BLACK HISTORY MONTH- TRIUMPHING TOGETHER: THE JOURNEY OF A BLACK SINGLE MOTHER RAISING AN AUTISTIC SON
By Dior Mabellan
Parenting is a challenging journey, but for a Black Single Mother in London raising a child with autism, the path can be even more arduous. Autism, a neurodevelopmental disorder characterised by differences in communication, behaviour, and social interaction, demands a unique and patient approach. Single mothers navigating this path display extraordinary strength, resilience, and love as they work tirelessly to provide the best care for their children.
Let me share some remarkable journeys and experiences raising my autistic child by highlighting my courage, dedication, and the invaluable lessons I would like to share with the world out there.
The Power of Patience
Having raised James on my own since his Dad left when I was still pregnant, patience became my virtue and a single black mother raising an autistic child in a place like London exemplifies this every day. James sometimes struggles with changes in routines, sensory sensitivities, and emotional regulation, which can be incredibly challenging for both of us, but being a sole parent, I have found creative ways to adapt and maintain a sense of stability for my child.
Developing routines, providing clear expectations, and offering consistent support all require great patience. This steadfastness helps build trust between me and my child, fostering a sense of security that is essential for his development.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex condition that affects individuals differently, often presenting challenges in social communication and behaviour. While it can be daunting, gaining a deep understanding of autism is the first step for any parent, especially single mothers.
Many Black Single Mothers in London dedicate significant time to research, seeking knowledge from healthcare professionals, therapists, and other parents. We become advocates for our children's unique needs, working to create a supportive and inclusive environment where my child can thrive.
Building a Support Network
As a Black Single Mother raising an autistic child, I understood the importance of a strong support system. I often seek out and nurture relationships with professionals, family members, and friends who can provide emotional and practical support. We attend support groups, connect with other parents, and share experiences, gaining a sense of community.
Furthermore, I have come to embrace the idea that asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. I recognise that seeking assistance ensures I can provide the best care for my child while maintaining my own well-being.
Advocating for my Child
What James’s experience has taught me as a Black Single Mother of two boys, is to never stop advocating for my child. Living with James’s condition has made me become well-versed in my child's needs and rights, working with educators, therapists, and healthcare providers to secure appropriate services and accommodations. I fully understand the importance of IEPs (Individualised Education Programs) and how to navigate the often complex world of special education.
In addition, I have tirelessly championed autism awareness and inclusion on my social media platforms, promoting a more accepting society and fighting the stigma that autistic individuals often face.
Perhaps the most powerful force driving me as a mother raising an autistic child is my unconditional love. I see the beauty and uniqueness in my child like no one else does, focusing on his strengths and celebrating his achievements, no matter how small they may seem to others. I have prioritised creating a safe and loving environment where my child can flourish above anything else.
Single Mothers (especially Black Mothers) raising autistic children face unique challenges, but we also exhibit exceptional strength, resilience, and love. Our unwavering dedication to understanding autism, cultivating patience, building support networks, advocating for our children, and, above all, providing unconditional love, serves as an inspiration to us all.
Today, James is learning to embrace his challenges and stride on his strengths. He has found a lot of confidence in forging a very successful career in modelling for some of the best clothing labels in the world and being the First Black African Autistic Child Model for companies such as Primark, Lego, Rare Birds Clothing.
As a society, we must recognise and appreciate the sacrifices and triumphs of remarkable women, like me, all over the world. We Black Mothers show the incredible power of a mother's love, a power that can help our children overcome the obstacles autism presents and shine brightly in their unique way.
Keep up with Dior and James on Instagram james_zebedeetalent