World Autism Day: Me and my son

Learning Disability Nursing student, Joan, writes here about how being the mother of her autistic son, Micah, influenced her to study LD Nursing.

My journey began seven years ago, when my son was diagnosed with autism and severe learning difficulties. “Autism.” When the word reached my ears I went numb. Fear and anxiety filled me with dread. “What” I remember saying to the paediatrician, “what does this mean?”

Looking back, I realised that most times when we do not understand something we tend to let our imagination run wild. To say I was terrified is putting it lightly. My son, Micah, is 11 years old now with autism and all. We are walking this road together, hand in hand. The experiences in the beginning were very hard at times; the appointments, the classes, making the internal adjustment in my mind, coming to terms with the diagnosis and how this will impact our lives.

I have experience of my son being a child that would sit in a corner by himself not looking at anyone and not engaging with others. At times I thought “is he happy” or even aware of me because he just would not look at you when you called his name.

Then there would be a burst of energy – running up and down, not able to sit still, climbing everywhere, pulling things down, I can go on and on. I always say to people I don’t need a gym membership – my son is my personal trainer!

At first, I had no clue as to what would happen, but the last seven years with my son have been both the best and worst part of my life, that shape the person I am today.

He is my one reason for finding purpose. He gives me the strength to carry my experiences to a stage in my life where I am now able in both mind and body to be on a Learning Disability Nursing course at Birmingham City University.

Studying for this course has enriched my life. Being at BCU has helped me to direct my passion and will enable me to have the necessary skills to be the difference both in my son’s life and the lives of others on the autism spectrum.

I know people will have a different look on what it means to be a carer for someone on the autism spectrum, but to all those who are living with a diagnosis of autism or caring for someone that is diagnosed, it is hard at times.

But if we look closely, we can see the beauty in the struggle, the light that shines in the darkness and we can empower them to be all that they can be, tantrums and all.

In life, you find yourself sometimes saying that you cannot go on, but sometimes life demands that you do. Autism, I thought, was the end of my world; to tell you the truth, at times it feels like the end, but I just look at my little boy and think no, it is always just a beautiful beginning.

LD nursing students

Discover learning disability nursing

Senior Lecturer, Fiona Rich, tells us about just five ways you can support someone with a learning disability.

Find out more