Numbers….we’re surrounded by them. They dictate our lives, even before we’re born:
“your baby is due on….”, “at 32 weeks of pregnancy, your baby should be xx length” and at the ultrasound scans the head is measured etc.
Once your baby is born, there are more numbers: the birth weight, the length, the head circumference. And then the pressure starts: is your baby growing to his/her line on the growth chart? Are they holding their head unsupported at the right age? Rolling over? Crawling? Pulling themselves up? Babbling?
Boom! Pressure to keep up, to conform to the norm.
Your child starts nursery (having had those Health Visitor checks between birth and now) with the boxes ticked for the “milestones”. You are given some forms before nursery starts to complete: is your child potty trained? Drinking from a cup or beaker? Can they dress themselves? Can they count from 1 to 3?
And then someone notices something isn’t “right” at nursery. Your child is not “conforming” – they prefer to play by themselves, almost obsessively: they lack social skills: their speech is delayed. You start the “process” to a potential diagnosis, not quite understanding where it will lead.
You reach your destination: A diagnosis of Autism. You are told that your child’s social skills and awareness are YEARS below their actual age.
You mentally tear up that bit of paper that says what your child should be doing by now, you start again.
You accept that whilst your child might be taller and older looking for their age, their awareness of the world around them is far far less. You start to worry like you have never worried before about the future.
You learn to ignore the “averages”, the “stats”, the numbers.
You realise that you will always love your child with Autism no matter what.
You take pride in their accomplishments that other people would simply brush aside (for my D, this can be as simple a thing as taking a trip to the shops without bolting and remaining nicely in her SN buggy – her “safe” place, her sanctuary).
You look forward to your child’s birthday and try not to compare, to think what might have been.
You remain determined to raise Autism awareness for each and every person and their loved ones.
You forget about conforming to the numbers.
Thanks for reading, comments/RTs as ever welcomed. Jx