Can you talk about the most challenging and in turn, the most rewarding part of having a daughter with autism?
There are many challenging things having a child with autism. But for us the hardest part is that she is non-verbal. And often she can’t let us know what she want or need, and things get frustrating for all parts.
For the rewarding part. I have honestly not understood what having a Special needs child even meant until now. She teaches me so much, and she really is turning me into a better person for it. I could not have asked for a greater gift!
How is autism often misunderstood?
Many people thinks autistic people can’t communicate at all. They think they have little to no empathy and that they are completely anti-social. They are so wrong. My daughter knows when I’m upset or if I don’t feel good, and she often gives me a hug and cuddles me when she sees that. She is becoming more and more social, and thrives amongst other children. And although she’s non verbal, she often manages to show me what she wants. She can be very cunning too. And so stubborn! (Just like me.)
I heard a very good saying from my daughters OT; «When you’ve met one autistic person, you’ve met one autistic person.» Meaning they are all so very different.
How do you educate society that disability can lead to extraordinary abilities?
I think the best way is for them to be around people with disabilities, talk to them, get to know them, and see for yourself how wonderful they are.
A good place to start is «Special books by special kids». It blew my mind!
Let them speak! Instead of being their voice, be their megaphone. Because many of them have powerful thoughts and voices, give them a chance to speak.
What are you currently struggling right now and trying to overcome?
Being a stay at home mom has been isolating, and has made me a bit anti-social. I’ve struggled a lot with retraining my «social muscle». Specially being in a new country. I never thought there would be such a big difference between USA and Norway. But I really did get a bit of a culture shock.
I started being too comfortable in my own company, and didn’t enjoy being around other people anymore. But things have gotten better. I think this is a thing many takes for granted with many stay at home moms. It was very important for me to work on this, so I am a better mom for my daughter. How can I teach her to socialize if I don’t do it myself?
In your own words and ways, how can you empower a generation of young people who are in the minority, suffering poverty, and neglect?
Ohh, that’s a hard one. My husband has told me many stories of growing up in the projects and poverty. He suffered through all of those things. He fought hard to get to where he is today. He stumbled many times, but got back up! He’s a CEO of his own company now. A company that’s growing steadily. He’s living the dream, working with all these amazing UFC fighters.
Remember that you matter! You can make a difference! And don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do something or become something. And don’t ever let go of your imagination! I can’t really say much more, it’s not my place, because I have not been in your shoes, felt your suffering. But maybe my husbands story will spark some inspiration.
When and where were you happiest?
In nature, especially the mountains and the woods. As soon as I walk into nature, only hearing the sound of the wind, the birds, the rustling of leaves. It lowers my shoulders, calms my mind.
I am so lucky to have a family who enjoys to go on hikes with me.