April is Autism Awareness month and there are chances are we all know someone who is affected by Autism. Michelle Nerestant and her family know all too well the pain that comes along with having a child with Autism, however, life is can and will go on. Hear a mother’s heart..
Autism….A Mother’s Heart
By Michelle Ayala- Nerestant
I am often asked how I do it..Mother of four, special needs advocate, ministry leader, wife, and AUTISM. I can’t say that it is easy, however, I have discovered the “New Normal” for my life. Things are planned way in advance, schedules are posted clearly in my home and plans are often postponed. Unfortunately, Autism does not cater to plans at times. I will never forget the day I held my rosy cheeked princess for the very first time. After having three boys, she was greatly received by the entire family. My dreams of Saturdays spent and the mall getting our nails done when she got older, flooded my mind with my new best friend; but just one short year later, things came crashing down! When the diagnosis came, I felt lost and that’s when the grieving process started.
As a nurse I knew what it would entail for my daughter to progress. Multiple therapies, many days spent working on language and social groups to help with her social skills were all very exhausting. I became a walking encyclopedia filled with information and knowledge but I got so lost in the process. Now in retrospect, I should have done things differently. When speaking to other parents, I stress the importance of maintaining a life of normalcy as much as possible. Your child needs you to be healthy and strong so you can in turn help them to be healthy and strong.You can’t advocate for someone if you are not in good shape and spirit. Chances are, you will not see progress immediately, however when you do see progress, take the time to celebrate it. Lastly, allow God to show you His divine purpose even in a stressful and sometimes confusing situation.
The dreams for my daughter are still there. After 12 years of enjoying her, we have not gotten our nails done at the salon…yet, or spent the day at the mall without an aide..yet. However, we have celebrated together the unique bond of a daughter and mother’s love. When she touches my cheek and says “Mommy”, or when she says “Big Hug” with her arms open wide, our hearts connect and autism does not exist. My world is often upside down as I continue to advocate and make Jacqueline’s world more accessible to her. God has given her to me for a purpose. We’re on this journey together, my best friend and me.
Special Needs Resource Advocate
“New Beginnings Ministry”
**Autism is a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders known as Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD). Autism affects the way a child perceives the world and makes communication and social interaction difficult. The child may also have repetitive behaviors or intense interests. Symptoms, and their severity, are different for each of the affected areas – Communication, Social Interaction, and Repetitive Behaviors. Today, it is estimated that one in every 110 children is diagnosed with autism, making it more common than childhood cancer, juvenile diabetes and pediatric AIDS combined.