When my daughter started on the long old process to an ASD diagnosis, I was in complete denial. My daughter didn’t have autism, why do people keep suggesting it?! I constantly told myself she can’t have autism because she does this, or doesn’t do that. However, in hindsight, I think I knew fairly early on that she was indeed on the spectrum. So why did I not want to believe it?
The answer is easy, I knew nothing about autism. I knew no one with autism, I didn’t go to school with anyone on the spectrum, it wasn’t part of my world. So I turned to google, of course, which gave me lots of information, some helpful, some really not. This probably made it worse, I now had an overview of autism, but this made Zoe’s future so uncertain, and I didn’t like that. Would she ever talk? Have friends? Want to play with us?
The best thing I did, after putting it off for a long time, was to attend a preschool group especially for children with special needs. By meeting other parents and children, who were going through the same situation it suddenly felt less lonely. I made friends, people understood and didn’t judge. I have made great friends and they and the people who run the group gave me confidence and encouragement to change my attitude.
I realised Zoe was still Zoe, whether she had ASD or not. I decided not to worry about the future, about things I had no control over. I decided to find out as much a possible about autism, and things we could do at home to support Zoe to enable her to be the best she can be.
It didn’t matter to me anymore if she ever spoke, but she needed a way to communicate. Turns out Zoe really took to Makaton and it’s the best thing ever that we could have encouraged!
Zoe will probably always face different challenges and that’s ok, we expect that and will deal with it in the best way.
What worries me is society! We know about autism because we live it! Every day!
Others don’t know enough, it’s not talked about, and I think people have a stereotypical view on autism because that’s all they have ever been told. This isn’t anybody’s fault, it’s just how it is.
Autism is invisible, so unless we talk about it, how will people know about it and accept the differences and similarities. For Zoe’s future, I need this to change. I need people to understand. I want the children in Zoe’s class to understand that she won’t always communicate with words, sometimes she will want to play, other times she won’t, but this doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to be their friend. I need parents to understand that autism makes Zoe different, but still equal and that she would be a great friend to their child. I want her teachers to not underestimate her ability, because she doesn’t learn the same as others. I want the world to understand and accept autism!!
I guess this is why I decided to write this down, because more understanding of autism would make Zoe’s future so much easier. And understanding will come with talking, sharing and educating.
Natasha is a 28 year old mum to two girls, Zoe (5) and Lily (3). She is passionate about educating people on the subject of autism in the hope that Zoe can grow up to live in a more understanding, accepting world.
Natasha contributed this post as part of our guest post series from parents/carers who are members of the Joseph Spectrum Squad, parent/carer group on facebook.