Essential Baby member Erin Law is a mum of three. Her daughter, Bailey, has autism, and Erin has Asperger's Syndrome herself. A year after her diagnosis, and on World Autism Awareness Day, she shares her story.
One year on from receiving a diagnosis of Asperger's, and how things have changed!
Bailey is now in Prep, and with some hard work and hours of practice (huge thanks to her psychologist!), she is doing brilliantly both academically and socially.
She has been invited to not one but TWO birthday parties. She has a small group of friends, she speaks clearly and confidently and (mostly) skips into school, happy and keen to start the day.
It's a far cry from the little girl who screamed when being left at Kindy, who would sit alone (often by choice) because the other kids' social interactions and play just didn't seem to make sense to her.
At home, she's working on maintaining calm and settling herself after a big day of being stimulated and trying to fit in. (Bailey, like many girls with autism, will often "mask" her autistic behaviours when out of the home, appearing almost neurotypical to the untrained eye. This can be exhausting for her.)
Yes, she still has meltdowns, and there are bad days, but with guidance and support we're seeing a real change in how she's handling her emotions, and making steps to control her outbursts.
I could not be more proud of how far Bailey has come, and the effort she's put into learning all the things that other kids find easy.
As for me, April 2 marks my "Aspieversary". It's been 12 months since I sat with my psychologist and had it confirmed that I, too, am on the autism spectrum.
Discovering I have Asperger's has been one of the more positive events of my life. I now understand myself, and my challenges (and gifts!) so much better. It's a sense of closure for some of my darker times, and provides hope for the future. Asperger's has its drawbacks, but often opens the doors to greatness, too - you've just got to find your talent and harness it!
On a personal level, I find I am now kinder to myself. I give myself some slack when things become difficult. I am able to recognise and verbalise when I struggle with certain tasks or environments. I'm also a better parent because I can recognise when Bailey is becoming overstimulated or socially exhausted, and manage this more effectively.
I make efforts to educate and inform others about autism and how it presents. Thankfully I come from an amazing family, and have created another of my own with my fiancé, Tim. (I still feel incredibly lucky to have found myself a partner who not only "gets it", but will gently educate others. Many neurotypicals simply can't/won't attempt to understand, so for him I am forever grateful!)
Today, on World Autism Awareness Day, the girls and I wear blue, in the hope of doing our part to increase awareness of autism in all its shapes and forms, and to celebrate just how far we've come in overcoming some of the obstacles faced by those on the spectrum.
Leaving you with the wise words of a fellow ASD mamma, EB forum user BMJ: "If in doubt, check it out". Bailey and I are testament to the fact that an autism diagnosis isn't the end of the world, but rather a mud-map to understanding it.
Read more stories from EB members with children who are on the autism spectrum in our forum.