Ten tiny fingers and ten tiny toes were counted.
My daughter made a spectacularly speedy entry into this world, and still to this day I can actually remember how that instant rush of love felt coursing through my body.
I would be responsible for those tiny little arms, and legs for years and years. Little did we know she would find it so awfully difficult to fit in, her little legs paddling so hard under the surface, yet looking like a beautifully graceful swan gliding along the top.
The trouble was that it was so very difficult to try and educate people to fit into her world, instead of them forcing her to fit in ours.
As a family though, I’m proud to say that we do everything possible to navigate our way through her confusing world, to keep her calm and happy.
It's very difficult and very tiring and we aren’t perfect by any means, but we try, and when we succeed it’s the most invigorating feeling of success.
My bond with her, was felt the moment I became pregnant, when she was born however that bond turned into something so strong that each and every day, for the next four years, I felt like I could burst with love.
It was very powerful, and as she grew, I knew that that bond was not just one-sided, she felt it too, she was connected to me in such a way that it was like our mind and bodies were infused as one.
I realized, after she was diagnosed with Autism, that that bond was most probably so strong because I understood her completely; I knew what she wanted, with a nod of her head, or a certain look that she gave.
She couldn’t communicate to me with words what she needed but instinctively I knew. And so it became normal for her to want me to be there for her, at all times of the day, night and through her school hours.
If she woke throughout the night, it would be me and me only that she would accept comfort from, if dad went to console her, her screams just grew in intensity and volume.
In the end I stopped asking for him to try because it would only make things worse.
In the daytime, if I needed to pop out, I couldn’t, because she would get so upset it just wasn’t worth putting her through that level of distress.
At school, she would become so upset at the beginning and end of a school day, that I would inevitably end up crying…. alongside her. I was beside myself. She was 100% attached to me and I didn’t at this point know to help us. It got to the point it was suffocating.
I was trying my hardest to survive on only a couple hours of broken sleep in any one night. It was all consuming.
How I was supposed to do that I didn’t know. But we gave it a go. We had no professional help, support, or guidance and we had to wing it.
Just like every other obstacle or issue that we had to contend with, it was down to us to find a solution to this ever growing issue.
And therein lies the problem. Because we were not given any help, or support – we were led to believe it was her that had the issue.
So our attempt at weaning was understandably unsuccessful. It was the most distressing time for all of us. If I tried to leave the house, then she would just scream and shout and get inconsolably upset that it would take all day just to calm her down and try and get over it.
She exhausted herself and that created more upset.
She was constantly on edge and terrified I was going to leave her. She had no concept of time and so every minute felt like an hour to her.
It didn’t take us long to figure out our strategy was terribly wrong. It wasn’t her fault that she was plunged into the unknown without careful planning or explanation. It was ours.
If anything she needed double the amount of what I was providing for her, and that is where we realized the problem was.
She needed to build a relationship with dad. He needed to also become her safe and happy and understanding. It’s a long road ahead, but that bond is forming brilliantly, they laugh, and share jokes, she initiates close contact with him, whereas before she would avoid it.
To witness this bond growing between creates so much magic it is beautiful to watch. I still, am the only person that can go to her when she’s upset, or in the night when she wakes. But I can leave the house, now for short periods. I have to leave unnoticed because she gets distressed at seeing me leave.
But when I am gone she is calm and happy, and my on my return she is so, so happy to see me and I think that part of that happiness is because she feels proud of herself for overcoming this massive obstacle, that she was so frightened of attempting before. And I am proud of her too, immensely.
I’m very glad I trusted my instincts and didn’t wean my daughter off of me. All we needed was an extra special bond for my extra special girlie.
The portable activity kit. Fun therapy at home or on the moveFind out more