Today’s post is a firsthand look at being a parent of a child with Autism.
by: Hadas & Ariel Tzeruya
It was a bright, sunny day when our sky turned dark.
At the age of two and a half, our child was diagnosed with Autism. Staring us in the face, black on white, were the words from the health clinic doctor: ‘Child with Autism.’ One hour earlier he was a precocious, beautiful child and now he was a precocious, beautiful child with Autism.
If you do not have a child with Autism, you can’t understand. The daily challenge, the wars that start anew: An asymmetrical battle for attention between our son and his siblings. Dealing with his disability- hoping he’ll speak, learn how to write, stop endangering himself. Fighting with institutions- co-pays to the health clinic, recognition of his disability so he receives extra inclusion hours at school. The dilemmas- if I get angry at him, will he even understand? Why won’t he hug me? How do I even know if he’s capable of loving?
And on top of everything: Who will save my son? As a family, we embarked on a journey to save Dvir and every one of us has to do their share.
“You only love Dvir! You always take him wherever you go,” complains his little sister, who cannot comprehend that Dvir needs multiple appointments and therapies to even have a shot at a normal life, not dependent on others. His older sister explains: “Dvir has difficulties and needs lots of training and therapy so he can be like other kids his age.”
“Watch him, he’s gonna break that!” cries his worried grandmother, as Dvir holds an expensive vase. The grandfather replies, “Leave him alone. We’ll just move the vase.” Yes- life is full of conflicts and our ability to deal with them is ongoing.
Dealing with public institutions can be exhausting: refunds from the health clinics, disability payments from National Insurance, handicapped parking sticker from the Ministry of Transportation, working with numerous non-profits. You think it’s easy? It’s a never ending battle. Each little piece of bureaucracy demands time, strength, resources and much patience.
But there are many rays of light. Every time he makes even the slightest advancement brings with it great joy. The fact that our family and friends help and support us gives us strength. Dvir himself is a source of pleasure and happiness. Sometimes he’ll ask an overweight man in the elevator when the baby is due or tell an elderly person that they have hair of a witch. We turn red from embarrassment on the outside but inside we are bursting with laughter.
We have learned to find the rays of light that allow us to grow. A support group of parents started by the Ruderman Family Foundation and the NGO ‘Kesher’ has helped us learn to deal with Dvir’s disability. The group members come with no pre-conceived notions. We work together to create, grow and empower ourselves to do what’s best for our children.
Sometimes, when there are many battles being fought on too many fronts, maybe I want to leave it all, shut the door, hang up the phone, close the light and disappear. But then you look at your son’s face, the thin smile he throws your way and you understand that it’s in YOUR hands! If you don’t fight, he won’t be saved. You, your family and your friends have the power to save your child!
Ariel & Hadas are the parents of Noga, Dvir, Yuval and Yarden
In Rechovot, Israel a support group for parents with children with disabilities has been established with the help of the Ruderman Family Foundation, Rechovot Municipality, AKIM-Rechovot and more. The parents work together to address quality of life issues and to ensure that no family is alone.