectrum would do. It was the most hurtful moment I’ve ever experienced in my life as a new mom, but I wasn’t going to give up on my son. There was something in me telling me to still be positive and to help him overcome those challenges.
As time went by Cameron progressed so much he went from being non-verbal to talking a lot! He loved going to the park, wanted friends, and wanted to do everything the doctors said he would never do.
I started observing his behaviors and how people would react to him. Some of these behaviors being “sensory issues” which is when he closes his ears if there is a loud noise, “stimming” is when he flaps his hands if he’s excited or frustrated, or showcasing signs of “repetitive behavior” which is when he repeats the same phrases or words. I realized that these behaviors made
it difficult for people to understand him. Children would walk away from him, point, stare and question “why does he keep saying hi? or “why does he talk like a baby?”.
Knowing that Cameron got this far in his journey and has to experience so many questions and judgments as a child with things that he doesn’t have control over broke me down inside but I never showed it. Instead, I would sit with the children and try to explain what autism was the best way that I could, and at times I would have to do the same with the parents as well. But there was one time where he was able to experience kindness after being misunderstood. He was able to play so freely and even though he needed help with certain activities, I had the experience to watch the other children have the patience to help him. They even sat with me and asked questions to try to understand him. It was beautiful and it gave me hope, and it was the first time my son had a normal but fun day at the park and I will never forget that day. What also stood out to me was how friendly my son would be no matter what his challenges were, he still pushed to be kind and wanted to have friends. At this moment I was truly inspired!
So I told myself “write a book” write a children’s book explaining Cameron’s daily life, personality, and challenges but make it fun and easy for children and adults to understand. Show the world how amazing he is no matter what he struggles with. Encourage kindness and compassion. Teach children who are not on the spectrum that being different is beautiful and how we are all different in our own way.
2. Can you tell us how your son’s autism story can change other people’s behavior?
I believe that Cameron’s story can encourage adults and children who are not on the spectrum to be kind, accepting, and loving. We’ve actually experienced this already. Some children reached out to Cameron after reading his book to ask him questions because they genuinely wanted to understand him. They were all so curious and had so many questions. One child even told him that he wanted to help him, others made beautiful signs to show support. Some special needs parents were able to relate and thanked me for sharing my story because it benefits them too. The behaviors from children who are not on the spectrum were so touching and I am praying that these behaviors continue for my son and other people with autism.
3. Do you have any advice or any message for all the people out there that know anyone autistic around them?
My advice would be to first seek counseling to understand the diagnosis. Have patience, treat them how you want to be treated, be open-minded, and try to understand them as they are human too. Know their triggers to avoid meltdowns. If they do have a meltdown talk to them but give them a few minutes to relax and console them. Don’t force them to do anything that they don’t want to do. Learn their limits and dislikes. Be supportive! Support and genuine love help them to progress! I am so grateful for my family and friends who have genuinely supported my son up until this day. They have helped us tremendously just by having patience, being understanding, catering to Cameron’s needs, and not giving up on him. It helped him! I’ll always love my son unconditionally but to have a strong support system that I can trust is amazing. Be that special person they need. They are fighting a daily battle they never chose.
4. How do you market your services(such as coming together etc)? How are people aware of your business?
To purchase a “Cam’s World” hard copy you can go to our website at www.welcometocamsworld.com It’s quick, simple, and easy. Right now we are more focused on our new book but we will be blogging and vlogging on the site this spring/summer.
Also, you can follow us on our new Instagram account @Welcometo_Camsworld which is run solely by me. I market and promote our business there. Our website is in our bio to purchase our new book. Also, You might come across our old page @_Camsworld_ someone hacked into our account so we are officially locked out of it. Overall, @Welcometo_Camsworld is where I connect with other autism families. We give each other advice and support, I share some of Cameron’s challenges, achievements, events, and fun adventures. It’s a great way to get feedback and allows for quick reaction times from others.
5. How do you keep yourself updated? What are some of the websites or magazines or apps that you subscribe to or read regularly?
As an Austim mother, I feel that is so important to constantly keep up to date with the latest medical advancements or breakthroughs. Aside from medical articles, I find the power of social media incredibly influential. At times I go on the “Autism Speaks” site to read stories, but I noticed that I can find out a lot by using hashtags on Instagram such as #Autism #autismmom #kidswithautism, etc. It directs you to so many other pages where families are sharing their stories and videos. You can try these hashtags on Facebook as well. It’s a great way to engage with others with real-time reactions.
6. Share two pieces of advice for female entrepreneurs
As a small business owner, My advice would be to believe in yourself even if everyone around you doesn’t, it starts with you. Know who you are as a woman and if you don’t know take the time too. When you finally understand who you are and what you want you’ll be confident in everything that you do.
My second piece of advice would be If you fall, always be ready to get back up! That’s part of the entrepreneur journey. I am currently going through that while striving to get to where I want to be and I am not ashamed of it at all. I’d rather fall and get up than give up. So many people are so afraid to speak up about their “failures”. But all in all, they are not failures. It’s just that sometimes things didn’t go as planned. Realize that whether others speak about it or not, everyone goes through this. So try not to get bogged down when you see others and their success. Remember that your time is coming shortly!
7. What would you advice our followers who have want to start their own business?
My advice would be to have a plan. Stay consistent Even if you feel like things aren’t going the way you want them to. Also, DON’T RUSH your dreams! This is not a competition if this is something that means a lot to you, then take your time. Don’t procrastinate but take time to research, and to truly understand your business. No matter what is going on around you focus on you! This is your lane and your vision. And as I mentioned before in the previous question you must Believe in yourself! Take chances!
The advice that I am sharing is what I tell myself and what I try to execute daily. I know that if I continue with this mindset and positive actions I will be a successful woman. Staying positive during a time where the world is suffering is a battle! I can honestly say that this was very hard for me especially with all the challenges I’ve had to face during this pandemic. I had so many plans and even had my book launch event planned and ready to go. Once the pandemic hit everything went wrong. I caught the virus when I was supposed to launch my book. It was rough and painful. Being away from my son for fourteen days was even worse. When I started to get a slight bit better I took the chance and launched my book. The books sold out within two months and I was shocked but also grateful. People lost their jobs, lives, family members, etc. Just to know that I was supported during this time was a blessing to me. It was just me taking that chance and most importantly believing in myself. I’ll never know when the right or wrong time is but I will always be confident and decisive with my choices. So all in all, my advice would be to keep going, to keep seeing your vision, to maintain an incredible amount of focus, and the last but most important, to be kind to yourself and have faith and enjoy the journey of things. The journey will always reveal itself to you, you just have to see it that way and believe in yourself enough to have that perception.
8. What are your future goals?
Well, I have a lot of goals for the future!
A few of my future goals are to get “Cam’s World” book to make a huge impact in this world, Expand the entire “Cam’s World” Brand. And continue to bring my ideas to life. I would like to start some of the businesses that I’ve been working on ( which are in many different fields), expanding my network, and so much more!
9. Tell me what you are working on now?
I am working on a few big projects that are so dear and valuable to me. Some involve my workings with autism, and some are not. Either way, they are all big dreams of mine. I have amazing ideas and I can’t wait to bring them to life.
10. Tell us about your proudest achievement?
My proudest achievement was in 2018. It was the year when I hosted my first autism walk with my community. I pitched the idea to bring awareness, I got turned down three times but I never gave up. I used my voice by speaking my truth. And my truth was, Cameron’s autism journey is my journey. We both face so many challenges together & I knew that other families were going through what we were going through but they were silent about it. My goal was to work with my community to spread awareness but, also to educate those who didn’t understand, spread kindness, give out resources to families who didn’t have support & make it a bit more comfortable for them to feel free and know that they weren’t alone. You can research autism as much as you want but living it is a very real ordeal.
After coming together with my community and autism speaks to make this happen, I was amazed at the crowd that I attracted just from using my voice. I had this amazing idea and didn’t have a clue on how to make it happen! I felt so overwhelmed but in a good way! So many people came out to support, learn & shared their stories as well and I’ll always appreciate them for that! It turned out so successful that it’s now an annual event. So whether I live here or not I know that I made a difference by using my voice and not giving up and that was my proudest achievement.