George Town resident Camele Burke has used her experience as the mother of an autistic child to write a book she hopes will inspire readers to be the best they can be and help others to do the same.
Ms. Burke’s son Jeremy was diagnosed with autism in 1998 at age 3; today he is 21. To better understand her son’s condition, Mrs. Burke set out to educate herself to give her son a better chance in life.
In her new book, “Become the Person That God Can Trust with the Legacy of the Next Generation: How to Become Your Best Self and Help Others to do the Same,” Ms. Burke urges readers to go on a spiritual journey deep within themselves. Along the way, she gathers insight from famous people in history, such as Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa and other great men and women who were an inspiration to others.
“Today, everyone knows about autism. Some 20 years ago, I did not even know what the [word] meant,” Ms. Burke said.
“Back then, it was the first time I was hearing about this thing. I had no one or nowhere to turn for help. Some people in society treated me like I was the one with autism. Then I turned to God who told me to try this: forget about the label autism and work to understand your son each day by the things he did.”
In Chapter 9, Ms. Burke tells what life is like for a person with autism through the eyes of Jeremy, and how, despite his disability, he is able to leave a legacy behind.
She encourages readers to spend time alongside people challenged by a disability but who, with some help, can do their part in making a difference in this world.
At 21, Jeremy does not work outside the home because he has to be in a controlled environment at all times. However, Ms. Burke works with him to develop his academic and vocational studies.
Some of the proceeds of the book will go toward setting up Jeremy in a home vocation program where he can learn to make jewelry, said his mother, adding that her son is helpful around the house and basically runs the home.
“We are trying to get him into something that belongs to him by creating a work environment from home … I just got a license for his company Exquisite Creations,” said Ms. Burke.
She said she started the book as a “journey through autism,” but felt she did not have enough of the story.
Instead, she focused on leadership as the main subject of the book to help reach a wider population.
She hopes her story inspires other families and that her book will help teach people to draw on the stamina they need to maximize their potential and reach for excellence.
While caring for Jeremy as he grew up, Ms. Burke, the mother of two adult sons, burned the midnight oil to become a qualified chartered accountant and also serves as a notary public.
She now can add author to her resume.
“I intend to write several books. I already have a second title up on the mirror ready to get going,” she said.
In September 2013, Ms. Burke partnered with the teachers at the Lighthouse School to support parents and caregivers of children diagnosed with autism and set up a support group – Autism Support Cayman – and its website, autismsupportky.org.