Michelle was one of the first parents to drop in on our very first Café Drop-in session! Here she tells us about her family’s journey through diagnosis to understanding and then to starting her own Facebook Blog! Thanks for sharing your story Michelle!

The day I first walked into ‘Take 5 and chat – parenting additional needs’ I was grieving my living child! I was grieving for the loss of the quiet, happy child who never complained or had tantrums like his little sister!

I was told things like ‘he’s such a polite little boy’ but he stares while head-butting me because we went into a shop unplanned. I was told how I should parent him to make it better but not really listened to.

I took him to the park, soft play, all things I had always done, but suddenly, aged 8 it was as if a switch had flicked, and he became scared of things that were not real.  I didn’t know what to do.

Then a good friend said she wondered if he might be autistic. I thought she was mad, that he’s not ‘rain man’, he’s just dyslexic and has anxiety like me.

But the thoughts rattled around in my head, so I researched it and felt that she was more than right.

When we finally got an appointment, CAMHS asked me what I wanted for my son, I held back the tears and said I want him to play out on his bike, seek friends and be like other kids. I wanted him not to be scared of everybody!

I was angry when others were not listening to me, I tried to explain that it’s not his fault and he’s autistic, but it felt lonely as other people’s children were not like mine.

Then my friends took me to this little Drop-in Café, with lovely, smiley ladies, one also had a child like mine but older.  Now, at last, I could vent my thoughts and breath, and talk about the things my wider family wouldn’t listen too!

The people at ‘Take 5 and chat’ celebrated my achievements too… when I passed my driving test, went to college, and finally got my own ADHD diagnosis!

Life moved on and I didn’t go as much to the Drop-in Café, but I’ll always be grateful for the support and kindness I got, and the courses I could attend and learn from.

I no longer grief my autistic child, I celebrate that he’s amazing, bright, clever and funny. He’s taught me so much and when his sister got her autism and ADHD diagnosis, I cried happy tears this time.

I was believed and always knew it wasn’t my parenting.

I knew this journey as I have lived it all my life, and unlike me who was diagnosed later in life, my daughter would have me by her side teaching her skills and understanding her difficulties.

I had an idea to start my own blog about helping other adults with ADHD and Beth gave me the confidence to give it a go. With the help of friends, I’ve done it!

So, thank you ‘Take 5 and chat’ team, and especially my brave friend Lindsey, for suggesting my son might be autistic, letting me freak out and talking me though his meltdowns… together we have learned how to cope!