Aaah a feeling of relief.
I felt relieved.
Perhaps not the usual or expected reaction in these circumstances.
We had just got my eldest child, my son at age 7 diagnosed with being on the Autistic Spectrum, ASC, ASD, probably Asperger’s (they no longer are able to give out this word in a diagnosis). I am now a SEN parent. A parent with a child with special educational needs.
I’m still undecided how much, if at all the exact words matter. The ‘label’ that is trickiest to manage is ‘DISABLED’, we see it on big letters on our card that helps us manage certain moments like in queues for museums and it allows us a quicker, easier passage in, helping avoid meltdowns. My son since seeing this particular card often helpfully suggests we park in the blue bays for ‘Disabled’ – I explain each time that his is not a physical difference and we don’t need to use those spaces in this instance.
Ours was a private diagnosis which was subsequently endorsed by CAMHS which in Scotland is the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. They are a resource in increasing demand and tightly stretched. I am thankful for my in-laws who helped us financially and to a good friend from University who now as a Clinical Psychologist opened my eyes to the idea of getting a private diagnosis.
Relief for me equalled confirmation maybe more validation of my intuition, my sense things were different right from childbirth with him. For a long time I thought all the ‘books’ about child development had gotten it wrong, I was told by family, by friends, by the health system a variety of reasons why things were the way they were with him, why certain patterns were different and how it would all catch up at some point during his childhood. That it would all even out and show that I had ‘a mothers overly concerned outlook’. And really deep down I hoped, convinced myself perhaps that what it was. What I believe to be a life truth though is that time always, eventually reveals all, as it did in this case too.
When One Door Closes…
With the formal, official diagnosis delivered – the door with word ‘HOPE’ on it closed – hope that my son was really in fact ‘ordinary’. A word I heard an autistic adult friend and yogi prefer to use in place of ‘normal’ and I like this too. Very soon a dozen other doors began to open with the words ‘SUPPORT’ on them. This was something new – support for my son, support for me as a mum, support financially, people now believing there is a difference and able to listen and lots of other new support options too. How refreshing.
I’m still working, often grappling with the realisation that much of ‘coping’ and finding our new ‘ordinary’ is how I approach and relate to things in a different way. Some days I feel like a ‘phoney’ because everything in the house seems normal and then the bubble is burst by an unexpected ‘quirky’ incident that reminds me things are a little different. One time after an aggressive episode where my son had a tendency to poke his brother in the eye whenever he felt irritated. I read a social story about it all, one of the recommended ways to support learning for ASD.
His ‘logical’ response was that, well, his brother ‘did have another eye’ if one was damaged.
Uncannily, pre-diagnosis I had connected with Ayala co-founder of ‘Enchanted Wonders’ which are fabulous children’s yoga inspired cards which as a yoga teacher I’ve found a wonderful tool for children and adults alike.
Meeting Special Yoga
I interviewed Ayala for my passion project – a podcast series now called ‘voices of yoga’ (voicesofyoga.com) listened to around the world where we talk to yoga teachers about what inspires them and what they have learned on their journeys. Ayala suggested reaching out to Jyoti, her friend and founder of Special Yoga. By the time I was interviewing Jyoti we had just received our son’s diagnosis. What an interesting co-incidence.
>>Fast forward a couple of years and my ongoing journey of seeking, searching and taking on board new ‘tools’ to cope but also looking to ‘improve’ the quality of my /our life, I attended one of Jyoti’s special needs trainings – Yoga for Autism and ADHD, a 3-day, intensive course including live demonstrations with special needs children. I’m still processing the different approach to yoga, the process of seeing it in action and grateful to all the amazing people from varied backgrounds that I met and connected with on the course.
So, as my journey continues and the worries that come and go about the here and now and what the future will bring, I take heart in the support out there, the Special Yoga community and the importance of engaging and connecting with others so that I can better help myself in helping my son. Above all I aim to tune in to my intuition more about what is helpful or not for him as he grows and changes and my mantra for 2019 is : finding out and moving forwards.
Lindsey Porter. Yoga Instructor, Podcaster, Author and Signatory of the Mental Health Charter for Physical Activity & Sport in Scotland. Her book ‘Whirlpools, yoga and the balance of life – travel tales for the adventurous spirit’ is available on amazon and kindle. Find out more at: yoganuu.com
We have three Special Yoga & Mindfulness for Autism & ADHD running over the spring, in:
Glasgow: 28th February – 2nd March 2019
London: 7th – 9th May 2019