This photo reminds me how much I love my autistic child

My son Adrian has severe autism, and on a scale of 1 to 10 I would say I love him 11. I have a very soft spot for him because he’s a very loving person. Even when autism makes him get frustrated and angry, he will just touch my face and say, ‘Did I hurt you? I am so sorry.’

Those little things just melt your heart and you just can’t do without loving him.

When he was diagnosed it was heart-wrenching and I was thinking ‘Why me?!’ But he’s almost 20 and I have come to grips. It’s still challenging, we still have the tantrums, still have the repetitive behaviours, but we’re getting on with life.

Son making progress; learning as a parent

At 19 years-old he’s now able to hold a conversation with you, not fluently, but it’s much better than it was back then. As for me as a parent, I’ve learned as a person to be much more patient.

For instance, when we have to go somewhere and you can’t plan to be at that place at a particular time. You might actually arrive but Adrian doesn’t feel able to go inside and so you have to stay outside.

We have more to do to educate Jamaica about the special community [of children who have autism] and that with autism there are different types and they look like a regular child.

Awareness increasing but more is needed

I think that schools and the country are not equipped to deal with children with autism. Like when you go into a health centre you have challenges with the staff being able to appreciate your situation.

My son speaks, but he speaks rapidly. Once a policeman was in our community and going off at him and I was trying to explain to the officer, but yet he was still being so angry with Adrian, and I was thinking this cannot be.

He’s just always all over the place with his energy, which is why I have few photos of him, but at this moment in time he happened to be still in church so I just snapped the picture. Every time I look at it, I just reminds me how much I love him.

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UNICEF was speaking to these parents at a family support group held by the Jamaica Autism Support Association. Contact JASA for help if you are the parent of a child with autism. For access to additional benefits, register with the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities (JCPD).

Photograph of Kenisha Williams at a recent parent support group meeting held by the Jamaica Autism Support Association (JASA).
UNICEF/JAM/Nichola RichardsKenisha Williamson at a recent parent support group meeting held by the Jamaica Autism Support Association (JASA).

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