My Journey with Autism Tope’s story

My Journey with Autism

Meet Temitope, a lovely mum of 3 beautiful Children and a business entrepreneur.

Tope is an old friend and I remember reading a post she put up on her son David’s birthday that struck me. Seeing her now, nothing gives away what she’s been through and is still going through. She is ever radiant and bubbly.

That post made me decide to give an audience to mums around me raising children with special needs. I want it in their own words so people can understand how tough and challenging it is. I also want it to encourage other families that are going through the same situation and are struggling with it.

Maybe we’ll be a bit more patient when we’re out and there’s a hyper child and kinder to all mums, you never know what they’re going through…

Read Topes’ candid story in her own words…

My name is Temitope. I’m a graduate of Business Administration from the University Of Ado Ekiti. I currently work part-time for UPS(United Parcel Service) as an administrator and I also have a passion for FASHION and run a business as well ‘@temitopes_closet’.

I’m sure you are wondering how I balance it all?

My Journey with AutismMY JOURNEY WITH AUTISM.

After my son was diagnosed in March 2013, The first thing that happened to me was “SHOCK” the way Christianity had been sold to us, I felt there were certain things not allowed to happen to us “CHRISTIANS”. So from a Christian perspective, I felt let down by God and struggled with my faith since then.

All along I was in complete denial of my sons’ condition even though the signs were there. He was my first child and I didn’t know a lot of things back then but the signs were obvious that he was different from other children.

At age 3 when he was diagnosed he already had the 3 key traits of AUTISM:
1. DELAYED SPEECH/NONE VERBAL SKILLS
2. POOR SOCIAL SKILLS
3. OBSESSIVE RITUALISTIC BEHAVIOUR

The second thing that happened to me was I felt like I had been running and suddenly hit a brick wall and everything that was questionable began to be questioned in my life:
1, RELIGION
2, MARRIAGE
3, FAMILY
4, EXISTENCE
5, GOD

It was like my life was over, there’s no other way I could describe it to anyone. It had a huge impact on me as I had to give up my day Job to care of my sons’ needs which meant giving up my professional life and career. There’s no way I can put into words how it felt to be dealt with such a HUGE BLOW. It’s absolutely overwhelming.

The third thing that happened to me was DEPRESSION. I completely lost the will to live and was only existing for my children and husband. I was basically relying on antidepressants to survive!

Very fast I became socially isolated and left on my own. (I knew my real friends immediately). What people see on the outside is different from what’s going on inside. People started judging and calling me names like ‘SNUB, ARROGANT, PROUD’ woman because I wasn’t attending social functions due to hiding my son’s behaviour in public.

My life became a nightmare and I started suffering from sleep deprivation (insomnia). I went to a dark place whilst asking myself questions like:
Will this child talk?
Will he ever have friends?
Will he get married?
Will I have grandchildren?
Will he go to university.?
Will he ever be able to hold down a job?
Will he ever call me MUM or understand what the word mother means?
Will I be responsible for his needs for the rest of my life???

On and on like that, was how my life existed. And to make matters worse I had to stare at my child every day and see a boy who had no emotional connection to me, none verbal with no eye contact.

He was in a different world of his own entirely oblivious to my pain and suffering.

For instance, he used to put his hands in his nappy and if he was soiled and I didn’t get to him on time, he would smear the whole house with his poo. This broke me every time he did it, I would spend hours cleaning the house and trying to get rid of the smell while crying my heart out.

The reality of it all dawned on me and I sank deeper into depression. “I started to resent GOD while I grieved the life my son will never have.” I was constantly having to monitor him round the clock as he had no sense of danger and could harm himself. Basically, I stopped existing as a human being and faded away….completely burnt out.

HOW IT AFFECTED MY FAMILY

Over the years my son’s illness has taken its toll on my family and there’s no point denying it. I learnt to dream a different dream as to the plans I had before. I have heard about a lot of marriages that didn’t make it because of the stress of AUTISM and the ones that made it paid a price which they alone can tell the tale.

This might sound extreme but it’s like DEATH in the family. You grieve the life your son will never have and embrace the one you have been given. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade says, Elbert Hubbard. It’s called making the best of the situation and living.

MEN, IN PARTICULAR, LEARN TO INTERNALISE WHEN THEY FIND THEMSELVES IN SUCH SITUATION. AS AFRICANS WE ARE VERY IMAGE CULTURED AND HAVING A CHILD WITH A DISABILITY IS BEEN FROWNED UPON.

ONCE A FATHER IS NOT ABLE TO BOAST OR BRAG ABOUT HIS CHILDS PROGRESS AMONGST HIS PEERS OR FLAUNT HIS SKILLS AT A SOCIAL FUNCTION THEN THE WOMAN/WIFE’S ROLE AS A GOOD MOTHER IS QUESTIONED REGARDLESS OF WHETHER ITS HER FAULT OR NOT.

THERE’S A STRONG PUSH FOR DENIAL IN OUR CULTURE WHICH IS VERY SAD. WE LIVE AND SCHOOL ABROAD TO BETTER OUR LIVES BUT RUN BACK TO CULTURE WHEN PROBLEM ARISES IN OUR HOMES/MARRIAGE.
It’s such a shame really!!

Relations with Siblings.

In terms of getting the balance right at home with the other children, it’s heartbreaking as well.

I have a six-year-old daughter Davina and one-year-old son Daniel. Daniel is still a baby but Davina who was born less than 2 years apart from David suffers the consequences a lot.

David is unable to form a proper relationship with his sister. Davina feels David gets special treatments and she doesn’t, so this takes a toll on her and as a parent, it hurts badly. I mean she has this big brother who is not really a big brother and often times I have to sit her down to explain things to her but she doesn’t fully understand most of it.

She’s always bored and attention seeking due to the lack of communication between both sibling. Most times I have to be her friend and take her everywhere with me. We don’t go on holidays often except within the UK due to David’s condition. We tend to travel to places not long on the plane/train.

Although my son’s illness changed my life completely, I haven’t allowed it to define me. I have to admit it did at first shake me, but everything turned around when a very good friend of mine died on 06/11/2016 which happened to be my sons 6th birthday. I got the dreaded phone call that completely changed my life!

That was a defining moment for me. One moment she was there and the next she was gone, a friend of over 20 years died without any signs or warning leaving behind two kids and a husband!

While I cried my heart out, I realised right there and then how selfish I had been with my life. Blaming God for everything that happened to me. Even after the bible made it clear to us In John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” So I went back to the Lord and the changes in our lives began.

I stopped medicating on antidepressant and lost weight of over 5kg. I had control of my mind and body again. “Anti-depressants are poison”. Please avoid as much as you can!

I started prophesying things I wanted to see in my children. Believing in faith and not by sight. I focused more on God and not my problems. Gradually I built a relationship with my son David by showing him nothing but LOVE. He began to trust me more and started opening up and using more words. We are still on the journey of speech recovery but a massive improvement from 2 years ago.

David is also able to manage task on his own like (dress himself, use the toilet, identify objects and sounds in books).

LOVE is the key. Our children can feel all emotions regardless of their condition. Please, parents, be aware.

FAMILIES LIVING WITH AUTISM

You are doing great and don’t ever doubt your capability as a parent. God gave you that child for a reason.

Yes, you will be judged and criticised but never lose focus. You have a treasure in your family. A unique and blessed child. The word SPECIAL NEEDS means GREATNESS hence the reason the devil tries to turn your Joy to sorrow.

There’s still no concrete explanation for the cause of AUTISM because there’s none. It’s just the devil trying to change the destiny of our wonderful children. In them, we have RULERS, LEADERS, INVENTORS, SCIENTIST, and the List is endless. It’s a great honour and privilege to be chosen parents of such wonderful gifts from God.

Please know that God allowed this to happen for the benefit of us becoming AMBASSADORS and creating awareness on AUTISM and a soldier for Christ. If God can allow his son Jesus to go through that amount of pain and suffering for our sake then what we are going through won’t kill us, it’s meant to make us stronger.

These children deserve to be SEEN, HEARD and CELEBRATED not hidden away in our homes. The more the world recognises and accepts them, the better their chances of adapting quickly to our world.

It’s HARD work but with God all things are possible. Do things at your own time and pace. Don’t be afraid to seek help. (Especially from medical professionals) Listen and work with care providers as well. Do not be ignorant by saying (God forbid) the signs are there so please be realistic and help your child. Faith only works with action.

Take good care of yourself and maintain your sanity. Your family needs you.

HOW TO SUPPORT
1, Pray for them
2, Support them with childcare (2-3hrs) so they can have a moment to breathe. No amount of money can buy peace. Autism requires a lot of physical hard work. Most times all we need is just a few hours to cool off. (ME TIME)
3, Don’t Judge- Always encourage and support us. The moment our child was diagnosed, we already felt like a failure so please don’t point out our flaws especially when we make parental mistakes.
4, Give as your heart desires. Time, friendship etc
5, Respect our privacy as you would never know what we are going through emotionally.

Be Blessed.

 

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Chief Daddy Premiere

chief daddy

Anyone who follows the Nigerian pop-culture would have heard about the Chief Daddy Movie Premiere. This is because of the glitz and glamour it came with.

Chief Daddy is a Nigerian comedy about a billionaire industrialist. He was a benefactor to a large extended family of relatives, household staff and assorted mistresses. The Chief lived an extravagant lifestyle until he suddenly died! What’s in the will and who gets what?

Premiere theme

The theme of the premiere caught my attention ‘Opulently Nigerian’. I was keen to see what the Nigerian ‘A’ List actors would come up with.

I wasn’t disappointed though as I was, with the ‘Merry Men’ Premiere – which celebrated the Nigerian ‘Agbada’ attire. The women actually did better than the men for that 🤔.

Without further ado, and especially for my Non-Nigerian readers, enjoy the interpretation of our Nigerian attires by some of our best actors.

I must say though that majority of the outfits had heavy western influence. They were, however, all made in Nigeria and most feature our ‘head tie’. The ‘head tie (gele)’ is currently going through a lot of interesting modification.

Enjoy…

Let me start with the styles that stuck strictly or very close to the Nigerian culture;

Chief daddy

Ini Edo is dressed in an Akwa Ibom inspired outfit. I especially love the Calabar ceremonious hair do.

chief daddy

The two Chiomas stayed true to the beautiful Igbo culture by interpreting the popular ‘Isi Agu’ in two different but beautiful styles. They have both used coral beads which is also an important part of Igbo dressing.

chief daddy

Repping the rich Edo culture is the beautiful Omoni Oboli. Most Nigerian tribes use Coral Beads, but the Edo people are very well known for this.

 

Even though the theme of the night was ‘Opulently Nigerian’, I am not complaining that Juliet Ibrahim decided to rep her home County ‘Ghana’. What a brilliant display of their popular ‘Kente’ fabric. I absolutely love this look.

Toyin Lawani is giving us the Yoruba Regent vibe in her Agbda Aso-Oke. She’s a stickler for the rules when it comes to themes, and almost always gets it right. Kudos to this creative lady.

chief daddy

Stan Nze is oozing some Northern juice in this appearance. The northern men usually wear Babban Riga,(Agbada) and a Turban/Tagelmust like headgear called ‘Alasho. Though his Agbada is not the Northern Babban Riga, there is the Arewa knot, a symbol of the Arewa (Northern) people.

There are so many beautiful tribes and cultures in Nigeria. Not sure if Ufuoma is repping Rivers or Delta all I know is I’m in 😚.

Not even sure if Denola’s look is fully Nigerian, but I love it 😊

Chief Daddy

Ebuka came as an Obi, that means ‘King’ in Igboland. Very good look.

The following looks are heavily western infused but very interesting. The geles (headtie) creativity is brilliant

The two Beverlys look absolutely stunning and the head gears – Brilliant!

Did someone say ‘Be Extra’, and that’s exactly what Toke served, extra and then some more…

How sweet is Kate Henshaw in this outfit? Another really cool head tie 😎.

Lily and Dolapo look really good.

 

Rita is dazzling us in this outfit and so is the lovely Mo Abudu the movie’s producer. Both ladies totally slayed in their LDA pieces.

And these men caught our attention too 🤗

Dipo Ayo Adeusi brings a cool and modern use of the Aso-Oke to the table.

RMD and  Life coach Lanre Olushola in Agbada.

I’m sure you can tell I’m tired 😋. Hope you enjoyed looking through the pictures.

 

 

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Tips for Traveling with Children

travel tips

Tis the season to be jolly, and for some people, tis the season to be on the road, or air, or rail 😊.

It’s the time of the year that some people travel. Some run away from their cold abode to a warmer clime, some travel to spend the festive holiday with family, some travel cause that’s the only time they can get away from work…

People travel a lot at Christmas and a lot of people travel with their family. I’m going to share my tips for traveling with Children.

Personally, I prefer traveling during the Spring /Easter Holiday. The weather is usually perfect for me, not too cold and certainly not hot! The queues at holiday spots are not too long (unlike summer 🙄) even the airport doesn’t seem too choked…

So here are my holiday tips for parents traveling with Lil Humans, please feel free to share your tips in the comment section.

Tips for traveling with children

  1. My first tip is pre-travel, this is for when booking the tickets. I’m sure we all know it is wise to book long before your travel date to get a good deal/ticket fare. But most importantly, get sleeper/good night tickets. I know there are some journeys you have no choice as nights flights are unavailable. But whenever that’s not the case, it’s always wise to get sleeper tickets especially if it’s a long journey. This will add to your lifespan, trust me 😜.
  2. Matching/Uniform Clothing: I’m aware some people are not fans of matching clothes. If you find yourself in that group there’s no better time to put aside your dislike of matching clothing than when traveling with young children. It’s easier to identify or describe children in matching clothes just in case someone becomes a little too adventurous and strays from the pack😗. It doesn’t even have to be exactly the same, you can dress them in very similar clothing. This of course can be anything from tops, dresses, coats, jackets etc.
  3. Bright Clothing: Children can also be dressed in bright colours to make it easy to identify or describe them. People tend to notice bright colours easier, you can just turn around and your lil one is not beside you as they should be, people around can easily spot them. I’ve witnessed a case where a stranger spotted a wandering child by his outfit.oh, ‘a lil boy in an orange shirt just ran past me’, she said to the panicked mum. It really is just easier and colors are usually fun for children anyway so it’s a win-win 😊.travel tips
  4. Backpacks: It’s always a good idea to pack a personal bag for your child/ren. They always want to enjoy every part of the traveling adventure which of-course includes pulling their own carry all or carrying their own little backpack. I prefer the latter because it’s easier to carry around and less likely to forget.
  5. Activity books: Coloring, drawing, puzzle, crosswords, word searches, brain games, quiz books, story books etc. The list is endless. These can be taken along for the children. It’s important to take books that they actually like, in their bags. One or two of them will do so the bag is not too heavy.
  6. Tablets and Devices: I know some super mums don’t like their children spending too much time on their electronic devices. This is the one time you could let them have a go at it for as long as they want. Indulge them for your peace of mind as well as that of your neighbours🤐.
  7. Wipes, wipes, and more wipes: I always say whoever invented wipes deserves a Nobel peace prize for this great gift to humanity 😊. You can’t travel with enough wipes, one in your handbag (face and hand wipes), and one in the children’s bag. It doesn’t have to be the big brands, I buy the store brands now, cheaper and they do the job. Make sure you have more than enough wipes on you at all times during your travel,
  8. Sanitisers: Kids are always touching things, more so during travel. they’re exploring, touching the clear glass walls, the panels, seats etc. They are also always nibbling on something so please remember the sanitiser, let’s keep the germs away as much as we can.
  9. Food and Drinks: You need to pack enough snacks in your bag as well as the children’s bags. Sandwiches, biscuits etc. Try to make it as healthy as you can, especially with the drinks as a sugar high will make for a dreadful journey. Also, remember not to buy the drinks till after going through airport security. This is because the liquid allowance is 100ml.
  10. Same coloured suitcases: If you can, it helps to have similar suitcases. But not all of us have suitcases from the same brand, I’m still aspiring to that 🤔. A lovely string or bow can be tied around the handle to make for easy identification. Some may think it’s not necessary but it does save a little time. You’ll be amazed at the number of people that have the same suitcase as you do.
  11. Sweets, lollipops and gums: Regardless of what seat you’re in, First, Club or even luggage storage 😛 ear discomfort is common to all during air travel. This is caused by the change in air pressure. This altitude change disturbs children a lot more as they don’t know to deal with it. Swallowing solves it, and we adults usually just swallow but to help younger children, a lollipop or candy will do the trick. Drinking also helps, so nursing mothers can choose this time to breast or bottle feed their babies. The sweets or gums will help older children, you can buy sweets with reduced sugar or fruit sweets.
  12. Extra Clothing: Ensure that you have one or two extra clothes for the children. You never know when there’ll be a toilet accident, food/drink stain. There should also be one for yourself especially if you’re a nursing mum.

Do not forget your travel insurance and internet data. You never know when you’ll need google map 😉. And the less drink the less toilet run, I’m sure we all dread plane toilets, too tight and always busy 😂.

I hope I did not leave out any important tip. Please, let us hear from you if you have a good tip to share

Also pls be nice to your neigbours, I always apologise in advance😊.

For those traveling Bon voyage…

How’re you traveling 😉?

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