I had never heard of the word Autism before my son’s diagnosis. It was rather a devastating day. I knew little about the condition and the consultant couldn’t say much but ‘I am sorry Mum’. All my questions and concerns were met with ‘sorry we don’t know enough than to tell you it’s a lifelong condition and that he is going to be in the disable register.’
I kept asking what was the next action. The lovely consultants a lady, and her male counterpart said there is nothing I could do.
I am quite sure there are lots of mothers of Autistic children out there who went through the same ordeal and clearly there are no words to explain the gut wrenching feeling of the unknown. The idea of me having more children and the possibility of the next child being Autistic weighed me down.
I was distraught. I was so sad that I cried throughout my journey back home from the Children Centre. Dark days followed but I had to be strong for my son.
I had the difficult task of breaking the news to my family and my son’s dad who like many Africans refused to accept it. My mother like most Africans had no idea what I was talking about. She said it was all lies, and cautioned me about believing diagnosis by Western doctors. Most of my siblings shared her thoughts. I was caught in a cross road. Should I accept or should I deny? Members of my church urged me to deny too. The decision was not going to come in a day.
It was the beginning of a vague journey. The unknown is a beautiful journey I must say. It’s been almost 7yrs now since we started off with Autism and it’s been the most thrilling, frustrating at times and the most awesome of experiences we have had. I have been blessed with the most loyal of sisters. I could not have done it on my own. She has been a blessing to me. Everyone needs that human help to share and discuss ideas to improve, nurture and celebrate milestones. We resolved to accept that my son was autistic.
Throughout this journey, I have learnt many things, some uplifted me, some pulled me down. Yet, a major lesson I have learnt is to accept the existence of Autism. Accepting the condition despite encouragement from certain people in my community to deny, has helped me to give the support my child needs and thus the happiness he enjoys.