Many times, I’ve tried to put myself in my child’s shoes, to imagine what he’s thinking. I’ve watched him stare out the window processing all that’s happening around him and I’ve seen the look he’s given me during a meltdown, eyes filled with pain and discomfort. For a parent of a child with autism it’s a continuous guessing game. Autism is a social and communication disorder, which means our children struggle to interpret the world and everything happening around them. It’s devastating at times because all you want to do is reach into their brain and find the problem, so you can find a solution.

Logical thinking is a big factor of autism, which at the same time creates a lot of distress. If a stranger at the bus stop comments on the weather to a person with autism using the phrase ‘it’s raining cats and dogs’ – you may just see them look up in the sky to check. Christmas isn’t always a happy time for a person with autism who continuously hears stories of a man with a big beard breaking into their house to leave surprises under their tree. Obviously, this isn’t the case for every individual with autism but is the case for some I know.

When communicating with my son, I try to put myself in his shoes and think how he would interpret what I am trying to say to him and I keep it as simple as possible. Then sometimes I can’t help as I can’t work out what has caused the meltdown. The look in my son’s eyes when he’s having a tough day just makes me want to hug him as tight as I can and let him know everything is going to be OK. But no matter how many times I do that, he still struggles to understand.

This is the toughest part of being a parent of a child with autism, not being able to know exactly what is going on inside my son’s head. Every parent wants to help their child in every way they can, and I can’t lie – at times I feel like a failure because no matter how hard I try, sometimes it’s simply impossible. I know I’m not the only person who feels like this. Parenting any child is a guessing game but parenting a disabled child with limited speech and a struggle to understand the world around him is at times, extremely difficult.

Therefore, I continuously campaign for more autism awareness. The more awareness around us increases the chances of our children being understood by their communities. With understanding comes acceptance, with acceptance comes comfort and with comfort – our children can be whoever they want to be without any social barrier stopping them.

Fay is an autism parent to son Bowie. 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. 

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