Vice Principal-LSEN School
Age of parents:
Age: 5 years old.
Is this your only child?
Diagnosis of child: Apraxia/Dyspraxia
What are the biggest challenges facing your child on a daily basis?
Communication, frustration of not being able to be understood or not coping with what is expected of him.
What are the happiest moments you have with your child on a daily basis?
• Seeing his face lit up when he sees me in the afternoon when I fetch him from school.
• Listening to his stories (although I don’t always understand them).
• Experiencing his fantastic sense of humour and innocence.
• Letting go of my own insecurities (so what if I don’t have a bikini body and everything wobbles when I jump on the trampoline) to enjoy and experience precious moments.
Are you a single parent or married? Married.
Has your special needs child had an effect on your marriage?
Yes! We were married for 9 years (dating for 5) before Franco was born. We were both focused on our careers, enjoying the “freedom” and being in touch with each others needs. We were starting the process of accepting that we might not have children, when we found out that I was pregnant. SO MANY things changed.
At the beginning we put a huge amount of unnecessary pressure on ourselves. My husband experienced the pressure of being the provider of the family (although he has always been wonderful at it) and I tried to be superwoman, having the same high expectations of myself but adding supermom to the criteria.
We also grew up with different family set-ups, which played a role when it comes to discipline and traditions. All of this played a role in affecting our marriage. Although we have sort of found our through it, there are still those days.
What has your child taught you about yourself, both positively and negatively?
Positively: I can function on very little sleep. I have much more patience that I thought I had. It’s ok if everything doesn't fit in it's box, life has grey area’s.
Negatively: I am very selfish with my “me-time”. I am a control freak. I need to know what is happening - when, where and how.
Are your family and friends supportive?
It took time. I was very frustrated in the beginning of this journey, because a common reaction was “Don’t worry, boys are always slower to crawl/walk/talk”. Now that Franco is older, they understand better. We are not ashamed of our amazing child, and we are also not hiding the fact that he has special needs. This has made a big difference in our support system (family & friends). They do not feel uncomfortable to ask questions and have accepted Franco for who he is. “Those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind” ~ Dr Suess
Do you take time out, if so what do you do to relax?
My mentor gave me a list of “Tips for parents” the year I started teaching. I still have this list on my wall. The 1st thing on the list is: TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. I struggle taking time out, because I am a control freak and believe that everything will fall apart if I am not there. But over the years I have learned that I am a better mother & wife if I take time out. Any sort of pampering, lunch with a girlfriend, shopping (without a list) or just having the whole house to myself for a hour or 2 is the ideal relaxing time for me.
What has made the biggest difference to your child’s quality of life?
Getting a team of spesialised professionals together. Franco was accepted at Tygerberg Hospital School (Apraxia class) in the beginning of 2017. This loving environment with a teacher that understands his needs have made getting up and going to school every morning so much easier. Franco also gets Speech Therapy weekly from Roomene De Beer, who is passionate about working with kids with Apraxia and is also seen weekly by Robynn Turnbull/Ray Ann Cook for Occupational Therapy. Carey-Lee Vermotor ( Counselling Psychologist) also assists in monitoring Franco’s progress and development. I really feel that we have a Ferrari of a team and with their input & guidance Franco has made progress and we as parents feel better equipped.
What is your dream for your child?
You are good enough, beautiful enough and strong enough. Believe it and never let insecurity run your life.