With all the info out there about how ‘different’ our children are and even being labelled with a ‘disability’, it’s so hard as a parent to stay away from the mentality of trying to ‘change’ your child.
Every day I work with the idea that today I’m going to ‘add to’ my sons abilities, not try and change the way he already is. He is beautiful and unique just as he is. Some of his ASD traits add to that, so why would I want to change who he is obviously destined to be? There is a lot to be celebrated about the person he is! There’s lots I don’t want to change about my little fellow in all his quirky ways, he’s definitely not a boring soul to be around! I like quirky. Always have. I’m rather quirky myself. Mainstream has always bored me personally. I’m sure my little fellow may share my view as he grows.
No, change is not nesessary. There’s lots I, as a parent, can bring to the table though. Skills we can add and enhance. That’s what we work on, building. Not changing. Changing suggests replacing or that something is broken. It’s a negative, fearful concept to me, not filled with love and acceptance. And these children know when you’re trying to force or change them. They sense the energy is different. Gentleness is not at the forefront of your lead. ‘I love you just the way you are’ is not singing through your eyes.
There can be no other place to begin than acceptance. My sons ASD isn’t going to go away. Many times I wished and hoped it would. But then I am denying HIM. Joe is bigger than his diagnosis. The diagnosis does not really matter. It can make you miserable if you let it and miss the beauty of your child. Don’t focus on it. Focus on what they love. Focus on what makes them laugh and smile. Join in with them and mimic them, even if they’re just repetitively humming if that’s what they like to do. Joe does, so I hum with him, and SNAP I get eye contact and smiles. He loves it when I play his way. Now he likes to play my way too sometimes! Because it’s all about love and fun. No judgement. No ‘he shouldn’t be making that noise and I shouldn’t encourage him’. Poppycock. News flash: he’s going to do it anyway whether you ‘approve’ or not. So USE it. It could become your best way ‘in’. We’re ‘adding to’, not ‘changing’ remember? They will change anyway. In their own time. The more skills you ‘add’ to their bow, the less interesting the old ones become. The new ones become far more interesting in the end, as they fit more comfortably and gain more confidence. You can’t go wrong with love. To be loved as they are is all anybody wants in life. Their anxieties and fears will melt away the more they trust you and they realize you’re not out to tear their crutches out from under them. That would scare anyone. Let them drop them as they are ready. I never forced Joe to stop spinning things. In fact, I always had something on hand for him wherever we went. I knew it relaxed him. But once he’d had enough he’d pop up and look around for a while. That’s when I’d show him some new stuff. Then he’d go back to spinning. I don’t remember when it happened but one day I noticed he hadn’t done it for ages. Occasionally he’ll still get the bowls out the cupboard like revisiting an old friend, but he gets bored and it only lasts a few minutes. He’s getting his visual needs met now in other, more functional ways. Educational videos, jumping on the trampoline, a disco ball in his room, looking at pictures in books…. I’ve just given him more options that appeal to his sensory preferences and needs.
It goes back to the old saying, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”. Quite literally! You won’t beat Autism by running head-long into it. But we COULD go around, it by working WITH it 🙂