I am a Mum of two amazing (often misunderstood) boys. My eldest who is 9 years old is diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum combined with ADHD. My youngest is 8 and is also diagnosed with ADHD. Since becoming a Mum I have learnt so much more about unconditional love than I knew was possible, but I think having boys with additional needs has taught me a little something extra.

A little something extra I don’t feel you can really come to fully understand until you become a parent of a child with special needs. It has taught me patience beyond measure, not just patience for my boys but patience for the world that they live in. We’ve dealt with many, many challenges through the years. Anger, meltdowns, communication and social difficulties, anxiety, sensory problems and as you know the list goes on but one of the biggest challenges I feel that I have overcome as a Mum is acceptance. Acceptance of my children for who they truly are (not for the idea of who I feel they should be), acceptance of the Mum I am, letting go of the Mum I always thought I was ‘meant’ to be and acceptance of the rest of the world. Acceptance is a journey that I am definitely still travelling but I feel like I’ve managed to get to a place I’m comfortable with. I’ve come to realise through my children not reaching developmental milestones neuro typically, through diagnosis to now that my children won’t be cured to fit in to this often neuro typical world. The moments when they can’t blend in as ‘normal’ and the stares, glances and often not helpful remarks and opinions head our way, that is when I remember that one little word ‘ACCEPTANCE’. Accepting these people’s opinions for what they are, their opinions, opinions based on their own reality, not mine. I understand the reality of my (often predictably unpredictable) life with my boys and can completely understand how there are people out there who could not begin to comprehend what that involves, I don’t judge them for judging us. My boys are beautifully unique and completely individual and I will always and forever do everything I can to encourage them to own that, to be proud of who they are, because I am. I encourage my boys to challenge themselves, to reduce the negative effects of their behaviour and focus on the good, to push outside their boundaries, to hopefully one day have them be as happy and independent as they can be. This takes strength and it’s sometimes hard to keep that strength when the world is trying to change you, trying to mould you into what they want you to be, who they think you should be, but it is in these moments, each and every time that you become a little bit stronger. Getting to this stage of acceptance at times has not been easy and having ‘people who get it’ being alongside me through these times is what I will not take for granted. These people in my life that share a look of empathy and understanding at those times when they know it is needed, those people that notice the tiny (enormous) steps both me and my boys take, those people who without them, would make this journey just that bit harder. Take 5 and chat is one place where ‘people who get it’ can come together for support, advice, laughs, tears, cakes and many cups of tea!  A place where I know me and my family will always be accepted for who we are.