Company Secretary/Corporate Governance Professional.
Age of parents:
Age: 8 years
Is this your only child?
No, Luke is 12 years old.
Diagnosis of child:
Autism Spectrum Disorder, classically autistic. Aaron has the typical language/speech impediments of autism, gross and fine motor skills impediments and challenges with social interactions.
What are the biggest challenges facing your child on a daily basis?
Communication and frustration with his inability to communicate appropriately are his greatest challenges. Aaron battles to understand abstract concepts and will become incredibly frustrated when we do not understand him, or he does not understand what we try to convey to him.
The typical sibling rivalry is also magnified, since Aaron always wants the upper hand when it comes to his brother. Aaron loves Luke terribly, but is not always able to express it, he battles with showing too much love whilst not wanting to appear weak in front of his old brother Luke. Luke is wise beyond his years and always has patience with Aaron, despite his own frustration with not always knowing how to maintain a loving relationship with his younger brother.
What are the happiest moments you have with your child on a daily basis?
I love Aaron’s bath time. Initially he resists but once the bath is run, he comes willingly, even eagerly. I get the chance to pamper my little monkey, tickle and cuddle while he gets dressed and we get to connect on a personal level.
After bath time, the whole family will often get together in our bedroom, chat and play for a bit before going to bed. I love this time of the evening, we are all winding down after the day, and we are able to relax together for a short while before knocking off for the night.
Are you married?
Married – 14 challenging, happy years with Sanrico Prinsloo ;-)
Has your special needs child had an effect on your marriage?
All kids have an affect on a marriage – spouses have less time for each other and you worry about making enough money to provide for your family, you also worry about finding enough time to be with your family.
Special needs in the family magnifies and multiplies that by a gazillion! I’m a bit of a control freak (Just a little bit! Hehe) so I want to do everything for the kids myself, especially for Aaron. The result – too little time for the love of my life. And often, my quality time with my hubby is ruined by the fact that all my patience has been spent on Aaron (and his brother).
Aaron comes first, Luke immediately on his heels and Hubby will get the little bit of energy and love that I have left after the day, which far too often, is far too little.
Are your family and friends supportive?
Our family and friends are very supportive. I’ve lost friends along the way, but Aaron has also shown me who my true friends, the ones who stick it out when my kid has a meltdown or when I cancel dinner plans at the last minute. I so appreciate the friends whom I have not seen in years, but who continue to send me articles about special needs families and who support from where ever they are.
My parents are like gold – they support us emotionally, financially and in every other possible way.
My Husband – I would be lost without him. Sanrico does all the research in the family, he knows amongst other things which supplements Aaron must take, which foods to avoid and which to have more of. He is the go-to-guy when it comes to nutrition and everything else that needs to be taken care of.
What has your child taught you about yourself, both positively and negatively?
Aaron has taught me that there are limits to what I can do – I do not have infinite resources, I cannot create happiness for my family and that I am fallible. I stumble and fall, I break down and cry. I’ve had to come to grips with the fact that I will make an infinite number of mistakes in life.
He also taught me that the one infinite resource which I do have, is love. I love my little monkeys equally, I worry about them equally and I try to support them equally. The same goes for my beloved Hubby.
Aaron taught me that its OK to ask for help – that humility is the key to almost everything. He also taught me the power of forgiveness. He forgives my mistakes, and loves me all the same. The same can be said for Luke and my super Hubby.
Do you take time out, if so what do you do to relax?
I enjoy getting together with family and friends, we sing karaoke (no, not in public - Hehe) and I mess around with my drum set. I love taking walks with the boys and spending summer days in the swimming pool.
What has made the biggest difference to your child’s quality of life?
Aaron’s quality of life improved immediately when we got him into an appropriate school. It makes such a difference to have teachers who care about the kids, who understand the kids and who will go the extra mile for your child. Faery Glen is Aaron’s second school – he has been there since September 2012, and has flourished. The farm-type setting is wonderful for the kids, with no city noises around and lots of space to play.
The right nutrition also makes a huge difference and one can clearly see how it has boosted his development in all areas, from the speech to fine and gross motor skills.
What is your dream for your child?
My dream for Aaron is that he will grow up to lead an independent life and to achieve his full potential, whatever that may be. There are so many opportunities out there in the world, and I know that he has something very special to offer. The challenge is to help him develop, to find and zone in on whatever it is that he can excel in and to help him become a well balanced young man.