By Rebekah Devlin
I remember every detail of that day in September, 2017. The day an OT excitedly ticked off my two-year-old son’s atypical behaviours on her checklist, as I sat numb, not really understanding what she was saying, but understanding enough to know my world had just fallen apart.
Does he like his nails being cut? No? That’s an atypical behaviour.
What about when you point at something, does he look in that direction? Not really? Oh, that’s another one.
Her delight was palpable… and devastating.
She was telling me there was something “wrong” with my precious boy. The person I loved most in this world. I returned to my car and sobbed inconsolably, trying to explain to my husband over the phone what had happened. All while my darling boy sat in his car seat saying ‘mummy sad’.
What I didn’t know then, and what I would tell that awful woman now, is that there is nothing “wrong” with my son. His brain just works differently to mine, and especially differently to hers. Because he is the most empathetic, kind-hearted soul who lights up a room and is adored by everyone he meets – which is a lot of people, because he will bound up to strangers and say hi, flashing his effortless grin or making friends with random kids at the playground. I would tell her that I feel more pride than I ever thought possible. That each achievement would be amplified because of his challenges.
That day set into motion my journey as a special needs parent. Of course, I had always been on that journey, now I just had a title.
So here I am, the mother of two cheeky, affectionate and firecracker autistic children – Jake, 6, and Sophie, 4.
I have thrown myself into learning, connecting, advocating, supporting and loving. I have found there is such need among parents and carers for more information, more support and more practical help.
Has it been hard?
I’ve cried more tears than I can count. Gotten into arguments with mums at playgrounds because my son has bitten their child. Questioned my parenting pretty much daily. Absolutely lost the plot at my kids for small things because I’ve been so completely and utterly mentally spent. Taken it out on my husband because I couldn’t yell at my kids. Lost my son during singalong at the library and had him found by a stranger outside in the carpark. Felt like I couldn’t go on even a second longer. And cried when my son had his first slice of pizza after years of trying.
I’ve raged against judgement, against exclusion, and demanded more for my kids. More acceptance. More respect. More appreciation for the beautiful and unique children they are.
I have been able to see the world through their eyes. And you know what? It’s spectacular.
They say it takes a village to raise a child. But when you are a special needs parent, your village tends to be so much smaller than most. And you need that village more than most.
I am so proud to have joined Source Kids as Head of Content because Source offers parents that village.
And that’s what makes all the difference – knowing you are not alone.
We want Source to be your haven. We have our Source Mama group to inspire, nurture and support, so that when you feel like you can’t go on, you are carried by your village.
We want you to share your stories, your heartbreak, your triumphs.
We want to cheer you and your kids on. Because our kids are phenomenal. And they are so worthy of celebrating.