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 

30 comments:

robin said...

What a wonderful bedtime routine you guys have with R!!!

I love your phrase, "And that I am fully responsible for the reflection my son sees of himself in my eyes" I am going to print that and put it on my mirror to read each day. :)

Lizbeth said...

Beautiful.

Trish said...

Thank you for this, K. I feel at such a loss sometimes and just have to keep hoping that I can help my son not live his life in fear.

We are making progress but it is slow going at times.

Lyndsey said...

Exactly.
Exactly.
Exactly.

Love you!

Rici said...

I love this. I too, have an anxious child with autism. And his dad and I, from the beginning, have made it a point to let him know just how precious he is to us, just the WAY he is. So glad to read another parent doing the same :-)

Tired Mom said...

In a word: Awesome!!! Thank you for this post!

Sharon from Mama's Turn Now said...

Beautiful! I love what you wrote about changing your own attitude and being an adoring mother! That is what I am trying to do. I think it has made a difference. My son Jay who is 10 now tells me all the time that he loves having Aspergers. He will tell you it is what makes him special and what will make him do something great one day because he sees the world differently. He believes it. I guess our bedtime routine of telling him that did pay off. Keep telling your little guy. It works!

D. S. Walker said...

I love this post and I love your coat of love! I agree that our beautiful children face such challenges everyday that it is amazing that they cope at all. They need that coat of love for sure!

Bonsky said...

Looking for my dose of wisdom this morning and of course found it on your blog. I adore the imagery you used "In this way, I put a coat of my love on him , to protect him from a world that is sometimes too cold." As I send my own girls off into the world everyday, I always make certain that they pack a coat even if it seems like a warm day. xoxo

danette said...

So beautiful... I love your routine with R :).

And it is SO true that while we cannot necessarily impact the messages our children will get from others, we absolutely CAN make sure the messages they get from us are messages of love and self-worth.

Yuji said...

Yes! As parents, we cannot always make our kids' world less stressful for them, but we can give them love and boost their self-esteem. I love your 'coat of love.'

Lisa Quinones Fontanez said...

Wonderful post! Thank you :)
Following you from Best of the Best.

Kat said...

Those thoughts are a gift to the world. I adore you.

Li said...

"Coat of love" has reduced me to tears. You always do that to me in the best way. R is a lucky boy and you are lucky to have him. *hugs*

bbsmum said...

Absolutely right.

Pierrette and Lorna dEntremont said...

Thanks so much for this great post! I love the way you write and the messages you convey. This one "...knowing that while I have no control over the world – I am fully responsible for being the kind of mother I want to be" is a gem! I joined as a follower to your blog. Lorna d'Entremont

jazzygal said...

Fantastic post and you so have the right outlook. Al that love and support surrounding your son will help with his anxieties for sure. You know, I say very similar words to my son every night too..and he's 11. I think it's very important for them to hear that:-)

xx Jazzy

Rachel said...

Oh, K, this post just brings tears to my eyes. At 52, I still struggle mightily with anxiety, which has two sources: the world's sensory onslaught (manageable with various adaptations), and its seemingly never-ending message that those of us with autism are broken, disordered, diseased, and impaired (which is much, much more difficult to manage, by several orders of magnitude). The assaults on our self-esteem are nearly constant, as is the struggle against their power.

I lived most of my life not knowing I was autistic, and being so proud of a great many things about myself, only to find myself a member of a misunderstood and maligned minority in my 50s. It's very hard, but without a lifetime of learning to respect myself for who I am, I'd be lost right now.

I fear for the children who are living their lives with a constant message that something is wrong with them. And I am beyond grateful for moms like you and others here, who are covering your children with that coat of love. I wish more parents would understand that that love, and the strength and self-esteem it gives to children, is far more important than any treatment or any therapy, because without it, all the treatments and therapies in the world aren't going help a child create a happy and fulfilling life.

I adore you, K. People like you make me feel at home in this world.

K- floortime lite mama said...

Thanks so very much for the lovely comments - it means a lot

JoyMama said...

So beautiful, K.

This post.

You.

Your amazing son.

Lori said...

I found your blog via "Journey's With Autism." I liked your comments. :)

I have Asperger's and my son is also on the spectrum. I have experienced anxiety all of my life, and I see it clearly in my son.

Your post is compassionate and very sensitive. Thank you for sharing. I will be looking at my boy with new eyes today.

Brenda said...

You are amazing. I love how I can take words away from every post that motivate me, give me hope.

rhemashope said...

i'd never heard that before - that fear is the primary emotion of autism. wow.

this is beautiful, my friend. and i do the same thing. i try and try to communicate my love to my Rhema so that she knows that no matter how hard this world is, she will always have my love.

kathleen said...

"And I am fully responsible for the reflection my son sees of himself in my eyes" ABSOLUTELY!!! Lovely as always...:)

Rachel said...

And this, my dear friend, is why you need to write a book.

I sit here in tears as I wish that every child could experience that "I am special, amazing, loved, wanted, cherished" protection.

I know that my mother wrapped me in that same coat, and that in many ways, it was the only thing that got me through a world that seemed uncaring.

Write a book, please write it.

cheairs said...

Yes I think your words ring true.I think the children experience fear and the "grown ups" experience the fear....the "what ifs", the "should have" "could have"....all of it is a fear....but by letting go of the fear and trusing and actually embracing the unknown....oh, there is a gift in that a grace and a peace...thank you for your beautiful writing..

Julie said...

So, so beautiful.
Every word.
<3

AllieF said...

This is such a beautiful post & so inspiring. Thank you.

Brenda said...

Missing you and hope you are doing well, K.

fullsoulahead.com said...

"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

LOVE THIS.

Floortime Lite Mama

On my life as the mother of an adorable 5 year old with Autism and Apraxia