Understanding Our Journey

Autism is a journey that will truly change and shape you’re your life in a way you never thought possible. It will make you question everything you’ve ever believed in, including yourself.
Autism is an invisible disability. For many, those affected by Autism look normal but yet they are so different. They live in a totally different world, they don’t see what we see, they don’t understand what we understand and they can’t relate to things like we can. Autism is a spectrum disorder which means that while many people on the spectrum will share the same difficulties, it will affect everyone in different ways. The three main areas of difficulties are with;
social communication,
social interaction,
social imagination.

My daughter is now 18. Its been a heart breaking journey that we have both been on. The moment you realise that what you had planned or had imagined for your child is no longer reality, will truly be a soul searching moment. There will be tears and lots of them, you’ll feel your heart break in a way you never thought possible. Autism will have this impact on you but by no means is it the end of the world. Progress may be slow and at times non existent but with patience and love, you will have some truly ground breaking moments. My daughter was 6 years old the first time she spoke. The first time I heard the word “mum” from her lips is the moment I will cherish for ever. She doesn’t have many words and we’ve never had a full conversation and I have to accept that we may never have one either. To know she’ll never experience things that everyone else takes for granted is hard. She will never come home and tell me she’s found the one. I’ll never see her get married. As a parent the impact that has on you is heart breaking. I have never once wished she wasn’t mine, never once thought that this wasn’t happening to us. In our house autism is accepted, embraced & loved beyond bounds. Yes it hurts! Yes it’s difficult and Yes, at times you think this isn’t fair. These are all perfectly normal reactions and behaviours.

She may not always understand what I say. She doesn’t always respond to me. She can lash out in frustration and during meltdowns. These are not nice to witness and never will be, to see your child lash out and even try to hurt themselves simply because they can’t understand what is going on around them. You can’t punish a child for something they don’t understand or is beyond their control.

Autism is so misunderstood. During my personal journey I soon realised that There is is a huge lack of awareness about Autism in the Asian community. This needs to change. These children have a right to be a part of society too. To be accepted for who they are, they can’t change the way they are. Autism is nothing to be ashamed off; neither should it be considered a burden. We as a society all have a duty to learn about these poignant issues which will ultimately have a positive significant impact to parents with autistic children. You may not be able to help us but to know you understand is all we need.

Autism awareness and acceptance is hugely important to us parents, so that we too, can feel our children are just as important as yours. So our children can be accepted just like yours, even if they are different. They may be different but by no means are they less. You can help by helping me raise the awareness of autism, by talking about it and most importantly, understanding it. The difference that would make would be huge. It would help other parents not to sweep this issue under the carpet. I want every parent of a child with autism to feel acceptance. Never to feel that they can’t take their children to the park or to shops, things that some parents don’t even think about twice. So lets all raise awareness together and make a difference, not only in society but in our community. A community which I am extremely proud to be a part of.

Pam Malhi

This article was printed in the April Edition of The Asian Today Newspaper. April is autism awareness month.

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