I’m finding more strength each and every day, but some days are still tough….
I always wanted to be a mum. I always knew that it was going to be the best thing to happen to me.
I had no idea how I would be at it, or what I was in for, but somehow the thought never scared me. The thought of bringing a baby into this world that would rely on me for everything, would be my greatest achievement. So the day William came into our lives really was the best feeling in the world. Looking back, William really was a very chilled baby. He never cried, he slept through the night from 8 weeks and brought us so much joy with his smiles and laughter.
Being our first child though, you’re never really sure at what point they should reach their milestones. Are they meant to sleep through the night at a certain age? Should they be waving at this point? Walking by a certain age? And what if they’re not… Should you be worried? Should you get some further testing done? Or could it be they’re just not at that point yet….
For so long, I kept believing that William would reach his milestones when he was ready. Did it really matter that he screamed hysterically when the vacuum cleaner was on, or that the only foods he used to eat were white because he couldn’t handle anything green or red. It would all come in time, right? This was just a phase, yes?
No, it didn’t come in time, and the obsessions became worse. Around the time children are meant to wave, point and communicate, William struggled. When children the same age were starting to talk, William struggled. His crawling was delayed, his walking was delayed, and from very early on we knew he had an unbelievably hard time coping with loud noises and new people and places.
He’ll get there in his own time we would hear quite a lot, but he was different. The older he got, the more the autism ‘traits’ became apparent.I used to defend him quite a bit when other mums would ask me why he wasn’t crawling, why he didn’t care to play with their kids. It wasn’t easy when I could see all the other children his age reaching their milestones, playing and giggling together. It left me a little broken inside. They meant well, they never meant to upset me… I guess they just didn’t see deep down what I could.
At Will’s 18-month check-up, there were mixed emotions when our amazing Maternal Childcare Health Nurse saw some red flags. I was hurting inside, but I was relieved that we were soon to get some answers. We could start getting our boy the help he needed.
Between now and then, I would say our life has been a little crazy. There has absolutely never been a moment since Will came into this world that I wished for him to be different, there have however, been times where I wished the experiences, people and situations we’ve faced were different. Where the world was kinder to people that don’t fit into the norm. If everyone was more about helping and lending a hand, rather than judging, then life would be so much easier for families like mine.
I remember quite clearly our visit to the doctors. I had my two boys with me. The cold and flu got the better of me that week, so off I went to the only appointment I could get that day. The quicker I was to start feeling better, the more I was able to handle my days with William.
A new doctors clinic where William had never been before. I hadn’t had time to prepare him for where we were going, no pictures of the doctors to show him. Just my words which I hoped were enough to get him through. With my youngest at the clingy stage, and Will already clearly anxious, I did my best to walk in calmly and wait till the Dr called me in.
If you’re a parent to a child on the spectrum you get to know when your child is going downhill. You know their triggers. You weigh up whether it’s best to just cancel your day and lock yourself in the house until things calm down. This particular day, I decided to go.
Once arriving, things went from bad to worse. A room full of people, noises everywhere, TV on, phones ringing, not to mention an unfamiliar room. It was a disaster waiting to happen. William was in complete sensory overload.Not long after, the meltdown was in full force. Damn, I had not prepared him enough.The Dr at that point calling me in, and all I could think about was getting in and out as fast as I could. The session was bad, I could barely contain William let alone speak to the Doctor, but I did my best.
I also did my best with what I faced when I walked back to the waiting room. The number of stares I received when I clearly needed some help. Just a “Are you ok” or “I’ll get the door for you”, but nothing.
Within the mix of a clearly traumatized little boy and a mum who was trying to cope, I had every single person in that room looking at me, and it made me feel like a failure. Like I didn’t know how to handle my son. The stares I received hurt, it hurt because I knew I was doing my best, and I felt like they judged me without knowing what we were going through.
I’m sure they could see my little boy who was so clearly struggling…. I was struggling.
I got out of there as fast as I could. Tears were pouring down my face before I made it to the car.
I was exhausted. I was drained. All I was worried about at that point though, was getting William back into the safety of the car. He’d be safe with no noise and some familiarity to him.
Damn that was a hard day. A simple trip to the Dr turned out to be a nightmare. I didn’t have a lot of strength that day, so I just let the tears roll on. Tomorrow was a new day.
As time’s gone on, I feel I’ve gained more strength when I’m faced with those situations. Maybe it’s that I don’t care about what other people think as much. I’ve accepted that my boy will always be different, he’ll struggle in social situations and it won’t seem normal.
Life is cruel sometimes, and at times it does get all too much for this mummy. I know I’m stronger than I was. I know that I have the fight, patience and resilience to not let anyone bring us down.
But if I can say one thing it’s this – next time you see that screaming child at the supermarket or Dr’s, before you immediately think he’s that naughty kid, and that his mum cannot handle him….. Stop. Just try and understand. Reach out to them and offer to help.
You may just make their already horrible day, a little bit brighter.
(Devoted Mum and Co-Founder of William Ready)