25, divorced, and raising a special needs child


This story is taken from the book My Unique Child: A Practical Guide to Raising A Child with Autism. Names have been changed to protect the identities of the persons mentioned.

Jessie, now in her thirties, is mother to a teenage boy with autism. She went through a divorce some years ago and shares her thoughts on it.

My marriage broke down when I was in my mid-20s. On hindsight, at that age, I probably wasn’t in a very mature state of mind to handle my marriage and a special needs child.

My life has always been sheltered. I didn’t have many issues or problems growing up, so when our son was born, it really threw us overboard.

If it happened to me now––having a child who is diagnosed with autism and a husband who seems to be falling into depression and not really interested in contributing to the betterment of the child––I would be more patient. I realise now that a marriage goes through different seasons. So does a special needs child. If we had persevered, and I had been more patient, we would probably still have the marriage intact now.

Be patient. Be ready to forgive each other’s weaknesses. With a special needs child, a partner’s weakness becomes more obvious and more pronounced. We were very devoted to each other, but we couldn’t see past each other’s weakness when it came to managing our child. I realise that a marriage is not just about undying devotion, it’s also about unconditional forgiveness, no matter how many times it takes.

Read more stories like this in the book My Unique Child: A Practical Guide to Raising A Child with Autism.

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VoicesJasmine Goh