Advocate isn’t a role that I ever pictured myself holding. A mum, a wife, a work mate, a sister and a daughter. If I’m lucky an aunt, a friend and a cousin. But advocate? It wasn’t on my list.
Yet, it was a title that seemed to come along with Poss’ diagnosis. Almost as though she was given her label and I was issued with mine at the same time. We didn’t get cards or badges, but I’m sure there is some sort of secret handshake.
Maybe we don’t need it though. It’s not hard to spot us, we’re the ones with bags under our eyes than no concealer will cover and that can identify every coffee shop within a 10km radius at any one time. Most of us are working on getting the eyes installed in the back of our heads, until then our exhausted intuition has to work overtime.
Advocating for your child is a whole different ball game when they have a diagnosis of some sort – Autism or otherwise.
We learn to speak with specialists in their language and then try to decipher it for friends and family, sometimes teachers. We fight for aide hours, extra funding and sometimes, basic human rights. We protect, we shelter and we struggle for the balance between stretching our kids and knowing their limits.
We take on the stares of the people around us, as much as we take on our kids anxiety. Small things, normal things, things that others don’t have to think of, are big things; clothing is scratchy, lights are bright, food is disgusting, noise is loud.
We take the hits, the scratches, the tears and the meltdowns, right alongside the laughs, the smiles and the pride so huge and overwhelming it makes your heart explode.
And we don’t do any of this for rewards, for praise, for acknowledgment. We don’t do it for applause, or acclaim. We do it for the love. Simples.
But when the opportunity comes up to educate others, to help them see the amazing little person that I’m lucky enough to parent, I’ll proudly put my hand up every time.
Last Thursday was World Autism Awareness Day and I was given the opportunity to write a few pieces for some bigger websites. It was a chance to share a bit of our story and hopefully show others, those who don’t live with Autism day in and day out, what makes our world turn…
You can read them here:
- Five things I want everyone to know about Autism
- Autism diagnosis: one mother’s story
- A mother’s message to strangers about her daughter
Advocate may be a title that itches and grates sometimes, like an ill-fitting hat, but I wear it with pride, I wear it with hope. Even though we’ve still go so far to go, if the news stories in the Australian media from the past week are anything to go by.
But still there’s a tiny hope that somehow I’m making a difference, no matter how small.