So after 18 years in the education system school is officially over and off to college we go!
So what has 18 years taught her? She started school completely non-verbal, no words could she utter. She didn’t know her name or even how old she was. She didn’t know colours, shapes, numbers or even sizes. Truth be told she didn’t understand much.
18 years at school have taught her a great many things. Today she can recognise her name. She may not be able to spell it out or even write it but she’s knows her name. She can count to 10 most days. She knows at least 10 popular colours. She recognises shapes and she’s learnt some words! Of course my favourite word from her mouth is “Mum”. I was never certain my ears would hear those wonderful words from my first borns mouth, but it happened! It was one of the most wonderful moments of my life.
What will college teach her? My hope is much needed life skills for her to be as independent as possible. I’m not expecting miracles. I’m fully aware the progress we have made so far is huge for her & I understand anymore is a bonus and a blessing.
She’s almost 20 years old now! I still have my what if moments. I desperately try not to let them surface too often but I’m a mother after all! What if she didn’t have autism. I often wonder but I’ll never know! I don’t know what tomorrow holds never mind next week.
The truth is.. I’ll never see her take a driving lesson. I’ll never hear about the first day of college. I’ll never hear about the new friends she has made. I’ll never hear about the teachers she may not like. I’ll never see her change her outfit a 100 times for a night out with her college friends. I’ll never see her date anyone or tell me she’s found the one. I’ll never see her graduate. I’ll never see her say “I do”. I’ll never see her experience the wonderful joy of parenthood. I’ll never see her take her first holiday with her friends or her first all night rave. I’ll never text her and ask her where she is or say to her “wait till you get home”. She’ll never drag me to shops for new clothes or a new phone. She’ll never brush her own teeth properly. She has never been able to wash her hair or even pull out an outfit she wants to wear. I’ve never shared a secret with her and we’ve never had a pact. I’ve never even been given the chance to argue with her. We’ve never had a real conversation, we’ve never laughed at the same joke, we’ve never shared a bit gossip but we share many things that are priceless. We have an unbreakable bond of unconditional love. She can read my face and I can read her eyes. This our connection that I know she understands. So the list of I’ll never see her, will go on and on and on… But the one thing I know she’ll never feel is unloved. You see I may not have got what I was expecting but we soon learned to adapt & adjust the sail of our ship to the winds that were blowing our way. We wasn’t prepared to sink, even though life threw numerous sink or swim situations at us.
This is my daughter, Aaisha! She is the most affectionate person you’ll meet. She’s quite funny and loves joking around. She has compassion and doesn’t like seeing others upset. She’s just the most amazing young lady I know. Despite having autism, which lets be honest she probably doesn’t even know she has let alone understand it, she doesn’t moan and she doesn’t complain. She doesn’t ask for anything, she never demands. Meltdowns, bad days and days from hell, well that’s the autism not her, not who she really is. You see beyond the diagnosis she’s human just like you and me. She has feelings, she just can’t express them. She has emotions, she just can’t show them. She wants to understand us but often she finds this difficult and frustrating.
Autism doesn’t go away and you don’t grown out of it. It doesn’t get easier as they get older, in fact it gets harder, but no body tells you that. Yes as a parent it is utterly heart breaking. To most people she looks like a “normal young adult”. In reality my young adult is still my baby, still a toddler who needs constant supervision, still needs guidance, still needs her hand holding, still can’t let her out of our sight.
So when I’m writing these blogs, I’m not asking for pity! I’m hoping that you’ll understand more about the impact of living with autism. I hope my blogs can help educate others. There are many parents like me out there. They have the same thoughts as me, the same heart break, the same pride for their child. All parents of autistic children have the basic right not to feel isolated. To feel that they can take the child where they want without fear, just like every other parent. We just want you to understand our children better and tell your children why our children are the way they are. It’s not them, its autism. You can control or tame naughty children but we can’t cure our children. Oh I wish we could but we can’t! If you can understand autism for us that’s all we ask.
Miss Pam Malhi