Last week I asked the question, ‘How has having a child with autism changed you as a person?’ The response I got was excellent, and I have summarised some of those replies in the post ‘Changes’. But they were too good to summarise, so I decided to share them all over the course of the next week. I will shortly transfer them all to the blog page also called ‘Changes’. Thanks again to everyone who sent their intelligent, moving and inspirational comments. Today’s contribution is from Steph who writes the blog StephsTwoGirls. I really like this one- hope you do too. More tomorrow.
How has having a child with autism changed you as a person?
Or, phrased another way, does parenting a child with autism change who you are? Or does it change who you may have become?
To understand the changes, you need to know what came before. Before children I would have considered myself easy-going, a ‘sit-on-the-fence’ kind of person who liked a quiet life and hated confrontation. I was extremely lucky with my lot, and coasting along nicely, thank you very much. I wasn’t even sure I wanted children originally – I never felt I had that particular maternal instinct, wasn’t sure what I would do with children or how to ‘handle’ them. I had a great life, good jobs (yes, definitely more than one…), plenty of holidays and work trips abroad. Of course I can pick some of the points out of the list below, and say that everyone who becomes a parent would say they are now ‘more tired’ for example, but in that case you can read ‘More tired….and then some’.
Now, I am:
- A whole lot more knowledgeable about Special Needs, but still not even half way there
- More stressed
- More determined
- More patient
- More aware of others’ needs
- More flexible – but mostly with relation to our ASD girl’s needs
- More understanding
- More aware that you never know what problems other people/families are facing
- More tolerant
- More paranoid about what others are thinking
- More busy (I think ‘busier’ may be grammatically correct, but it didn’t fit the list )
- More tired
- More emotional
I am also:
- My child’s greatest advocate
- A fighter
- An expert form-filler
- Keen to spread understanding of autism in any way I can
- Less judgemental
- Less bothered by what others think (I know, I know, that’s contradictory)
- Often in meetings concerning my ASD girl
- Getting used to the rollercoaster that life has become
- Less likely to take time for myself
- Less likely to eat out in restaurants – something I’d have loved to do with my family
- Working with a company who provide help to families of children with ASD/ADHD
- Wanting to help other families who are realising their child is different
- A keeper of lots of files and paperwork that I never imagined I’d have
- Keenly aware of how autism affects the whole family, particularly siblings
- Extra especially keen to make sure I am doing the best job I can with my non-ASD child
- Constantly thinking about the future and about how we can make it the best it possibly can be for both our children
My blog has been an outlet of thoughts and hopes from the start; a way of letting others know how it really is, a way of trying to increase understanding. I am fairly sure I’d never have started this blog without our diagnosis of autism, so that is another way in which I have changed. Just think of all those TV programmes I could have watched instead of sitting here typing away! I’ve found such a huge great support network through blogging though, and for that I’m very grateful.