Saturday, September 6, 2008

My son Danial and Autism ~ Grief and acceptance

Danial started speech therapy a month later after i had come to term with Danial's problem. I remembered i couldnt sleep for a week ...i couldnt eat much...i cried most of the time. Panic...afraid...i was consumed with all sort of mixed and confused feelings. The possibility of Danial having a developmental delay came as a shock to me. A lot of questions lingered in my thoughts...How severe was it? What treatment available? Is this something that can be cured? What kind of school for such children like Danial? This might sound weird but to tell you the truth, i had never set my eyes on austistic kids. So when the therapist told me that Danial's austism was considered as mild....i could not appreciate it. Mild?? What did she mean mild? How would kids with severe austism look like then? I was totally of no clue of whatsoever what the therapist was talking about. Out of desperation of finding answers and depression of not comprehending the whole situation...i cried for days..i cried when i had my lunch...i cried while sipping my cup of coffee...i cried in the shower...Come to think of it again, i think i have never cried that much in my entire life!
One morning, while sobbing, i told my husband it was not that i blame God for Danial's condition. It was not that i could not accept Danial's condition. I knew right from the moment the doctor pointed out the possibility of Danial being autistic that never once i questioned God "why does this happen to me?". As a matter of fact, i am,to this day, very glad that that question has never come across my mind. So why did i cry u might wonder? Why was i in such grief u might ask...
I was very particular when comes to raising my children...and to many extend, i did not (and still am i think) trust my kids in the care of others. So when Aisyah and Najwa were little, u can imagine i did everything by myself with no maid to assist me. I woke up as early as 5am, cooked baby food for my baby's lunch (as i adamantly believed canned food or instant food on the shelves at Giant was not nutritious enough and i didn't trust the babysitter to cook for my baby),bathed them before sending to the babysitter's house, sent them to the babysitter and zoomed to my morning class at UiTM....At night, i slept with them, woke up three to four times at night changed their diapers...prepared milk with my eyes half closed...those were tiring moments. That did not include those sleepless night when they were ill. You see, with my older two daughters, i did everything all by myself.
Then came Siti, our super duper efficient maid. Siti came in and worked for us as a maid when Nuwairah, my third daughter was only two months old. She was trustworthy, efficient...excellent with children...Siti was a maid made in heaven...She was a true definition of a maid of every couple's dream. When Nuwairah was only eight months old, i got pregnant with Danial.
Because of my hypertension i developed the moment i delivered Danial, i didn't sleep with him at night. And because i was busy juggling my time with work and settling my 2 older girls' who were then have started schooling and catering a demanding 4 year old Nuwairah...i didn't realise i neglected Danial and left him quite totally in the care of Siti. There were many times when i walked in and left the house not realising "eh, i haven't hug Danial yet...". I didn't even realise Danial's poor eye contact and that he didn't respond to his name even at the age of two. The only obvious condition as far as i could remember was that, at the age of two, Danial still wasn't speaking yet and didn't call me or address me as 'mom' like Aisyah or 'ibu' like Najwa or 'mommy' like Ira...He didn't call me anything!
I was in grief because i blamed myself letting go most of my duty as a mother in the hands of my maid until i didn't realise or notice my son's developmental delay in speech was due to austism. I was in grief because i scolded myself for not being a caring mother like i used to be with my older two daughters...I was in grief because i was so scared there was nothing i could do to help my son and that i was too late to help him...
I did not allow myself to be in grief too long. I remembered my husband said... " you just cannot do this to yourself and most importantly, u cannot help Danial if u cannot help yourself...Danial needs you to be strong for him and if you do not have confidence in him, he will never have the confidence he needs to get through all these...yes, of course you can be sad but we cannot just sit and cry but do nothing". My husband's words gave me strength. The words of a caring and responsible father. That moment, i just knew i have to get hold of myself and stop this grief immediately. I had no time to delay. I had to lay out plans for Danial. I knew, i had to give Dr Amdan a visit. And this time, i will be ready with all the questions on austism...and i had my little note book in my hand to jot down every littlest detail of my discussion. At that moment, i looked at Danial and in my heart i silently said "Danial my son, today...ibu will hold your right hand and abah will hold your left hand walk with you and all your three sisters will be walking behind you...we will all walk with you and help are in save hands".