Penny Callaghan, the mother of 14-year-old autistic boy William Callaghan who survived in dense bushland for two nights, opened up to The Project’s Waleed Aly about how William survived.

She revealed that it was characteristics of William’s intellectual disability that helped him survive without food or water on Mount Disappointment as temperatures hit almost 0 degrees.

“I had people constantly around me reminding me of his strengths, he is constantly on the move remember, he is very fit,” Ms Callaghan explained.

“He’s used to being out in the cold. He likes being outside all the time regardless of the temperature. It’s almost as though he can’t feel it,” she added.

She also believes the way William managed to source water was key to his survival. 

“Unlike your typical children, he will just drink from a puddle and not see anything wrong with that. In the wilderness that’s perfectly fine and that’s probably what got him through,” she said.

She’s described the response from the public as “immensely moving” and said that it hasn’t always been like that.

“My experience with the general public and autism hasn’t always been terrific,” she admitted.

“I’m immensely moved because it means there are people in the community that do care and want to make a difference, his life was at stake and here they all are, all these people wanting to protect him.

“This little person is loved, that often isn’t demonstrated in the wider community because he’s different,” she said.

She said that William has “definitely been affected” by the ordeal as well.

“He’s very happy to be home and he’s quite clingy with me. He often is that way when he has been distressed,” she said.

This article originally appeared on Over60.