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๐ƒ๐จ๐ž๐ฌ ๐‹๐จ๐ฏ๐ž ๐‘๐ž๐š๐ฅ๐ฅ๐ฒ ๐‚๐จ๐ง๐ช๐ฎ๐ž๐ซ ๐€๐ฅ๐ฅ?

January has passed, and Iโ€™ve just realised I hadnโ€™t posted a blog. So, for this month, let's ponder on whether love really conquers all. Since itโ€™s Valentine's soon, this will tie in well, and as always, I have a few soulmates: my parents, my siblings, my daughters and my beautiful soul sisters (you know who you are).

Rest assured, this is not an episode from โ€˜Love is Blindโ€™ series, but this blog is based on a real-life story of an autistic girl who proved that love does conquer all.

As you all know, Afiyah has severe autism (some say Level 3), ADHD, epilepsy, and severe learning difficulties. Thatโ€™s quite a lot for one young adult to deal with daily. We have always had ups and downs with Afiyahโ€™s needs and her behaviour, but roughly about 5-6 years ago, Afiyah started displaying extremely challenging behaviours. Things started becoming harder; she couldnโ€™t carry out her usual activities anymore, and everything started going downhill very quickly.

By 2019, things got extremely difficult. I had recently moved back to the UK after six months in Qatar, and Afiyahโ€™s challenges were increasing on a daily basis due to severe self-harming behaviours. By 2020, things got so bad that there was talk of hospital admission for Afiyah under the Mental Health Act.

That was literally rock bottom for us. I was running on 4 hours of sleep with Afiyah and not managing to eat a proper meal as her behaviour was off the charts. I felt as if there was no way out. I was living in fear of my child being taken away from me and admitted to the hospital under the Mental Health Act. Those who donโ€™t know about MHA, look it upโ€ฆ Parents lose their rights over their loved ones under MHA, and I couldnโ€™t imagine anything worse than that. Fear of not only losing Afiyah but also her ending up in some residential facility miles away was an unbearable thought.

By this time, I had gone into severe depression and anxiety and was experiencing panic attacks, but the only thing that kept me going was my love for my children and my determination to stand by Afiyah and do what was right for her.

My love for my kids and my mumโ€™s love for me kept us together. If it werenโ€™t for my mum selflessly looking after us, we wouldnโ€™t have made it this far!!

Now, with time, patience, perseverance and, most importantly, LOVE, things are a lot better with Afiyah. Donโ€™t get me wrong, we still have challenging behaviours, sleepless nights, drives at odd times, etc, but nothing compared to the past few years #Alhamdulillah #MashAllah. I pray that things always get better for Afiyah and for all our children, Ameen.

Afiyah can now show affection towards me, and I can kiss/hug her without her lashing out or getting extremely distressed.

Against all odds, Afiyah is with me, loving me and making me a better human each day. This feeling makes me extremely grateful to Allah (God), thankful to my mum for literally being the biggest support, my dad & siblings for their love, and so many extended family & friends for being there for me when I needed them the most. We couldnโ€™t have made it this far without their support, love and prayers.

For those who have children with additional needs, make sure you surround yourself with people who care for you because when things get hard, you will need their support, and thereโ€™s no shame in being vulnerable or seeking any form of help.

For those who donโ€™t have children with additional needs, think about how you can support someone. Itโ€™s often moral support and kind words that make the biggest impact.

The moral of the story is that difficult phases always pass. They last a long time and may seem longer, but things eventually get better. Even if things get better very slowly, itโ€™s still progress in the right direction.

Check out my previous blogs for some insight on behaviour management, and get in touch if you need any support. You can also sign up for our next Workshop that focuses on Behavioural Challenges and what you can do to help your child, yourself, and your whole family.

All the best everyone; stay strong, stay safe and stay blessed. Here are some pictures of my gorgeous Afiyah (FYI, only the happy ones, not the grumpy ones, haha).

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