An letter to mothers of children with autism
This is for all the mothers who are considering getting their child diagnosed or who are coming to terms with a diagnosis. It is a reminder to celebrate diversity.
Long before I received my diagnosis from the doctors, I knew I was different and that my life journey was going to be more challenging than most.
I recall telling the doctors that my original diagnosis of ADHD wasn’t correct. I remember saying, “I don’t know what this is but it is not just ADHD.” It was then that I first heard the word Autism. It was to become a massive part of my story.
Mothers often doubt themselves. But I can’t emphasise enough that we should trust our gut. We know our children best. In the beginning, I was so naive and followed every help and therapy suggested and accepted every prognosis. I exhausted my son and myself for a good few years driving to therapies dotted all over the Peninsula. It is important to remember that these professionals are educated on the topic of autism, but they don’t live the reality of it nor do they raise children with Autism. We can teach them a lot too.
I am grateful for the kindred souls who really do dedicate their lives to the cause.
The prognosis is never as grim as you are sometimes told. They do not know how your child will develop. At times they might seem as if it is going very slowly, but this is always changing and evolving.
Believe in your child and their abilities. Many of these skills are learned behaviours.
It is our reinforcing daily that helps to drive this home.
With great will
I am always amazed at the will and the effort of our children. Children with autism do want to get it right. They are well aware that they do not understand what is expected of them always and this creates a lot of self-doubt, low self-esteem and often tend to be very hard on themselves.
Keep working with your child as a team and supporting them. Let them know you are patient and you understand. Apologise for the times you are not patient as it can be relentless. Talk about how they feel. Help them understand why they get so angry, sad or frustrated.
The message I would share with moms is also be kind to themselves. This journey at times is lonely, sad and uncertain. It is also hard work and requires a will of steel.
Autism has taught me to be kinder, to know that what we see is not always what someone else is experiencing. To know that we all struggle, it is the human condition.
It has taught me to lower my expectations and to be more allowing for what is. Sometimes the smallest achievements mark the greatest milestones. I have learned to not care what others think of me. I feel gratitude that I feel no shame any longer telling you I have Autism and will not take on any judgement of me because many do not understand nor know me.
The advantage for me is that I know myself better now and that has brought me great comfort and relief.
Know that could be exactly the same experience for your child.
Today I am grateful that I am different.
It is not always easy, but I make my son proud of his beautiful, enquiring mind that has taught me to view the world with a new set of eyes.
His hyperfocus makes him a genius in detail when he explains something to me. The questions he asks that I at times struggle to find an answer that will suffice. I am blown away when he does let me into his world. He is the most sensitive soul and has taught me to reconsider my views, to reconsider everything. He has helped me to change in a way no one else ever would have made me.
Autism is also our gift. Our world needs diversity. We are all worthy of love.
Wendy Bowley Founder of Knowing Autism