The first year of my life after becoming a mom to twin boys was beautiful, and to be honest very tiring as well. It was and is a lot of work raising autistic twins and managing them by myself since I was living in the UAE, in a home away from home and family.
The first symptoms
After their first birthday, I started noting that the twins were missing their milestones and that they seemed to be in their own world. I spoke about it with my husband and my mother. Both of them comforted me by telling me it’s okay and that every child has his own pace. After six months, the symptoms became more clear. For instance, there was no eye contact, they were not responding to their name, and they weren’t playing with their toys in a typical manner. Also, they had these really weird hand movements that were concerning me.
After their 2nd birthday, I was sure that my twins are different. They started walking at around 2 years and 3 months. Around this time, I had started reading about developmental delays and on top of my research, the word ‘autism’ was always there on Google.
Finally, at 2 years and 7 months, we went to a psychologist, and literally after 5-7 minutes of questions, she said they have very strong signs of ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). Since I was a first-time mother, I was in dismay and I cried rivers. My husband only said we will do whatever we can to make it better for them.
Then came the point of informing the families who at first completely denied it. It was after both families came and visited us in the UAE that they agreed with the diagnosis. But then, a list of different types of cures started coming from both sides of the family and that started annoying me at one point.
Schools and therapies
I sent them to Nursery in the beginning, but soon I realized that it was not the right place for them. I then started looking for therapy centers around me. After talking to other parents like us, I came to realize that therapy is really expensive here in the UAE, and mostly not even covered by insurance. In the beginning, you have absolutely no idea about this and you are just trying to do your best by doing so much as quickly as possible.
I went to one center and started ABA (Applied Behavior Therapy). It didn’t work for my twins at that specific center. We changed the center because early intervention is key and I didn’t want to waste time. This new center was amazing; they knew their work. They were newly opened so they offered us free therapy for one child. However, they were expensive, like really expensive. They worked amazingly with the twins and a lot of behaviors came under control. But slowly the improvement became stagnant.
Around this time I conceived our third child and was not feeling very well. It was after 1.5 years with them that they informed us that they can’t offer us any kind of discount anymore and we that we now have to pay them double the amount that we were paying them already. We just couldn’t afford that so we had to leave that center.
Finding the right center for us
Meanwhile, I had my third baby and it was a beautiful healthy baby boy. I started looking for a school readiness center around this time. I joined plenty of groups with the same journey as mine, which helped me a lot. Someone told me about this school readiness center that was providing therapies too. We met them and they were lovely. The issue with them was also a huge amount of fees. Somehow we managed to make it work after a lot of negotiations with them about sibling discount and all. Now they are going there and are very happy.
Twins on the spectrum
I sometimes wonder if it was one child with autism, would the financial strain have been less? But then as Muslims, I quickly remind myself that we believe in Allah’s plans more than ours. Raising twins with autism is a tough journey, that too with no elder sibling to help you around. As time is passing by and they are growing older, it’s getting more difficult. But I know that I have to make it work. I am their mother and I have no other choice.
Keeping house help or nannies doesn’t help either because they don’t understand. To be honest who wants to get bitten and punched. But as they say, life has to go on and I take it easy now. There are days when I just let them be and I take a break too because it’s very important to remain sane.
Blogging about raising autistic twins as: The Warrior Mommy
I came up with the idea to make an Instagram account about my journey because I really want to help new parents who have just started out after receiving an autism diagnosis and want to read about real-life experiences. I want them to know that life doesn’t end if you have a child with special needs. You need to be strong. You need to look at the positives and you need to focus on your strengths. No one is going to help you but you. This is not what you expected parenthood to be like, but then again, this can’t ever be expected. But hey it’s ok! You can’t undo it. You can’t undo their autism but you can help them live life better with autism.
A little advice
Don’t look for bigger things to celebrate with them, enjoy their small advances. Love them for who they are. Accept them for who they are. Yes, it’s not going to be easy, but you don’t have any other choice. Also, it’s ok to have emotional outbursts every other day. Yes, it’s ok because we are humans. We are parents and we love our kids. Raising autistic twins hasn’t been easy and watching them struggle is nothing less than painful. But as parents, we have to be there to help them get better and take care of ourselves at the same time. Don’t be shy to look around for support. I’m telling you: you will find it and it will make you feel better.
Hang in there and don’t let go of hope. You are truly warriors and for your autistic kids, you are the world.
- Raising Autistic Twins: How I Became The Warrior Mommy - April 17, 2022