Parenting children with special needs brings joys and challenges. One of the things I love about blogging is how it introduces you to so many different types of family situations. The more we know about each other the more we can offer each other support and understanding.

I recently interviewed Mandy who has 4 children with individual qualities and needs.

mandy

What is the striking story you have to tell?

I’m Mandy a stay at home mother to 4 beautiful children. I had my first son in 2004 and he was diagnosed with atypical autism in 2007. I didn’t have a clue what autism was. We learnt fast and the same year I had my 2nd son who was diagnosed with Aspergers at the end of 2014. His diagnosis was a shock as all along we presumed he had ADHD. My daughter came along in 2008 and was diagnosed with classic autism in 2011. My youngest and last child was born in 2011 and is currently under diagnosis for what they think is Aspergers. So we are on the rocky road to diagnosis number 4.

In a nutshell I am sleep deprived and live life on the edge as you never know what mood each child is going to be in each day. The school run is a challenge and we don’t get out as a family much. But we can’t complain aswe are more fortunate than most. We have 4 amazing children, all wonderfully unique in their own special way. We live a routine based life. We are the family at the park at 8am before anyone else is there. We might not have it all together all the time but we love, laugh and live and get through. Life on the Spectrum is never dull.

What joys are there in your situation?

I have discovered joy in the tiniest things since becoming an autism Mum. Most parents celebrate first words at 6 months but I was doing cartwheels when Skye uttered Mummy at the age of 6 on Mothers Day. Logan being able to zip his own coat up aged 9 and Dayton making it through a whole school day without interrupting the entire class made me smile. I find joy in things that most parents take for granted. My children have struggles but they are so loving, honest and kind which are amazing traits.

What are the challenges you face?

The biggest challenge has to be the lack of sleep. Parenting is hard enough but parenting on zero sleep to children with additional needs is even harder. Skye has been known to go as much as 4 days with no sleep which means we get no sleep as she cant be left unattended because she is a danger to herself. The epic tantrums of a hormonal pre teen going through puberty, the constant verbal tirade telling you that you are a bad parent, how he wished he was never born and wants to kill you all. On a good day I can laugh it off. On a bad day it is world shattering to see your meek and mild boy with a screwed up angry face splurging venom.

How do you find time for yourself and what do you do with it?

Time to yourself is difficult. We have a date night once a month as a rule ingout for some food and a few drinks. It is a time to chill, reassess and relax. We are fortunate to have an amazing Mum who once a year comes to our house for a week and stays with the children so we can get some much needed respite. Our next scheduled respite is in June 2nd when we fly out to Lanzarote.

Have you ever rediscovered or reinvented yourself?

I am ‘trying’ to reinvent myself right now, I have been overweight for years and having 4 children in 6 years didn’t help. I have tried and failed with many diets but have taken steps to get professional help. I am now signed up with a weight loss plan with my GP and looking forward to seeing some results.

Tell us about something you consider physically beautiful about yourself?

I love my eyes and my teeth. My Mum drummed dental hygiene into me from a young age and I love my shiny white smile and always get compliments on it. I also like my blue/grey eyes.

What makes you stand out?

I don’t think I do stand out at all and just think I am just like every other Mum. People always tell me the admire my coping skills and the way I deal with the children. I don’t see that as standing out I see it as being the parent my children want and need.

Do you consider it important for mums to support each other/

I think Mums supporting each other is very important. Prior to blogging I thought I was the only person in the world who went through what I did with the children. It very eye opening to discover other Mums in the same situation and be able to support each other. Even a virtual tweet from a fellow Mum can make an enormous difference and give the boost to get through the rest of the day.

Which mum inspires you?

All my fellow Autism Mums as we have to fight for every single thing out children need. Nothing is ever handed on a plate. It takes a lot of strength to keep on fighting what feels like a losing battle. I especially admire all the Autism Mum’s who have fought and won.

What should the next Government do to help mums?
I would love the next government to focus more on the needs of all special needs children and their families.. There is next to no resources available and the ones there are have huge waiting list or are ridiculously priced.

Thanks so much Mandy for sharing your story. I hope people are kind enough to leave a supportive comment and to check our her blog with the wonderful name of Raising the Rainbows.

What is your experience of parenting children with special needs?