Young mum, Emily Alexander, is opening up about the experience of learning to accept her child’s autism diagnosis.
Autism is defined as a lifelong developmental disability which affects how people communicate and interact with the world. To learn more about Autism, visit the NHS resource link.
CHOOSING TO OPEN UP
I have been dwelling on the idea of writing a post about Riley’s disability ever since the day I was told that my child has ‘probable autism’. Specifically, it was on the 15th of April, 2019. I could not stand the thought of others thinking that I am sharing this for attention. Or even, some people may think I am ridiculous for writing about it in the first place. In reality, I am writing about it because I want people to understand what autism really is and maybe it may even help those who have a family member with autistic spectrum disorder to know they are not alone.
THE EARLY DIAGNOSIS
”It’s clear Riley is showing behaviours that you would associate with Autism”. I remember hearing those words as if they were only said yesterday. Those words that made me feel like I was drowning. I wanted to wrap my precious little boy up in cotton wool and never let go.
Prior to our first paediatrician appointment, I spent months researching signs of autism on google. They say we should not google signs and symptoms, but as a mother, when it involves your child, you just can’t help yourself. I’ll be the first to admit I was riddled with anxiety during the time of not knowing why my son had become non verbal in such a short space of time. I started to blame myself and question if there was something I had done that caused Riley to regress. I had to learn to accept that it was not me (and indeed I am still trying to do this).
MANAGING MY FEELINGS
I cannot begin to describe the thoughts and feelings that I experienced upon hearing there was a chance my son had a disability. As a mother, you truly do think the worst and begin to question absolutely everything. However, overtime I have begun to realise it really isn’t the end of the world. Riley was and still is the same little boy that walked into that room before we were told of a potential diagnosis.
It is okay to struggle and it is okay to worry about the future. But if I am not positive for Riley then what does that make me? I remind myself of this every time I question this life we are now living. He is an incredible little boy with huge potential to achieve such amazing things. My child is capable of doing so much. He just needs a little extra help along the way and that is absolutely okay.
When you become a mother you never think it will be your child that has to go through something quite like this. So when the reality hits you in the face like a ton of bricks, it may feel like your world is ending. Sometimes, it may feel like you are moving two steps forward but then three steps back.
As a mother with a child who has any kind of disability, you will most likely cry tears of joy at seeing them do something so little that others may take for granted. I experienced this exact feeling when Riley looked at me in the eyes for longer than a few seconds. Even with the little things such as reacting when I tickle him.
LEARNING TO ACCEPT MY CHILD’S AUTISM DIAGNOSIS
Sometimes I get so overwhelmed and angry at the thought of the life Riley has been given. I then remind myself that Riley would not be Riley if things were different. He’s a strong little lad and everything happens for a reason. As a mother you wish to be able to protect your little person from absolutely everything that may cause them to face any type of difficulties. However, when it becomes apparent that your child is living with a disability that will never go away, you have to learn how to cope with these difficulties. It is also crucial to remind yourself that they will succeed as long as you are there to support them over every obstacle that they face.
It may sound silly but I believe I was gifted with a gorgeous little boy with autism because whoever it may be, knows I am strong enough to face the journey we have ahead of us. Riley is the happiest little man who gives the best most tightest cuddles and lives in his own little bubble and I wouldn’t have him any other way.
Riley finally received his official diagnosis on the 16th of December 2019. Of course it didn’t come as a surprise but that certainly didn’t make it any easier. It just made it feel more real. Once the official diagnosis is given, nothing necessarily changes. However, having that diagnosis there, opens up many pathways to lots of help for the future.
I always thought I would have to teach my son about the world. But as it turns out… me and him are teaching the world about him, together.
TELL YOUR STORY
Little Lullaby is interested in stories from young parents that are under 25 years old. You can look at stories on our website for inspiration: littlelullaby.org.uk/. You can also send us an email by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss any topic you may be interested in writing or vlogging about.
Join our social community: