Hi! Good morning. It’s not morning, but I think the phrase ‘good morning’ is full of possibilities and is rather cheerful, so Good Morning! Sorry, it has taken me a while to post. This one has been harder than I thought to write.
I have two sons that have an Autism Spectrum Disorder. They are currently aged 5 and 4. They are beautiful boys with lots of potential. And as their mother, it is my job to help them reach it.
This puts so much pressure on mothers today. There are so many possible ways to reach that end destination. There is a lot of judgement over what is seen to be the ‘right’ way and the ‘wrong’ way. As difficult as it is, we need to step back and simply say that we are different, not better or worse. And differences should be encouraged.
My first son was diagnosed at 2 years and 8 months old. He was a difficult baby and a horrible toddler. I never knew how to handle him. I always knew that he was different, but no one else could see it. Or at least, they were unable to talk to me about it. There is a risk that in critising the child you critise the mother.
I felt relieved when A was diagnosed with Autism. It was confrmation that there was indeed something wrong. Listen to your instinct, people! Plus it allowed us to access early intervention. And so the long road of therapies started. We did a combination of speech therapy, occupational therapy, dance group, music therapy, social groups tailored for autistic children and attended a special developmental school.
As parents, we always knew A was intelligent. And, we believe that this has helped his development. At the time of diagnoses, he was completely non-verbal. A couple of months later, within a week of starting speech therapy, A said his first word. It was ‘finished’ and absolutely music to my ears.
A’s development has been a long, weary battle. His every improvement has been months of work, behind the scene. And to keep every small gain, we must continue to practice his skills so that he doesn’t regress again. It breaks my heart every time, he regresses.
So when my third son began to show signs of Autism, I simultaneously both ignored it and throw myself crazily into more therapies within the home. I didn’t want to have two children on the Autism Spectrum. Who does? No one whats a harder road for their child, and an ASD is certainly a hard road. For us, defiantly, but for the child it is excruitatingly painful.
These children do not understand so many basic rules of human socialisation. My sons end up so frustrated will being unable to follow a conversation, at not understanding body language, at not being sure of what facial expression is most appropriate to use. On top of that, they are also aware of this difference between themselves and others, and are often angry that these simple behaviours do not come to them as easily as to their friends.
So I first took my third son, R for my second ASD diagnosis when he was 18 months old. My paediatrician told me not to worry, it was simply copied behaviour. I knew inside that this wasn’t true. I knew my children. But at this time I wasn’t strong enough to fight for it. I felt capable of meeting the needs of all my children without a offical diagnosis. I feel it is very important that as mothers we do what is best for us, when we are strong and ready. If the mum cannot cope, no one can.
However, when these two boys were aged 3 and 4, my world as a stay at home mum suddenly got soooooo much harder. The elder boy had started are a mainstream kinder program and was feeling very anxious under the weight of expectations on him. A’s coping mechanism has always been to try his hardest in front of others and then come home and meltdown. Mum’s always get the best behaviour! Added to this, the 3 year old, R was contantly butting heads with A. It was horrible. Sibling rivalry, gone turbo! Can you imagine two children with poor to no language skills having an argument? It very quickly turned physical.
I became drained under the pressure to continue to help my children to thrive. All my children, not just my two autistics. I was literally running all over the house trying to teach my children, keep them happy and separated from their siblings. I had lots of play pens organised around the house! But of course, children do not like to be left in a play pen. I would be leaving one child to pacify anothers screams, only to leave the first in tears.
Emotionally, it was draining.
Physically, it was tiring.
Finanially, keeping up all our therapies, was hard work.
So, I calapsed under the weight. This was almost 18 months ago now. And I think, now I am beginning to climb out of that hole.
I am doing this by trying to see that what I am doing is enough. This is hard. I am currently tearing up writing these words, and the pause, before I did was loooooong!
I am trying to breathe. To stay calm. To be content.
Living within the world of an Autism Spectrum Disorder can be isolating and demanding. To survive, I think you need to be confident that you are doing your best, that you love your child and that it is enough. With an ASD, as with many other developmental diagnosis’s, it is difficult to fight your way through the mountain of information around what you should be doing. Sometimes it is easy to believe that you are a ‘bad’ parent for not allowing you child to participate in a certain therapy, or for not going down some other alternative path.
I am trying to listen to all those well meaning people in my life telling me how wonderful my children are, how well they are doing. I need this ego boost right now. I need to feel confident once again in my parenting. It’s a slow journey, one perhaps without any definitive ending, but I am going forward. Just keep swimming!
Our R has now been diagnosed for two weeks, at 4 years and 8 months. And it has been such a relief. I WAS RIGHT. I wanted to shout it from the roof tops, but I settled for posting it on Facebook! And with his official diagnosis, we can again move forward. We can access help, funding, support and therapy. And that is what is best for R. Already he is improving, so amazing.
And you know what? I think I am ok, too.
here’s to contentment