Autism poses undoubted challenges in our life, and there are days I wish I had never heard the word. Days when Number One’s anxiety overwhelms her, and days when I am annoyed at the world for not being a little bit kinder.
In the early days worrying about Number One’s future was all consuming.
I had no idea what Autism would mean to her or to us. I was frightened that no matter how hard I tried, I would never be enough.
These days however those days of worrying come far less often.
I look at my beautiful, talented daughter and am overwhelmed with pride at just how far she has come. Number One is who she is because of the challenges she has faced, because of the mountains she has climbed and because she has autism. Autism is part of her. And if I am honest, on balance that is a good thing.
Number One is a perfectionist.
I know that whatever she does she will do to the best of her ability. Whether it’s her beautiful handwriting, a homework assignment or tidying the toys. I know any job done by her will be one done properly.
She is a specialist.
If something interests Number One, she will find out anything and everything there is about it. I would hazard a guess that there are few of you that could challenge her knowledge of Harry Potter or our local radio station. Right now there are times when both these things drive me more than a little crazy but I know that her desire for in depth knowledge will stand her in good stead for the future.
Number One is the ultimate rule keeper.
I know if I set a rule she will follow it always. I know with her there will be no worries about underage drinking, or calls from the police in the middle of the night to tell me her teenage self is in trouble. She sets great store on the importance of rules, and that is a very good thing for me as her mum (though admittedly I am sure her friends occasionally feel differently).
She is kind.
Number One understands that sometimes life is hard, and she knows – that particularly in social situations – she makes mistakes. It makes her much more tolerant of the mistakes of others. She forgives easily and is always ready with a warm hug if someone is feeling sad.
Number One is the best big sister in the world.
I am continually astounded with how much Number One adores Number Two. Even when he is annoying (as little brothers can be), somehow he manages not to get into trouble. She loves the idea of unconditional sibling love and relishes in his mutual adoration of her.
Autism doesn’t define her. But it does make her more and not less.
If I had known back then, in the early days, what I know now, I would have had so many fewer sleepless nights.
Not because of the above. Nor because she’s intelligent and caring. Not even because I know she will figure out her own ways to be successful.
But because of something far more important…
She is happy.
And at the end of the day that matters more than anything else.