My 2nd daughter Yasmin turned 3 years old recently. As usual, we had a very small birthday party with a homemade GFCF cake. The girls had a lovely time, though Yasmin started crying when it was time to blow the candle. Luckily, her big brave sister blew out the candles for her.
For the past 1 year, our efforts have been to prevent the onset of Autism in Yasmin. Since her bout with Rotavirus a year ago, she has regressed and presented several Autistic features including physical and verbal stimming, tantrums, behavioral issues, repetitive motions, OCD traits and difficulty in transitioning. Thankfully, her language, speech and cognition has always been at age-appropriate level and has never regressed in any of these criteria.
We feel that we have been successful in preventing Autism, however we have not made any great strides in actually improving any of the issues. We are working with several doctors, however no one has been able to give us any significant or sustained progress. Health wise, our immediate concerns are her chronic diarrhea for the past 4 months, recurrent bacterial infections, clostridia, heavy metals and passive immune system. Our biggest behavioral challenges has been with her violent mood swings, temper tantrums, rages and defiance.
Yasmin is extremely bright, chatty and active. She is adorable and affectionate, she can be very loving and charming at times. But most of the time, we only saw her erratic mood swings and violent behavior. She would be cranky, whiny, crying inconsolably and throw epic tantrums. She would cry so loudly and for so long, that poor Maya would have to hold her hands to her ears to shut the noise out. She is uncontrollable when going out, she would fight us every step of the way in most day to day things such as feeding, dressing, bathing and sleep. Her non-compliance and tantrums is getting harder and harder to deal with. She hits, pushes and bites Maya even though unprovoked.
At times, I mourn for the loss of the beautiful sweet tempered child she was before. Previously, Yasmin was always smiling and happy, but in the past year, the smiles were harder to come by. Last year, there were a few months where we couldn’t find any photos of Yasmin smiling at all. It is difficult sometimes for me to feel the same level of connection with her that I do with Maya. At times, I feel disconnected from her. It is a horrible feeling for a mother to have, especially since previously we have been incredibly close.
Yasmin is an amazing girl and I love her deeply, but constantly dealing with her mega-tantrums and mood swings has stripped away a lot of the joy in being with her. These negative behaviors has overshadowed her true nature. In my heart, I know Yasmin is still the sweet, cheerful girl that was full of smiles and happiness. She brought sunshine and light into my life when we were in our darkest times dealing with Maya’s Autism. Yasmin was my bundle of fun, being with her made me feel like a `normal’ mother again, not just an Autism Mom. She was my respite into normalcy, the one I would run to whenever dealing with Maya was just too much to handle. Her joy and happiness was so tangible that she effected everyone near her. Since the day she was born till she was 2 years old, she was an oasis of calmness, contentment and joy in the midst of this family that was being torn apart by Autism. This is the Yasmin that I remember, the beautiful soul that I know is still there inside her.
The recognition I felt whenever she looked into my eyes, listening to her voice knowing that she was actually talking to ME, rather than verbal stimming was all new to me. I never realized all the joy that was denied to me as a mother to a child with Autism. Before Yasmin, all I knew of motherhood was tears and backbreaking effort. When Yasmin was old enough, I finally knew what it felt like to have a conversation with my child, rather than with a child with Autism who is lost in her own little world. The hugs and kisses Yasmin used to give and receive without pulling away from me, that was my cure for the empty space in my heart that Autism has stripped away from me.
I felt whole again as a mother. Yasmin accepted all the love I had that was previously rejected by Maya. Through no fault of her own, Maya was not capable of showing her affection nor did she welcome our hugs and kisses. We were merely the giver of milk and cookies. Whereas yasmin actually wanted to be with me, she enjoyed my company and would cry and miss me when I’m gone. Maya barely acknowledged my existence, even when I was away from her for a few days. Yasmin made up for all the lost hugs and kisses then. Though now we get it two fold from both our girls, for this we are blessed.
Yasmin’s regression was a huge loss to the whole family. Till today, I mourn for the loss of the happy little girl I remember, much deeper than when I was grieving for Maya. Somehow, the loss felt bigger. It doesn’t make sense to me either, but though I grieved for Maya when she was diagnosed with Autism, it was in a way a relief for us. Finally we had a label that explained why we struggled so much. As much as we hate the label and labelling children, it helped us to deal with Maya. With Yasmin, there is no diagnosis, no label. Just horrible behavior in a child who seems like a spoilt brat, though I know her behavior is related to the damage done by the Rotavirus and heavy metals. Many people ask why we do biomedical treatments on Yasmin, even though I try to explain, many still don’t understand. Until you have lived in our house for 1 day and had to deal with Yasmin, you will never understand. We know that once we are able to treat her gut and underlying medical issues, her true nature will emerge again.
I used to feel sorry for Yasmin, because she was constantly being rejected by Maya when Maya was deep in her Autism. She used to look up to her big sister and always wanted to play with her, but Maya was not able to be a real sister to Yasmin. Now that Maya is able to interact and play with her sister, I am saddened that Yasmin constantly hurts Maya physically. Sibling rivalry? I don’t think so. Perhaps this is payback for all the times we neglected her when all our effort was focused on recovering Maya?
We hope that in the future, both girls will have a strong sisterly bond and be each other’s greatest allies. Now that Maya is nearly recovered, I feel that she and I have made up for lost time. Maya and I have a bond that is as strong as with any mother and child. It is undeniable that we have Maya back, she is no longer lost. I hope to have the same connection again with Yasmin, I can’t wait to make up for all the times we have lost. I hope Maya and Yasmin will grow up to be sisters who are close and united, to be there for each other always.