Last year I wrote and published my first book called Dealing With Autism. My inspiration for writing this book was Richard — my son, my teacher, and my hero. I have seen him face and overcome so many challenges that many of us will never have to face. Every day he inspires and challenges me to become a better person and I see the world in a totally different light now because of him.
Autism is a challenging disorder, and I used to ask God why He allowed this to happen to my boy. I now thank God with all of my heart for bestowing on our family such a precious gift. In the earlier part of my Autism journey I was seeking answers and miracles, and during this process I was able to rediscover my faith. I have since developed a much deeper relationship with God, and for this I am truly thankful.
My contribution to this particular project Parenting a Child on the Spectrum is a snapshot from my own book and is based on my experiences as a mother of a child with Autism. This is my personal perspective based on one child, Richard; every parent’s experience with Autism is unique. There is a quote that I came across on a website that says: “Once you have met one child with Autism, you have met one child with Autism.” Each child on the spectrum is different and each child has his or her own variation of the disorder.
The Autism journey is different for each family but I must say that I have learnt so much from the mothers and fathers who have walked this path before me, and now it’s my turn to give back. Even as I speak today with young mothers and fathers of newly diagnosed children, they say that they learn much more from parents than from professionals. And that’s why I’m sharing our story not only with parents but also with professionals working in this field, because what we learnt through trial and error can, hopefully, benefit them.
By sharing our experience my aim is to encourage conversation so that we can raise the standards of inclusion for our children on the spectrum. Sadly, exclusion takes place on many different levels, and everyone can play a role in reducing negative attitudes.
I would like to challenge professionals in medicine, therapy, and education to assess their own practices and expert processes in their roles and interactions with children and their families. There exists a real gap between theory and what is practiced regarding inclusion for our children. Much lip service is paid and the buzzwords are used, but this does not filter down into what is our reality.
Whilst no one plans to have a child with Autism, Richard is our priceless blessing. We ask that the world be kind to both the children with Autism and their families. To the parents, I wish you every success, peace, and blessing on your journey; and if you are just beginning, I want you to know that although your life has taken an unexpected direction and your new path can bring much joy.