D.R.E.A.M.S. Moms Blog
Written by Sylnita Livas-Bougere
Greetings my friends. My name is Sylnita Livas-Bougere and I am formerly an educator, currently a graduate student, a special-needs advocate, and a published author. I recently published a children’s book titled My Friend Rain, which explains autism to young children. I am also the proud single mother of an amazing little boy named Rain. Rain, who is a non-verbal 10-year-old, was diagnosed with autism when he was three years old. Rain and I are natives of Thibodaux, Louisiana, but recently relocated to the Lafayette area as a result of Hurricane Ida. Our experiences with the special needs community here have been welcoming and amazing.
As most mothers of autistic children know, change of any sort can be challenging. Sudden changes are even more difficult. It was through sudden change that we arrived in Lafayette. When Hurricane Ida raged through our home town and ravaged neighboring areas on August 29th, we were forced to make some difficult decisions quickly. Our home was damaged and Rain’s ABA clinic was beyond salvageable. Forced to evacuate our home and being without power and wi-fi (which most autism moms know is as essential as water), I was concerned about Rain’s reaction.
In a two-week period, we changed locations five times. We traveled from Memphis, Tennessee, to Thibodaux, then New Iberia, Patterson, and finally Lafayette. We experienced behavioral changes such as elopement, appetite changes, and mood swings. Rain also experienced a series of asthma attacks as well. To say that those times were difficult would be an understatement. An epiphany occurred at that time. I realized that while this was a stressful and trying situation, my son and I have seen our share of struggles as a result of his autism. We always survive and we will in this case too.
The most important thing that I have learned as a special needs mom, most importantly a single special needs mother, is that I am my best asset. Although we are often hardest on ourselves, we are doing a great job. It is easy when our children are exhibiting behaviors that we do not understand, to get frustrated. On those days when we are sleep-deprived and seem to be alone in this fight against autism we tend to bend like a tree in a windstorm. During those times when we get the “stares” when we are experiencing meltdowns out in public and want to give up and go home, we must push through. When our children’s teachers don’t seem to understand them and the IEP meetings seem pointless and unsuccessful, we must persevere and remember that we are our best asset. As mothers we must withstand the literal and figurative storms that may bend us. We can bend, but we must not break.
If I learned anything during our evacuation and relocation during Hurricane Ida, it was that resilience and determination are the best qualities that special needs moms can possess. My son and I would not have survived the ordeal of Hurricane Ida without those qualities. My strength came when I realized that I may continue to get knocked down, but for my son, I must continue to get up. I am a special needs mom and I AM MY BEST ASSET.