How My Son’s Autism Showed Me Another Side of Neurodiversity: Embracing Life’s Full Circle
Life often has a way of surprising us with unexpected challenges and revelations, leading us on unexpected journeys that transform our perspectives and challenge our perceptions. For me, this revelation, this transformative journey began with my son’s diagnosis of autism at a tender age of less than two years. At first, the news felt like a whirlwind, turning the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle of my life upside down. The journey that followed, filled with early interventions, assessments, and meeting new people, led me to discover an integral part of myself that I had long been unaware of – my own neurodiversity. As time passed, I began to connect the dots and see the bigger picture, realizing that embracing neurodiversity would open up a world of understanding, compassion, and self-discovery.
Today, as I reflect on the path I’ve walked, I see how my son’s autism has beautifully completed the full circle of my life. In this blog, I want to share my personal journey of embracing neurodiversity through the lens of my son’s autism, and how it has transformed my perspective on life and self-discovery.
The Whirlwind of a Diagnosis
The day my son was diagnosed with autism marked a pivotal moment in my life. Yuvaan’s autism diagnosis was a turning point in our lives. The news filled us with a mix of emotions – from concern and fear to determination and hope. Initially, the news left me feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and uncertain about what the future held. I was grappling with emotions of confusion, denial and guilt. Yet, in the midst of this chaos, I knew I had to be strong for my son and embrace the journey ahead.
Yuvaan’s Early intervention was initiated, after we sought multiple opinions from experts and doctors to ensure we were providing the best possible support for Yuvaan’s development. Throughout his assessment process, I couldn’t help but notice most of those traits in myself that resonated with me and what I was learning about autism. However, at the time, my focus was entirely on my son’s well-being, and I put aside any thoughts about myself.
The Shift in Perspective
As Yuvaan’s early intervention continued, I found myself increasingly immersed in a world of autism and neurodiversity. I attended seminars, parent empowerment programs, and various trainings to better understand and support my son’s needs. As I delved into understanding autism and connecting with other parents in similar situations, I started to see neurodiversity in a whole new light. I realized that society often perceives neurodivergent individuals as “different,” but embracing neurodiversity meant celebrating the unique strengths and perspectives that come with it. My son’s autism wasn’t a limitation; it was a beautiful aspect of his identity that shaped the way he experienced the world. The more I learned, the more I started to recognize the extreme similarities between Yuvaan’s experiences and my own. I began to reflect on my past interactions with others and the challenges I had faced in social settings. The puzzle pieces started to fit together, and I realized that I, too, might be neurodivergent.
Connecting the Dots of My Past: Facing the Truth
As I became more accepting of my son’s autism, I started to draw parallels between his experiences and my own journey through life. I recalled moments from my childhood and adolescence where I struggled with every social situation, sensory differences, experiences, or communication styles. Looking back, I could see how my own neurodivergent traits had been present all along but were never acknowledged or understood. Admitting the possibility of my neurodiversity was not an easy task. It meant confronting years of self-doubt, anxiety, and misunderstanding. Seeking answers, I took online assessments and started reading extensively about different neurodivergent conditions. Eventually, I gathered the courage to undergo a formal assessment at a reputable institute. The results revealed what I had suspected deep down – I was severely autistic and also had other co-occurring mental health conditions.
Discovering My Neurodiversity: A New Perspective
While the interactions and the whole assessment process during my own diagnosis initially felt overwhelming, it eventually brought clarity and a profound sense of self-discovery. My journey with Yuvaan had opened my eyes to the world of neurodiversity, and in that process, I had found myself. Accepting my neurodivergent identity was liberating; it allowed me to make sense of my past struggles and embrace my unique way of thinking and processing the world.
Understanding my own neurodiversity not only empowered me but also transformed the way I saw the world. I realized that neurodiversity is not a flaw to be corrected but a valuable aspect of the human experience. Every individual, neurotypical or neurodivergent, has something unique to offer to society. It’s essential to create an inclusive world that celebrates and accommodates the diverse ways our brains work.
The Ripple Effect: Parenting Yuvaan and Embracing Neurodiversity
With my understanding of neurodiversity, my approach to parenting Yuvaan has taken a more informed and compassionate turn over the period of time. In last 4 years, I have recognized the importance of celebrating his strengths and providing him with the support he needs, rather than focusing on “fixing” his challenges. Our home became a safe space where Yuvaan could thrive and be himself, free from judgment. As I continued to grow and embrace neurodiversity, I noticed how it positively impacted not only my relationship with my son but also with others in my life. I became an advocate for neurodivergent individuals, spreading awareness, and fostering an inclusive environment through SpecialSaathi. By sharing our journey, I hoped to inspire others to celebrate their own neurodivergent traits or those of their loved ones.
Finding Peace and Self-Discovery, Reinventing Myself
As I write this blog on 21st July on his birthday, I believe Yuvaan came into my life for a purpose – to help me find, discover, and reinvent myself. Through my son’s autism, I have learned not only about him but also about myself. Embracing neurodiversity has given me the opportunity to connect with a diverse community, advocate for acceptance and inclusion, and discover new passions and talents. With this newfound understanding, I began to find peace within myself. The pieces of the jigsaw puzzle of my life were slowly coming together, and I no longer felt like an outsider in my own story. Embracing neurodiversity allowed me to accept and celebrate the uniqueness of both my son and myself. It was liberating to finally comprehend the “why” behind my life’s challenges and strengths.
Understanding Life’s a full circle: The Journey of Self-Discovery
Yuvaan’s autism diagnosis was a profound turning point in my life, leading me to a journey of self-discovery and acceptance. It opened my eyes to another side of neurodiversity, and in doing so, life came full circle for me. Embracing my own neurodiversity has been an eye-opening experience that has allowed me to better understand and support my son. Through this journey, I gained a deeper understanding of myself, my son, and the intricacies of human experiences. The journey from “fear to denial”, from “confusion to acceptance”, from “spreading awareness to advocating” and now actually “fighting for the rights of persons with disabilities” was transformative, and I am grateful for the opportunity to celebrate the uniqueness of PWDs more specifically neurodivergent individuals. I have come to appreciate the beauty of neurodiversity and its vital role in shaping our world.
Furthermore, Yuvaan’s neurodivergence has not only taught me patience, resilience, and unconditional love but has also brought a new purpose and meaning to my life. I look forward to continuing this journey of growth, acceptance, and advocacy for neurodiversity, both for myself and my wonderful son, Yuvaan. The journey of acceptance and understanding brought me to the realization that my son’s autism was the missing piece of my life’s puzzle. It was the final connection that completed the full circle, and I saw the beauty in how life had guided me to this point. The challenges, the joys, the tears, and the laughter had all played their part in shaping the person I had become.
As I continue to support my son and advocate for neurodiversity, I hope others can find inspiration in our life’s story. Our life’s jigsaw puzzle may seem chaotic and uncertain at times, but every piece has its place, and each connection brings us closer to understanding the how, why, and what of our lives. Embrace differences, accept neurodiversity, celebrate uniqueness, and witness how the upside-down pieces come together to form a beautiful picture of acceptance and love.