Hannah Postgate is a mother who sacrificed everything to care for her autistic daughter, Rosy. This is her story of the fight for a diagnosis for her daughter and her struggle to rebuild her own career and become a strong, independent working mum.
My dream has been to fight for my daughter, who has autism and complex learning disabilities, and get her the education she needs. As a mother of a special needs child, you sacrifice all the normal things you are told to expect: sleep, social life, sex life, career, money. Those sacrifices cut deeper and last longer as your child’s special needs or disability becomes all-consuming. Most special needs children have a lifelong condition, it will never go away, and it will affect them and their family every single day of their lives.
When my daughter Rosy was just over one, I knew something was wrong. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but call it ‘mother’s instinct,’ I just knew. I felt Rosy was not developing typically like other children were. I was back at work, was three months pregnant with our younger son, and was managing a major building job at home. It was a tough time and we were very worried about Rosy.
I was hoping that the system would step in and give her the treatment she needed. However, after Rosy was assessed 14 times, what she received in terms of crucial early intervention was a total of 16 hours. I now realise, with hindsight, that this is utterly inadequate. After that, we were left with nothing. I begged for more help and was told first that Rosy was “too young,” then she was “too old,” and then she had “two days at nursery so didn’t need more help.”
One of the very lowest points for me was when Rosy was three. I was told by a Special Needs Teacher: “Face facts, Rosy is probably not going to live independently. She‘ll be lucky if she can manage to get on a bus, she may just about be able to stack shelves in Tesco.” Being told by a professional teacher that my daughter would never amount to anything, and that nothing I could do as her mother was going to make any difference, was devastating. I started having counseling and am still taking anti-depressants. We were only just coping as it was.
I immediately sought advice from two independent pediatricians. They were utterly shocked that a ‘professional’ was telling parents factually incorrect, long-term predictions that are impossible to make. Was there hope then after all?
I realised then that we would have to provide help for her ourselves. With the support of a private nursery, my family and I set about single-handedly starting an early intervention education programme with play-based teaching at home and social skills at nursery. Rosy was finally diagnosed at age six years with autism and complex learning disabilities.
I have been fighting for my daughter for a long time, and I will continue to fight for her. Being a mother to a special needs child is a commitment beyond that of a normal parent. It takes endless and unconditional time, effort and understanding. Rosy loves life; she is vibrant and happy. She cares for the people around her and adores our cat, Pudding. Her favourite toys are her fairies.
I am a proud mother and I am doing everything I can to give both our children the best upbringing possible, but I had to give up my job and my career to do so. My husband has been under huge financial pressure as the sole breadwinner and we have to be very frugal and thrifty. I had to do something…
I wanted to work.I had given up on having a career again… returning to work after children is not straightforward for any mum. I knew it was close to impossible for me, Rosy requires full-time care. But after all this fighting for Rosy, I was spurred on to take on another challenge – the fight for my daughter made me want to use my experiences as a mother to a special needs child in a positive and beneficial way to help other families like ours.
So, I started my own business. I became my own boss. I set up my own website. I joined forces with two friends and founded RosyandBo.com, an online marketplace of gifts, innovative products and useful tips for special needs families. My business is not any old business, it embraces children as individuals and provides for their unique needs. I hope it will make a difference to the lives of many special needs families.
Now, I am regaining my identity. I’m not only a mother and full-time carer, I’m an independent, working woman.