Saturday, May 14, 2011

Stress Anxiety and Autism: SOS Best of Best Bloggers

Temple Grandin once said that fear is the primary emotion of Autism

I often think of this when I think of R

My gentle sensitive child

( I believe, in fact , that fear is the primary emotion in all Autistic children – even those who have aggressive behavior.
A child may respond with an angry meltdowns, another may shut down and a third child may show deep distress.
But even when it looks so different its simply a response to fear – the only difference being whether the child's instinctive response to fear is fight /flight/freeze )

And this fear can lead to a lot of anxiety and stress

I know it does for R

For if you think of it our vulnerable auties show immense courage going out everyday into a world that is so contrary

Where they are constantly being taught

Where many things that soothe – like humming etc - are treated an inappropriate stims that need to be extinguished ( merely on grounds of looking odd ).

Where no one ever thinks of their rights to just be who they are

Or of their right to have unscheduled downtime

In addition, they often have parents who keep wishing their child would change and be that version of the child that they were meant to have( even the parents that love them deeply )

And there is another stress to deal with as they grow up

 If autism is such a big part of their personality and if all their life they are told that( explicitly and implicitly ) autism is a very bad thing –wont they feel at some level that there is something very wrong with them?
With all the ways in which their self esteem gets attacked, no wonder anxiety is a constant companion

I used to feel overwhelmed in the beginning thinking of all the things that I would not be able to solve for R ( sometimes I still do )

Especially with regards to his anxiety

For he has so much of it

So small and vulnerable he seems sometimes.

And so large and hard the world seems

But two things have helped

The first is realizing that I don't actually have control over how the world is with R

( I had an epiphany one day while reading "The ovely life". In this book, Vicki Forman writes that all mothers believe that they can prevent anything bad from happening to their child if only they pay enough attention. On reading this, I realized the belief that I had been torturing myself with - that I could have prevented or cured autism - was actually untrue )

Feeling in control in the way we sometimes talk about it regarding parenting, is an illusion

If anything, the paradoxical truth of control is that the only way to have control , is to be fully aware that you have very little

The second thing that has helped, is knowing that while I have no control over the world – I am fully responsible for being the kind of mother I want to be

And that I am fully responsible for the reflection my son sees of himself in my eyes

Knowing that I and his father have a big role in his self- concept – we have chosen to treat him always, as a priceless gift

For really, anxiety and stress can be reduced in two different ways – one way is to make the world less stressful

But the other way is to make them feel that they are able cope with the world – by boosting their self esteem

And so I have chosen to be a deeply adoring mother

Never thinking – let alone alluding – to a wistfulness for a different life or a different child

"Do you know you are the best thing that ever happened to papa and mama?" I tell him each night, in his bed time routine , "you are the child of our dreams"

In this way, I put a coat of my love on him , to protect him from a world that is sometimes too cold

So that, no matter how much life whispers insidiously, that he is disabled, broken

His inner voice whispers back -no I am not, I am amazing

And as he thinks, so he will be

Please join the fabulous Danette in her Best of Best Bloggers Event where bloggers share their POV on Stress and Anxiety tomorrow 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Rewriting your Story

Once life drops a challenge like Autism, we realize that the story we were living in, has met with an unexpected twist

In the minutes, that it takes the psychologist to tell us that our child has autism, we can find that our story is going to be completely different from that of our friends.

That, in fact, we are going to be living in a completely different genre of stories

We search for those with stories like ours

And we find them

We tell them our story

And we listen to theirs

We give comfort

And we feel comforted

And that was the way it was with me

But as time passed, I saw that I could rewrite my story

Indeed it was critical to do so

I realized that the most important story that I will ever tell, is the one I tell myself.

About me and my life.

And that I am not just the central character of my life

But also the author

Its most important audience

And the narrator

And so the story I started to write, has become a story of gifts and gratitude and love

And not a story of loss and fear and guilt

And I see my child as different, even gifted

And I stopped seeing him as broken

I have come to see the difficulties of my life

But am still deeply aware of its essential sweetness

And I find that I am not living in a sad story

Or a make-the-most story 

Or even a second-best story

And that the story that began so promisingly with “once upon a time” does end on a “happily ever after

Because this is my story

And that is how I write .

This post has been written for Hopeful Parents. If you have a minute do visit that wonderful website here

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