be positive for the little people – part 2 (Autism)

photo taken by knightsbridge photography
photo taken by knightsbridge photography

Yesterday I wrote about being positive for the little people – part 1 (if you haven’t read it, go ahead, we’ll see you back here in a bit). Now for the second installment that I promised.

I believe that families are like those bouncy-ball toys that light up. If one family member is lit up, the whole family is blinded. If you can help that one, then everyone benefits. So, here are some ideas to help you stay in the right frame of mind and kick the negative outlook to the curb.

  • Notice your child’s positive attributes and actions and praise them for it (even if your child is nonverbal). Although our son, Jeremiah, is nonverbal, as he has gained more understanding, he smiles and sometimes laughs when we say specific things about him or talk about something that happened to him.
  • Set your expectations a little higher. I don’t mean expect a child who’s never sat at the table for a meal to one day sit for the entire event. Work into things, but don’t let them slide without expectations. For example, Jeremiah is not really affectionate, but he does better than many other kids who have Autism. We’ve a made a point to hug and kiss him several times a day, every day. He’s much more attached to his Dad, so my kisses and hugs were less acceptable. I kept at it and he finally smiles and lets me give him a kiss before Dad puts him in bed. It took four years, but I won! A child knows when we have higher expectations for them.
  • Be aware of your words and your facial expressions when you’re around your child. This should be obvious, but I don’t think it is. I’ve been working on this recently. When it comes to my two kids, I am completely different in what I say aloud about them. Because my son is nonverbal and has less understanding (although this area is really developing lately) I fell into a trap of complaining about his behaviors when he was within earshot. Yeah, I know, not cool. One of my big issues was commenting on how difficult he was on certain days.
    In Be Positive for the Little People (Part 1), I mentioned Joanna’s article. Her first point really hit home with me. She says, “Just because someone is unable to communicate verbally, it doesn’t mean they are unable to hear.” It seems so obvious when I write it out or read it, but it’s so easy to forget when we have a child who can be trying.
    Even parents who don’t have a nonverbal child can fall into this habit, it’s difficult to find time with your spouse, and when you do, you don’t want to be a dump truck, so you may complain about your kids in front of them.

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There are many views on Autism, just as there are many personality types, varying forms of Autism, and different people. Some people can see the amazing and wonderful capabilities the person with Autism has. And some find it problematic, maybe their child is nonverbal, has no social skills or emotional connection, or has a commorbity such as Angelmans syndrome.

What I do know is that we all have to work at focusing more on the positives and kicking the negatives to the curb, and I know in one day there can be hundreds of negatives.

In case you missed it, here is the first post in this series: negativity is contagious

I hope this gives you some ideas on how to be more positive with your child. If you have ideas, please share them with us, we can all benefit from other’s experiences and insight into the special needs world.

If you know someone who has a child with Autism, or even a Grandparent or friend who would benefit from learning more about the subject, feel free to share this with them. You can receive each post made here by subscribing in the upper right, and you can follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

be positive for the little people – part 1 (Autism)

bepositiveAutism1

Some of you who parent a child who has Autism get it, you see the great potential they possess and the intelligence which lies within them. Some parents have difficulty seeing those positive attributes in their children.

I fall somewhere in the middle, though I hope closer toward the former. I am making progress in understanding my son’s capabilities, and I wrote a post about what I am learning called Viewing My Nonverbal Child Differently, if you haven’t read it, I recommend doing so. Not only because I wrote it, oh no, but because there is a link to a post Joanna Keating-Velasco penned that is wonderfully insightful. You don’t have to have a child who is nonverbal to read it, I think it applies to many of us.

Last week I wrote about negativity being contagious. It is, and as I said in that post, we may not realize when we are surrounded by negativity, nor when we are filling our life with it.

When we have a child with special needs, it can be so easy to slide into negativity. Not only do I mean saying things like, “This is so hard,” “Why can’t you sit still?” “I can’t handle this anymore,” “Can’t you eat something else?” I also mean the way in which we talk to others in front of our kids, and what we think, as in our expectations of our child.

SLIPPING INTO NEGATIVE NO, NO LAND

Our son, Jeremiah, had been doing better than he had in months. He had gone through some drastic regression, but finally after several months we saw that glimpse of hope. Wow, it’s hard to stay out of negative land when your child regresses significantly and stays there. Jeremiah had stopped drinking juice, which is how I got this AMAZING, sent from heaven, fish oil in him, his sensory needs were off the chart (well, with SPD, they’re already off the chart, but this was worse), he was no longer employing his limited use of PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System). I was falling farther into that Negative No, No Land.

Finally, I gave it some serious prayer. And, frankly, and completely honest, a miracle happened the next day. We gained, progress was made; there was less angry gnawing at his clothes, less intense sensory hyperactivity, a happier boy, more emotional connection. I know some of you may not believe in God or miracles, and if not, I invite you to spend a couple days in our life because they’re real.

I was negative in those really difficult months, I said things I’m not proud of. I wasn’t calm some days, I got irritated with my daughter (she doesn’t have Autism) when she wasn’t doing anything wrong. Not only was I seeing everything with a negative bent, I was beginning to feel guilty because of my actions and attitude.

NEGATIVITY CAN STEM FROM GUILT

Sometimes our negativity comes from the guilt within. When we fall short of our expectations of ourselves guilt arises. We don’t feel we’re good enough to parent a child with special needs, we don’t say the right things, do the right things. We aren’t gentle enough when our child is jumping on the couch, and we are sitting him down for the 115th time that hour. We don’t feel we do enough therapy, we don’t have enough energy, we don’t try hard enough to feed her a different, healthier food. We don’t notice when everyone else wants to give us a “mother or father of the year” sticker, because we feel stickers of shame, thinking, “You don’t see me at home, or in the car. You don’t know everything about my parenting.”

The reality is that we all have aspects of our life we need to work on. Not one of us is perfect, but we can all make a decision to be better tomorrow. We can all change how we parent.

No matter where our negativity stems from, be it our own guilt over our “failures” or because of our child’s behaviors, our kids can sense how we feel. It comes across as displeasure, condescending remarks, lower expectations, less effort, and depression. I’ve had to work on all of these areas. I still haven’t reached knighthood, far from it, but I have learned some great lessons, and ways to do it better. You’ve read about those in the links I shared and I will share more ideas to help you stay in the right frame of mind later this week in Part 2.

 

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