Women of Reverence welcomes Pinky Hlophe as a guest blogger.
Pinky is a wife to Thulani Hlophe and a mother of two amazing children. I am on the eldership team of Front Line People Church in Brackpan, Johannesburg. I am currently in my 3rd year, studying a Bcom Degree in Financial Management through UNISA.
I home-school both my children and just love seeing kids free, be themselves and grow to be who God intended them to be. I love serving in Administration of our local church and passionate about worship ministry.
My daughter was diagnosed with Autism when she was 3 years old. It was my birthday when the diagnosis was made, so I will never forget that day. My husband and I have always known that there was something different about our daughter, but we didn’t know what it was until she was diagnosed. We started researching the complexities behind the diagnosis, i.e. what it meant to be autistic and how to treat a person with autism.
I’m so glad that we had amazing and supportive friends to help us deal with what was happening in our world. I was overwhelmed by everything I was reading about all the different severity on this condition. To be honest, I think for a few months I was in denial about what was happening. I refused to believe that my little girl was autistic. We were referred to a speech therapist and OT for assessments and management skills, for lack of better words. I began to understand her behaviour, how she struggled with sound, touch, speech delay, her obsession with routine and how change was unacceptable to her (to put it mildly). It was all hard to take in.
I spoke to my friend, Cathy Davies, who was experienced in dealing with special needs children. She was always willing to bear my hurricane of emotions. She had a way of taking me to a place of peace and calm, mostly by listening to me and giving me great advice when I needed it most. I will always treasure our friendship!
When my daughter was born, my husband and I prayed for her as most parents do. We thanked God for her and for the blessing she was to us. We received a prophetic word that said ‘when the world sees the storm, she sees the rainbow’, I welcomed this prophecy because, to me, it emphasized her optimistic nature. When we received the diagnosis of autism, God reminded me of the prophetic word. I felt God say ‘…she is mine and I know everything about her,’ Psalms 139:13 – 18 13
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you.
This word brought me so much comfort, to know that God was not surprised or shocked about what was happening and most importantly, that He was with us.
Sadly, this is also when I learned just how narrow-minded, insensitive and offensive the people around us can be at times. The stereotype proved to be quite draining, and my personal favourite “she looks fine for an autistic child”, I’m not sure how autistic children are supposed to look by the way. My daughter would go to school and come home and have the worst tantrums and emotional breakdowns that I couldn’t control. The teachers complained that she was easily distracted and couldn’t focus on activities at hand. We knew that this was due to autism, which meant that her mode of learning was different from other children.
We later had our second child, a boy, she loved him. He encouraged her to be more open to new experiences, i.e. to touch and inevitable change, she slowly started to adapt and with the help of therapy, the improvement was evident, however, her speech had not yet fully developed. She would be mute at times or use baby language when feeling angry or overwhelmed. Our son was a blessing to us all, he proved to me that our daughter’s autism was nothing I caused while pregnant or breastfeeding because such thoughts of guilt do linger in my mind, the devil wants to take away the joy in front of me and keep me distracted with worry and anxiety but God’s word encourages the opposite, Philippians 4:6-7 ‘6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’
Truth be told it has been a long challenging journey. We decided on home-schooling for both our children - not just our daughter because home-schooling is not just for children with special needs. God relocated us to another town and, initially, we were frightened for her sake, but fully trusted what God had said to us. She is doing much better. She still has her bad days but we are continuously learning how to manage every challenge that comes our way. It is all about loving our children completely.
I love being a mom of two awesome children, it is not always easy as most moms would say, but it is worth it. Throughout this process, I have learned to lean on God for my sense of peace and security. Most days I would feel like I am not measuring up to expectations and that I am not the best choice for my children. I tend to blame myself for what is happening or not happening. I used to doubt the decision on home-schooling, I worried about not getting it right, what if I mess up their education? What will happen to their future if I get it wrong? I, however, did not worry about their social skills, I knew they would make friends and connect with others as long as I didn’t pressure them.
When my daughter was in pre-school, she struggled a lot. It would hurt me to hear about what went on during her day, she didn’t cope in that environment and I couldn’t bear to force her into it again and although my son was fine in a mainstream school, we wanted both our children to be at home. Some days are still challenging, to say the least, with both of them but I know my help comes from God, my source and security is in him and not in man. I’m not perfect or even close to, but I had to learn to show my children that God’s love is perfect and that He loves them significantly, more than mommy and daddy ever could.
I was initially hurt and disappointed by the people I thought would support me through all of this, but God’s grace has been so evident and sufficient. He placed the right people in my path to walk this journey with me. I now know that at times people are not trying to offend you, they just don’t know what to say or do, so they avoid you or the ‘awkward’ topic of autism without realising the hurt that accompanies their silence. I wanted to be acknowledged and to be seen that I was overwhelmed but God’s love carried me through, just like he will carry you and your family through any difficult circumstance! What you are going through is not a surprise or a shock to God. He created you in the hidden place, so trust him with His creation. The best advice I was given and would love to give to others it that it’s ok to not know all the answers right away, just show your love as you try to find them.
I have learnt so much from my children and they are only 4 & 7. I am truly thankful for them. I’m thankful for the tantrums when we come home from a long day of activities. I’m thankful for the crawling on the floor when she is overwhelmed, I’m thankful for the screaming and shouting when the daily schedule has been changed without prior notice and I am thankful for my son’s nut allergy which came as a surprise but wow did it add to our plate 😊, but most of all I am so thankful that I get to love them and that God chose me to be a mother to them!