Trying to force someone with autism to do it “right,” or like the rest of us, is like trying to force a left-handed person to function in a right-handed way. It can be done, and some people with autism can learn to look very “right handed,” very socially acceptable, but at what cost?
People with a social disability deserve a deep respect and compassion because living in their world requires a great deal of effort—constant and concerted effort. On a regular basis, they must force themselves to participate in painful social contact to survive in our culture. That is like the rest of us asking ourselves to willingly […]
One of the best pieces of advice I ever got, was “Suit up and show up.” Woody Allen once said “80 percent of success is showing up.” And so it is… Certainly, if you don’t show up, your likelihood of success in any endeavor is hugely diminished. You can’t win a game you won’t play. But showing up is more than just physically being present. It’s also about arriving mentally ready for an opportunity and suiting up speaks to much more than just the physical clothes you wear. It also speaks to the positive mental attitude that you are on the bench, ready and eager to get into the game with the expectation of a positive outcome.
I remember years ago, in the final week of school before Christmas, when my son with ASD was failing several classes in middle school, I couldn’t get him interested in anything but video games, and his favorite pastime was kicking his brother down the stairs, I hit overwhelm! The crowning blow came at 5:30 a.m. one morning as I scrambled to pick up the clothes, dishes and garbage from the floor of his bedroom before the cleaning lady arrived to clean (in itself it is immensely frustrating that he won’t keep his room picked up, but in my world this issue has been consigned to the category of picking your battles. As a working mother, I just didn’t have enough capacity to fight the clean room issue every day). I was on parental max-out.
I don’t have a university issued PhD, although I often wish I did; sometimes I even beat myself up for not knowing more. Yet in many ways, I know so much more than those educated PhD’s, who have no idea (ok maybe they have theoretical knowledge, but no personally invested emotional experience) about what it feels like to live in the shoes of a parent with a child on the autism spectrum. On some level, they just can’t relate, no matter how much they want to, or how hard they try.
As our understanding of autism grows, we adapt our methods of relating and communicating to better suit our autistic loved one’s understanding of the world. Because those individuals with autism are not receiving and integrating social information like the rest of us, their motivation and social frame of reference is very different. As a result, their behavior can appear offensive to the uninformed bystander.
Autism takes many forms, and is very misunderstood in the general population. The old stereotype of a child, rocking in a corner, unable to speak or function still comes to mind for many. I see this in the faces of people when I tell them that my son is autistic. People don’t know what to expect.
One of the biggest mistakes we make as parents of children on the autism spectrum is to cling to unrealistic beliefs about our child’s future.
As a parent, finding our way to acceptance of this invader in our life, autism, is a tricky path to walk. We tend to hold out hope that things will be better once… (fill in the blank with “…he gets through special kindergarten and can go to regular first grade…” or “…he finishes high school and can go to college like other kids his age…” or “…she gets out of school and gets a job supporting herself…”).
Being a parent of a child on the spectrum is a very emotional experience for most of us. Before the autism is diagnosed, we frantically try to make life work, and often find that we aggravated the pain and frustration more than calm it.
The Mission of the National Autism Academy
- Encourage, Educate and Support parents, families and caregivers who live, love and work with those on the autism spectrum to increase understanding and effectiveness
- Create greater awareness, acceptance, understanding and accommodation in the general public
- Address and create solutions to resolve future long term issues facing families
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