Happiness is rejoicing in who they are not who I want them to be.

I found myself yet again at the lifts at Asda watching while my child flapped and spun and laughed. I can't say that this was somewhere I aspired to be with my child at eight year old. I thought I might be watching him play football on a Saturday morning, or following in his grandfather’s footsteps by playing chess, or even simply joining the local scout group.

I thought I would visit public toilets with my children to have them use the bathroom not have fun flapping and jumping with excitement at hand dryers.

I have learnt to adjust as a parent to two children with autism. What I thought my children would enjoy or achieve has changed as I have learnt to find happiness in who they are, not what I expected them to be. 

I want to be honest and say this took a long time. It is perfectly ok and understandable when your child is diagnosed with any condition or is struggling in any area to be sad and struggle. It is alright to be stressed and worried when they don't reach milestones or are finding school a struggle. 

One thing I have learnt though as a special needs mum is that happiness can actually be found in the simplest of achievements for my child. 

Like the day at age eight when he was finally able to put his own coat on. And the day aged seven when my daughter finally had the courage to climb stairs on her own. What others take for granted becomes huge for me and my children. 

What started years ago as tears of disappointment and grief have slowly turned into tears of happiness and pride.

Now my children are eight and I find myself getting overly excited if we are at a new hospital and realise we need to use a lift. I know this simple fact will make my son so happy and relaxed and that will make me smile too. I take photographs if I go to a restaurant and realise they have smiley faces on the menu for children. This simple fact means my daughter may actually manage to come with me one day.

I eagerly plan trips for my children that I know will thrill them. These usually involve the simplest of things like a cafe that has chocolate cake and trips on trains. I buy sensory toys that I know they will love even if they only cost a pound.

We go to the park loads because they can spin on the roundabout and swing which gives them the sensory feedback they crave.

I line up toys with my daughter because she enjoys it. 

I read the same bedtime story for years and years because that makes them contented and settled.

I have stopped trying to make and mould my children into who I wanted them to be. I accept my son won't be going to college or making me a grandparent. I know my daughter will never be a dance superstar or a whizz at sports. Does any of this matter?

What matters is that they are respected, listened to, encouraged and accepted. 

Happiness for me as a special needs mum is seeing these beautiful smiles at lifts, hand dryers and on trains. 

Happiness is a deep acceptance that my children are wonderful, beautiful and special exactly the way they are.

To read more of Miriam's blogs go to www.faithmummy.wordpress.com