They say there is strength in numbers don't they? And that's absolutely what we have found in SWAN UK. Our children are all so different but the challenges we face in raising them and getting the support they need are often very similar.
As SWAN parents, we all recognise the ways in which our lives have changed. Often we get through the tough times with some pretty bizarre gallows humour (and gin), and can be observed bonding over things most of us never imagined would make an appearance in our lives. Bile bags, anyone?
If you're a SWAN parent, you might recognise some of these things. And if you're not, it might give you a small window into some of the little quirks of daily life for parents raising an undiagnosed child.
You know you have an undiagnosed child when...
- You jump for joy when you see an M&S Food concession opening at your local hospital. No more soggy pasty slices!
- Your child has their very own Personal Assistant. Perhaps two. And you need another one to manage all their paperwork.
- People who you have never met call you 'mum'. In fact, you might as well do away with having a name all together, since most of your post is addressed 'to the parent/carer of'.
- You can draw up exactly 2.5ml of Epilim, in the dark, while rubbing your tummy and patting your head simultaneously.
- You keep a running supply of controlled, mind-altering drugs in your home medicine cabinet.
- Your house has more lifts than the average shopping centre and more hoists than a construction site.
- Your child's shoes cost more than yours do.
- No matter how hard you try to 'style it out', that enormo-seat disguised as a giant bee and the standing frame designed to look like a cartoon monkey are never going to quite fit in with your period-chic/Skandi cool interior design. Because insects and jungle creatures are just so much more tasteful, right? Right?
- You can speak at least three languages that most people have never heard of. Makaton, BSL and PECS. Clever, huh?
- Your Amazon Prime delivery of coffee beans is the happiest moment of the month. Without question.
But perhaps the absolute number one giveaway that you're a parent to an undiagnosed child is that it is only possible to make light of having to visit the hospital multiple times per month, or your home drowning in pieces of equipment (that have been given absolutely no aesthetic design input whatsoEVER), because you are not doing it alone.
Before we found SWAN UK we felt utterly alone. It was frightening, overwhelming, exhausting, and we really thought we were the only ones facing the difficulties we faced.
But finding a likeminded group of funny, articulate and clever parents all with their own little undiagnosed dudes changed all of that. Many of them will be friends for life. Having Orange has expanded our lives to include all these wonderfully cool people that we would never have got to know otherwise. And for that, I'm very grateful.
Thank you, SWAN UK x