World Autism Day is a day when we all raise our voices to spread awareness and promote acceptance of a condition that affects so many children and adults all over the world. And, this year, Jade McNamara is adding her voice to the mix.
Jade, who blogs at Big Brows, Messy Hair, is mum to a five-year-old Dylan, who has autism; and she has written an open letter to people everywhere, describing exactly what it is like being the mother of a child with special needs.
In her blog post, titled What It Feels Like To Be A Special Needs Parent, Jade shares an important overarching message: you are not alone.
Sharing her thoughts on this very important day, falling on April 2 this year, Jade points out: “Every day in our lives is Autism Awareness Day. The days you are tired, the days you feel lonely, the days you struggle, the days you feel like laughing, and the days you feel like crying.”
Jade goes on to capture the conflict that parents of children with special needs can often feel.
“Having a little baby fills you with so much joy. You can physically feel your heart bruising with love for the most gorgeous little baby. Yet, having a child with special needs can make you also feel a little sad at times, maybe even a little jealous. You may ask yourself over and over, ‘But, why my child?’” she writes.
In an admission that many parents in Jade’s shoes can no doubt relate to, she reveals that she feels even harder hit when she receives updates and newsletters informing her of the various milestones her child should be reaching – milestones that are irrelevant to her own child, who is taking things at his own pace.
This can be followed by ‘pangs of jealousy’, too, when she hears of the mischief other children are getting up to, that her little one should be doing.
“One day, you will see a friend’s status giving out that their child has drawn all over their new sofa, and will feel jealous that their five-year-old cannot only hold a pen but can draw, and without hours of therapy spent working on find motor skills. You will continue to wonder just how it comes so naturally to them.”
So, what helps Jade to get through these often lonely and testing moments? It’s simple, really, and just the same as any other parent, anywhere – it’s the love of her child.
“With that, it gives you the strength and determination to carry on each day, and you know deep down everything will be just fine. It has to be – there is no other option,” she writes.
Can you relate to Jade's powerful tribute?