I am a single mum raising two kids with autism, it’s five steps forward, three steps back.’ If I had a crystal ball 14 ago, would I have changed the decisions I made?
Let’s start at the beginning.
In 2004, I met my soulmate on an online dating site. We clicked instantly, were married two years later, and things were great. In December 2008, our daughter Allegra was born she made our life complete. Not even a week later, my husband was diagnosed with an aggressive form of non Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It was incredibly stressful and emotional, but he was in remission within six months. We all took a deep breath.
In October 2011 Allegra was diagnosed with moderate autism with a severe language delay. At the time, I didn’t know much about autism, all I knew is I had to help my daughter, so we started early intervention. We managed, we got by, and we were happy.
In April of 2014, we were elated to find out we were pregnant with our second child – a boy – something we thought would never be possible due to the chemotherapy used to treat my husband’s cancer. It should have been the happiest year of my life, and it ended up being one of my hardest. I was 34 weeks pregnant when my world was tipped upside down.
In November of that year, my husband passed away suddenly due to a heart condition; something the doctors say may have been caused by the cancer treatment he had received years prior. I felt completely lost. My baby Harrison was about to enter a very different life – one that felt like a nightmare.
I was angry with the world for a long time, even though there was so much to be positive about. Becoming a widow at the age of 33 was definitely not in my plans, but destiny placed me in this position, and it has taken almost three years since my husband passing away to realise that sometimes, I just need to breathe, trust, let go, and see what happens.
Speaking of destiny…
If I wasn’t already on the autism journey with my daughter, my son may have gone undiagnosed. It was only because I knew some of the red flags for autism from Allegra’s journey that made me listen to my gut and get him assessed and diagnosed early. All people on the spectrum are different. There are so many red flags for autism, my biggest piece of advice is if something concerns you, or doesn’t seem right, just follow your gut. Why? Because your gut may be right.
Having a child assessed for autism isn’t a walk in the park and is expensive, but if your child is diagnosed the doors that open up after a diagnosis can benefit your child in the long run. Early intervention is the key to helping kids with autism.
I know this sounds easier said than done, true, I have spent many nights trying to work out what I am going to do next. I always stress about things way too far in advance, it’s just how I have done things for most of my life. But when you’re a single mum, and are raising two kids with autism, it is absolutely impossible to plan too many years in advance let alone months in advance, that is just how living with autism is.
Our life is five steps forward and three steps back, and yes, I ask myself “If I had a crystal ball 14 years ago, would I have changed the decisions I made?” all the time. But despite everything I’ve been through, despite being a single mum of two autistic children, I wouldn’t change one single thing.
They really are my motivation.
About the Contributor:
Lara Vatta is am a Mum of 2, widowed & raising 2 kids diagnosed with Autism. Over the years she has learnt to embrace life after loss. She shares her story to inspire and help others in situations similar to her. “If I help just one person then it is so worthwhile sharing”.