A New Year
As one-year ends and another begins, it is at this time of year that I feel imbalanced and at a loss of direction. As I lay down in deep thought, reflecting on both the high and low moments of my life; I realize that I am way too hard on myself. I am not a robot; I am a human who needs to step back once in a while to appreciate all the hard work that I do and also acknowledge that I have a happy son. Life can be hard and get serious at times, so it is important to be present and live in the moment.
Forget all my achievements, if you strip it all back to basics, I am just a mother who wants the best for my son. I hope that when he is older, he will have an equal opportunity to achieve whatever he wants to accomplish in life. Sometimes I feel like I have to build a door to opportunity for him when the door should already be opened.
I feel that in this day and age, children have it harder. Just think about it…they have to compete with machines as well as each other for jobs. Everything is fast-paced, visually appealing, bigger, better, everyone has to have one. A delusional reality where we feel like we have to strive for perfection. So, what happens to those made to feel like they were born at a disadvantage? Those with physical disabilities and those who struggle to read, write and interpret information and social cues? Where does this leave them? That is why it is necessary to advocate for autism. That is why it is important to discuss mental health. There is no such thing as perfection.
Autism is not a label. We are all people without a manual just trying to do our best in life without knowing the end result.
Everyone has a perception of a place or a person. Like a piece of art. An artist has an idea of what their masterpiece conveys, but as it is being presented, people have their own interpretation on what the art piece represents. This does not mean that the artist has to modify their piece of art to what another person interprets it to be. Just like my son being autistic, when I mention the ‘A’ word, people have a perception of my son but that perception changes once they have met him. They then realize that he is more than just an autistic boy, he is very much his own person.
One thing that I have worked hard on together with my son is mental health and wellbeing and for him to have his own identity. He gets upset when he makes mistakes with his writing and hits himself on the head. So, whenever I make a mistake, I point this out to him and say it is ok, I make mistakes too. I do not ever want him to feel that it is only him making mistakes.
I have been told many times that I could not do or achieve what I wanted to. As a young child, my mum was told that I was being lazy when it came to schooling, only later to be diagnosed at university with dyslexic traits. The school teacher, at primary school, shouted at me for writing with my left hand and tried to force me to write with my right hand.
At upper school, the headteacher advised me not to bother choosing subjects for my A-levels as he felt that I was going to fail my GCSE’s. When in fact, I picked up my test results and opened up the envelope and the first grade that I saw was an A. I actually thought that they gave me someone else’s paper, but in fact, it was mine.
At university, my placement coordinator advised me that I was too shy to choose a work placement in America and that I should focus on the UK placements. I had an interview for an American placement and was their first choice. I worked a year in Orlando Florida, which was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
When I was younger, I felt as though I had to prove to others that I was capable of achieving what they thought I could not; but, as I grew older, I realized that the only person I have to prove that too is me.
I can be given guidelines for my son, but no one can tell him what he can and cannot achieve. As I have said before, the future is unknown. More than anything, understand the importance of children to dream. Dream big and start the new year with no expectations. Be kind to yourself and know that you are doing a great job.