A Mother’s Experience Raising a Child with Autism

Written by on May 12, 2024

Good parents prioritise the health, well-being and education of their children in an effort to ensure that they grow into responsible and productive adults. However, parents of children with special education needs have to make an even greater effort. Meet Autism Consultant Rosanne Farley, the mother of a sixteen-year-old girl who has been diagnosed with mild to moderate Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Diagnosis

Eight years ago, Farley’s daughter was diagnosed with Autism. “The doctor had some concerns that she wasn’t hitting certain milestones or talking as she should, and that sort of thing,” she explained. Consequently, her paediatrician at the time set up an appointment for her daughter to see the visiting psychologist who diagnosed her with Autism.

“When I got the news, I couldn’t wait to get home and cry. What further broke my heart was that there [were] no centres available in Georgetown to help me,” Ms. Farley relayed. Concerned about what was going to happen once her daughter started school, and having very little knowledge about the condition, Farley plunged deep into research about Autism. She learned as much as she could to help her child manage her feelings and overcome her challenges.

Concerns

Early on in her quest to understand Autism, Farley learned that the signs vary from person to person. She was worried that educators were not knowledgeable about how to handle her daughter’s behaviours. “I was concerned that they were going to put her out of school because she wasn’t paying attention. She’d walk right out of class. She’d have meltdowns, and she wasn’t interacting with the other children,” Farley lamented. Fortunately, her daughter was able to receive speech therapy at the Georgetown Public Hospital.

Recommendations

However, even with this assistance, the challenges persisted. “It was very difficult. There were times when I had to excuse myself from her presence when I got frustrated, and maybe I needed to cry or take a breather, and then I went back to it.” Thus, she says that it is crucial for parents of children with Autism to have a safe space to freely share their experiences, express their frustrations and exchange ideas.

Since caring for a child who has Autism requires great patience and a lot of one-on-one attention, Farley advises that “parents should engage in interests, educate themselves on their child’s condition, and implement strategies to help manage and overcome associated symptoms”. She further advised that gradually exposing children to various experiences with animals, music, and physical activities, can help them to flourish. These new experiences are opportunities for children with Autism to learn and gain confidence.

“It’s a lot of work and a whole lot of patience, and I always advise parents to get informed. Over the years, every child I
have known that’s on the spectrum, who has made significant progress, is a child whose parents are actively involved in their development.”

– Rosanne Farley, Parent, Autism Consultant: Early Childhood
Services (ECS)

Progress

Farley’s dedication to her daughter’s development has been yielding incredible results over the years. “She just existed. She was just living. But as a person, you weren’t seeing a personality. There wasn’t any communication, and [now she has moved] from that point where I was concerned about her being put out of school and not interacting with her peers to now, where she has won the elocution competition for her level 2 years in a row,” the proud mother beamed. Moreover, according to Farley, five years ago, her daughter attained 92% at the National Grade Six Assessment.

Even with mild to moderate Autism Spectrum Disorder, Farley’s daughter is thriving academically and socially. She enjoys singing and dancing, and adores being on stage. “I could have never imagined that it would have resulted in her being how far she is today,” Farley commented. “Even the psychologists who diagnosed her… are surprised to see how far she’s come. She’s gearing up to write CXC next year.”

 

Early Childhood Services (ECS)

Farley’s commitment to finding strategies to address her daughter’s special education needs has led her to work with other children who have Autism for the past seven years, and eventually launch the Early Childhood Services (ECS) facility. ECS opened its doors on April 2, 2024, World Autism Awareness Day. ECS provides a support group for parents of children with Autism and offers training for teachers.

Farley’s ultimate goal, however, is to open a mainstream school that is truly inclusive, catering to both typically developing and neurodivergent children. She aspires to demonstrate how children on the Autism spectrum can be fully integrated into the classroom.

ECS is located at 6th Duncan Street, Campbellville, Georgetown. For more information, visit @Early Childhood Services on Facebook or contact Autism Consultant Rosanne Farley at 592-622-4201.

Story by Hillon Lacruz


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