Very few things will ever change your life as profoundly as having a child with special needs. Nothing prepares you for it because everything you ever imagined about parenting becomes useless.
When my oldest son was diagnosed with autism, it felt like I had entered a new world. I knew very little about autism back then. Growing up in Zimbabwe I had never even heard autism being mentioned; there are no words for autism in the three African languages that I speak. Even though I had since lived in two other continents a long way from Africa, I still didn’t know a single person with autism. I had watched Rainman but could barely even remember that.
With my son’s diagnosis, I had entered a world with it’s own language, new words and multiple acronyms that meant nothing to me. I felt lost and overwhelmed. I had to defer to strangers, the “experts” who could explain my son’s autism to me. As wonderful and supportive as they were, I didn’t want to be completely dependent on them. I longed to be confident in my abilities to be a mother to my son who just now happened to have autism.
These 5 steps gave me my confidence back:
- I got informed
- I got support
- I focused on taking care of myself
- I taught my son life skills
- I embraced our new reality
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