My son fills my world with joy He has taught me what pure, unconditional love means. He is so funny, so loving and full of life. I still remember that day when he was 18 months old. The day our lives changed. We had a call from the nursery. He had been there from 6 months so the team knew him as a baby very well. They were concerned that he wasn’t developing at the same rate as the other babies – he lacked eye contact, had delayed motor skills and struggled to make ‘baby babble’ noises. Something wasn’t quite right. How were we to know? He was our only child. Sure, every child is different and develops at different stages and ages, to us he was just our perfect little boy. The nursery are witness to hundreds of babies and we trusted their judgement.
Being able to speak clearly is something we take for granted. Some parents will wish that their child would stop asking so many questions. Some will crave a moments calm. We just wanted to be able to hear our boy talk to us.
Our boy is one of the happiest little kids going – he takes everything in his stride. It’s tough for some though because if you don’t see him regularly, he can close off. He can shut down his senses. He will close his eyes and put his hands over his ears. He will lie on the floor or stick his head up my jumper. If he doesn’t understand who you are, or where he is then shutting down his senses is his way of coping initially. But then, one by one, his senses will open and once this happens you’re in for some amazing fun, cuddles and laughter. He has a wicked sense of humour, it just takes trust and time to witness it. Consistency is key – if anyone wants to be involved in the little man’s life you have to give regular time. He won’t just jump in and play.
No two days are the same. I am learning to keep an open mind and to adapt. I am learning something new each day. I am also learning about the good in others. In life we all face struggles. We don’t have to face them alone. Yes, we need time and patience. When life throws us challenges it can reveal strength within us that we didn’t know we had.
No matter what we are faced with when we raise a child there is one certainty: we will love them unconditionally. A child can soften even the toughest of hearts. Something about their innocence and their passion to have fun and grow touches us. Their smiles are always genuine. Every child is different but they all have the same fundamental need to thrive and grow to the best of their ability – love. Children need pure, unconditional love.
Autism is a lifelong developmental disability. Without the right support, it can have a profound effect on individuals and families. There are around 700,000 people in the UK living with autism. Many of us are still afraid to talk openly about it. Many of us don’t understand it. I would like to say a huge thanks to my friend Pete who opened up to me about the amazing love he has for his son Mason. Pete is cycling 300 miles over 4 days from London to Paris to raise funds for The National Autistic Society. What a role model! Please have a look at his page.
Pete found strength from Benison nursery and Diane their keyworker. Diane had always worked at Benison nursey but she was given the role of solely working with Mason for 20 hours per week until he reached 4 yrs and started school. Diane was like an extra family member and an amazing support. It was during all this time the word ‘Autism’ was used quite regularly by the professionals and support services. It felt like the diagnosis was drip fed over time via the various support services, then finally when Mason was 3 years and 5 months old he was officially diagnosed by the community Paediatrician. The nursery fully supported Mason and his family, completed multitudes of paperwork (of which they’d never had to do before) and attended regular meetings with support services. Pete truly believes the positive place they are in now is because of the support they received when Mason was aged 2 through to 4. Mason’s nursery had never worked with a child with Autism before and they were absolutely amazing. They directed them to the extra support services he required and because of this and Mason being in the system so early, he secured a place at a mainstream school with an on-site 10 place provision for children with Autism. Pete’s parents and partner Ray have also been so understanding and always energetic. His partner Ray has built such a bond with Mason that it is heart warming to witness. When we go through hard times we need to stick together. We need to be open to accepting support. Unconditional love will move mountains.