Hans Asperger once said,
The good and bad in a person, their potential for success or failure, their aptitudes and deficits – they are mutually conditional, arising from the same source. Our therapeutic goal must be to teach the person how to bear their difficulties. Not to eliminate them for him [or her], but to train the person to cope with special challenges with special strategies; to make the person aware not that they are ill, but that they are responsible for their lives.
Isn’t so much of life about bearing witness to our difficulties and working through the murky waters? And then to celebrate the good moments? There is nothing to eliminate in life, because in all honesty, life gives us difficult situations so that we can learn and grow into our best selves.
This quote is my reminder that all is well. This quote helps me to breath – and to remember that Autism isn’t an illness. Rather, Autism is our teacher of responsibility, social interactions, accepting noises, and recognizing that sometimes we need a break when things are too much.
This quote is my reminder that we cannot control what life brings to us. Rather, we can only control how we respond and how we teach our children to respond. We can control how we love and how we show love to our children.
One of the toughest parts of parenting a child on the spectrum, is allowing my child to fail and to feel the raw emotions. The protector in me wants to blow a huge bubble around my children, protecting them from the mean words, the stares, the confusion. However, the educator in me knows that these experiences are really our teachers … they are vital experiences in teaching our children about how to live in, our often non-friendly sensory, world.
And with a lot of grappling, I now understand what I believe to be important for raising my children. I believe our children need to know the rules in society, identify their own needs, and understand that nothing is perfect.
- Rules Do Matter – As much as I like to bend and work around rules, especially those I think are unethical or not for the benefit of all persons, I do respect they are in place for a reason. There are rules in our society, like following traffic signals and responding to adults in appropriate ways. The small rules – like time limits for game time or a single (not triple) treat after dinner – are crucial for our kids on the spectrum. These small steps help them to understand that any rule (big or small) should be respected. Why? Because we want our children to be the leaders, caregivers, nurtures, CEOs, and Presidents … and following the rules in our society is often viewed as an indicator of someone with a good moral compass.
- Identifying Your Own Human Needs – Being able to recognize when you need a break, when you’re tired, when you’re hungry, or when you are happy … Being able to identify your needs will also help you to understand your readiness for learning, for interacting with others, for going to work, etc. If we can’t understand ourselves – then we certainly cannot be expected to understand others. We must begin the foundation the individual human needs – so that our children can develop empathy and compassion and perspective as they grow.
- It’s Okay – Tomorrow is another day – and you can also try it again. There is no need to be perfect; in fact, that word should be avoided. Perfection is the only indicator of high stress, overwhelming anxiety, and whirling confusion. There is no perfection. Rather, there is only you. You are you and it’s okay.
These are just some of the pieces for my children to understand. And every parent knows that if you know one child with Autism, then you know one child with Autism. So, I invite you to explore the small pieces in your child’s life that will make a huge, lasting impact for tomorrow. I invite you to show your child that s/he is responsible for their own lives – and all the beautiful bumps and battles and blossoms along the way.
Photo by Dreamstime.com