In November 2009 both my sons were diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Duncan was given the diagnosis of 'Aspergers' and younger brother Tristan 'atypical autism'. It didn't upset me at the time. It was a relief really. Finally I had an explanation for Duncan's lack of empathy and interest in other people. But more importantly why my youngest son was not managing with the basics of everyday life and having 'meltdowns' multiple times a day.
I know that I was sustained by a higher power and good friends during 2009, but also by my own ability to shut myself off emotionally and just go into the 'war zone' everyday. I used to say that "Mummy was putting her army boots on." And it really did feel that way. There was no relief from it. I just had to soldier on and become an advocate in every sense of the word.
Never mind that I also had a 2 year old daughter to take care of as well. She has become such a blessing for me. And had I 'known' that my boys would both be on the autistic spectrum, I would not have had her. But I am sooooo glad she is here. She makes me realise that I am a good parent and what my parenting life would look like without ASD. She is social, independent, interested in other people, aware of how other's might be feeling and she looks me in the eye. And she frequently tells me that she loves me.
I do think that I am up for the challenge of parenting two boys on the spectrum though. I've had good training. I was a primary teacher for 15 years. My work colleagues always remarked upon how structured my class was. But probably, just as importantly, I have had 40+ years of Asperger's interaction from my own parents and brothers (undiagnosed).
I haven't written too much about this aspect of my 'other' life. It is complicated, messy, emotionally draining and at times overwhelming. My escapism has been to sew. I am thankful for my first 'real' hobby in 43 years. I am thankful for my three children and an even-keeled husband of nearly a decade. I am thankful for my friends past and present. I am especially thankful for my best friend and the other parents who are also on this journey of autism. And recently I am thankful for Karen who has been able to put into words some of the stuff I have not wanted to write - yet!