Raising a child with special needs takes EVERYTHING you’ve got as a parent. Just ask Toni Braxton, whose son Diesel was diagnosed with autism at age three. She recently opened up about her struggles with raising him.
“Diesel’s journey has been struggling. It’s been rewarding to see how he’s grown, but I remember when I first found out. I remember blaming myself; I thought it was my fault. I wish I knew what triggered it. Still, often, as a mom, I blame myself. I didn’t take my vitamins every day … maybe it was the medications I was on before I got pregnant.”
“They haven’t figured out what triggers it, but whatever it is, I don’t care, find a cure. Help my kid; help all the other kids. But I had to shake myself off, and go ‘enough about me,’ and make sure my kid’s OK. Once they diagnosed him, we were able to itemize the issues.”
While Toni was struggling to raise her child, her marriage to Keri Lewis was starting to fall apart.
“It was challenging when we first found out. No one tells you this part – but Suzanne from Autism Speaks told me ‘Toni, the divorce rate is 80% when you have a special needs, autistic kid.’ No one talks about that part because the parents blame themselves. Making decisions about therapy is going to cause you to bicker and fight a bit. It played a little bit of a role in mine. Not the complete role, but it was definitely a role.”
Toni’s tireless efforts to raise Diesel have not been wasted — he is improving daily and starting to function at a high level.
“We still have a long way to go, but we’ve come such a long way. And he’s in public school now, mainstream school. He’s still in the special education program, but the point is that he’s coming out of autism. I’m very lucky.”
We cannot even imagine how difficult it must be to raise a child with autism. Toni is brave and wonderful.
[Image via PNP/WENN.com.]