Celebrating Motherhood: With All its Joys & Tears
by: Ayin Viray
● May 15, 2024

Being a mother is a fulfilling job. But being a mother of a child on the spectrum, is the toughest, but most rewarding job ever.

Before his 2nd birthday, my eldest son, Gavin was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). It was so hard to accept and I feel every parent’s worst nightmare. I was so afraid and I remember crying for weeks. I really couldn’t help but wonder if this was my fault.

What could I have done better?

What should I have done differently?

Am I the one to blame?

The irony of it all is that my husband specializes in pediatrics, and we had no control over it. I felt so lost. I feared for Gavin and how this condition would affect his life. I felt like I was in the fire, and it was burning my whole being… and I didn’t even know how to get it off me. But as a mother, I only knew that I had to FIGHT. I struggled with acceptance for a while, but I soon realized that if I didn’t stand up for him, who would?

The biggest decision for my husband and I was to leave behind our life in the Philippines. We knew that life abroad in the U.S. would be more comfortable for Gavin. God allowed this plan, but it wasn’t easy for us. Before enrolling him in school, I researched his rights as a student with special needs. I discovered that students like him could receive special accommodations to ensure he would receive equal learning opportunities. I fought for him to have his one-on-one aide, because I knew he could attend regular classes. He would just need assistance with his behavior and redirecting his focus when needed. While waiting for the school district’s decision, I volunteered to be in his class almost every day for the whole school year. I eagerly awaited his daily progress updates, and prayed specifically for his ability to read and write. That’s it! I wouldn’t expect anything beyond that.

One thing I quickly learned is that having a child on the spectrum humbles you. This situation made me forget my eagerness to work and instilled in me a sense of humility that I didn’t expect. If you know me, you know I am designed to be a working mom. I am one who feels accomplished by using my knowledge, skills, and earnings, and not being reliant on my husband’s income. But I had to be selfless this time. I chose not to work for three years in order to concentrate on Gavin. I knew he was the priority and it grounded me. He and I did everything together. I called him “my shadow” because we were inseparable. We are together forever… whether at the gym, market, church, movie theater, shopping, or anywhere you can think of… I can’t recall a single activity that he wasn’t involved in.

Our normal schedule was speech, occupational, and social therapies twice a week. I was so mindful of how the therapists worked with him, because I wanted to be diligent and also practice these skills at home. I strived to improve and tailor those practices to my own style, to better suit us. Additionally, I incorporated some sports activities to enhance Gavin’s socialization skills. Ever since he was young, I trained Gavin to learn time management and setting his priorities. He used these skills in navigating the next chapters of his life through middle school and high school. I always looked forward to his IEP (Individualized Education Program) meetings twice a year with school and district representatives, because I got to hear about his progress and was excited to collaborate with them and work towards his goals together.

While I dedicated most of my time to Gavin, I knew it wasn’t enough. One challenge for kids like him is making friends. He is so introverted, that finding friends – even just one, was a big challenge. Navigating a social life, peer groups, cultivating friendships, and nurturing relationships was a struggle for him and he always tends to remain tight-lipped in this area. Luckily, at school, he has been blessed with classmates who were understanding, considerate, and respectful.

Fast forward to present day, Gavin will be graduating from high school this May! Last February, we had his last IEP meeting to discuss his transition to college, and I was so emotional. We’ve come so far! We reached all our goals and we made it. In middle school, he was first out of 305 students in the last semester. Now, he will be graduating with straight A’s at the end of high school. Looking back, I feel a sense of shame for only praying that he would learn how to read and write. God had a bigger plan. Gavin has surpassed all our expectations! He has achieved tremendous academic and social success, and overcame the boundaries of autism.

We’ve come so far!

When you are going through the fire, you don’t forget the people who went through it with you. My husband and family were constant sources of support throughout. Our family friends, church, and workplace family. Also, Chino Valley School District along with his principals, teachers, doctors, therapists, one-on-one aides, counselors, classmates, and friends all contributed to his success… Indeed, it takes a much BIGGER VILLAGE to raise a child on the spectrum.

My journey as a mother with a special needs child has been painful, chaotic, tiring, and full of challenges. But, despite all challenges, I firmly believe in my heart that he was destined to be mine. My son. My everything. He taught me so much without having to say a word or do anything. Some days may be tougher than others, but not a single day goes by without seeing Gavin as the BRAVE KID that he is. Despite the many battle scars and challenges he faces, he remains a survivor, and I wish I could be like him. He doesn’t need to apologize for who he is. He is free and accepted. He is perfectly imperfect. This journey is different, meaningful, and fulfilling at the same time. I’ve always felt that no other person in this world can truly understand my Gavin the way I do. There is just a special connection between us. I know this is a lifetime commitment, and I am ready to take it on.

I aspire to be the support that a struggling mom needs when she feels lost, overwhelmed, alone, and unsure of what steps to take. My advice is to accept, engage, and face it head-on. If you have a child on the spectrum, celebrate the small wins because every win is worth celebrating. Find your child’s best potential and please don’t give up! Probe, ask questions, and try, try, try again and again.

Gavin’s academic awards


I learned that in love, there is no fear. There is so much love that resides in a mom’s heart – that in fact, it’s overflowing and you can’t contain it. How can you have fear if you know who holds the future? I will always do everything I can to protect Gavin from all the judgment he doesn’t deserve. I will fight together with other moms for acceptance in this world. One day, when Gavin is a full-blown adult, he will realize the kind of person his mom is and what she did for him. I hope that when that time comes, he will be proud of me.

K.I.T (keep in touch)

(because we make kits, DUH)


Ayin Viray

“Snack Queen” by day and cool mom + wife by night. Chocolates and desserts are her weakness, but Ayin always shares the sweetness. You’d never know this motorcycle-roaring, gun-shooting baddie with a Taekwondo black belt was raised by nuns at an all-girls school. Of course she would grow up to do all the things a nun would never. Fashionably chic and blinding us with her bling on a daily, Ayin’s dreams of working at Home Depot may not support her posh lifestyle and the killer collection of high-end designer bags that she wishes to be buried with.