I remember the day my mother told me that my son could possibly be autistic, most parents would probably cry with sorrow due to the unknown. I cried with relief. I honestly believed I was a terrible parent due to my son not hitting milestones, not sleeping, not talking, hardly eating. Then I finally had an answer to all my questions, and funnily enough, autism didn’t scare me.

I got the ball rolling in regards to finding him the help he needed and I became obsessed with watching YouTube videos and documentaries on autism. I was shocked that nearly all the footage I was watching was like home videos of my boy. I finally started receiving answers to my own questions, and my fight mode kicked in even more. I ordered Picture Education Communication System (PECS) online, I visited a special needs preschool, I signed up to The National Autistic Society and went to any local training course I could go to. I was determined to connect with my son on a level that was comfortable for him.

After he was diagnosed at three, and accepted to his special needs ‘big school’, I felt like all the hard work was paying off. I was communicating with my nonverbal son through visual aids, and finally finding out what his likes and dislikes were. I knew what made him tick, I knew what made him stim, I knew what made him happy. I loved speaking to other SEN mums to gain tips and loved speaking to anyone who wanted to listen about autism to create awareness for my boy and so many others.

I have friends who, during their first few years of diagnosis with their child, wanted to shut the curtains and not leave the house because life was so hard. I agree that I have had times like this, it wasn’t all smooth sailing, but my coping mechanism was to accept autism, and to celebrate my son for all his quirky and wonderful ways. I rarely feel negative about autism as it’s here to stay. It’s never going. So instead of being its enemy I choose to be its friend.

I don’t pay attention to stereotypes in the media, I don’t pay attention to the phobias of iPads or the remarkable stories of Applied Behaviour Analysis therapy. I do things the way I feel is best, with help and support from my son’s school and his therapists. I do things the way I know my son will be happy to learn, to live and to love.

 

Fay is an autism parent to son Bowie, four years old. She is an avid campaigner/activist for autism awareness and has her own foundation 'Awareness For Autism' raising awareness and supporting families living with the disorder. Through her campaigning and awareness Fay was nominated for 'Most Inspirational Volunteer of The Year' award at The NAS's 2016 'Autism Professional Awards'.