I never really appreciated the saying “it takes a village to raise a child” until this last few years.
When you are the parent to additional needs children you need a very special village both for yourself and your children.
Raising any child is hard, raising a child with autism and or ADHD is a challenge on a whole other level. Being a parent with ASD only complicates everything even further!
You need people who won’t give up when times are tough.
You need people that will make time for you and your children when you or they need it.
You need people that recognise how much time, effort and energy it took you and your child to take that next step. To celebrate the achievements that seem small and insignificant to others.
You need people who believe anything is possible when faced with the impossible.
You need people to be kind, underestanding and patient.
You need people willing to work harder than they may have ever worked before.
You need people and places that want to see you and your children grow and achieve what once seemed impossible.
Recently it has struck me how blessed I am that each of my children and myself have a special village of extraordinary people around us, these people are extraordinary because when we needed them they were there, through the good times and the bad.
In my own village there are other additional needs parents who stop me feeling alone on the darkest and hardest of days. Those that stand beside me and say “I hear you, I get it, you are not alone.”
There are my friends old and more recently made who remind me I am more than just a mum and a carer. Friends I can turn to for advice and support when the panic of yet another initially massive sized crisis hits, in our house at present we have at least one crisis a week!
That is the reality of being a neurodiverse family.
There are a small circle of friends who I hope knows who they are that I will always be eternally grateful to, for always listening. For always guiding. For occsionally throwing their arms around me and giving me a hug. Even for giving me a stern talking too when I throw up my hands declaring I can’t do this anymore. I am grateful.
There are the special professionals who although they are paid to help support me and my children go the extra mile, they return my calls in their own time when they should have been home to their own families an hour ago, always replying to emails, they help me unpick a problem without ever being judgmental, they listen even when I can’t find the words to explain what and why I am struggling, they offer encouragement when everything seems hopeless, many have crossed boundaries and become friends still supporting long after their professional roles with our family have ended.
My children’s villages have much the same structure and purpose of my own, they feature places where they are accepted and included by people who genuinely care.
My eldest child who school never really worked out for has grown considerably thanks to our local theatre and the people there as well as another local business with whom they volunteer with. They also have an online community of like minded individuals in the gaming community to socialise with.
My middle child has had tremendous support recently from a school I had a very poor opinion of after the experiences of my eldest child there. They have done so much to help and support my child my opinion of them has greatly changed. This child is also included and accepted at our local Guides, theatre group and the groups where they themselves are a volunteer.
My youngest child is loved by everyone that knows them, despite having the greatest level of support needs, this child is blissfully happy most of the time, in this child’s village there are many people who make time for them, even the checkout operator at our local supermarket is in this child’s village. All who gives their time even in the smallest of ways helps this child grow through new experiences and adventures.
The people and places in my village and those of my children see potential, they see beyond diagnosis’s, they recognise talent to be nurtured and supported. The help us all individually and as a family be included and valued in a world that still struggles to include those who are neurodiverse, they give me hope that the world is slowly changing to accept quirky and different.
Every child and family needs their own village.
I know neither myself or my children would be where we are today if it wasn’t for all those special people who are in our village.