Through the clouds a RAINE-bow emerged. My life as an autistic adult and an autism momMay 6, 2021
My name is Victoria. I am a 28-year-old single mother of a 6-year-old daughter named Raine. We live in Ridgeland, MS, and we are both autistic.
I was 17 when I was diagnosed with autism. I was scared and in denial for years – constantly trying to fit in and be someone I am not. I confided in people that I thought had my best interests at heart, but boy was I wrong. They only wanted more gossip and more stories to tell their other friends. I dated guys below my caliber because I convinced myself that I couldn't do any better. It got so bad that my reputation suffered greatly – especially in my college years. I was known as 'that crazy girl’ because of humiliating public breakdowns and rampant cyberbullying. Things got so bad that I thought many times that life wasn’t worth living until a series of events that would change my life forever.
I fell in love with a man who made me very happy and we dated for three years. Unfortunately, the romance didn’t work out in the end and he left when I was pregnant and still in college, trying to make a future for myself in the world of psychology. I was scared and my grades were suffering but something AMAZING happened thanks to a few very special professors. They knew I was autistic and going through a very difficult time so they staged a special intervention for me and showered me with love and words of wisdom.
My child's paternal family comforted me and offered assistance while sharing their stories as well. Then, finally, my own mother joined in the support. The SPARK happened at that moment. I started seeing myself differently and regained the confidence I needed to stay in school and continue on even though there were still plenty of haters.
When my daughter was born, I knew I had to prove to myself I could do this, autistic or not. And I did. I held down jobs, took care of my daughter with support and STILL graduated college. But then, as in life, there was another bump in the road when my daughter began struggling with potty training and other developmental skills. After testing, she was diagnosed with autism, which left me heartbroken. I felt I did this to her and now she was going to suffer like I did. But after taking some time to pray, I realized this was fate and now I can be an even greater role model to my daughter. This is when a fire was lit inside of me.
I enrolled in graduate school to better our lives. I've maintained a 4.0 while working full time. When I come home, I tend to her and then prepare to do it all over again bright and early the next morning. I am so proud of myself and all I am able to accomplish. I am studying to get my master’s degree in behavior analysis to work with children and adults on the spectrum. I know this is the work I’m supposed to be doing because autism IS my life. It has deepened the bond between me and my daughter. She's so smart, curious and absolutely hysterical, and her father and I (yes, he came back to co-parent and is a great dad), are so proud of the person she is becoming.
This Mother's Day, I implore you to look beyond flowers, chocolates, spa gift cards and gift baskets. I want you to see the struggles we all endure as moms. The late nights, the meals we make, the problems we solve and the time we make to watch our kids play soccer or perform in recitals. We do the impossible every day!
Regardless of my autism diagnosis or any struggles we as moms may be facing, we are still doing it and we have every right to be who we truly are! Our children aren't so different and even if they are, who really cares? HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY, MOMS!