I was walking towards home after work & thought to get an ice-cream from the nearby shop. As I entered the shop, I noticed everyone in that shop was wearing Yellow. Yellow shirts, yellow pants, yellow shoes. I was a little surprised. Then I remembered why I went to that shop & said to the shopkeeper- “Please give me one butterscotch ice-cream for my mom & two chocolate ice creams for me & my brother. The shopkeeper said “we only have chocolate ice creams. No other flavours” I asked “why only one flavour?” He said “Because everyone likes chocolate ice creams”. He also said that he keeps only Dairy milk chocolate because “Everyone likes Dairy milk”. I also noticed they now had only “Good day biscuits” because I thought “Everyone likes Good day biscuits.” I was quite confused. Anyways, I took three chocolate ice creams & started walking out of the shop. I started to notice even people on the road were all wearing “Yellow dresses”! It was all so confusing to me. I couldn’t understand what is happening. As I reached home, I was shocked to see even our house had turned “Yellow”! Not just that, even my mom was wearing a “Yellow” dress! Now It felt like the whole world had gone topsy turvy. My mind was too jumbled up. Then, there was a strange sound. It was loud. It was my phone alarm! I turned it off and got up. So, all this was a dream? It was the weirdest dream ever.
I thanked God from my whole heart that day for putting so much variety of colours, variety of objects, variety of job opportunities, variety of subjects, “variety of ways to feel happy” to choose from. Really, how boring our life would be if everyone liked the same things, the same colours, had the same jobs, the same qualifications, or behaved the same way ???
Ever thought about it ? We all love to be in this world of variety, with so many different things to choose from, so that we ALL can have our own choices.
Now, think about this…
If you want more variety, more colours, more choices, especially so that YOU can CHOOSE what you want/prefer personally, shouldn’t your children be allowed to do the same too ?
I would like to quote Dr. Shefali Tsabary, a multi talented Indian clinical psychologist, speaker & writer who speaks on conscious parenting & mindful living-
“When you parent, it’s crucial you realise you aren’t raising a “mini me,” but a spirit throbbing with its own signature. For this reason, it’s important to separate who you are from who each of your children is. Children aren’t ours to possess or own in any way. When we know this in the depths of our soul, we tailor our raising of them to their needs, rather than moulding them to fit our needs.”
― Shefali Tsabary, The Conscious Parent
Every child is different from each other & from anyone else. Each one is a whole different personality with different areas of interests, different strengths, & different perspectives on different topics. Their views/opinions are equally important & must be respected as of any other person.
Similar to any typical child, a child on the “Autism spectrum”, or “ADHD”, or “Down Syndrome”, or, with any other “so called condition”, ALSO has different strengths, different areas of interests, & a different view of the world. Yes they do!
The fact is, EACH & EVERY CHILD HAS some gifts, some marvellous areas of strengths, some areas of interests, some ways of doing things, which might be a little different from their “parent’s view/image of how their child should be”, or “how he should behave in a particular place/ situation”, or “how he should be doing certain things”, there are many different “how something should be done” from a parent/adult’s perspective which might not match the child’s perspective.
Imagine two cars going in opposite directions at full speed(80kms/hr). There’s almost always a crash when they come very close, if one of them doesn’t make a slight change of speed & direction.
“Children come to us full of what is, not what isn’t. When we see our own reality for all it isn’t, we teach our children to operate from lack. When we see our children for all they are yet to become, barely recognizing all they already are, we teach them they are incomplete. For our children to see a look of disappointment in our eyes sows in them seeds of anxiety, self-doubt, hesitation, and inauthenticity. They then begin to believe they should be more beautiful, competent, smart, or talented. In this way, we strip them of their enthusiasm for expressing themselves as they are right now.”
― Shefali Tsabary, The Conscious Parent
Every parent wants to be the best parent to their child & believe me you really are the best parent to your child. You are the most loving, the most deserving, the most awesome parent to your child. Yet, if you really want to “connect” with your child, see him as an individual separate from you. A respected beautiful perfect deserving individual who has come to this world of infinite possibilities to have HIS OWN CHOICES, Learn his OWN LESSONS, make his OWN MISTAKES & grow at his OWN PACE.
You might be thinking, as parents we need to be responsible for their happiness & their security.
Nobody is ever “happy” when they live life “according to the choice of someone else no matter who that someone else is”. We are truly happy only with “our own choices” which are not clouded/cluttered by societal expectations. In fact, when the choices are our own, then only we can truly live the life of joy & satisfaction. And no doubt, the child would be most proud of, most thankful to their parent who, despite the “so called norms” of what “should be’s” & “shouldn’t be’s” decided to trust on their parenting skills & on their child!
Isn’t it true?
Once again, being a therapist for children with special needs for the past 6 years, I would like to share the insights with regard to children with special needs like on the Autism spectrum on this very topic that we are discussing.
Before that, let me tell you, I haven’t met anyone more awesome, more gifted, more loving, more focused(in the areas of their interest) than these beautiful children & I haven’t met any parent who is more strong, more optimistic, more full of life than the parents of these children!
When we are talking about “their happiness & security”, they are happy to make their own choices, based on their own interests, make their own mistakes & learn from them.
About their security,
Imagine, if Our parents would have thought -“using the dial phones instead of the smart phones” as “this is the best phone I have always used. I feel so secure when I use this. Because its the phone used by my parents & now you also must use this. It’s the most safe & secure gadget to use.”
How ridiculous would that be??
The point that I am trying to make here is, just like an improved version of your phone which is sophisticated, advanced & much more convenient, there are numerous opportunities now than there were ever before for ALL of US including children with special needs. The world is changing for the better with more opportunities, more varieties to choose from.
Yes, they do need to learn How to Survive in the society.”
The best way to help your child is — “Don’t take them so seriously. Don’t force them to succumb to your choices.” You really can’t. Haven’t we tried this many times already ?
When you make “feeling happy & relaxed” a priority everyday for yourself & your child, you will be amazed at how smart, how creative, how cooperative & how awesome your child is! Learning is way easier when he is happy than when you want to push against something “he doesn’t want to do”.
-Abhipsa Parida, Being Joyful with Autism
So, What’s the Best possible way to help them?
FOCUS on their strengths way way way more than on their weak points.
FOCUS on DIFFERENT MODES OF COMMUNICATION rather than just speech. The child should be able to communicate his needs in any way.
FOCUS on Picture Communication through flashcards,(If they are Visual learners)
FOCUS on Communicating through Gestures, or nonverbally(If they can imitate easily & it’s their strength)
FOCUS on Communication through writing (if that’s their strength)
Focus on teaching methods of communication “that are easy for them” to learn!
FOCUS on “Their strengths”, rather than “The curriculum” which is changing & becoming easier. If a child masters their areas of strengths, its not just easy for them to learn, they can do excellently well in that area due to their ability to “hyper focus” on that particular area!
If you don’t know what’s their area of interest, keep trying new things. Our interests might change with time. But, understand that every child HAS some GIFTS.
Most importantly, it’s not just about teaching them, It is learning from them too! I get to learn everyday from these brilliant creative little geniuses.
It’s learning how to enjoy “spinning”, how to enjoy “jumping”, “finger painting”, loving, enjoying life!
BEING DIFFERENT & CAREFREE!
Try to Keep up with them & not change them to something else than who they are!
A child with Autism is not just a diagnosis. He/she is way way way more than that. He has numerous gifts & is blessed in numerous ways. But if we limit our views to “just a diagnosis”, we will tend to focus on “all his symptoms”, “all his inappropriate behaviours”, “all the things that he can’t do as compared to someone else” & miss out on the most beautiful aspects of this wonderful child.
The purpose of this blog is to- create an understanding about what actually autism is & therefore help with their acceptance in the society.
People with autism express themselves differently than others.
- They are smart.
- They are quiet.
- They take in stimuli differently.
- They react/respond to situations in unique ways.
- They’re differently wired.
- They are super cool.
Although they process information little differently than others, they are extraordinarily talented in some areas which when tapped into with the right approach can produce excellent results.
Speaking from my own experience, it’s really annoying to me whenever anyone- be it a friend/relative/a stranger tries to judge a child with autism just because they are “diagnosed as autistic”.
On the other hand, I have also met many people (can be a parent/family members/schools, etc) who don’t accept that their child is facing some difficulties & he/she can be helped! This leads to many damaged relationships, lack of support from family members, unnecessary judgement from family, school, etc. affecting the mental condition of the parent(who tries to support the child) & the child both.
What can we do?
Our job is not to change anyone’s mind about anything. We really can’t. All we can do is create awareness & acceptance & stand as an example of what we want to see from others.
And With time, there will be much more acceptance of autism everywhere.
I have been working with special children since last 6 years. They are the sweetest, kindest, most loving, super smart, super creative, most joyful & most carefree people you will ever meet. If you “put aside their diagnosis”, & in ways they are different from us, they will show you how beautiful life is.
What do they teach us?
The very answer/solution to all our problems is found within these beautifully gifted children! They teach us –
- To do what we feel like doing/what is fun
- To do what makes us happy
- Never let anyone else change you/put you down
- Never mind what the world says. It doesn’t matter
- My happiness matters more than “what anyone else wants me to do/what anyone else thinks about me.”
Isn’t this beautiful? If you carefully observe a child with Autism, you will understand what I mean to say…
Recently, I got to hear from an adult with Autism, who was a successful entrepreneur, “For many years of my life, I didn’t understand why people tried to change me. It really took so many people to say “how wrong I was” for me to realize “I am perfect the way I am!”
I hope there will be a day soon where people don’t try to change others into someone else, or something else. When people believe in “Loving without any terms/conditions” just like these beautiful children teach us everyday! How beautiful the world would be if we would identify & recognize the “gifts” of every person way more than their flaws!
I would end this article with a little story that happened recently in my session that will exemplify the message above.
It was a group class that day. There were about 5 students. They were given some pictures to colour. The objective was to teach cooperation, sharing, & communication of one’s needs while enjoying the colouring activity. Among those students, there was a kid who was not paying any attention to the activity or to what I was saying. She was repeatedly making some sounds & everyone else was also getting distracted. I got a little annoyed with her. Only one student- Saima completed the colouring activity beautifully & attentively that day. I was really happy with Saima’s painting.
So, I decided to give a star on her painting as a reward. When I was giving her the “star” telling everyone how beautiful her painting is, She took another kid’s painting, gave it to me & asked- “Ma’am give a star”, then she took everyone else’s painting too one by one & asked me to give a star to everyone! Although I was a bit reluctant at first that I should give the star “only to the one with the best painting/only to the deserving one”, this sweet act of hers, melted my heart. It was her way of saying- “We all are Stars ! No terms & conditions” I gave a star to each one of them & there was a smile on their faces.
That incident is a great example of “ The joy, satisfaction & reward of Loving unconditionally” taught by a child!
You will find a number of real-life stories(from my experience) about these gifted children that will help you to understand & help them in the best possible way everyday, some easy & super-effective activities that you can practice for any child/parent/teacher/therapist/teacher that helps you to handle your emotions better, & so much more in this remarkable book-