Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Autism Answer: Uniquely Qualified!

When my oldest son very first started kindergarten, I used to let him go to school with marker all over his face. He has always been very creative and imaginative. Plus, we were pretty broke and had few toys, so allowing him to color on us and himself was a fun way to encourage his pretend play! 

His teacher (who I saw as an expert because she had been teaching for years, and I was a young mom) took me aside one day and said sweetly,"I love the way you let Jory express himself, but the other students aren't allowed to do that in their homes so it's probably better if your son came to school without all the unique face paint." 

Aaaaaahhhhhhh.... don't let our kids be their individual selves.... I'm a slow learner but thanks to my son's kindergarten teacher, I eventually got it. ~BTW: Please note that the teacher hadn't said anything horrible, I had chosen to learn the wrong lesson! My fault, not hers!~

By the time Jory was older, and a few of his brothers were school aged as well, I was exhausted and nervous and confused and lacking any self-confidence as I busted my butt trying to make sure my kids behaved and appeared like everyone else. You know, normal. 

Well, I have four brothers who were autistic, my youngest boys have many traits of autism and my mom is a global autism therapist Lynette Louise aka THE BRAIN BROAD. Growing-up in our house was always crazy and forever fun! But during those few years while I was trying so hard to make us appear 'normal', we kinda lost the fun part. 

However, it wasn't too long before I chose to see the importance of being your unique self, while also being comfortable in the world. 

Armed with this understanding I relaxed and allowed all of us to be a little bit nutty! I also included a fork-full of fitting in, a huge portion of individuality and delicious additions of sharing, learning and dream chasing! 

There are many moms and dads struggling to encourage individuality while teaching social skills, language, etc.... I am by no means alone in this! However, having four brothers who were once on the spectrum (and I'm talking everywhere on that spectrum!) and a mom who travels the world teaching and helping families of autism with humor, honesty, respect and love, made me uniquely qualified to find the fun balance between encouraging the unique and different while teaching and believing in their ability to be comfortable in the world. 

And you know what is also true? You are uniquely qualified too!!!

Hugs, smiles and love!