When my girl was first diagnosed the mere mention of a support group made me feel ill.
I had visions of sitting around in a circle introducing myself and child.
Having to talk about my problems.
Having to accept them.
Having to admit my child had disabilities.
I wanted to keep it all locked up.
I had to learn to accept what I had known all along.
I had to learn to live with a label.
I wasn’t ashamed, but part of me was worried what people would think.
I didn’t think my girl was bad enough to be classed as disabled.
I didn’t think we deserved support.
I thought it would change us.
I needed a diagnosis to get my girl help.
I fought for a diagnosis because I knew she had Autism.
But when we got the diagnosis I was scared of it.
Scared of what it would bring.
Scared of what it would change.
I needed support, but I wasn’t brave enough.
I wish I had of known back then what I know now.
Support groups aren’t anything to be afraid of.
They are there to be embraced, to be a tool, to help you cope.
They are your door to finding help,
They are a cuppa and a hug,
They are your talk for 20mins about your childs disability, and everyone gets it.
You fit in because you are all in the same boat.
I heard about ‘The Group’ from an Oasis group.
We love it.
Absolutely love it.
It is a group for disabled children and their siblings to get together whilst the carers have a cuppa and chat.
Support each other.
‘Play’ for the children, time out for us.
We feel priviledged to be a part of the group.
Today they had organised an activity provided by Skiability.
Skiability provide water skiing and other water based activities for able-bodied and disabled people anywhere in the country.
The emphasis is on integration not segregation.
It was so much fun.
The childrens face lit up the lake brighter than the sun.
The smiles beamed.
Giggles and cries of “again, again” could be heard repeatedly.
It melted my heart to see the children enjoying it so much.
Enjoying it with no prejudice, no stares, no labels,
Just children having fun.
We wouldn’t have had this opportunity if it wasn’t for a support group.
If I had never plucked up the courage to go.
I would never have looked at activities for disabled children because my girl was just my girl to me.
I didn’t feel like we belonged.
But I do. We do.
Words cannot express how important it is to make that first step.
To walk into a support group, or access an activity for your child.
We are so eternally grateful.
To see my girl finally fit in somewhere,
To see her laugh and play,
To see her accept people for who they are despite their differences,
To feel my confidence growing,
To finally accept and see beyond the labels.
To be me.
To be us.To be ‘Our Autism’.