The other women raising my autistic son
My middle born son Mikey is very selective about who he gives the time of day. His older brother Jack and younger sister Nicole however, are much more open to entertaining anyone who crosses their path. A lot of people wondered why he wouldn’t acknowledge them speaking to him or showing him attention. They wondered if he was deaf, naughty or just plain ignorant. He is none of those things, the reason he doesn’t acknowledge you is because he is Autistic.
Being a mother who unconditionally loves her children, I would do anything to support them and better their lives. However, there are skills and knowledge that certain professionals and experienced people have that can better his life more than just me and his Dad can. Letting those people into our lives and seeing the care and love they have for Mikey has given me faith in the world my babies are growing up in and for that I want to thank each and every woman who gone above and beyond to support him, and this letter is to all of them (they just happen to all be women, but could easily have been men, although Mikey does respond better to women).
His two nans
Both my Mum and Paul’s Mum are incredibly close to Mikey and other than his Uncles and Aunties are the only people who we’d have watch him and that he responds too. He helps himself to the food in their kitchens, gives them kisses and drags them to where in their houses he wants something from (to the sink if he wants a drink, or the biscuit tin). Having the two people who have the unconditional love for our kids just like we do makes us incredibly happy, because Mikey has more people in his life who understand him and want the best for him.
His health visitor
We’ve had the same health visitor since Jack was born and she is incredible! I hear a lot of mums moaning about theirs, but ours really does go above and beyond to support us.
When I first voiced concerns to her about Mikey, she listened and took me seriously. It was a breath of fresh air, being believed instead of brushed off. But not his health visitor, she told me the ball could start rolling once he was two (which was 2 weeks away). She arranged for a hearing test that he passed. She took his case to a panel to get him a Portage worker and advised us on how to get speech therapy.
All of Mikey’s progression and the support he gets is solely down to her. If she brushed it off we may not be where we are today with all the support in place to support Mikey through every day of his life.
His portage worker
I had no idea what portage was until I was introduced to it by my health visitor. The specially trained professional who comes into our home and improves communication and developmental skills through play, it is incredible.
I had moderate expectations because I really did not know what to expect. It turns out on a weekly basis I’d be brought almost to tears of joy because of the incredible progress my son was making in front of my eyes.
His portage worker is so much more than that, her and Mikey share a genuine bond. He looks forward to seeing her every week and although he can’t communicate verbally, he gets excited by her name and she adores him. Seeing another person make my son happy because she understands and cares for him is beautiful.
His key working (& other staff at nursery)
Mikey started nursery shortly after he started portage, much to my reluctance. I was afraid to leave him in the care of people that couldn’t understand him. It turns out my worries were for nothing because his nursery are incredible. Jack already attends the same place and I went through a similar anxiety with him too. But what made it harder with Jack was that he used to cry when I left him. Mikey has never given a backwards glance, this is the child who goes into complete meltdown if I step out of his sight for even a moment. Suddenly running off into nursery without me. It gives me a massive feeling of relief that he has somewhere he feels comfortable without me there.
The woman who makes me feel at least moderately sane. My feelings, thoughts and niggling doubts about Mikey’s development are reassured. I can’t describe the feeling of the moment you have your concerns supported and believed by a professional.
I had the worst fear that they wouldn’t believe that he had additional needs. That he would go to school without support and just labelled as a naughty child. That his traits will be viewed as odd or strange. That we will be labelled as bad parents for not disciplining our child for having a frustrated meltdown.
By believing me, my pediatrician gave me peace of mind that I am not alone in the worries for my son. That the support will be there from now and for the rest of his life.
Mikey is very lucky to have a big support network of professional people. They will go above and beyond to put in place the best care package for him. To have a massive family of grandparents, uncles, aunties, cousins, siblings, friends. Plus we as his parents love him unconditionally and want to make his life as frustration-free as possible.
As his mother, I work tirelessly every day to achieve the best future for him. But it wouldn’t be possible without all of these women. For that I want to thank every single one of them and every person who cares for and loves Mikey.