People Often Talk About What My Son ‘Can’t’ Do. Here’s My Response to That.
I love being a special needs mom.
I’ve always been seen as an outsider to society’s idea of “normal,” being a Gothic mom, so accepting and understand people who are different is always something I’ve done.
I was told by friends, preschool members and community members that my son, Michael, has “anxiety issues” and isn’t “fitting in” and “having a hard time.” At first, his father, Andrew, and I felt like we had failed Michael and our other beautiful little boy, Luke. But the next step was, how can we help him?
For a long time, it felt like everyone was talking super fast to us about all the benefits of autism and what help you can get from an autism diagnosis.
But you have to wait 12 months for to make an appointment to get one. Then you need to spend $400 to see a pediatrician to get reports to add to the diagnosis before you can get any help or funding for your son.
So it became the biggest and longest waiting game of my life. I started to feel like I had aged so fast. Waiting for help felt like a lifetime and it got to a point that I decided that I couldn’t wait for the help anymore. I need to help myself and make the change in my life on my own.
The first thing I did was accept that there was nothing wrong with Michael. Michael was not the issue; it was my friends and his preschool that questioned my parenting and made me feel like I was a bad mother. I’m not a bad mother. I know my son better then anyone in the whole world.
My love for him is still the same. It was not until people made me question myself as a mother that things became stressful.
Once I accepted that I am a great mother and Michael is perfect the way he is, I just needed support and understanding. The healing could begin and I didn’t feel like I had failed him anymore. I felt like I could do anything.
Because the one thing people often told me about autism and my son started with a lot of versions of “he can’t.”
“He can’t make friends.” “He doesn’t have social skills.” “He may never talk.”
So I started to learn and teach myself how to better understand autism and my son. I learned he speaks 1,000 words through body language. I learned everything he did was a sign of anxiety and issues he had.
Once I learned that it was really easy to help my son, I quickly learned he loves routine. So I made the house routine.
I learned that I talk too much and ask too many hard questions. So I started to cut down my words.
I learned that he has very big sensory needs and needs big movement like rocking, jumping and running to make him feel safe. And that giving Michael space is more important then anything else. When Michael needs alone time, I need to give it to him because everything in the day has just overwhelmed him.
One thing I love about Michael that I have learned is when he lines up his cars from one room to another. That’s his way of telling me I’m not aloud in his space, until he moves a car and lets me in.
Michael start talking in two months’ time, and he started making friends and playing with the other kids. He started to make eye contact when he wants to talk to you. He now says hello to new people and tells you when he need a sensory break: “Mom, I need to jump for 1 minute to make me feel better.”
My son and I have come a long way. Our relationship is stronger and very loving. Michael is now 5 years old and had his first birthday party with his friends. Over 15 kids came and there was no meltdown; Michael just had fun.
We are not 100 percent ready for primary school next, but we will take it one day at a time, and this year, we accept that Michael’s younger brother, Luke, has autism as well. His experiences with it are very different, so I plan to working toward building a strong, loving relationship with Luke the same way I did with Michael: with a lot of patience and loving support.
All the thing I was told my kids “can’t do,” I’m going to make sure they can do them and more. I not going to hold my kids back from doing anything in life.
I love Michael and Luke. They are both the most beautiful souls you will ever meet and I don’t care that they don’t fit into “normal” expectations like other kids.
I see my kids for who they are.
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