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How My Autistic Daughter Has Made Me a Better Mum

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My beautiful, intelligent, strong, independent daughter is 12 years old and is on the autistic spectrum. Like many tweens she doesn’t always believe all of the amazing qualities that make her one of the most important people in my life. Her disbelief pains me at times, because I want her to understand I love her because of her quirks, not despite them and that she is perfect just the way she is. One day I hope to explain to her how the journey of self-discovery and self-healing being a mum to her and her siblings has propelled me on. My daughter doesn’t know it yet, but parenting her has helped me grow into a better person.

They say that a soulmate challenges you in ways that force you to grow, and my daughter has done just that for me. She has challenged me in ways no other person could. I’ve had sleepless nights and despairing days because I haven’t known what to do, how to help her or who to turn to. She has forced me to learn. She has forced me to look at myself, and pushed me to regulate my own emotions and address my own struggles so I could truly be present for her. Without my daughter, I would not have pursued my career choices, my own diagnoses and I would not be where I am today.

Before my baby girl was born, I didn’t understand why I felt or behaved in the way I did. I was on my own roller coaster ride. I didn’t understand my sensory integration needs, and didn’t realize that my dyslexia and dyspraxia were the cause of my struggles when studying, and an explanation as to why I found organization difficult. I didn’t know how to have relationships with people, and I thought I was innately worthless because I struggled in my day-to-day life. Learning about my daughter’s autism, loving and supporting her, has encouraged me to do these things for myself.

I now love my neurodiversity. I wouldn’t want to change myself or be the same as the majority. I also feel privileged to embrace our differences as a family. I am at the happiest point in my life so far. I am getting the support I need for my ADHD. I am in a fulfilling, loving relationship and I am studying and writing more than ever. Each of my children are individual, amazing people and I am so very proud of them.

Being different doesn’t have to be a lifelong struggle. Different doesn’t mean damaged, and different doesn’t mean less. What’s needed is the loving understanding and patience of other people. We celebrate our difference as a family, but we need other people to understand us. We need to be understood not as you would like us to be, but as we actually are. Then I believe more neurodiverse families like mine can grow in confidence and become as happy as we are.

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Getty image by Nadezhda1906.

Originally published: January 9, 2017
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