Mum to a three-year-old little boy with autism, Nicole Duggan has decided that THIS year she wants to spread more awareness and to teach others that it is NOT a bad thing.
In a post on Facebook, Nicole has very bravely opened up about the reality of raising Riley; the "milestones that are missed" and "the words that are lost". She has very kindly allowed MummyPages to share her story.
When I set up this page I promised myself that this year I would make people understand autism. Every year, people make out their goals or wishes for the year. My main wish for this year is to make the "judgers" understand.
When you find out you are going to be a mom, you dream of holding your little baby for the first time, you dream of dressing them up, showing them off and obsessing over their every move.
You dream of their first word, the first time they will clap their hands, the first time they wave goodbye and of course their first steps. All of the “normal” things.
Well in my house these things are far from normal. Yes, we had some of them, but they have disappeared.
Words were lost, milestones missed and many tears were cried along the way. This is not “laziness” on his part. It is not him being stubborn and it most certainly is not him acting up.
My little boy is just like your child: he loves to dance, he loves to be cuddled, he cries when he falls, and he adores Mickey mouse.
He is, however, 'wired differently'.
The small things we take for granted every day are the hardest things for him to cope with. Different lights, sounds, smells or even the look of something can cause an overload that is too hard for an adult to deal with, let alone my little boy.
'Normal things' such as going shopping, playing in a kids playzone, or even a hair cut can be unbearable for him.
To the people that stare at him because he hums... join in with his little singsong, because in his eyes he is singing the best song in the world.
To the mothers that pull their children away from him... you are creating the bullies of the future. Children don’t notice the differences they just want to play - let them.
To the lady that called him bold in the supermarket... try to look at things from his perspective. An overload of colours and sounds. People whizzing past you. You too would cry your eyes out if you could not tell anyone how you are feeling when it all gets too much.
To the friends that have disappeared... I hope this never knocks on your front door. I would not change my small man for the world and if you cannot understand him and how he works, then you do not deserve to be in his life in the first place.
Children with needs are the bravest, most courageous and most amazing little people in this world. They are fighting battles nobody knows, and I guarantee not one adult would make it through half of the obstacles they do.
Just because there is not a physical difference does not mean they are simply bold.
So this year I ask you to think before you judge, live a day in my small man's shoes and you will understand how much of a super hero he really is.