i choose grace for myself

i choose grace for myself

It’s been 35 days.  I’m officially a master at Zoom meetings and Google Hangouts.  No longer do I reserve carry-out for special nights.  Movie night, a once sacred family occasion, is now commonplace after dinner each night.  Strange, yet, beautiful things have occurred during the outbreak of COVID-19.  My 7-year old daughter decided to dye her hair delicate blonde hair a fuchsia color for her birthday present to herself.  The iridescent color, refusing to fade, is my daily reminder that 7-years young is really a toe into the 17-year old pool of the future.  My significant other is now obsessed with the squirrels that continue to raid the bird feeders.  Many failed missions to prevent the squirrels from feasting are photographed in our minds.  And, my son, Buddy, still rises at 6:00 AM each day, eats his bowl of oatmeal with brown sugar, and sits in his same spot at our kitchen table for online learning.

During this shut-down, we have built bird feeders, spray painted the pots outside, racked leaves, created bath bombs with baking soda and citric acid, and made teeny-tiny books for the hands of Sissy’s dolls.  There have been meltdowns, too.  Not just a scream and a cry.  No, these meltdowns consist of screeching and yelling and slamming doors.  These meltdowns occur the minute I try to teach my daughter how to read and write in my own way or show my son how to navigate through his Google classroom.

And, I also want to have a meltdown.  I also want to throw myself on the floor and scream, “Enough, I’ve had enough!”  I want to cry because tomorrow looks the same as today and the week before.  I want to run, run so fast that my legs can’t keep up with my mind anymore, and I can only feel the rhythm of my shoes on the pavement.  I also want to have a catastrophic meltdown.

Maybe it would have been better for my family if I did have an epic, off-the-charts meltdown.  It would be over. Done. Finished.  Instead, I chose to show my frustration in the small moments each day.

A heavy sigh to signal my angst over the kitchen table is covered with glitter and glue from the day’s learning.

A frenzied yell to my children, “I need 5 minutes, please.  Five minutes without any talking!”

A tense eyebrow looking at my jam-packed calendar that once existed in my real-world day, now compacted into Zoom meetings in the very discomfort of my home. 

My exhausted brain at the end of an 11-hour day (at home, mind you) and trying to consider what to conjure up in the kitchen for the third official meal of the day (not including the 23 other unofficial snack fests that occurred).  

I chose to truck through each day, committing myself to a hectic schedule to meet the needs of everyone in my household.  I created a master calendar, hosting and cataloging all of the occupational therapy, speech-language therapy, reading interventions, child psychologist and morning-meetings-with-teachers meetings.   And then I worked my schedule into my children’s very tight, non-negotiable day.  I weaved my own morning meetings during the breaks between reading and the daily math problem.  I muted meetings and listened while I watched markers bang against the table in pure frustration from Buddy.  I interviewed candidates for teaching positions on Zoom while Buddy and Sissy built forts out of blankets and pillows just to the left of my computer screen.  I hugged my son and let him cry, cry, and cry when he didn’t understand why his math looked and felt so different, why his daily schedule disappeared into the dust, and how to be in this new world of ours.

And in the chaos of these 35 days, I remembered my own words – I’m in control of my actions.  This is something I share with kids almost every day.  You are the creator of your world – the dreamer of your destiny … 

So, now I am making a shift.

I now choose to have grace with myself.  After 35 days of giving grace to everyone around me, it is time for me to have some breathing room.    It is okay if I don’t make the last-minute Zoom lunch meeting.  Why?  Because this is the time I’ve built into my day for my family.  It’s okay if I can’t contribute like I normally do in my board and committee meetings because I am doing the best I can right now.

I now choose to build play-time into my day.  If there is only one thing I’ve learned during our country’s shutdown, it is the importance of play-time.  I’m talking about the scooter races in the street, playing hide-n-seek in the middle of the day, jumping on trampolines, and going on scavenger hunts in the neighborhood.   I’m talking about fun!

Of course, I also choose, really, seriously choose, to control my actions.  There is nothing in this world I can control.  However, I can continue to harness my response to the stress, the meltdowns, the anxiety, and the complete sense of being uprooted in life.  I can tell my children that I’m feeling really frustrated and that I need to take a break and go for a walk.  I can choose to say, ” I am sad today,” and then go find the paintbrush and watercolors to release it.  I can choose to show my children how to live in this moment – this complex, uprooting time.

In a way, I’m grateful for all of the meltdown moments.  These moments – along with Buddy and Sissy’s’ moments – continue to teach me about the threads of love in my family: grace, play, and openness with each other.  For me, this matters more than the clean kitchen table, being in every Zoom appointment and meeting, and also pulling off the whole mom-thing.  What matters is how we are living each day.

remember how to play

remember how to play

In the middle of the week, on a typical school morning, a small surprise awaited me outside:  snow.  Small hills cascaded over the birdbath and tree stump in our backyard.  Our street, normally separating us from the neighbors, was now covered in a thick, marshmallow-like pillow.  My first instinct:  catch up on some reports, return those lingering emails, and market my new book.  And, try I did.  I pulled out my laptop during those morning cartoons, pounded away on my laptop keys, trying to get ahead so I could get more things done.  Somewhere between the typing of an email the jotting of my to-do list, my kiddos’ giggles distracted me from the seriousness of it all.

It all started when Buddy announced, “I’m going outside!  Now, where are my snow pants, Mom?”

Putting aside my laptop, I sat at the table and talked my son through the steps of getting the snow pants from the hall closet, the gloves from the wooden hutch, and the hat stuffed in the bottom of his backpack.  I directed and coordinated these efforts from my chair with every expectation that I’d find some respite once my son trudged outside into the snow.  And when I heard him say, “Okay, Aussie dog, let’s go play!” I opened my laptop and drilled myself back into my world of adulting.

A few emails into my so-called day of catch-up, I heard a voice from outside: a loud, bolstering laugh.  The laugh was raw with joy.   The laugh was something outside of the typical giggle that bops around the hardwood floors of our home.  And at that moment my computer started to show me the spinning circle – the one that tells you that you’re working harder than your computer.   So, I took that moment as my sign from the snow universe that I needed to see what all the laughter was about.

To my pure delight, I looked out the backdoor window and saw Buddy and Aussie dog throwing snow into the air – hands and paws.  I heard the stillness of the snow in the backyard and saw the sparkle in Aussie dog’s eyes.   The snow flew into the air with Buddy’s hands and then fell down like confetti catching a small breeze.  Aussie dog opened her mouth and pounced into the air – grabbing what she could of those small snowflakes.  And then I saw Sissy, fulling dressed in her purple snow pants, leopard winter coat, snowshoes on the wrong feet, and a turquoise bow in her hair.  She waved her arms and legs into the snow, creating nothing less than a small-bodied snow-angel.

That moment told me to let go of being an adult.   I shouted to my children, playing in those gleeful moments of a snow-day, and said, “Let’s go sledding!” …

… And we discovered the sledding hill by the creek.   Our sleds lined up at the peak of the small mound, and one-by-one we each zipped and zoomed down the hill.  Then after so many runs, we decided it was time to build a ramp – something our sleds could jump on and then catch some air.   As a mom, I don’t recall ever building a ramp for sledding.  In fact, this historically was something my son always crafted while I supervised.  However, on this day, Buddy showed me how to pack the snow in a way that created smooth edges.  The smoother the edges – the quicker the lift into the air.

“Okay, Sissy,” my son hollered up the small mound.  “You need to get a running start!  You can do it!” He chimed.  His confidence beamed.  His spirit soared.  And then he cheered Sissy on as she took flight on the ramp of packed snow, leaping into the air and landing with her sled in a perfect twirl at the base.

And then it was my turn.  Buddy showed me how to sit on the sled and how to move my body to guide the sled down the hill.  He and Sissy counted, “1, 2, and 3,” and then they both pushed me from the crest of the hill.  With the snow still sprinkling from the cloudy sky and the perfectly pathed sled ramp, I also took flight when I hit the ramp, landing with a soft thump into the powder.  I rolled off the sled and squealed, “that was so much fun!”  And then my kids bulldozed me with snowballs and nose-to-nose kisses.  At this moment, I was my inner child, feeling the pure delight of the moment.  I didn’t have an age, or a job, or a list to complete.  My only mission was to experience fun.

Our day continued with more snow-ramps and treks into enchanted forests with magical icicles.  We threw snowballs at the frozen creek, delighting in how the snow splattered on the hard ice.  We romped around the snow with Aussie dog, touching our noses to the snow just like she does.  Buddy and I engaged in a snowman building contest with Sissy took careful note of craft.  The official winner – both of us!

So, on this day, I truly remembered how to play.   And, as I write this, I look back and I remember the feeling from that snow day.  I remember the joy that filled me up and the child that leaped out of me on that sled ride.  I remember the confidence exuded by Buddy and the happy giggles from my daughter.  On this day, I remembered how to play.

 

 

 

 

 

there is sunshine

there is sunshine

When my son was 4 years-young, I told myself I wasn’t doing something right.  Maybe I didn’t have enough know-how about this so-called parenting gig.  The moments when my son trapped himself into his own world, thinking about the same thing over-and-over again, became more than just moments.  Transitioning from the car to home and from play-time to dinner were not just difficult, but overly-exhausting.  And then the transitions from my home to my co-parent’s home ended in tears, non-verbal patterns, hiding under tables, rolling on the floors, and screeching.

I was an assistant principal and an experienced classroom teacher- and I still am.  I engaged with young people on a daily basis.  I knew all the latest research about trauma-informed practices, Love & Logic@, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), behavior patterns, attendance issues and more.  I was the person that others sought out when their own child experienced something odd or off.  And, I loved it.

However, what was I doing wrong with my own child?  The daily mantra of “what am I doing wrong?” repeated in my head.  And, eventually, I actually believed the root cause of my son’s distress in life was because of me and the failed happy-family I’d provided him.

Thankfully, there is a piece in me that always wants to know why.  Why couldn’t my son look at someone when they spoke to him?  Why did my son run into a room when there were “too many humans” (as he said and still says)?  Why would my son only drink Carnation Instant Breakfast Vanilla and toast with seedless strawberry jam on it (every morning for breakfast)?  And, because I didn’t know the answers, I began my quest to find the answers from professionals who did.

The journey began after, what I recall, was a catastrophic meltdown about transitioning to my co-parent’s home.  The crying was so intense that I’m sure the neighbors questioned whether to call the police.  Then there was the hiding (under the table) and in any small space he could find.  This went on for a grueling hour until his dad eventually lovingly picked-up my son into his arms and carried him to the car.  The screams heightened and so did the long arms reaching for me, “Mama, Mama!” he cried.   And then my eyes filled with tears.  Why was my son in so much agony about this transition?  And why was my daughter, already sitting in her car seat of my co-parent’s car, giggling and cooing.  How could I help my son to be more content?  To be happy?

The first professional we met with, a child psychologist, met with my son in the hallway next to his office.   This was the happy-medium between the actual therapy room and the waiting space.   The reoccurring appointment happened twice per week for two months.  Eventually, my son felt comfortable enough to join the psychologist in his office.  However, he refused to talk with him once he discovered all of the toys. Or perhaps he just didn’t feel comfortable with this doctor.  I’ll never know.  Alas, the final recommendation from the psychologist:  find another professional.

And I did find another professional.  I found the professional who connected (and still does) with my son, and ultimately, walked me through his diagnosis.   My son found respite in the place where he could put together intricate puzzles and build marble runs.   He found a sense of self when it was okay to rock back-and-forth while playing with sensory sand in the large make-shift sandbox the was stored under the psychologist’s couch.  And, then, my son felt exhilarated when the child psychologist began testing him (with puzzles, with numbers, through language and with his speech).  In fact, my son’s sessions for testing went longer than the traditional hour because he was so enthralled with the task of completing something and then mastering it.

I remember sitting in these sessions, thinking, “This is amazing! He wants to test his skills!  He wants to engage in something!”  I told myself, the educational professional, that these tests were not going to uncover anything.  If anything, the tests might just show how smart he really is.  In fact, I told myself, these tests might just tell us that he isn’t being challenged to his fullest.  Perhaps this is what I was doing wrong. …

Well, this was part of it. Yes, my son is incredibly smart with puzzles, with building, with engineering, and with math.  And, yes, he wasn’t being challenged enough – or rather – he was being expected to strive at everyday tasks and occupational skills that neurotypical kids could do.  And then, the child psychologist said to me and my co-parent, “Your son is on the autism spectrum.”

In that moment, images and thoughts raced through my heads:  he would be bullied; he would never fit in; he would lead a life of struggle; I would lead a life of struggle; this wasn’t fair; why me?; why him?; what would happen next?; would he ever have his own family?; what about a job?; would he need to attend a special school?; he would never have friends; he would never have good memories of growing up; and on. …

And those words sank in.  My co-parent and I shared those words with our family and friends.  Some were in disbelief.  Some said, “yes, I already knew.”  And some said nothing at all.

And I cried.

And I cried.

And I cried.

And then I realized there was beauty in the autism spectrum diagnosis.  I realized that not only did I now have a why, but I also had a new purpose in life.  Both of my kids needed their mother to be whole, to be grounded, to be accepting of any and all.  I found my energy and my why for being the mother that I strive to be every day.  I found out that by accepting my son, the whole person, that I could focus more on the love and his beautiful spirit.  I found out that by accepting my son, I no longer needed to apologize to others when he didn’t respond to their questions or give them eye contact.  Instead, I could smile and embrace him.  I could giggle with him and be silly, too.  I found out that there was nothing wrong with my son – or with me.  Our small family was everything it was meant to be:  just right. 

his twilight zone

his twilight zone

You unlock this door with the key of imagination. – The Twilight Zone

On a Wednesday night, my son tucked himself next to me on our brown leather sofa.  He stretched his long legs onto the ottoman, crossing them and then wiggling his toes.

“Mom, sometimes when I’m at school I feel like I’m in the twilight zone,” he says to me.

My heart giggles because I can barely recall episodes of the Twilight Zone from my childhood.  There are gray, vague memories of it when my family sat down to watch a re-run episode.  A rare occurrence because I grew-up, yes, with color TV.   However, I do remember the music: a whirling and high-pitched electric piano sound.  I think?

How does my son even know about a twilight zone?  Alas, I continue to listen as he unravels his thinking.

“Mom, it’s like a feeling I get every day.  I start my day in the twilight zone.  You know – everything seems pretty cool.  Right?” says my son.

I nod my head in agreement.  “Go on,” I say to him.

“And my mornings are great.  I get all of my work done.  And I am speed racer through time.  You know – moving through the twilight zone.  And then, after lunch, I don’t know what happens.  It is like Lord Vader comes into my brain and I can’t think anymore.  I can’t listen.  I can’t do anything.” echos my son.

“That sounds really frustrating, Buddy,” I respond.  Still with a giggle inside my heart, I continue to listen.  I truly want to hear more about Lord Vader seeping into his brilliant mind.

“Yea, mom.  It is.  I don’t know what to do, because my brain just can’t think anymore.  And I just can’t do anything right.”

And, I pause.  The giggles in my heart stop.  I take a breath, and then I say, “what do you mean, Buddy?”

My son begins his explanation:  “You know, Mom.  I can’t listen.  I can’t do my work.  I can’t stay laser focused like I am supposed to.  I sometimes have to sit in the hallway to do my works.  And even then, I still can’t get much done because my brain is in the dark.”

Yes, I do know.  I know all too well the struggles of a child who can’t seem to fit into the molds of traditional schools.  I know the grief of parents who don’t understand why their son or daughter can’t sit through an entire class period of learning.  I hear the frustration and sadness in the meetings I have with families who don’t understand why their child can’t learn.  I recognize the story … however, I don’t own this story.

But, I can’t tell my son this.  Instead, I have to be a parent and ask questions.  I need to be the person to help my son understand his own strengths and weaknesses in life.  And, so, my response to my son begins something like this …

“Buddy, you are you.   You are brilliant at solving puzzles and doing your math problems.  You think of things that I could never even imagine – it is impressive.  You are my biggest helper at home when it is chore day.  Seriously, you scrub those toilets and mop our floors like no one else.  And, you’re such a good reader.  Your sister loves when you read to her at night. …”

Interrupted by the frustration in my son’s voice, “Yea, but Mom, I can’t learn and think anymore.  Seriously, I want to be in the twilight zone after lunch.”

“You can, Buddy.  You just have to find out how.” I responded.

That how is the burning question of so many teachers, parents, and administrators alike.  There truly is no “one” how to connect with a child, especially a child on the spectrum.  For my son, it is about asking him questions about how he likes to learn.  He will tell anyone that he likes to learn with something in hand (i.e. a fidget).  He will say that he likes the room to be quiet – especially when he is doing his reading.  He will adamantly say that he likes his daily schedule (i.e. his routine at school).

And, he learns just like he is supposed to.  He explores his world by asking questions … lots of them.  Sometimes he asks more questions than my mind can possibly keep up with.  He often needs to build something in order to make sense of it or to think about it.  I will often find him building a castle out of rocks from his grandparent’s garden trim or a Lego super-charged dump truck.  He does this because it helps him to think … to process … to understand the world around him.

The next part of my conversation is to practice with my son about how he will share his learning style with his teacher.  We practice and we practice.  My son says things like, “I think I need a break after my lunch so that I can calm down,” and, “when it gets really loud in class, I need to put on my headphones so I can focus,” and “it helps me if I can have something in my hand to help me think.”  Honestly, I can do all of this for him.   I can make the phone call and send the email and have the meeting and … for him.  However, what will my son learn if he never has to practice having a conversation with someone about his own strengths and weaknesses?  About his twilight zone and Lord Vader moments?  And what message does that send to my son?

So, I wait until I know conversation with his teacher has started, and then I check-in.  The easiest way to check-in with a teacher is to send them a short email; something like this:  Just checking in to see if my son talked to you today about his learning style.  I know how much you enjoy getting to know your students from your students.  Would you mind letting me know what you learned from his conversation?  I am trying to coach him at home to be an advocate for his needs.   Thanks for all you do!

So, a few things have happened here:

  1.  Self-advocacy was learned and practiced.
  2.  Person-person conversation occurred.
  3.  A stronger teacher-student relationship emerged.

I encourage any parent to help their child with this process when they notice a slithering Lord Vader entering their child’s mind during the school day.  Or, for any purpose, really.  Truly, we are all learners of our own twilight zones and Lord Vader moments.  It is how we respond in these moments that really counts.  And, it is how we encourage our children to respond that will move them forward into this journey of life.

And as we snuggled on the couch that Wednesday night, I asked my final question of my son: “So, I’ve never been to the twilight zone.  Tell me about it.”

“Well, it is the place where my mind is laser-sharp like a light-saber, and I can see everything so perfectly and it is colorful …”

 

Copyrighted Work:

Photo of Northern Lights over Urris, County Donegal, Ireland, Adam Rory Porter

Twilight Zone: The Movie

 

 

 

 

another person’s shoes

another person’s shoes

As a mother of a child on the spectrum,  I’m not afraid or scared of autism itself.  Instead, I’m afraid of those who don’t understand what autism is.  I’m fearful of the neurotypical individuals who don’t have perspective or an open-mind for those with an aneurotypical mind.  For me, I believe perspective is the key to so much in life.  It helps me to better understand when a colleague is upset with a decision or policy or why my daughter is so passionate about her rock collection.  Perspective gives me pause and helps me to make better decisions and choices.   It is possible to think of others needs – and it is also possible for an aneurotypical person to do so.

Dr. Temple Grandin, renowned best-selling author, speaker, and advocate for people with autism, writes,

Perspective-taking:  the ability to ‘put ourselves in another person’s shoes’; to understand that other people can have various viewpoints emotions, and responses from our own.  At an even more basic level is acknowledging that people exist and that they are sources of information to help us make sense of the world” (Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships 2016). 

Dr. Grandin writes this for her peers who also struggle to build social connections in our very social world.  Dr. Grandin’s words resonate with me because she too firmly believes that aneurotypical individuals must learn these social norms and graces.  It is paramount that a person be able to hold down a job, present or share an idea, and resolve a conflict.  These are just some of the many moving parts of what is called life.   And this is all connected to perspective-taking.

Let me explain …

Some aneurotypical individuals present themselves as knowing everything, having a strong sense of fairness, and showing little care for what others may think or feel.  I’m not debunking any of this.  In fact, this is true for a lot of our children on the spectrum because they are learning how to interact in a social world and how to take in others’ perspectives.  As I’ve discussed in previous blog posts, this is often perceived as rude, or disrespectful, or even defiant.

As an educator, I’ve observed some of my ASD students at school make poor social choices with their neurotypical peers.  These choices include telling all the neurotypical male students at the lunch table that he gets to be first in line for lunch, because he is the most hungry.   This statement, clearly, doesn’t account for the 10 other hungry bellies at the table.   This is perceived by his peers as rude, and, yes, disrespectful.

Of course, neurotypical boys sometimes don’t respond with grace and perspective to such comments.  And, yes, they are also learning how to interact in our world.  And while our children on the spectrum learn how to interact and live in our social world, it is the responsibility of all communities to engage in real conversations about perspective and empathy.

It may be difficult to explain to middle school students that some of our students don’t respond the same way as others.  It may be challenging to explain the way an aneurotypical student thinks.  However, it is possible to begin the conversation.

I watched the beginning of this conversation begin one day.  I admire the teacher who had the courage to walk that tight-rope.  The conversation opened with the question – are we all the same?  The obvious answer, was, and still is, no.  And the conversation continued with some stems such as these:  We don’t all think the same either.  Isn’t okay that some of your peers do things a little differently.  This makes life interesting, right?  What if the whole world was filled with all you – every person was just like you?   And, without labeling the student as “autistic,” the teacher started a critical conversation with the student that will hopefully guide his thinking as he moves forward in life.

This is not the only place where the work of perspective-taking and empathy need to occur.  It is also the responsibility of every parent with a child on the spectrum to teach their children about these social norms.  Some of the rules for our children truly need to be black and white.  It is okay to say things like:  You may not say that outside of our home.  Say “thank you,” when the server brings your water. Talk with a quiet voice when inside a room.  Look around the room before you spin your body – so you don’t bump into someone.  I liken this to remembering my address and telephone number as a child.  It was something that I had to know.  These are things that need to be committed to memory – because if a child on the spectrum is to grow into a successful, thriving adult with a good-paying and rewarding job, then that child must learn at a young age how to interact in our social world.

It is okay to say things like:  You may not say that outside of our home.  Say “thank you,” when the server brings your water. Talk with a quiet voice when inside a room.  Look around the room before you spin your body – so you don’t bump into someone. 

But, it can’t stop there.  As a society at large, we need to remember that those on the spectrum often think in pictures and live for doing something in the moment – and not for making strong, social connections with others (Grandin 2016).  Those who live neurotypical lives, are happy to engage in the social world and all that comes with it.  However, it doesn’t make any one person less of a person.  It makes them unique.

I ask that we all remember that it is possible to put ourselves in another person’s shoes.  We may not like how they fit – and that is what gives us perspective.  So, don’t be afraid to nurture your own perspective-taking and to also grow your ASD child’s perspective-taking.   I promise – you and your child are worth it.

Resource:

Grandin Dr. TempleUnwritten Rules of Social RelationshipsArlington: Future Horizons, Inc, 2016.

so much responsibility

so much responsibility

Screen Shot 2018-10-20 at 5.30.02 PM.pngHans 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.

  1.  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.
  2.  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.
  3.  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.

Copyrighted Material

Photo by Dreamstime.com

 

Join to receive our free autism class module.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Join to receive our free autism class module.

You have Successfully Subscribed!