Last week I found out my child has Autism.
And now I need to say it out loud. Really loudly, until the sound of the word no longer takes my breath away.
I mean, I’m a mother, deep down I knew. Of course I did. But I was often convinced, by myself and others, ( for the sake of an easier life), that he would ‘grow out of it’, ‘was just quirky’, ‘struggled with his emotions’.
Then he began to become sad, deeply sad. The pressure of masking his condition every day to fit in was pulling him apart at the seams and weighing heavily on his little 11 year old shoulders.
The shame at his outbursts and his inability to be like everyone else for the entire school day was chipping away consistently at his self-worth, until there was little left.
And I just couldn’t see that happen.
So here we are, my child has Autism. He is Autistic. I am told that this is the right word to use and that nowadays it is all one umbrella – yet no two children with this condition are ever the same. A huge bright and colourful umbrella covering thousands of beautiful little heads and sheltering them from the worst of the rain….that’s how I choose to see it anyway.
They are like unique little jewels in our society. Bright young minds who see things very differently, who process things very differently, who cope with things very differently.
To them, it is our world which is mad. The way we do things is alien to them, yet they push their little bodies to follow suit anyway. They channel every ounce of energy they have into focusing, sitting still and following rules which make no sense whatsoever in a world full of contradictions and triggers.
So now, I am learning. I am writing about it, sharing it – because this is how I cope. This is how I keep my mind healthy.
I have tortured myself duly with a movie-like montage of every moment I have parented him badly. Shamed him. Let him down. I have viewed each little video clip and filed it away under lesson learned, each and every one of them bringing new waves of pain like a million tiny daggers to my heart.
I have almost begun to forgive myself but that will take time.
It will also take time to build up my little one’s broken self-esteem. But I’m so here for that job. I have never been more here for anything in my life.
And nothing will stop me. Nothing.
Last week I found out my child has Autism, and my world spun quite wildly on its axis. It has landed somewhere south of where it used to be but thats okay.
This is my new place to be.