I am writing this post today to highlight and honour the role of women who are mothers of autistic children in recognition of International Women’s Day.
The http://www.annakennedyonline.com organisation posted a video on You Tube today titled ‘Inspiring Women, Inspiring Change’ in which it posed several questions to mothers of autistic children.
Here are my answers to those questions:-
How has living with an autistic child changed your life?
On a practical level my life has become a never ending cycle of meetings, assessments, phone calls, messages, therapies, bureaucracy and lots of paperwork!! As an individual I have become a ‘Warrior Mum’. Out of necessity I have become a fighter in life and stronger than I ever imagined possible in order to advocate for my son. Having an autistic child also requires a lot of patience and calm, luckily I already had those attributes!
What advice would you give to mothers of autistic children?
- Trust your instincts. Remember that you know your own child better than anyone. If you receive advice that doesn’t feel right to you, question it and challenge it.
- Approach life with your child in bite size pieces. Don’t look too far ahead into the future, deal with the here and now issues. It’s impossible to know what your child will and will not be capable of in the future so try not to dwell on it. At the same time, don’t limit your expectations. Anything is possible and your autistic child can, and probably will, surprise you.
- Don’t forget to take care of yourself too. Feed the feeder! Raising an autistic child is physically and emotionally exhausting and it’s important that you don’t forget to take care of yourself in the process.
- Try to connect with other mothers of autistic children for support and understanding.
What is the biggest challenge you have had to overcome?
When you have an autistic child life becomes one hurdle after another. Just when you have overcome one challenge, another pops up to confront you straight away. I’d say the biggest challenge comes at the beginning of the journey with an autistic child; getting a diagnosis, emotionally coming to terms with it and practically understanding what it means for your child and your life. In time you readjust to a life where challenge is the norm and in that respect it becomes less of a challenge.
How has living with autism inspired you?
Having a child with autism has inspired me in many ways. Bearing witness to anyone who has to overcome significant difficulties in their daily lives is always inspiring. Through my son I have become a much more compassionate and humble person in general. It has also inspired me to learn as much as I can about how our brains work and to spread awareness of autism and neurodiversity.