Special champion

Eileen Mclaughlin has been nominated for Seasons Funerals Community Champion Awards. Picture: Emma Reeves d418063
Eileen Mclaughlin has been nominated for Seasons Funerals Community Champion Awards. Picture: Emma Reeves d418063

The mother of four is an administrator for the WA Special Families (WASF) Facebook community page, a place where WA families and carers with special needs children can connect, share information, advice and meet up with one another through events organised by the WA Special Families committee.

‘The Facebook page grew from nothing several years ago to a community with more than 1700 members and we now work with Kalparrin,’ Ms McLaughlin said.

Having a 10 year old daughter with autism, Ms McLaughlin understands first hand the difficulties parents are faced with in raising a special needs child and was proud the page could bring special needs families together.

‘I was speechless and humbled when I found out I was nominated because I just do what I do, I don’t see it as a job,’ Ms McLaughlin said.

‘I just love meeting people; the road we had with autism was hard and people don’t know where to go and what to do. I like passing on information to help others to head them in the right direction.’

Ms McLaughlin has volunteered countless hours to monitoring the Facebook page, organising weekly and monthly meetings for members, ‘Special Boys’ and ‘Special Girls’ gatherings, duties as the WA Special Families region leader for Wanneroo, Joondalup and Ellenbrook and her volunteering efforts with Carers WA.

Her ‘Special Boys’ and ‘Special Girls’ gatherings were an opportunity for children to socialise, learn new skills and for parents to get to know each other in an offline setting.

‘It’s very isolating when you have a special needs child,’ she said.

‘Being part of the WA Special Families community is really nice because you get to meet wonderful people along the way.’