I have had to spend much of my parenting life fighting for support for my son and for my family. For a child with high functioning autism, who doesn’t fit into the “typical” child development box, but isn’t “autistic” enough for support, there really is no box to slot them into. In my opinion, there is very little understanding or support available for the individual or for their families. I have been on a constant road of self-education and self-management…and now I am teaching my son self-management techniques to help him cope with and understand the world around him. My youngest son just gets on with life with little difficulty, and is brimming with security, self-assurance and most importantly resilience…all the things my eldest son struggles so desperately with. I find myself educating the educators, after all, I live with autism 24 hours a day.
Anyway why am I talking about this?…well for the last 2 years I have been studying learning disability nursing at USW. In all honesty, I had no clue this field of nursing existed and I fell into by accident when making enquiries into mental health nursing (thinking this was the only appropriate field for a mum whose only experience is autism). It was a daunting experience returning to education after leaving university the first time around over 10 years ago. I questioned whether it would be too much and whether I actually had the time and the self-discipline anymore. But since starting the course, my confidence has grown, not only in terms of my ability to fulfil my role as a learning disability student nurse in advocating for the rights of people with a learning disability and developing new skills everyday, but also as a parent of a child on the spectrum. I feel more confident in advocating for HIS rights and needs, but also to push him into taking positive risks and helping to develop his resilience. And most importantly accepting that we don’t all have to fit into boxes anyway. The support from tutors and peers has motivated me far beyond what I envisaged for myself in the future. It has been a difficult journey so far, with lots of obstacles and personal heartache along the way. However, I know that what I am doing now is what I was meant to do. The course has positively impacted on both my professional life and my personal life. I feel proud and privileged to be embarking on this career and I am excited to see what the future holds.
Joanna Davis (2nd year student learning disability nurse at University of South Wales)..
There are still places available for BSc (hons) Nursing: Learning Disabilities September 2018 intake, please contact Rachel Morgan (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.