A beautiful African proverb says ‘it takes a whole village to raise a child’ and never a truer word has been spoken. But, given that so few people even know their neighbours nowadays, the networks we create for ourselves need to be as strong as a community, as helpful as a village, as supportive as a town and as loving as a major metropolis.
So why do we need to look to others to provide strength, help, support and love? Simple, we are parents of ASD/Aspie girls and we need more love and support than most people, we need that NETwork around us that can take the strain, provide a very strong shoulder and sometimes just listen when things get too tough.
I count myself as very lucky that I have my fabulous rocks, I have my NETwork (see what I did there?), those who catch me when I fall, dust me off, and put me the right way up again. I have those people around me who can accept the ‘difference’ that is our life, who never run in the opposite direction when worry comes-a-calling. They are not fair-weather friends and family, they are all-weather experts. They may be scattered all around the country, all around the globe even, but I know that they are there and often, that is enough. I have my long distance love-senders and I have my on-call bestie who will literally drop what she is doing and come and get me if needs be. We have grandparents who adore our little girl so much that they are travelling this twisting, turning path with us, loving, caring, supporting, finding their feet and learning alongside us. We have mates who take the quirky, bizarre stuff in their stride and always see our darling girl for the marvel that she is.
Yes, you lose some people who you thought would always be part of our support system but hey, when the going gets tough, some people just can’t hack it.
One of the nicest things about the NETwork is that it isn’t just the usual suspects, a supportive person can come in many guises and for our daughter, those people add an extra knot of security. The lady in the school shop who discusses ad nauseum the benefits of a new rollerball pen that has come in stock, the café worker who remembers my daughter’s order and she feels confident enough to blether away to, our tortoise-owning neighbours who always get our daughter to care for them when they are away, the other whippet owners who stop and chat and answer her 20 questions about their hound. All these people build up a supportive NETwork that will benefit our lovely girl in the future, each interaction that is kind, supportive and generous, helps her to develop and feel the world is not quite so scary…
So, if you ever feel alone, if you ever feel that no one understands or the tsunami of emotion is getting too much for you, turn to your NETwork in the broadest sense, support sometimes comes when you least expect it and from the most unlikely source – keep looking and you will find it.