THE strength of spirit Coralie Young demonstrates is inspiring.
A single mum raising three boys with autism, she's experienced the deaths of friends and family (including her precious second son), a marriage separation, health issues and more.
She's on a mission to increase awareness of autism through her blog Mum Talks Autism and following a dream (along with her ex-husband) to build a retreat for families with children living with autism and offer much-needed respite.
She will tell her story at the Manning Regional Art Gallery this Friday as part of the International Women's Day celebrations, under the title The Journey of Motherhood Challenges and Triumphs.
Taking place from 10.30am the cost is free and no bookings are required to attend.
"It's not a sad story.
"It's a story of the human spirit and what a person can go through, come out the other end and make it," she said.
Coralie hasn't always been so positive.
2003 was a tough year.
Her son Robert was tragically killed in the January, her 32-year-old friend died suddenly of a heart attack in the May and then in the September her father was diagnosed with cancer and was gone 14 days later.
She withdrew and did nothing for a while.
"I went down to 60kg and became very sick and ended up in hospital. My thyroid completely stopped working and I put on 50kg."
Coralie is mum to Andrew, 19, Bryce, six and Tristan, five.
Andrew has high functioning autism and generalised anxiety disorder, while Bryce is also high functioning but has sensory processing disorder.
Andrew was originally misdiagnosed as ADHD opposition defiance disorder and wasn't diagnosed with autism until he was 13.
When Bryce was two-months old he contracted viral meningitis and almost died, then six months later developed the rare blood disorder ITP (idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura) where the body identifies platelets in the blood as foreign bodies attacks the platelets.
"They thought he had leukaemia, his platelets went down to two."
At the time of his treatments, he had a bone marrow transplant to trick it into not eating the platelets.
"We had Tristan for the cord blood," she said.
Bryce went into full remission in 2007, prior to Tristan's arrival in February 2008.
Tristan, has classic autism, phonological receptive and expressive speech delay, sensory processing disorder and global developmental delay.
Doctors said he would never talk but so far he has 96 words in his vocabulary.
He requires everything to be done a certain way or he will have a "meltdown", from which the noise can affect the sensory issues for his brothers, sending them into a "meltdown". Coralie said Andrew is old enough now to get up and walk away from the situation.
Coralie lived in the Hunter from the age of eight, and moved to Gloucester with her husband and children four years ago, seeking a better life for their boys.
In 2010 she had more health issues, her son Andrew came home from boarding school in Newcastle to live at home and they realised there was no services for families living with autism, and no specialists, even far afield.
Later that year she separated from her husband (although they are still great friends and he comes over twice a week to look after the boys so Coralie can sleep).
Coralie admits she was in a dark place in 2010, but a comment from Andrew snapped her out of it.
"He turned around at me and said 'Mum, these kids don't know the real you. It's not fair. Robert died, not you. Can we have her back?'
"It was the kick in the butt I needed."
With three children living with autism, she knows that she has no choice but to cope.
Writing is one way she expresses herself, and Coralie wrote in her journal about everything that happened after Robert died.
These writings were compiled into a book called For the Love of Andrew, which was picked up by a reputable publisher, but is on hold until Coralie feels emotionally ready to go through the process.
When Andrew went back to school Coralie befriended the author of the blog Saturday Morning Ogre Mum, and queried whether she could write one.
With her friend's support Mum Talks Autism was born - and quickly gained momentum and attention.
In June last year she was appraoched by 1st Available, which now fully sponsors the blog, gives her a monthly wage and pays for her to attend and speak at conferences, inclusing the upcoming Digital Parents Conference in Sydney, where she will raise raise awareness of autism.
One in 100 children is affected by autism spectrum disorder, 125,000 people in Australia have autism and 500,000 families are living with it.
Acutely aware of the lack of respite available for these families she and her ex-husband have a dream "that no child be left behind, but no family be left behind either"
Using compensation money following Robert's death, the pair will begin a business partnership and build the Mum Says Autism Holistic Retreat (auspiced by the Gloucester Neighbourhood Centre), which they hope will be open by the end of next year.
The respite lodge will allow families to come and stay for free, leaving their child/ren with professionals including an occupational therapist, a speech therapist, a counsellor and disability support workers, while they also stay on the property in their own cabin.
Families will be able to observe their children via CCTV, and can still spend time with them.
Camping and cabin facilities will also be available for the general public, which will help fund the respite service.
They will also have two scholarships a year for a sibling of a family living with autism.
Coralie started studying Certificate IV in Community Services at Taree TAFE last year and is doing a dual diploma in community services and counselling.
Next year she hopes to study a Bachelor of Social Work through Charles Sturt University.