My son and I have had a long journey together, over the years we have both learnt, grown and come to trust and understand each other. I realised my son was autistic when he was quite young due to family history and professional experience with autism but getting a diagnoses took a long time.
The road to that diagnoses took a different turn when I discovered Pathological Demand Avoidance and realised it fitted my son. I researched and listened and we came to a place were my son is finally understood. It took time, it took patience, it took a willingness to listen but we got here even if along the way I have struggled, I have misunderstood, I have got things wrong.
When I am sharing my experiences people sometimes comment that I am a great Mum, that my son and I have such a great bond, that he is lucky to have a Mum but my path has been far from straight forward and I know I got where I am in my relationship and understanding of my son more by trial and error than anything else.
Many times I have felt as far away as you can get from being a good parent or even a passable one! I think it is easy to judge parents of autistic children for their mistakes, to criticise so called ‘Autism Mums’ for not getting autism or accepting their child as they are. It’s also easy for them to judge themselves and believe me they do often more harshly than others do.
For me however, if a parent is in a group asking for help it shows they care, it shows they want to learn and to be critical of them not knowing what they have not yet been told is unhelpful at best.
So in solidarity with all the Mums who have not yet understood, are struggling to accept their child for who they are or are battling for a diagnoses believing that is the point they will get help and not knowing what to do, I want to say I’ve been there, I was that Mum.
I was that Mum who believed their child was challenging because he is autistic, not yet getting that it was a cry to be understood.
I was that Mum who forced my anxious, overloaded child to school because I believed that was the only way to get an education.
I was that Mum who looked for interventions to ‘help’ my child be less autistic.
I was that Mum who listened to professionals talk about my child as if he was less than other children because he had a disability and needed to be fixed.
I was that Mum who constantly worried about her child’s future.
I was that Mum who was so desperate to help her child she would of considered trying anything…
Now I am a Mum who realises how lucky she is to have a wonderful bright child, perfect the way he is. Not broken, not in need of fixing.
I am a Mum who knows that being led by my child’s needs allows him to be himself and prevents him needing to be in a constant fight or flight mode.
I am a Mum who realises education takes many forms and that I needed to think out of the box to allow my son to feel able to learn not just follow what everyone else does.
I am a Mum who chooses her contact with professionals carefully and doesn’t allow conversations that talk about him as less.
I am a Mum who embraces my son as an autistic child with talents, skills and a way of looking at the world that is individual and wonderful.
I am a mum who listens to autistic adults because I know my son will one day be one himself and I want him to be heard and to have his rights and autistic identity respected when that day comes and not just while he is a child.
I am a Mum who is confident she is raising a happy child, his needs are being met and I can trust him to make the most of his future in his own way.
I am a proud Mum of an autistic child and I am still learning everyday.
For more information about PDA click HERE to visit the PDA Society’s website