Autism mum
As the parent of an autistic child, your journey will revolve around finding a middle ground that will work for both your typical and neuro-atypical kids. Image Credit: Instagram/@ambreensuhaib5

The Autism Spectrum is an umbrella term for developmental disorders that may affect a child’s speech, behaviour and even lingual skills. It can manifest in a number of ways depending on the severity of the condition. Ambreen Suhaib, a 35-year-old mum to twins on the spectrum, tells us about her difficult journey from grief to acceptance and positivity through an open letter to other mums going through similar challenges:

Eight years ago, at a sonography session when I was shown two heartbeats, I cried. Those were tears of joy. I was emotionally overwhelmed and my husband and I both smiled at each other through the tears. Fast-forward two years and tears rolled down my cheeks as we sat in a psychologist’s clinic. My heart skipped a few beats as my husband and I looked at each other in dismay and pain. The line, ‘Your twins have clear and strong signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder’ changed everything for me in a jiffy.

That’s the day my dream of pitch-perfect motherhood and my plans to raise my twins took a completely different turn. I went into depression, I became a maniac reading about autism, the therapies and all the possible solutions available. The more I read about it, the more I knew for certain that motherhood would be very challenging for me and not at all what I had dreamt of.


Normally, we mothers plan everything about a kid’s life, but motherhood with special kids is unplanned and exhausting – yet it is beautiful too. Yes, beautiful, because you don’t stop loving your child after they have been diagnosed. You become passionate to work in every way possible to make life easier for them. The turns and twists that come your way are unpredictable, stressful and nerve-wracking. My twins, who are moderate to severe on the spectrum, have taught me patience, acceptance and selflessness, and made me believe in miracles. These virtues I would never be able to learn without them. Mothers like me who are raising multiple kids with a disability know that they mean the world to their child. I know I have to be there for them until my last breath. They will need my support in one way or another. Well, that’s not how I imagined it while I was carrying them in my belly. Of course no parent would wish their child to be born with a disability of any kind. Motherhood will be different, it will take time for your brain and heart to accept it. But you will eventually, you will have to.

Ambreen with her twin eight-year-olds
Ambreen with her twin eight-year-olds Image Credit: Supplied

Denial, depression, guilt, grief and acceptance are part of this new version of motherhood. Once you accept your diagnosis, shake yourself off and tell your brain and heart that ‘I will and I can’, that is when the door to possibilities open. This is the point of start of your journey to teach your special child all that you can.

Researching problems, talking to doctors, therapists, managing other family members and balancing resources used to exhaust me. The mental and physical stress was real. A debilitating fear for their future used to keep me awake at night. It’s part of the journey too. Feelings of isolation, guilt for not giving time to your other kids, encountering criticism about your parenting will frustrate you. There have been countless times that I have been mum-shamed by extended family members and friends for not parenting my kids right. It frustrates me too, but after some time, you learn to calm down and tell yourself that they don’t know about your journey, that their situation is different. And eventually, you learn the art of ignoring. Time teaches you to block the negativity out and focus on your child. Over the years the best thing I learnt was that the future is not in my control but the present is. That’s not to say the fear of the future has left me, it’s just that I’ve learned to accept it.

It won’t be easy but remember you are the world to your special child, who is dealing with many difficulties.

In the beginning the sadness of not experiencing the parenthood that you dreamt of will make you very, very sad. But trust me, that will get better too or at least you will learn to mask it well.

Another challenge and responsibility that you may face is raising your normal/typical children alongside the kids of determination. You will have to work on that end too. Your journey will revolve around finding a middle ground that will work for both your typical and neuro-atypical kids. That won’t be easy. But remember, motherhood is never easy, it never was. I have a neurotypical boy who is still young, but I am sure I will raise him in in the best way I can and teach him all that I can about autism and how to manage his brothers. I know it will not be easy but where there’s a will, you can find a way.

Of course there are moments when I have emotional outbursts and I am sad. But each time I gather myself and tell myself that it’s okay. I cannot undo their autism but I can do whatever it takes to make their life easier and better. We are humans, so cry if you need to, vent if it makes you feel better but don’t let it overpower you. There will be good days and there will be bad days. You are not alone in this journey. Once you will start looking around you, you will see a lot of mothers on the same journey and you will feel better. My pain was excruciating, awful and agonising in the beginning; I felt so alone, I did not know there are a lot of mums like me with multiple kids on the spectrum. Once I started meeting and talking to others like me I felt better. Each mum I have met so far has had a different, difficult yet beautiful story of her journey with her special child. But what I found common in all of us was the never-ending zeal to work to make the kids’ life better.


It took me time to understand that children learn at their own pace. Once I learnt this, well, things started getting a little easier. Love and appreciate your child, for whatever he or she has is not their fault. Keep working on the child. There will be days when you would want to give up, take a break and rest, and then get back to them. Celebrate their little advances in their learning process.

It won’t be easy but remember you are the world to your special child. Don’t let go of hope and courage in this unplanned journey that will obviously bring unexpected obstacles. Believe in miracles.

I know the teenage years will bring more challenges for me. But I can’t stress over a future that I can’t see. I have learnt to take time out for myself, accept help and above all to believe that I am doing the best I can for my child. You will not always get it right and that’s okay. The point is to never give up and never stop trying to do better. Celebrate their little achievements. Believe in the fact that growth is a slow and endless process. Be positive.

Where I was eight years ago with my twins is not where I am now. I have learnt a lot and they have learnt a lot too. And I am sure they will keep doing that as long as I don’t give up on them. Love your child. And give yourself permission to love yourself too. You are doing the best you can. You are a warrior mum and a superhero in this unplanned journey of motherhood.

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