Why Does Having a Loving and Accepting Attitude Matter to You and Your Child on the Autism Spectrum?

“When you are relaxed and having fun with your child on the autism spectrum, don’t things just seem to be… easier? You can be in the moment and enjoy your child for who they are!

“When you implement a loving and accepting attitude with your child, you will also have easier access to the resources inside you.

“How does it work?

“When loving and accepting, we embrace things as they are, and our defenses come down. This creates a sense of emotional well-being that helps you relax and become more present, with the ability to think more clearly. This allows you to tap into more creative solutions to help your child. You’ll then be able to recognize patterns and brainstorm ways to support your child more easily.

“An example of this is:

“There was a Son-Rise Program Mom we worked with at the Autism Treatment Center of America who had a child on the autism spectrum. She was often irritated with one of her son’s repetitive behaviors. He would hold his hand up in the air multiple times throughout the day in a unique configuration. He could clasp his fist, lift his pointer finger and pinky finger upward, and hold it there. Then he would shake his hand from side to side. She wanted to have a loving and accepting attitude toward her son, but whenever he did this behavior, she tried to stop him from doing it.

“We knew that to help her hold the attitude she wanted; we could ask her questions about how she felt and find out what she believed about her son’s behavior. What we believe determines how we think and therefore affects our attitude. By exploring why she felt irritated, she could identify a belief she had about her son’s behavior. Her belief was that when he did this behavior, it was “inappropriate” and was preventing him from fitting in with other children.

“She realized this belief was a ‘limiting’ belief because it prevented her from having the bond with her child that she wanted. She decided to change her belief. She decided instead to believe her son was doing the best he could and that this behavior was essential to him. The next day, she saw her son doing the same thing. She shifted her perspective completely and observed her son without feeling irritated. She now felt comfortable because she trusted he was doing this purposefully. Feeling totally at ease, she observed him with love and acceptance. She saw it with new eyes when she stopped attempting to change his behavior. When he held his hand up, she noticed that it looked just like a rabbit. She realized he was trying to recreate a cartoon he loved to watch with a rabbit as the main character. He shook his hand from side to side and watched the “rabbit” move back and forth.

“Now she felt loving and accepting, had more insight into his world, and could even initiate some games with him. She pretended her hand was also a rabbit when he engaged with her. He smiled and giggled. Then they chased each other around the room like rabbits.

“They laughed, they enjoyed each other, and she felt more connected to her son. That is the power of a loving and accepting attitude!”

Becky Damgaard, Senior Son-Rise Program Teacher

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