As parents and caregivers of children and adults on the autism spectrum, we naturally have a strong desire for our children to learn and grow. This is because we want them to thrive and succeed in their lives. On the same note, if we wish that for them and aim to inspire them to grow, then let’s first ask ourselves how WE can change and grow to be powerful role models for them. If you find yourself falling into patterns of beating yourself up, worrying about what other people think or pressuring yourself then please read on……….
The first step to personal change is to really allow ourselves to believe in the possibility of change. Hey, if we can look at our children and believe that it’s possible for them to speak, to be more interactive, even to recover fully from their Autism, then believing in their potential to change is without doubt going to be of service to us so that we actually offer them opportunities to grow instead of giving up. How about we then take that same perspective and BELIEVE THAT WE OURSELVES CAN CHANGE. EVEN THOUGH WE MAY HAVE BEEN DOING THINGS THE SAME WAY FOR YEARS.
How many times have you thought to yourself or said to someone close to you some version of the following?
“It’s JUST the way I am”
“I have ALWAYS been that way!”
“It’s BUILT in to me”
“I have a TYPE a personality”
Let’s take a look at this. Just this past weekend I was on a Son-Rise Program® In-home Outreach where I had the wonderful opportunity to train the parents and team of a lovely six year old boy with Autism. At various times throughout the training after watching them with him in the playroom the idea of them feeling nervous about doing something “wrong” or them judging themselves for different reasons came up. These were the types of things they were judging themselves and/or feeling uncomfortable about:
“I couldn’t get him to play with me”
“I didn’t know whether to keep doing what I was doing or do something different”
“I didn’t know the right thing to do there”
Along with many other attitudinal issues that led to them being un present or worried during their playroom time.
Because The Son-Rise Program is based on a particular ATTITUDE OF BEING LOVING AND NON-JUDGMENTAL not only to our children but to OURSELVES then part of what we do as Son-Rise Program Teachers is to SEEK TO UNDERSTAND who we are training, getting to know when and why they might judge themselves as a way to help us teach them the attitude of The Son-Rise Program more effectively and encourage them to students of themselves. BEING STUDENTS OF OURSELVES IS AN INCREDIBLY EFFECTIVE WAY TO START CREATING PERSONAL CHANGE. This idea of seeking to understand our students and being a student of ourselves is also done with any judgment.
Can we ask ourselves in the most loving way why we feel what we feel or do what we do? Most people tend to judge what they don’t understand which then prevents us from actually asking questions and being curious about the situation and our reactions to it. My role for this family and team was to really be curious and help them understand individually why they did it that way to best help them be comfortable and more confident in what they were doing with this little boy.
It’s a very common to tell ourselves that the thing we are doing that limits us is the very thing that we see as built in, permanent, something we have no control over. I’m here to tell you that it IS within our control, it is NOT built in but “learnt” or “created” by us because of certain beliefs we have made up throughout our lives. Are there also things that are in fact to do with our personality and the genes that we have? Yes! I’m sure there are, for instance, some of us think in pictures and others with logic, some of us may be analytical and others think in concepts. Some of us may prefer to socialize with one person at a time and others enjoy large groups of people and the list goes on. BUT what we believe is totally made up. Taught to us or created by us through life experiences of trying to move toward what we want and away from what we don’t want.
Instead of us already putting limits on understanding ourselves lets first start with asking ourselves why we feel what we do, what are we thinking and what are we believing. This can be done in a playful and loving way, not with criticism. So instead of saying “I have always done it that way” let’s ask ourselves “why did I do it this way this time?” Instead of saying “It’s built in” we could ask, “what do I believe and why?” We are not born with beliefs, we create them so let’s understand what we have created and see if it works for us or supports our feeling good. Instead of saying “I have a type a personality” let’s ask “why have I created myself to operate this way?”
Understanding is the key to changing!
Here are three tools you can use to help yourself get out of those patterns of beating yourself up, worrying what others think and pressuring yourself.
1) Believe in your potential to change.
2) Love yourself even when you are not comfortable or being effective with your child
3) Be loving and curious about yourself instead of bottling things up or not looking at things.
Why is this so important when you are with a child with Autism? Well our children have an attitudinal radar like no other. They can sense when we are feeling uncomfortable, stressed, tight, disconnected and all of the above. When that happens they tend to push against it (e.g. control battles, looking for our reactions, doing certain behaviors that they know we don’t like, etc.) Or they move away from us (go more into their own ism/stims to create more predictability in their worlds that are already out of control in many ways). So as well as being able to deepen our relationship and rapport with our child by being relaxed and comfortable, it just simply feels nicer. When we are feeling less stressed and irritable, than we are more present and happy. This supports us being able to do more to help, we are more available to use our resources and take more effective actions. In essence, the more we understand ourselves and the happier we are, the more space there is to crystalize your love and passion of your child and your belief in your child.
Wishing you all the best as you reflect on this article and try these ideas.
Be the change you wish to see in the word – Mahatma Ghandi