It was about 11 years ago that my youngest son was diagnosed with Autism – a journey that has encouraged family growth and determination.
Even though I had accepted and embraced that my son was autistic, I had a little trouble understanding why he reacted the way he did and the reasons for his physical aggression. When he was aggressive, much of what I owned in possessions (sentimental or otherwise) would often be destroyed – this went on for a number of years and anything that was precious to me needed to be kept out of his reach.
Much of my energy was consumed in thinking ahead and planning for the days to run as smoothly as possible. I remember thinking about the stressful situations that came from being out in the public eye – we’d simply stay home and manage whatever came our way that day.
In the early days, I was reactive and just managing the day to day experiences from what I knew and had tried before. It took me a long time to realise that he didn’t do the things he did, deliberately and that he was actually reacting to the environment around him.
It was a number of years later when it dawned on me that maybe it was my attitude and approach – I needed to rethink how I could do things differently not only for my son, but my other children as well.
I began to look at Autism with a totally different mindset – to embrace all that my son was and the person he would grow up to be!
I began by:
* Focusing on what he could do rather than what he couldn’t – I would praise and encourage him when he attempted anything new or showed some achievement whether big or small.
* Learn from him – accept him for who he is and allow him to be himself. It is quite liberating to see your child be as they are and not be forced to fit into a mould.
* Teaching independence – valuing him as a person who is able to make his own choices and communicate his needs and wants.
Once my outlook changed, my son thrived and he became more grounded and balanced – made for a more favourable and cheery household!
Open your mind to explore the possibilities – focus on someone’s uniqueness and strengths that make them who they are – you will experience a much happier and contented person!