Anna Kennedy is a mum and autism campaigner from Middlesbrough but lives in Uxbridge …. she is the chair of Anna Kennedy Online and founder of Hillingdon Manor School.Her sons Patrick and Angelo are both on the autistic spectrum and everything she does in life is for them. As this week is National Autism Awareness Week, she shares with us her personal story and top tips for autistic children.
I remember when both my sons who are now 25 and 28 were diagnosed with an autism spectrum condition.
At first it felt like an explosion had gone off in my head and I thought ‘Did I do something wrong in my pregnancy ? ‘
Afterwards I thought to myself I do not smoke or drink.I did light exercise walking and dance so no I dont think so.
I was looking for someone or something to blame which is a natural reaction after been given this information.
I just wanted to share with parents that once your son or daughter is given the diagnosis :
Let yourself feel everything you feel: Please know it is okay to be mad, sad and angry. You will feel a variety of conflicting emotions. It is even okay to wallow in self-pity a bit. Some parents even go through a short grieving process.
Don’t blame yourself: Please don’t blame yourself or your husband. Autism is not your fault. We all do the best we can with the information we are given at the time.
Take Charge: Taking charge will make you feel less helpless. Information is power, and there is so much more information now available than when both my sons were diagnosed in 1994 and 1997.
Don’t believe everything you are told about autism: You know your child better than any health care professional. And no one should tell you what your child will not be able to do. Take one day at a time.
Speak to other parents: Parents who also have a child diagnosed with autism will often be your best support because they know what you are going through and they are going through it too. You can share strategies.
Make time for yourself. I didnt do this for a few years since I felt guilty and felt I had to put all my energy into fighting for my children and secure them appropriate education even on 3 hours sleep or no sleep. If you burn out you are no good to anyone! I love my zumba so I have my autism free zone on a Thursday for an hour.
To get involved in World Autism Awareness Week on 26 March – 2 April. Whether it’s a Night Walk, fundraising your own way, in school or at work, there are plenty of ways you can help raise money for autism.Click here for more information.