MT. CLEMENS, Mich. (WXYZ) — A day in the life of Cyndi Jensen is like a roller-coaster ride. She works tirelessly to make sure her four children are taken care of, as most mothers do. What sets her aside from most mothers is all four of her children are diagnosed with autism.
How the Jensen family started
Cyndi and her husband Rick had their first child, Tedi, back in 1998. It was 17 months later that the Jensens gave birth to their second daughter, Madicyn.
Cyndi says it was hard to spot any signs of autism at first. She says Tedi is higher function, although she did not speak until the age of six. That is what prompted the trip to the doctor's office.
Both Tedi and Madicyn were diagnosed at the same time, when Tedi was 4 and Madicyn. was 3.
“When we got them diagnosed, the specialist told us at the time that if you have two kids with autism you will never have another kid (with autism), it’s like winning the lottery don’t worry about it, you’ll have healthy children after that,” said Cyndi.
That did not end up happening. Then Cyndi got pregnant again with Elli, who was diagnosed with autism when she was 3 years old.
After Elli, Cyndi says Charlie came as a surprise to her and her husband. She says as soon as they found out they were having a boy, she and her husband knew he would be diagnosed with autism. Boys are four times more likely to have the disorder. Charlie was officially diagnosed when he was 3 years old.
A normal day for Cyndi Jensen
Cyndi gets out of bed in the morning with little to no sleep. Her youngest children have a hard time sleeping, so she is usually up with them at night.
They follow a strict schedule to make sure her children are engaging and learning on a daily basis. She has found art works best as both a learning tool and a way for the children to express themselves.
A good day for Cyndi Jensen is a day where all of her children are all in a good mood.
“Good days are no meltdowns,” said Cyndi.
Cyndi says Madicyn., Elli and Charlie will occasionally have meltdowns. They have no way of verbalizing how they are feeling or if they are in pain. That causes frustration for the children, forcing them to cry out for help in the best way they know how.
“I love them more than you can imagine but it is so stressful,” said Cyndi.
Cyndi used to have a career, but had to leave her job to take care of her children full-time. Her husband works to pay the bills while she works as a stay at home mom. She says being a stay at home mother of four children diagnosed with autism isn’t always easy, leaving her feeling isolated from the rest of the world.
“It is so extremely hard to feel trapped, to feel alone, and to feel like this is going to be the rest of my life, that I am never going to have even a little bit of independence for myself,” said Cyndi.
That being said, she would not trade in her life.
“This nice thing about autism is you celebrate every little baby step that if you had a typical child you might just skip over and not even notice.”
Cyndi says she has a wonderful support system, full of friends and family who help her while she does the best she can for her children.
Raising awareness for autism
“Autism is like, as different as a finger print, everybody is different,” said Cyndi.
Raising awareness for people diagnosed with autism for Cyndi means telling people that it’s not always what it’s made up to be on TV shows like “The Good Doctor." Everyone is different, and every person who has autism struggles with different things.
“Autism can look like the guy sitting at the desk next to you that just can hide it better than everybody else or it can look like a child having a tantrum in a store,” said Cyndi.
Cyndi has started her own YouTube channel called “Rising Above Autism” in the hopes of showing people what her and her children’s lives look like on a daily basis.
She hopes it will show people just how truly amazing her family is.
“We have so many things we can give to the world, my children are all artists, there are so many positives to autism but we also need to help people that are really struggling.”