Veselina is the mother of Ivaylo, an alert and active boy, just under 6 years old. Besides a child who likes to "drink juice, eat apples, sand, water, snow…" (as Veselina describes him with a smile), who has a scooter and friends in kindergarten, Ivaylo also has a diagnosis - generalized developmental disorder And difficulties characteristic of the autism spectrum.
Today Veselin says she can call herself happy. Or at least as much as any man could say for himself. Calm, confident in herself and her child. However, it took time for her to get there. And support. It took at least a year for Vesselina to stabilize. It was quite painful to hear and accept the facts. For maybe a year I was suppressed, closed. I wondered why my child. Of course I wished it wasn't true. There is also despair, there is no way. You think how he's never going to be like the other kids,'' she recalls. But when I accepted it, when I realized, I seemed to tighten up, Veselina adds.
“Now that you ask me, I'm thinking. Maybe for about a year and a half I haven't asked myself: "Why is all this happening to me?". Around this time is also the moment when, thanks to the help of specialists and psychologists, Veselina begins to understand her son better, to accept him, to go beyond her ideas about what a child should be able to do, how can it be happy. He begins to notice his steps forward more, to appreciate them, even though for most people with "normal" children, these steps may seem minimal, imperceptible.
“After we started seeing a psychologist, we became more confident as parents. It's an awesome support, it gave us an amazing start, it encouraged us, she recalls. And he believes that every family of a child with difficulties should receive such support. Because speech therapists and specialists for the child can be found a lot, but if the parents are not there for their children and cannot fully help them, things will not happen, says the young woman.
“We realized that no matter what happens, we will never give up on our child. And that we just have to do everything in our power to progress. And be happy. That we can achieve it, she further explains.
According to her, the turning point was when she accepted her child as he is. Without imposing her own expectations and those of others on him. She accepted it "in spite of everything, in spite of everyone and in spite of what surrounds us nowadays." She stopped worrying about going out for a walk with her child, stopped her stomach twisting with worry about what would happen outside, if Ivailo would get angry, if he would start rolling in the store, how others would react in the park". Because after all, this is my child.
The young woman cannot give general advice on how to be happy and fulfilled while also being the parent of a child with difficulties, and believes that everyone must discover the mechanism of how to achieve this state for themselves. "But maybe you should stop caring about the people around you, about the others," says Veselina.
According to her, parents often demand too much from their children. They refract everything through the prism of their notions of progress, fortunately. And we must accept our children with their strengths and weaknesses, understand them. If you focus on the negative things about your child and your life, you will never be satisfied, she says.
“And I want Ivcho to be like others in what he does. But every child is different. And I began to notice the positive things about Evie - he is loving, caring, loves to be cuddled, laughs, is kind, cheerful. And even sometimes, when I see in the kindergarten what "normal" children do with their parents, how they pamper each other, how they fight… I tell myself that we don't really have such problems," says Veselina, laughing.
She says that for now it is easier for her to look at things day by day. When he thinks about the future, he gets a little down. "As I started to think, for example, how will he go to school, will he succeed now or will we have to postpone it, how will he continue, what will the future be like. But for me, I've decided to think and look day by day and see the daily steps," Veselina adds. She proudly recalls, for example, that she recently taught Ivcho to ride a scooter. Which seemed super impossible to me, but with a lot of stimulation, work with specialists, work at home, incentives, we succeeded, she adds. This may be something ordinary for a two-year-old child, but for us it is a big progress, adds the young woman. And she says that her phone is full of happy moments - clips and photos, from similar stages of progress. He sees my happiness, understands and is happy, says Veselin.
There is another reason for Veselina's happiness, calmness and confidence, as she also tells - Veselina goes to work. "The fact that I am not only Ivo's mother, his personal driver and therapist, that I have time to go to work, take care of myself, this calms me down, gives me self-confidence and, accordingly, I am a more complete parent to him." she says.
There are rules in their house, Ivcho doesn't get much tolerance, compromises just because he has some difficulties. "I demand from him - to wash, to help, to carry his clothes for washing, etc.," says Veselina. In the morning, she also takes time for herself, to get dressed, to put on her make-up. "Maybe I'm more brash, I insisted that he also consider that I have needs too, I made him wait for me. And little by little he learned," she recalls.
And in another respect, the family is no different from many others - although parents are often worried about taking their children outside the familiar environment, both because of concerns about how the changes will affect their children, and because of those around them, Veselina and the father of her son was not deterred by these fears. Last summer, Ivaylo went to the sea with his mother and father, where he was incredibly happy and had a great time. On weekends, he also goes to the mountains, to caves, in nature, to museums, wherever. Veselina is not sure how much of these visits her son understands and realizes, but she is sure that in his own way he takes advantage of it and it makes sense for them to go outside their comfort zone. To live like everyone else. And let the three of them be together - she, her son and his father. Although Veselina no longer lives with Ivcho's father. However, this does not stop them both from being by their child's side and being his full-fledged and supportive parents.
"We also had the fear, many concerns, but you try, whatever happens. We cannot deprive the child," she says. And she is sure that many parents limit their children out of fear - how their children will react, how they will look at others. And mostly out of fear of being pitied. "I'm sure because I've experienced it. That is why I want to tell my story, so that other parents can see that it is not so scary to have a child with disabilities. Yes, it can be hard, it can seem impossible that your world is ending and whatnot. But there is light. If we stop blaming ourselves, blaming the child, doctors, family, being afraid of others and their opinion," the young woman declares.
And when asked what advice she would give to parents who have recently discovered that their child has some kind of difficulty, Veselin says: "To be very confident, to know that they have strengths and opportunities, not to bow their heads to anything and to no one and to fight for their children with all possible forces. Even with institutions, with everyone." I'm not denying it - every day is a struggle, a battle with every single thing, even for the most basic, like not having your child in diapers at 5 years old, because it's more comfortable for the women who look after him.
But this fight makes sense. In seemingly small everyday steps forward.