About Dimobi Childrens Disability Trust
Our Founder –Sherita Mandongwe
Living in Denial
“Eight years ago, before the death of my husband, my late husband and I were blessed with a baby boy whom we named Obinna - meaning “father’s heart”, or “dear to my father”. We were so happy and delighted to have our son. However, my son was born with special needs, and this took me a long time to accept. I was in denial and refusing to face up to the truth due to my own wrongly held African cultural conceptions, religious background, beliefs and myths about disability. I had been blocking everyone and everything out. I felt there was no doorway into my sons’ life. To gain access and begin helping my child, l had to come through my personal barriers. Because of my denial, I had the door locked shut and had become part of the barrier to my son’s progress. I was denying my son the best chance in life. Today, I urge parents to avoid making the same mistake that l made especially, those from Black and Asian Minority Ethnic backgrounds. Instead, learn from this realisation and don’t let my experiences go to waste and tear you apart as they tore me apart. No parent wants to admit that they have been a bad or ill prepared parent. I had been blinded to the truth by being blinked, but now I can see a future where improvement is possible.
From an early age, we did not realise that my son had some problems. I remember when he started showing signs of challenging behaviours - my late husband and I would say, “he is stubborn, he does not listen”. Others, however, were able to see that our son had problems, though we remained adamant in our views and were in constant denial – always being defensive and insisting that there was nothing wrong with him.
His challenging behaviour was caused by the fact that his thinking and cognitive abilities were so different from other children of the same age. For instance, other children develop the ability to communicate by the age of 3. My son did not start talking until the age of 8. I think if we had sought earlier intervention he might have spoken sooner. Maybe by the age of 5, when my son started school, the teachers would have had a greater understanding of his needs, but no teacher was trained to deal with his challenging behaviour in the school environment. They didn’t have adequate staff to deal with my child’s challenges and needs. They had only one speech therapist, whose workload brought them to various other schools. Without being disrespectful, one person being shared by so many in order to help the children with special needs is inadequate.
Eventually, our son went to specialist school where we got help and support. The rest is history - he is happier than he has ever been, and I am pleased to say that my son has excelled beyond our expectations and is now able to talk and play with others. That became possible only after I came out of denial, and I realised that denial is negative and unfruitful. Today, I want to tell other parents that denial is unfruitful as it robs their children the chances of receiving early intervention. My story is not an isolated one, as I found out especially within the Black and Asian and other minority ethnic groups within our local communities. If only all parents and other children with special needs could find a happy ending like my son and I did. I believe that, together, we can make a difference in the lives of these children and their families, but to make this a reality we urge you to support us on our mission to creating a fairer society where children and young people with disabilities and their families are treated with respect and valued too.