Saturday, November 28, 2009

On using your own eyes

We are at a friends's house for Thanksgiving

One of the guests is a teacher who is a retired Special Needs teacher. She has worked a lot with Autistic children over the years

We are having a great time at the party and we have brought along R's Macbook ( actually DH'sbut when travelling it becomes R's )

He is on the Playhouse Disney Site looking at Ooh and Aaah ( two monkeys )

I and the hostess are standing around the kitchen island .

The retired teacher looks at what R is doing and says " he is liking the screen becasue of all the shaking and the moving images.. Autistic children love things that move"

I look at her - a little taken aback

She has just relegated what R is doing to a state of mindlessness

( and he is ever mindful )

A while ago  I would have felt stung

But not today

I look at what R is doing and reply

"not at all .. he is playing a game - if you click on the instruments you can make the monkey characters play that instrument .. and you can keep adding different instruments till it turns into an orchestra .. he loves music.. you see "

She looks again at what R is doing and then nods her head

Its an important developmental leap for me to  trust our own eyes the most

A friend of mine - Debbie - gave me some great advice a little while ago

I was expressing anxiety about going to India

This is the first time we are going after Autism.

I am not looking forward ( to put it mildly ) to having to explain Autism to everybody

But this friend said that the important thing is to look at your child through your own eyes and not as others see him

I have been chewing over this profound thought

And this Thanksgiving I got to put it into practice.

My anxiety over this has simply dissipated with this simple perspective

This perspective is very different than learning how to cope with people's reactions to our kiddos not looking like other kiddos

I knew that always

Followed the principle of - if R was not bothering anyone  and not hurting himself - he was fine to do what he wanted 

Even if that thing was to coo at all  aisle numbers, sit down in the birthday aisle gasping with wonder at all the birthday cards around him that said  you are 1 .. you are 4 and so on and so  forth

This perspective is about not letting just anybody's else's impression of your child influence your opinion of your child

Its about being selective about the persepctives and the advice we special needs parents get ( sometimes on a daily basis )
That was about steeling oneself ... learning not to mind .. training oneself to not always be in the mode of correcting your child ( for things that are not even wrong )

This is about not minding at all

This is better!

11 comments:

Stephanie said...

Yes! It goes hand in hand with not apologizing for our kids, too, I think.

Shawnda said...

Hi K. Happy Thanksgiving!!! I really think professionals (rather retired or currently working) are a great asset but it doens't mean they know everything, the real expert on your child is you. You and your hubby know him better than anyone. I am glad you pointed out that she was wrong in her observation. I agree with Stephanies comment about apologizing. I am definatley guilty of that. (If mine is not doing something "normal".) But who really gets to decide what normal is anyways? I hope you all have a great trip to India visiting your family.

robin said...

I also loved your friend's advice! Glad you got to put it into practice. :)

blackknightsbrood said...

"Even if that thing was to coo at all aisle numbers..."

"This is about not minding at all"

This is one of the most freeing perspectives to adopt. And so healthy for our kids. We're right with you.

Hope you have a wonderful time in India!

rhemashope said...

I love that advice and I completely know what you mean about people making assumptions about what our kids are doing. (I've done it myself). More and more I'm learning to appreciate the way she does things and some of the reasons why.

J. said...

thanks for the reminder, it is very important and not something that I do enough of.

TJ said...

K, I started to reply to this last night but couldn't find the words. Debbie's words have been lingering in my mind, too (and your reminder of them that I sort of brushed off as irrelevant in the moment, though in hind-sight it wasn't).

I realized over Thanksgiving break that I've been having a harder time with this as he ages within the school system (yes, he's only in K, but of course we've been in the system since age 3). As we work to help him learn and keep up within the structure of school (part reg-ed), I find myself wanting/expecting him to live up to the system's expectations more and more. :( That's not all bad, I suppose, as long as I can maintain the balance and remember that at least in my eyes, he should only be measured against himself and his own prior performance. Focusing on what others think is right or approriate for him, within a limited time-frame, will not serve him or enable him to reach his fullest potential. I keep going back to that animal school presentation in my mind, kwim? Finding a way to encourage his gifts within a system that attempst to enforce what they believe is important is a tricky balance.

K said...

There it is Tanya - its the point that " where he is supposed to be " not only drains today of joy - but I think aslo saps our and our child's energy and therefore detracts from " where he could be"
The way we see our child may be the biggest gift to ourselves and the child we love so much

Territory Mom said...

I always wonder what typical kids get away with. Do parents apologize for their behavior? One time I apologized for my son's behavior to my sister(who is a wonderful teacher) and she said he is just throwing a fit like all kids.

lonestar said...

Beautiful, I love your friend's advice :) and I love your response in that situation.

Julie said...

Wise and profound words. I hope I can remember this. Sometimes I forget...but I've experienced that this is true. (Feel free to remind me of this at any time!!!)

(And thank you for the lovely birthday wishes!! I'm so glad that I've found you, too!)

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